Indie-rockers Deas Vail are back with a brand new self-titled LP, and are continuing to gain more and more buzz. The band's follow up album to 2010's Birds and Cages, this self-tilted album is a progressive album, pulling in new lyrical themes and musical inspirations. For more information on the band or purchase their new album, check them out at http://www.deasvail.com/.
I recently was able to speak briefly with front man Wes Blaylock about the new record, and possible new direction...
With the new, self-titled album, did you guys have a direction in mind before you approached the writing and recording process for this album?
Blaylock: We knew we wanted to simplify our song writing a bit and we knew that we wanted to record the album differently than we had with previous recordings. We approached the writing process in sections. We were touring a lot, so when we had time at home we would just pick up where we left off from our previous break. From all of those separate sessions, we pick our favorite songs and then polished them in pre-production before going into the studio for the final recording.
Our direction for recording was to be as organic as possible. We wanted to be minimalists and to try to create great sounds, progressions, melodies, and lyrics without adding lots of extra instrumentation. It is so easy to throw in tons of parts for every instrument. Sometimes doing that makes a song feels like a musical gauntlet, which can be stressful to listen to. So, our goal was to steer ourselves away from that tendency. I think we did a great job of it and learned a lot about ourselves as artists. It was definitely a challenge. Did you have a direction that you wanted to take this album sonically?
We wanted to do more with less. We wanted to record something that represented what we sound like on stage.
How did the writing process pan out for this album? Was there a certain process that seemed to re-occur?
Sometimes songs present themselves to us and sometimes other songs need to be coaxed into existence. Fortunately, we were able to run with the songs that presented themselves to us more often than not. With that said, I had trouble getting some of the lyrics right for a few of the songs. Typically, the lyrics come last for us. I guess it’s because so much of the music is written with an emphasis on “feel” whereas only a portion of the lyric comes from that space. Much of the lyric has to be thought through and molded in order say what we want in a small amount of time and in an appropriate format for the song. Some artists fly through this process, but we tend to take our time with it.
Listening through the album, there definitely seems to be a constant theme of love. Was that intentional, or just how it panned out?
It is just how it panned out. I am glad it is a theme without us really planning it out that way. I think songs about love can easily become redundant, but I think we evaded that stereotype by incorporating so many perspectives on love. There are songs about hanging on and letting go, fear and courage, beginnings and endings, and we even address the unknown aspects of love in the opening track “Desire.” Love is a term that we use often and take for granted even more. It is more complex and mysterious than anyone can really understand. Nonetheless we should always strive to learn more about what it means to love our fellow man. I think I learned more about loving people while writing this album and it is my hope that others have a similar experience. If people truly tried to love one another, and I don’t just mean their significant others, then most of our problems would simply disappear. This sounds so simple yet it is usually one of the first attitudes we abandon in times of trouble or stress. Love is not an easy task but it is a worth while one.
How would you say the writing processed differed from previous releases?
I think we were a little more mature as songwriters for this album. We toured a lot on Birds and Cages and with that came a lot of experiences that got poured into our song writing. It is funny how cyclical all of this is. All our experiences get poured into songs, we record, we tour, we have more experiences, and we write more songs. Are you all periodic writers, or is writing a continual process?
It varies. We are periodic writers when it comes to Deas Vail’s music. Justin, Andy, and I do write songs apart from DV material. These are usually songs that just don’t fit the bands style. When the band is writing, we usually all write together though.
You worked with Matt Hoopes on this record. How was that experience and what intentionally attracted you guys to work with him?
It was great! Matt is a very talented guy and has been a friend for years. When he offered to produce the album we were pretty much all about it right away. It was an experiment for the both of us because we had never recorded a full length with anyone but Mark Lee Townsend and Matt had never produced an album before. I think we thrived on the adventure of it though. We just trusted each other and tried not to think about any inadequacies we might have had. Instead we put energy into making music that we would enjoy listening to.
Was there a song on the self-titled album that really surprised you with its outcome, from start to finish?
“Desire.” We are pretty proud of how that one turned out.
What would you like for people to take away from this album?
I hope they like the way the recording sounds. I hope people enjoy the song writing and I really hope people take the time to listen to the lyrics. I personally pour myself into lyrics and I would love to think that others would connect to things I am thinking about or going through. It is a beautiful thing when music is the bridge that brings people together, even if they have never met. My hope is that people would understand a little bit about me through the songs. I think we all (the band) hope for that connection as well.
What first attracted you to Mono vs. Stereo?
Matt Hoopes and Kevin Spellman attracted us initially. We trust those guys and that is worth more to us than anything any other label could offer us. We knew that they would work as hard as we work or more, and we knew that we would be friends no matter what. We knew Matt long before MVS was on the table.
Really is it Matt who is responsible for connecting the dots though. He pursued us and made things happen for us that no one else had been able to before. That is something we were, and still are, so honored by. At this point, we are more acquainted with the rest of the staff at MVS as well and I can honestly say that all of the people there are quality people who work really hard! We are really happy where we are right now.
What do you guys have coming up after the release of the album?
Right now we are on the road until November. In December we will be touring again with a new Christmas EP (which we are so excited about.) Next year we will hit the road hard and continue to promote the album.
Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
Yesterday it was Ray Lamontagne. We were in Arkansas playing some cd release shows. The fall here is amazing, with gorgeous colors, a constant breeze, and great temps. Ray definitely fits the “fall” vibe for me. It was a great day.