Interview: Mark “V” Vecchiarelli of Shades Apart

Eternal Echo is the latest release on Hellminded Records from veteran melodic hardcore trio Shades Apart. This record takes them back to where they came from more than 25 years ago—literally, metaphorically, and in the spirit of old friends.

Eternal Echo is New Jersey versus the Blasting Room for a third time. It’s hardcore history versus the future of music-making—this is rock music pounding forward from memories wrapped in present thoughtfulness and wisdom. On vocals and guitar, Mark “V” Vecchiarelli hasn’t lost a minute of his life being dispassionate about art or music and has a ton to say about Shades Apart’s journey.

“We recorded with Bill Stephenson in New Jersey,” Vecchiarelli says. “We came in contact with them through shows. We played a show with them, kind of started to get to know them, and we reached out to them to come and produce our record. They did a production tour. I remember they produced this band called The Lemons, and they did ours while they were staying over. They were traveling East Coast and producing different bands at their local studios.”

From Trax East in New Jersey—with Stephen Egerton and Bill Stevenson producing and engineering Save It—to Fort Collins, Colorado for Seeing Things, Seeing Things, Shades Apart introduced Jason Livermore in the process of producing and engineering. Vecchiarelli explains logistics in those early days.

“We did our second record with them; that was like ’95 [Save It], and then ’97 was when we went to the Blasting Room and recorded Seeing Things. So, we got to work with them at their place.”

Eternal Echo is a round trip, doing donuts in a parking lot, lit, with the pedal firmly planted on the floor and steering wheel pointed straight to the horizon. It’s off the path from their ’90s material, laying a trail of rubber to a softer sound—but it’s still Shades Apart, no doubt about it; just listen to “Thread.” Catchy hooks, heartfelt words full of reflection, and a whole lot of growth from 1995 to 2020.

This is a rock record for fans of solid-built bangers. More than a quick trip to the Wawa, this is a road trip; listen to it top-to-tail as a whole note. It’s a mature album, from a solid place in New Jersey to a mixing console in Colorado, and coming out out everywhere in August. Vecchiarelli explains how Shades Apart filled the cracks in their busy lives, jobs, and families by recording.

“We did the record-at-home version,” he says. “So, we started recording just for fun and as an experiment to get kind of back into songwriting, probably two or three years ago. And, we started getting more and more into [it]—got better equipment, better microphones, and we’re making our own demos, basically. And from that, we said, ‘Well, you know, that sounded decent.’ And we were building songs that way, sending riffs, or sending song ideas to each other.”

The album leads off with the track “So What Now,” about Dave Franklin of Vision and his death three years ago. With the melody and progression written primarily by bassist Kevin Lynch, drummer Ed Brown added the words that were hard to speak.

“When those things happen, it brings a lot of people together that you haven’t seen for a long time,” Vecchiarelli says. “There was a memorial show that we played for him. We actually did write a song for the service and everything, I think that was kind of like a catalyst for us to kind of say, ‘Maybe we should be writing some more songs.’ Dave Franklin, who passed away, we came up with him from high school, and we used to practice in his mom’s basement in the neighborhood. I guess it just made us start thinking about those times, and when we did start writing songs, a lot of that came out.”

Vecchiarelli is thankful to Hellminded Records for making things happen and pushing the band to get out their next chapter of new music. A great deal of the process goes back to their roots, 25-plus years ago, and the bonds that were formed back then. He’s grateful to continue the relationships formed long ago at hardcore shows, including with his bandmates, and forge new ones, too.

“I would say that was always my favorite part of being in a band was making original music,” he says. “That part of it doesn’t feel different to me. I mean, I’m not going to record stores and combing, trying to find new music; that part is different. But now more than ever, I do enjoy playing music with my kids; it’s more home-based than anything. I feel like you can definitely feel the same way about the process, making a song that you really love, or like the way the way stuff comes out. And you’re just happy with it. That part definitely doesn’t change. That part is exactly the same and it’s the same guys. We figured out what works for us, obviously, after all this time.”

Eternal Echo is full of original thought. Maybe evolving the meaning of their track “Turn It Back Around,” from Seeing Things, Shades Apart are moving forward—not towards a particular destination, but because they are free. They’re free to create in the basement and home studios, collaborate with old friends, involve family and make great tunes. “95” is such a connector song—midway through the record, a chorus, “Some things never change.” They’ve built a record full of daily life values the scene in 1995 would see as essential today.

“I feel like the whole project was something that we maybe kicked around as a band, kicked around for years and years but never really got around to doing because of so many things happening in our lives,” Vecchiarelli says. “But, to finally have it happened is fun. I mean, hopefully people like it. I don’t know that we were ever super concerned that people were loving our music, but we were just wanting to do what we liked and hopefully connect with people. I can say that hopefully this goes well, and then I wouldn’t mind making some more songs after this.”

Shades Apart have reconnected with the internal core, the heart, the things that raised their scene from the Mid-Atlantic States and brought it to the world. It’s a long way from playing in a friend’s basement to recording on your own—with Eternal Echo, they’ve navigated that road masterfully.

Buy the record here. 

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