Vinyl Theatre has resurfaced the music industry as 100 percent, unreservedly themselves. Last Friday, the threesome released their first independent record, Starcruiser, after parting ways with heavy-weight Fueled By Ramen.
"It's the first record we get in-depth with stories from our lives and our friends' and families' lives. It's a little bit of a more personal record. It's not a bitter record or anything like that after separating from the label, it's just so ourselves. We didn't have anybody telling us what to write or how long a song should be or something. It was really just coming into our own."
Taking a break from tour rehearsals in Milwaukee on August 28, Chris Senner, Keegan Calmes and Nick Cesarz explained Starcruiser was birthed in-house and produced by Cesarz in a little under a year.
"We wanted to be more modern with the production. We just wanted to do some weird things and try everything. If someone had a weird idea, we tried it, especially with the keyboards and vocal ideas. We didn't have a distinct sound we were going for; we just wanted to evolve from the last record and be a little more modern."
The members took their newly found sovereignty and experimented with sounds and muses to create a LP that embodies the authentic Vinyl Theatre.
"We didn't have 15 people to check with whether a song was good and whether or not we should pursue an idea. It was nice, just between the three of us, if we liked something and just to commit to it."
The 11 tracks are so palpable to listeners, it's as if the sound and emotions are tangible in the moment. No longer just a pop-punk band, Vinyl Theatre crafted the songs into bona fide experiences. From a strum-heavy ballad "Dream of Me" to a painful and seemingly fresh wound that inspired "Never Thought This Would Happen."
"We wanted the record to sound cohesive with a particular drum sound that makes it sound universal and keyboard-wise, we definitely went for some weird sounds. It was kind of left field. We try to keep it cohesive, but it's not always easy to do. There a few songs that are kind of out of left field, but it helps round off the record."
"Feel It All," an empowering, sassy anthem turns rejection and bits of anger into a "pump-you-up" anthem of liberation.
"We wrote that song the day we got the phone call that Fueled By Ramen was going to go in a different direction. That was tough, but it was a coming together moment for the three of us. We weren't going to quit music so we wrote that sassy song."
Trying to show a softer side of their music, Vinyl Theatre decided to release a dreamy bop of admiration.
"'Masterpiece' was sort of like a contrast to that, showing we have a diverse record coming out with both sides of the coin on it."
The band members explained their level of anxiousness a few days before the release. Fueled By Ramen separated their release of their last record, Origami, into two halves, which didn't benefit the band much. So, releasing 11 tracks at one time was a bit nerve wracking for the guys, who didn't want to play the single game and decided to release all of their content to their die-hard supporters.
"We've never put out 11 songs at a time. Our last record was pretty botched when we released it. We released four songs first then three weeks later, we released the second set of five songs. It was a complete blunder on the side of Fueled By Ramen. Putting out half a record then half a record was pretty strange. It is what it is. This time we're going to do it our way, and I think people are enjoying bands that are putting out full records. Look at Arctic Monkeys, they just did it, and it did very well for them."
Currently, Vinyl Theatre is on their largest headlining tour to date. The group has toured with the likes of Twenty One Pilots, Misterwives, Smallpools, Magic Man, The Mowgli's and Dashboard Confessional to drop a few names. Being tour veterans, the guys said it's become a normal part of their lives and other than packing a suitcase and rehearsing 24/7, they don't have any rituals like changing their "diets to only pineapple juice or something."
The band said the fans who have stuck around through years don't go unnoticed and try to meet as many fans as possible after each show.
"There are a lot of people that have been trying at this for 10-15 years, and they're still just gigging locally and can't tour nationally and have a fan base. We're extremely lucky to be able to do that. It's definitely a dream to be able to do."
Speaking of dreams, the guys said the record is named 'Starcruiser' because each track goes through different experiences and emotions they've gone through. Additionally, Cesarz designed the album artwork and kept being drawn to outer space influences.
"It's kind of a space odyssey. You can feel the journey through the record, kind of like the Iliad and the Odyssey. It felt like a story from our lives. Some of the early art design was unintentionally revolving around space. The name just kind of came to us."
Most importantly, Vinyl Theatre tried to make sure this album would appeal to fans that have stuck by through the beginning and hopefully draw a new crowd to their fan base too with their revamped sound and universal messages.
"We're trying to make songs from any walk of life. There's a love song, a pump-you-up song. We tried to hit all of the bases on this record. We wanted everyone to be able to relate and show our journey and what we've been through in our own lives. If people can relate to it, that's awesome. But, if people just want to jam out to it and forget the lyrics, that's awesome too."
To stay up to date with Vinyl Theatre or get tickets to a show, visit www.vinyltheatre.com.