What do you get when two rock bands from Texas interview one another? How about a quirky exchange that discusses everything from what a song about a bear fighting an airplane would sound like to how you know when it’s the right time to hire a team? Check out Houston, Texas concept band Vox Vocis and Austin pop-punkers Shadow of Whales interviewing one another in this exclusive feature.
Shadow of Whales: How’s tour going?
Vox Vocis: The tour has been really great! It’s taken us to locations we’ve never gotten to visit, but we’re pretty sure we’ve spent more time in the van than out of it.
SoW: Who has been your favorite band to open for/play with?
VV: We got to play with this crazy, bombastic band from Arizona called the Psychadelephants, and they have been our favorite thus far. They had really groovy music and great stage presence.
VV: If you had to write a song about a giant bear fighting an airplane, what kind of mood/tone would the song have?
SoW: I think it would be more of a ballad type of song. You know? Parts of the song from the bear’s point of view and how he feels and then other parts of the song from the airplane’s point of view. That way, listeners could really understand what’s really going on. Kind of like “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf, but obviously with a completely different subject. [Laughs]
VV: What do you guys do for fun on the road?
SoW: Well… We created a game called “Butt-Fishing.” It’s kind of hard to explain, but it involves goldfish and lots of frustration. It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. [Laughs] We explain the rules of Butt-Fishing on our YouTube channel.
SoW: What do you guys do for food on the road?
VV: Imagine it’s 2 am and nothing is opened and you have to resort to eating all those snacks in your house that you know are there but don’t really want. That’s what tour is like.
VV: What made you decide to go with Patreon for your next releases?
SoW: We wanted to have a more direct connection to our fans in every sense of the word. We wanted the transaction of our music to be more direct, more special, and more impactful. We also were kind of gripped with not being able to release our music to the general public so this helped that challenge.
It also took out the middle man. It took out iTunes, Spotify, and all the other places that took cuts of our music (typically a full cut because we haven’t seen a dime from any of them) and put it into our pocket. This way, we can actually use the “money” we make on our music specifically and put it towards something better for the band’s future, and again, for this amazing family who has supported us from day one and just keeps growing. I’m not saying Spotify isn’t useful (it is) or that iTunes isn’t important (it is), which is why we will release at least some of the music on an album or EP by the end of the year. iTunes still has the charts and Spotify is still useful for exposure. But we already have a sampling on those platforms (our first EP), so we felt we were in a good position to try this out.
VV: Where does your name come from?
SoW: Our keyboard player, JD, had this insane dream one day that he was walking in a city and saw floating whales in the sky. One of them blotted out the sun and cast him in its shadow. He said it was the most humbling experience he’d ever had. When he arose from his slumber he wrote a poem about that dream and our band name was a line in that poem. It speaks to what we want to stay true to. We fully believe that we are incredibly lucky – or rather, blessed – to be where we are and to be on this path. We want to stay true to that humility no matter how big or how far we get.
VV: Do you think living in Austin has helped you as a band? If you didn’t live in Austin, where would you wanna play music?
SoW: Yes and no. Austin is great because there’s a lot of venues. But there are also a lot of musicians so it can be hard to stand out. But I suppose it’s hard to stand out anywhere. If not Austin, though, I think it would be really awesome to be based in California.
VV: What’s your opinion on working with a label/management vs opting not to?
SoW: I think the answer to this question is different for everybody at different times. A band today more than ever is a business. When you’re working hard and building your business, sometimes along the way you’ll have people that will offer to invest or work with you, and if it’s the right business decision, I say go for it. You have to look at it from every angle just as you would a regular business partnership. You have to ask “Is this agreement going to grow my business the way I want to grow it?” You’re asking me of course and we haven’t really gotten to that stage yet, so I can’t really say from experience, this is just speculation.
In my opinion, I think you have to wait or look for the RIGHT partnership that will be beneficial for BOTH parties. They can’t just be right for you, you have to be right for them. If you feel like they might take you farther but you’re not likely to provide any benefit to them, then it’s probably still not the right partnership, or at least it’s not the right time for that partnership.
A recent experience I can recall is that a band recently asked us to help them on their tour. They were coming from Kansas and wanted us to support them in Austin. For us, it just didn’t fit our goals for what we are currently doing in Austin. It wasn’t the right time for us and we wouldn’t be able to support them enough to make Austin really worth their while. Sure, we could put on a good show and even bring a good amount of people, but not enough to pay for their gas all the way from Kansas. We’ve made that trip and it’s really expensive. [Laughs] So we passed on the opportunity even though it might have been good for us because we would have had a connection in Kansas. I think they respected us a lot more in the end though.
SoW: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten from a musician or someone in the industry?
VV: Be sociable at shows, practice consistently, advertise constantly.
Follow Vox Vocis (for fans of: Coheed and Cambria, The Dear Hunter, The Mars Volta)
Follow Shadow of Whales (RIYL: Panic! At the Disco, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand
Bands Interviewing Bands: Vox Vocis & Shadow of Whales. Photo credit: Ashly Nicole Photography on Vox Vocis (left) CeeCee Hood on Shadow of Whales (right)