I know every band wants to think their latest release is their best yet, but holy hell, Vultures is fantastic: more intricate and even more hooky than Point of View’s last EP, Burner. Despite all that’s going on in this joyously complex music, the earnest lyrics and belt-out-your-lungs hooks are the heart and soul of Vultures, due out via Creator-Destructor Records on May 12th. The Bay Area band’s latest batch of songs is immediately memorable, and the Propagandhi-meets-emo-pop-punk style has classic written all over it. These five songs go by too quickly.
I spoke with bassist Michael Bragg about camaraderie, metaphorical vultures, and dealing with the aftermath of those vultures.
What I like most about your sound is how, despite the musical complexity, melody and emotion is king. The songs are immediately memorable, and the technicality just augments the listening experience. How did you come up with your sound, and what do you think makes your band stand out?
First off, thanks so much for the love for Vultures!
I think our sound has progressed pretty organically because of our lineup staying the same for so long. We started playing music together as a group when we were in our junior high years, and as time progressed, we shared bands and artists with each other and just tried to emulate what we heard. We also had a lot of back-and-forths during our jam sessions growing up, in a way that somewhat forced us to grow closer as a group. In the writing process, I think we do a good job of challenging each another to come up with melodies that are more interesting to us. We’ve spent a lot of time together which has created a brotherhood between us, and it allows us to question each other’s ideas without anybody getting sensitive.
The fun part about music, to us, is pushing ourselves to try and come up with a melody that we’re all happy with. It makes our writing process take more time, but we like our end results better that way. We’re always trying to find ways to convey a feeling for anyone who picks up our music and takes a listen; we do this because we still enjoy playing and writing and are really happy to still be doing it even after all of this time.
On that note, how was the writing and recording process for this EP? Did you feel more comfortable this time around?
Sometimes life throws you an “attaboy,” and sometimes it throws you a lemon. A lot of really life-changing events happened during the writing process for Vultures. It made us take a step back and take a good hard look at these five songs and work hard to finally come up with something that we were all really happy with. Lyrics are definitely a big component of this EP, and I think we really wanted to put a lot thought into “I feel this way, but I know I’m not the only person who has experienced these emotions.” We had to ask ourselves how we can put these feelings into words that will resonate with listeners in a way that doesn’t feel forced or cheap.
Recording was much different for us this time around. We spent a long time focusing on how we can make this EP feel and sound more complete than Burner did, while still bringing familiar aspects of the band that listeners are used to. We struggled a little bit shaking off the cobwebs when we first started working on recording, but once we had a flow going, it became a more comfortable process for not only us but our recording engineer Scott Goodrich as well. Scott is a really patient and smart dude, and his involvement has really helped push this record to a new place.
To sum it up, this recording process was more difficult than ever before, but we feel like it really made the songs more enjoyable in the end. We couldn’t be more stoked about them.
The record seems to touch on personal and external “vultures” that weigh down on us, and your lyrical style helps convey the struggle and frustration you felt in dealing with those issues. It always feels like you’re looking to “move on, keep trucking on simple.” What issues did you want to tackle on this record?
Oh man, that’s a good question. To give some background on how this record came to be what it is, I lost my father in January of 2013. My father had a rare type of cancer, and it really sucked all of the life out of him. He was my main support system when it came to my music; he was also a bass player who also played in bands, so he really understood me. We had a really good relationship. Losing him had thrown my family and I into a dark place, where we were struggling to accept what had happened. I felt great sadness and anger, but honestly, [the band] stepped in and really helped me to “move on, keep trucking on simple,” like you said. I think, in the end, I wanted to tackle the issue of loss and how it plays a huge part not only in my life, but in the lives of every person who hears this record.
That mindset, that we must look for forward momentum in life, plays off really well with your music, giving the tunes an uplifting, buoyant feel. How did/do you deal with issues like you mention on Vultures? Are you an optimistic person, or is music your outlet? Any recommended strategies for coping with all that life throws at us?
I think we all deal with issues differently, but I would say the way I deal with them is to try and have fun. I figured out at a pretty early age that music is what gives me that feeling, so I guess I have turned to music to keep that forward momentum going. It’s funny to hear that the tunes are so uplifting, just because the feelings that inspired them are usually the complete opposite.
We all have a cynical side for sure, but for the most part, I’d say we keep it pretty optimistic. Being able to rely on each other as a group is a great support system too, especially since we’re all pulling on the same rope and feel a lot of the same things. Being able to all work together on the same project is a really great way for us all to express ourselves and let out some stress in a positive way (with the help of loads of beer, obviously).
What do you have planned over the next few months?
We’re actually in somewhat of a rebuilding process. We’ve been jamming a lot with our new fill-in drummer Connor White, who is incredible and is putting a lot of his time into our band while still pulling duties with his own project, Bowers. We are really excited about the Vultures release and the shows that we’ll be playing to support it. Tour dates are also in the works at the moment, which is really exciting.
As far as writing new tunes, absolutely. A full length would be a dream, but it’s a little too early to give a sure answer on what exactly what a new release would look and sound like. It’s a natural flow, but our goal is to release more material at a quicker pace. Hopefully we can make that happen if all goes well with Vultures.
Again, we really want to say thank you for enjoying the EP. We’re really confident that there’s something for everyone to like in these five songs, while sticking to the sound that our listeners have gotten used to. We hope to see you all on the road!