An Interview with VOWS
Over the past few months, a curious band that sprouted out of a duo’s project, Vows, has begun an upward march towards the top of the musical food chain. Their first album, Winter’s Grave, was released last April, a little over a year ago now. “Bone Blanket” and “Nillo” (the artists’ preferred stage names), aided by three other members of the friendly collaborative project and label that is the Crystal Mountain Music Collective, put together the band’s debut and offered their fans an outstanding live experience.
In the vein of lo-fi psych-folk/pop bands like Spiritualized or Beach House, Vows has a dreamy, gentle yet passionate sound, and Winter’s Grave (which you can download for free on the CMMC website) is a brilliant representation of it. Vows is currently working on a new album and re-organizing the band.
Vows has come a long way in the past few months. You’ve played a lot of great shows in bigger and better venues and have accrued a respectable fan base. How do you feel about your success?
It’s always great to get a positive response to something you put a lot of your heart into doing. When you go into something with not many expectations to begin with (which is something we have all definitely said to each other going into certain situations blindly), there’s always less of a let-down if it doesn’t pan out. But for the bit of success that we’ve seen so far, we are very grateful. I think it gives us that little extra push over the edge to really dive into things. We’ve all expressed to each other numerous times how much we really want to be doing this. And the positive feedback reassures us that we’re in a good spot.
Winter’s Grave was made with minimal recording equipment, and its lo-fi mixing makes a staple for your sound. Is that the sound you ultimately want to embrace for your future recordings?
Yeah, we really had the bare basement essentials for recording Winter’s Grave. A lot of it was recorded on an old 4-track. Much of our favorite music is lo-fi, so it wasn’t a big deal to embrace the sound we were producing. We went into the new album the same way as we approached Winter’s Grave, and with essentially the same equipment. However, things tend to grow and turn out differently every time. We learn so much about recording each time we make an album, so the new one is a product of that as well as where we felt we wanted to take it after touring. To me, the new album sounds bigger and cleaner and more concise. It’s certainly not a studio album – it’s still basically a lo-fi, basement project – but to me it’s a departure, which was the point of Vows in the first place.
What’s in the books for Vows in the near future?
We have a new member lineup that we are extremely excited about. With the new album coming out, and the chances we’ve been given to keep going, we are itching to play as many shows as possible and hopefully do some touring. I think the band has reached a new point where we are finally all on the same page more than we’ve ever been, and it has happened very organically, which has always been the case with us. June is a heavy show month for us, and hopefully it keeps growing for the rest of the summer and end of the year.
In which ways will your new album be similar to Winter’s Grave and in which will it differ? Do you have any new songs you’re currently playing live that will be included on it?
This new album is a lot more focused and driven. Again, I think Winter’s Grave was more like a notebook that truly resolved itself once Vows became a live force. If that album had just existed as another project in our little collective, I don’t know that it would’ve evolved to what it is today. Winter’s Grave was the fire under our asses, the building blocks for Vows as a band. We didn’t ever think we’d be playing these songs out at shows, and that was a driving force behind the creative process.
I think the only similarity between the new album and the last was the fact that we recorded and mixed it ourselves. But our technique with that has evolved ages since Winter’s Grave. Our choices and recording ideas have gotten more tasteful.
It was so much more comfortably created, just knowing that we’d be playing these songs live. It added a lot of confidence and excitement to the writing. It’s more organic and way more cohesive. Lyrically, it touches on such a broader spectrum of emotion. We pretty much poured our souls out for this one, and I don’t know if I can truly say that for Winter’s Grave – not that that album is soulless, but it was totally unforeseen. We went into the new album telling ourselves it’s gotta be over the top, and we pushed ourselves – I’ve never felt so much pressure and stress writing an album before, but it’ll pay off. We’re currently implementing two new songs from the album into our set, “Nighttime” and “White Ring,” both of which will shape themselves each time we play, because we’re also working on a new live arrangement. Very excited for the future of Vows!