Interview: VIAL Talks ‘Burnout’ and Collaboration

VIAL are a three-piece, multi-genre powerhouse. By nature, they’re not easily defined. Their sound is ever-changing, and they reject most labels they’ve been pinned with, such as “a girl band,” which is evident across their discography. 

“We’re punks, baby!” Taylor Kraemer, VIAL’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, describes. But in their essence, VIAL transcend any single title.

The Minneapolis-based trio is comprised of KT Branscom, Katie Fischer, and Taylor Kraemer, each a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and lyricist. Drawing from their own eclectic tastes, they each bring a unique style and flair into the band’s dynamic.

Since their formation in 2019, the band have released three full-length albums spanning different genres and versions of themselves. Never confined to one sound or style, their albums test the limits of genres like grunge, punk, and pop punk. 

VIAL’s latest album, burnout, marks a new age for themselves, they say. It’s a 10-track album brimming with stories of breakups, apathetic wisdom, and introspection, and it’s a testament to their artistic growth and maturity.

“It felt like we really, really honed our craft,” Fischer says of burnout’s inception. “I felt like it was all coming together.”

VIAL was initially born when Branscom and Kraemer met after an afterschool music program when they were teenagers. “Ever since then, I think I just knew that KT and I needed to be in a band spiritually,” Kraemer remembers. That spark was reignited when the two reconnected a couple of years later, finding themselves finally ready to form a band and seeking a drummer. 

“It was really important for us on an emotional, spiritual level that we really clicked as a family and not just coworkers or friends,” Kraemer says. “So we were really picky about the drummer aspect.”

Kraemer and Branscom took to Tinder, creating a profile for the band and asking to meet with drummers in hopes of finding the right fit. Within a few days, they matched with Fischer and booked the first practice. From their first rehearsal, they said they knew that this pairing was meant to be.

“I felt like from the first rehearsal, all of us were very gracious with each other and gracious allowing ourselves to learn our instruments together,” Fischer says. 

“On top of that, we have the same politics, the same ideals. That was really important to us as a band who is slightly political in what we write,” Branscom adds. 

VIAL soon became fully formed. While writing and demoing songs, they said yes to every opportunity and found their way into their local DIY scene in Minneapolis, where they began to find their audience.  

“I think it’s so fun whenever we do shows … You can always tell when people are VIAL fans,” Fischer says. “They walk in the door, and they have the best outfits, they have colored hair and just a really put-together aesthetic … I think that’s so fun.”

Soon, they were touring with FIDLAR, HUNNY, and Mal Blum and releasing two albums, LOUDMOUTH and Grow Up. After a couple of years of challenges and transitions, like lineup changes and experimenting with their sound across two albums, the trio feels like something has finally clicked. 

Burnout, they say, hallmarks their latest era—both as artists and individually. 

“When we became a three-piece, there was a lot of shifting relational dynamics between us three, and we became a lot closer,” Branscom says. “I think that expressed itself through our songwriting and live performances, as well. I think there was a natural evolution there.”

Since their formation, writing music has always been about doing what felt best for them at the moment. Whether it’s a track about heartache after a breakup or about letting go, everything VIAL produces is a raw and authentic picture of that moment in time.

Burnout was born out of a challenging year for the three, not only for each artist personally but also for the band as a whole. “We had a tumultuous year back in 2022, and that was a lot of inspiration behind a lot of the songs,” Branscom says. 

“I wasn’t nearly as angry writing this record as I was while writing LOUDMOUTH,” Kraemer adds. “I was more apathetic and fed up, and just like, ‘I’m gonna make the art that makes sense for me in this time period,’ as opposed to doing it to spite anybody or win anything.”

Since the release of their previous two albums, VIAL have let themselves take themselves less seriously. “We kind of gave ourselves permission to just do whatever we wanted,” Fischer says. 

Burnout is filled with anthemic tracks that show off their musical flair, like “just fine” and “apathy,” but also with tracks that expertly lace humorous lyrics with hard-hitting instrumentals. While they call this the “Taylor special,” noting Kraemer as the main lyricist for these tracks, their courage to step outside the pressures to be “serious” came from their natural artistic evolution and trust between the three.

“Some of these songs are comedy songs, honestly,” Fischer says. “I don’t think we ever would’ve done that before. I think it just came with feeling comfortable and really trusting each other.”

The track “chronic illness flareups” is a testament to their free-spiritedness. It’s a self-described goofy 37-second song that sits mid-way through the album. They even collaborated with tourmate JER on a ska rendition of their track “just fine” and performed it live together on tour. 

There wasn’t one defining moment that led the band to be able to shed the weight of seriousness and pressures of songwriting, they say, but instead was led by their own revelations and acting on inspiration from the artists they look up to.

“I think just taking inspiration from other bands and artists that kind of do similar things that have the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude, helped me to break down those expectations that music should be serious,” Branscom says.

For VIAL, music has always gone beyond just a means for expression and into a cathartic journey for self-discovery. Whether writing an angsty riot grrrl-inspired track or hearing from fans after their shows, they each discover something in their songs. 

“I have written lyrics for one song, which is ‘Planet Drool’ and I think definitely after it was very cathartic just getting all that like out of my system,” Fischer says. 

“I think for me, I’ll bring a song to the group, and I’m really unsure of it at first,” Branscom adds. “But then, we figure out the drumbeat, and what the what the chords are, and we play it together for the first time, and that’s when it kind of clicks for me.” 

“I think it clicks for me a step later when it’s shared by us to people— interested in our band or aren’t— and hearing their responses or how relatable it is,” Kraemer says. “Hearing that other people go through the same thing is usually when the original emotions kind of subside into something a little bit more like ‘oh, this community has our back, and this community feels the same things, and we all live the same life just various different circumstances.”

As they head out on their latest tour following the release of burnout, VIAL have already found themselves evolving into their next iteration. As they hit the road, VIAL are eagerly waiting to unveil an upcoming special project slated for November, pushing them further into their next chapter.

“We’re continuously writing music— forever,” Fischer says.

You can listen to the album here

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