Vinnie Caruana

Interview Date: February 19, 2011

Associated bands: I Am The Avalanche, The Movielife, Vinnie Caruana


This interview originally ran in Future Breed Zine Rainfest 2011 Edition
How have things been for you lately?n

VINNIE: Things are going really well. It's been a really good year so far. A lot of interesting things are happening. Obviously I've been doing a lot of solo shows and stuff like that, and people seem to be confused about that. "Is there a solo record?" There's not. That's just kind of my thing. It's the way I keep busy when my band can't travel or tour. I've been doing that a lot, and obviously, the whole thing with THE MOVIELIFE playing Bamboozle is exciting. I think kids are excited so that's something I'm really looking forward to. At the same time, I AM THE AVALANCHE has begun recording a record, and things are looking really good as far as the future. We've kind of taken a break. We play shows here or there, and we haven't taken a break from writing, but we certainly have taken a break from tour. It looks like we're going to be busy again. I'm really excited about everything, man. Everything that's going on. I feel like it's going to be a really interesting year.

How is that recording going so far? I heard you guys were tracking drums the other day.n

Yeah, it's been going great. A lot of people have been asking when it's going to be done. It's not like a traditional thing where the band goes in, spends a month or two, and it's done. This is us doing it in a real-life scenario. We don't have tons of money. Nobody's funding the record to the point where we cannot work jobs and instead just spend every waking moment putting the record together. We're all going to be living our lives and doing the record as time goes by. We're planning on having it done by... I don't know, May? Then hopefully it'll be released later in the year. It's not one of those things where it's going to be instant. We were working on drums, and we're starting bass... just trucking along. We're not cooped up in the studio for two months or anything like that. It's more like... this week, we get a lot done, then next week, we all have to work, and it fluctuates.

Is it weird to revisit these songs for final recordings after so long since you demoed them?n

Well... it's not weird for us because... well, I AM THE AVALANCHE is a weird band. That's just the way it is. We're just weird. We used to be a full-time touring band who didn't stop for like two years straight. We did like every single tour on the planet we could do. Now, things have changed. I'm kind of glad. If we released our record when we thought we would, which even three years ago we thought we would have a record out, it wouldn't have been a great record. Everyone in the band gets a little bummed out because real life has set in, and we're not really doing very much, but at the same time, we've written a record that is really going to surprise everyone. It's something that I feel confident about, and it's something that I wouldn't have felt confident about had things worked out that a record would have been out a long time ago.

Obviously in a perfect world, you would just play music and hang out, never pay rent, never work... You know? This is real life. It's obviously annoying to the people who like our band that we haven't released any new music. There will be songs that were leaked before on the record, but there will be a lot of new music too that people have never heard before. We're trying to keep that stuff protected so it doesn't get leaked out. Revisiting the songs has been cool though. We didn't really change them too much, but we definitely gave them a little bit more juice, power, and structure. That was cool. Revisiting a song you wrote like four years ago but never finished and just taking some time to finally put together the rest of the song feels great. We get to revisit it as adults.

Shifting gears a little... I AM THE AVALANCHE's next show is Bamboozle. THE MOVIELIFE is also playing. How did that all come about?n

So... it's kind of a thing where since THE MOVIELIFE broke up, every now and then, people would be like, "So... want to play another show?" It's never been at a good time, and nobody wanted to do it. That's the age-old story, and everyone seems to know at this point that I was always down to do it, but not everybody else was. Some of the guys in THE MOVIELIFE approached me and asked if I wanted to do a show. I was like, "Yeah! Let me call John D and see if they want to have us." They did. John D and Christian have been really supportive of everything that I have done musically. When it happened that THE MOVIELIFE actually was going to do a show together again, the first people I wanted to call were them.

Did your set where you played THE MOVIELIFE songs at Bamboozle in 2008 spark conversations that led to this?n

With THE MOVIELIFE guys? No, they were probably pissed about that. I would imagine... I mean, when that came about, they were having the feeling that it was never going to happen. When that hit home for me, I decided to do whatever I wanted to do without asking permission from anyone. It was clear that they didn't want anything to do with it. It wasn't a thing where we ever really spoke about that. It was just a thing that I did and felt like doing. In hindsight, I probably wouldn't have done it. I don't regret doing it because it was very special, but the reason I did it was because it had been made clear to me that the full-band thing wouldn't happen. Brandon and I wrote all THE MOVIELIFE songs, and as far as the creative process of THE MOVIELIFE went, he was the most central guy to it. He was the one who also wasn't into the idea of playing then. The fact that he was so outspoken against the idea of playing again led me to my decision to play the set at Bamboozle before. In hindsight I wouldn't have done it because here we are now talking about us actually playing together. Life changes with time always. The whole reason we're talking right now about it is because Brandon wanted to play.

You have some acoustic shows coming up with him too, right?n

I have been playing solo shows for a while, and I would always tell Brandon that he needed to try it sometime. It's a good way to stay creative, stay busy, and travel. He started doing shows, and we started playing together. We had a few shows together, and that was really the first time we had gotten together musically in a while. We were planning on doing shows together anyway because we're good friends, and it's always good to have a friend while traveling. The fact that the whole Bamboozle thing is happening is just good timing. I think people are excited to get a little taste... The plan is for me to do a solo set, him to do a solo set, then at the end, us doing some music together.

You have been playing some incredibly eclectic shows in the Providence area over the last few years. Do you welcome that kind of mixed bill, or is it uncomfortable to play with nearly polar opposites from your style of band?n

I don't know... I think that the crossover aspect is greater than ever right now. I think there are a lot of hardcore kids that just kind of like everything nowadays. There seems to be a lot of kids in general with very diverse tastes. You can obviously count on that small group of small-minded people who think they are only supposedly to like a certain style and that's it, but there are a lot of people including myself who are otherwise. The way I grew up in New York, if you were a hardcore kid my age (when we were like 15), there was probably a 99% chance you listened to more hip-hop than hardcore. That's just the way it worked. I would say that I listen to 50% hip-hop at this point in my life. Do I listen to most of the bands that I would play with, like flip them on with my iPod on the subway? Most likely not.

I'm a 31 year old dude who grew up in New York primarily on hip-hop music. Obviously with an open mind though. My favorite band when I was in 4th grade was PUBLIC ENEMY. At the same time, I was listening to QUEEN and JUDAS PRIEST and stuff like that. I think a lot of people are like that. Tour wise, I don't think it works that well for my band. If we end up on the wrong tour, it's terrible for us. Festival wise, I think it's better to have the eclectic mix. People can wander in or walk away. I AM THE AVALANCHE has done some great tours, and there have been some tours that it just doesn't work. Something with our band that we haven't quite found is our ideal tour.

Is it uncomfortable when bands cover THE MOVIELIFE songs at I AM THE AVALANCHE shows? I know I've seen it happen on multiple occasions.n

That happened at the ICC, which you probably remember the show I'm referencing, and I said no. This is the thing... I get asked to play MOVIELIFE songs with bands probably... I don't know, 25, 30 times a year? You know what I mean? If I play a show, and there's a band who wants to play a MOVIELIFE song and have me sing, the answer is really no. It's not a thing where it's no, I'm being a dick. It's hard because I am right there and have to say, "Dude, don't hate me. I'm not being a dick, but the answer is no, I don't want to." I really like being in control of my output in music. I don't think just because a band covered one of my songs means I'm obligated to sing it with them. Especially when my band is going on next that has nothing to do with THE MOVIELIFE. You know? I don't like the idea of singing a MOVIELIFE song then getting on stage and singing I AM THE AVALANCHE songs right after. I like to be in control of when I sing my songs and when I don't, and I see no reason to feel obligated or dictated to go outside of that comfort I have.

I just saw that you guys are going to Puerto Rico. Have you ever been there before, and how did this come together?n

Never, never been there. We're so excited *laugh*. We have a little bit of a history with PARAMORE. I AM THE AVALANCHE's first headlining tour, which was probably an average of 25 people at each show, had PARAMORE and THE AUDITION on it. This was probably 2005 or something. I don't even remember if we had a record out at the time. That was that, and through the years I'd see the band randomly wearing AVALANCHE shirts in magazines or whatever. We have a lot of mutual friends, and we share the same booking agent. I saw they were going there, and our booking agent asked if we were interested. He gave them a call and mentioned that we were available, and that was that. We're pretty stoked because now we are going on vacation *laugh*. The show is at a giant arena, just one show, and we're staying for 5 days and just vacationing and hanging out. I'm so stoked. Are you still in New England right now?

Yep, still in cold Boston.n

Yeah, you know how brutal the winter has been *laugh*. We're stoked to get out of here.