Vega: The brightest star in the constellation Lyra. New Vega: This band from Dayton, Ohio – comprised of Alex Rundle, Chance Campbell, Adam Sabin, and Zach Sabin – challenge the phrase “music genre” and are promoting their first LP ‘Tempo.’ In what can only be described as a cosmic coincidence, this writer has met lead vocalist, keys and vibraphone player Alex Rundle on a variety of occasions around the city of Dayton. One night while chatting about the band’s upcoming LP release, a plan was put in motion and OurVinyl was invited to New Vega’s 1300 square foot studio to talk with the band about their music.
Meeting with three of the four band mates (Alex, Adam, and Zach), in their studio, which is housed in the first Huffy Bicycle factory built in the late 1800s, we talked about how New Vega was formed, the building of their studio space, and their upcoming album ‘Tempo.’
“We played in a band called My Goodness Gracious before this and a jazz quartet before that…and as New Vega we played our first show in 2008.” The brothers Sabin (Adam: bass, baritone and Zach: drums, percussion) and Alex all went to high school together and Adam knew Chance from a different high school. They work and play… both music and otherwise, as guys who have grown-up together. Musically they thrive off one another and mesh their different strengths to form a cohesive unit. As friends, they’re quite amusing to hang around just to listen to them banter.
Case in point, when asked where the band name New Vega originated, Adam answered, “I thought of it. It’s one of those things that when you’re thinking about what to name the band and 40,000 things come to mind and none of them really catch and you throw away what you don’t like more than finding what you do. I was literally driving back from Columbus and I just thought of it and I thought I’d throw it out there. There’s a lot of concept to the name – I guess the thing I was thinking about is the idea to preserve humanity one day we’ll have to find another galaxy or planet or something. We always look for other planets that have earth like qualities. So it’s kind of fun and it lets you think about a lot of different things, it’s still kind of vague but it lets your brain wander off to different places in the universe.” At this point Alex chimed in with a leading question… “Wasn’t Vega the closest…?” to which Adam finished, “Yeah, closest solar system or star… it’s 26.1 light years away and has properties similar to earth.” Not knowing anything of what they were talking about, I volunteered to do some research. Alex then answered with some humor in his voice, “Yeah please do because I don’t think that any of that was really accurate. [The name] was the lesser of a bunch of evils.”
Well to clear things up, Vega itself is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, which is found in the galaxy Andromeda. Vega is 27 light years away, and Andromeda is the closest galaxy with relationship to the Milky Way. So New Vega was not too far off with their explanation, and we all got an astronomy lesson. Now, moving on…
We talked briefly of the band’s 2009 self-titled 3 track EP, which they created to bring with them to the Midpoint Music Festival. Adam said, “we just really wanted to leave something in peoples’ hands so that they could know our music. There are three songs: “Habits,” “Relativity,” and “The Stars.” As it turned out, “Habits” ended up being the opening track for the album we’re about to release.”
Their LP, ‘Tempo’ is set to come out at the band’s CD release party on Saturday, July 30th at Canal Street Tavern in Dayton. Of the album and its creation process Alex said, “Yeah, some of the songs came about like three years ago, but they’re not the same song anymore. Which you hear all the time, you know? You’ll hear a new song come out from a new Radiohead album, but they’ve been playing it since 8 years ago… but in terms of recording it and putting it down for our record, we started in November 2010. We recorded all the way up to March and then we started mixing from that point. In May and June we started the mastering process which we kind of worked with a guy a little bit but then just ended up doing it ourselves so we learned from that experience too. We produced, mixed, and mastered the entire album ourselves.” He added, “Building this studio was part of the process of making this album because when we first built it we thought we’re going to build this place to make this thing… and now that we’ve made this thing, the studio is going away. It’s kind of cool, I like thinking about it like that. You go and march out somewhere and set up your area to do your thing, then you finish it and you tear it down. You walk away with your product.” To fill in the gaps a bit, the band – while born out of Dayton – will soon be setting up shop in Cincinnati. The studio will in turn be stripped down; due both in part to the band worrying about flooding in the old building where they are housed, and out of the necessity to be closer to where they’ll be living, working, and playing a good chunk of their shows.
As far as the music and the songs that made the cut for the LP, the band talks about the development process. Adam noted, “When you record, and that’s the benefit of having your own studio, you have the time to really analyze what’s happening with the music and the songs and the melodies…in preparing to record the songs we pre-tracked them and then we worked with tempos to see what were the best tempos for each song, so we really tried to develop them as much as we could, so the songs over the course of the past several years, really did see a lot of changes.” He added one of the biggest challenges of the whole album making process was determining the order of the songs on the album. “This is a super diverse album because we have these really pretty acoustic ballads and these monster power rock songs and we’ve got these real strange, kind of epic, sort of spacey songs, so trying to find how each song is going to weave and enter into the next song is quite a process.”
When it comes to creating their songs, each member of the band contributes. Alex puts together most of the lyrics with word help and placement from the rest of the band. Additionally, Alex and Chance work on putting together melodies while Adam and Zach put together the beat and the “underneath” of each song. Zach, the quietest of the three chimed in saying, “Unfortunately because we all work full-time jobs the process is a bit scattered. It would be nice if we had a week to come in day after day and spend extended hours in here, but we have very little time. So when we do have one or two days that is when we all get in and put everything together; everything else is just in our free time.”
The conversation continued and moved to the question of which comes first, music or lyrics? Alex fielded by answering, “Music. Absolutely. Yeah, I’m pretty staunch with my answer there.” Adam broke in saying, “It’s hilarious because Alex does this whole phonetic thing where we’re playing and he puts in a bunch of babbling.” Then Alex added, “They’re syllables that reinforce the rhythm… I don’t know if it’s right or not, but writing lyrics first has never really worked for me.”
We progressed to talking about the songs from the new album, which took a slightly humorous turn. When asked, do you have a favorite song from ‘Tempo’? Adam answered and said, “I was thinking about this and the one that I think I like listening to most is the song “Cut the Strings” which is track 6…” As he was mid sentence Alex interrupted with a sort of incredulous, “Really?” And then Zach added the question, “Which one is that?” to which everyone started cracking up, and he continued, “No, I swear to God… I’m a little out of the loop.” Adam helped his brother out, “We just switched the titles of a few of the songs.” Zach jumped back in, “Yeah, yeah, we did just change names, I mean it was like two months ago, but ok, so, “Cut the Strings,” yeah I like that one a lot too.” Again, Alex comes back with, “Really?!” All in all this whole exchange was pretty amusing and one gets a sense of just how much fun these guys have together.
After that bit of dialogue, Alex added, “Recording-wise I like “Throwing Like Dice; it sounds really cool. I say that too because it’s one of those songs that is going to sound really different live than it does on the CD and just because the type of song it is, which is a spacey type rock song and gave us the opportunity to go out there, way down a deep dark hole and start layering and doing all sorts of stuff, which is unique. Playing live, I think I like “Forming Circles.” It’s fun because live is has a nice quarter note kick thing.” “Forming Circles” will also be the band’s first music video, which will be out in the very near future.
They talked a lot about the long arduous process of putting together an album on their own, but also how the experience in working in a studio that they built and doing everything themselves was very rewarding. The band mentioned that they could spend another year tweaking the album, but are happy with the final results.
And then the interview took a turn. Adam said, “One thing I do want to say about the album, people and other bands have asked us why are you guys going to spend money to try and sell records? People do everything online these days and it costs money to do a physical thing like this. But for us, number one, this is something we’ve always striven to do as musicians, put records out. People go out and buy records, and I know shit gets leaked online and you can get anything for free these days, but, A – it is physically cool to have a copy of our record, to have our work and be able to put it in and listen to it, and B – some day when the zombie apocalypse happens people won’t have computer or the Internet, all people might be able to do is to find some car that has a CD player in it and that is going to be the only way people will ever be able to listen to music ever again” (Alex and Zach are laughing the whole time and giving us full permission to quote “zombie apocalypse” for the article) but Adam continues on, “because, yes, yes, that’s going to be the only way people will ever be able to listen to music again is in a CD player in a car. So our CD might be the epic soundtrack to people slaying zombies.” I interject with a question about this scenario and ask, “What about vinyl?” expressing concern that CDs might be destroyed in the zombie apocalypse (Seriously, I’ve obviously lost any semblance of control to the interview at this point, how could I NOT participate in this narrative?) The answer, “Well vinyl is too slow for zombies, you don’t have time to set that shit up, to stop and put a record on the player when you’re on the run just shooting zombies. CD is definitely the wave of the future.”
Although we did have a nice time talking about the merits of vinyl, something the band aspires to one day be able to put out, clearly that was the turning point in meeting with New Vega… really, who can top a zombie apocalypse story that seemingly came out of the clear blue? Not this writer, that’s for sure. Though on one last note, the gentlemen of New Vega tasked someone to find an appropriate classification or genre for their style of music. Some have called them “spacey rock,” others have said “jazz inspired” or “progressive rock,” jokingly they have called themselves “cynical rock” – the band said they’re hoping some day someone will tag them and say “Boom, that’s it, that’s their style of music.” Right now we’ll tag New Vega as a “fusion rock band” that exemplifies the word “tight” in reference to music. They seamlessly meld together rock, synth, funk, jazz, and acoustic pop sounds in an eclectically delightful manner. After spending some time with the band, these are guys who anyone would want to know; after listening to ‘Tempo’ (Latin for time – a theme that is expressed throughout the LP) on repeat for two days straight, this is a band that that one simply just does not get sick of listening to.
New Vega will soon be touring in support of their new album ‘Tempo,’ visit them now on facebook and twitter, or soon on their website www.newvega.com to find out more information.
Written by: Linda Turk