1. what made you guys explore this musical path?
We all come from singer/songwriter backgrounds really. A couple years ago we started this musical endeavor called the Crystal Mountain Music Collective, which we turned into a blog (www.crystalmountainmusic.wordpress.com), and it sort of became our main hub outlet for a place we could put our individual singer/songwriter music on. We just wanted to have stuff out there for free, we were all writing a lot and releasing a bunch of material. I mean we had been doing that for years prior to the collective idea. But Vows was something that James and myself (Jeff) started up as a total shot in the dark really – we just wanted to “plug in” and make a more experimental album, kind of branch off from the folky acoustic stuff. We recorded the album and put that online and it really sort of took off among friends and the blog world so we were kind of left asking ourselves, “Well, how do we turn this into a full band?” Of course, however we knew who to go to for a lineup and that’s how Vows came to be.
2. Winter’s Grave sounds like a recording in vinyl..are you guys fond of analog music?
Absolutely. We’ve all been huge fans of vinyl recordings and records, but also analog, home-made, lo-fi sound. All of us have a bunch of our own stuff recorded by whatever means we’re able to do that on as far as equipment goes. 4-tracks, tape recorders, etc. The main guitar lines for “Winter’s Grave” and “Parallel” were both recorded to an old Tascam III Portastudio 4-track tape recorder used as a mixer. The whole album is really like a giant sound scrapbook. James was living in Baltimore at the time and we were just zipping a lot of files over the internet and recording by whatever means we could. Obviously all that shit comes down to money, but we’ve all also been in professional studio settings to record albums before, and we’re ultimately drawn back to this homemade type of sound where you can literally smell the mold on the inside of a great record sleeve. It’s funny, “Winter’s Grave” was what it was, but we have lately been defining our style through our live sound, and I think our new album shows that. Everyone keeps using the word “BIG” to describe it, which is rad to hear. It’s becoming this gigantic wall of sound, I think bigger and more organic than “Winter’s Grave”. Maybe not as “vinyl” or analog sounding, but still homemade, primarily in a basement setting.
3.I wonder why you guys took up the monikers Bone Blanket and Nillo and why not your real names?
Bone Blanket for me is my singer/songwriter moniker and James’ was Nillo. Ryan goes by Common Face and Sabeel keeps it real and badass with his actual name – because it’s real. And badass. We used to be called “Everyone” but Vows seems more fitting for our sound. We had all different monikers to fit our separate recording entities, but Vows fits perfectly for a one-stop-shop band name.
4. Born a Wolf is a beautiful track. What an interesting video featuring an old silent film. What inspired this song and the music video?
I honestly can’t tell you what inspires any of my lyrics, I mean I just generally like painting as vague pictures as possible. Presenting a general emotion or state for a song and then running with that theme. Like being in a fever dream, or sort of lost between sleep and awake, or extreme depression or happiness and love. Musically however James composed this track on piano and I just added what I could. For the video we really wanted to just have more band shots simply because our first video for “Winter’s Grave” was a giant montage of found imagery, which is cool, but we just wanted to personalize this one a little more. We filmed the whole thing except for the found imagery of the silent film, which fit perfectly for the lyrics. But again, I think less is more, and vague is more descriptive in a way, and the story tells itself I guess, or hope.
Ugh. Haha, this is always like the do or die right? I dunno, We’re all over the map. I can find something amusing in anything I listen to, but I also hate dropping band names as influences, though there’s nothing wrong with it. I’d say our influences are alcohol, sleep, love, death, everything over and over again amen. The end of the world…………..
6. Do you guys sit together to write music or is there a common formula how you come up with the songs in Winter’s Grave?
As far as recording goes James and I are sort of the main writers. I think it’s just easier that way, especially with all of us being fully capable of composing entire songs and albums by ourselves. But this is just sort of how Vows started and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Our live sound however, we all arrange, and the more we play together the more our sound takes on its own beast of an entity. We hash out parts and arrangements as a group for our sets and it’s awesome being able to do that so well, and more and more so without even talking to each other about it. It’s all getting really organic and beautifully flowing the more we play and especially with the newer stuff from our forthcoming album. I’m just lucky to be with a like-minded group of guys that I can share that with, like be on the same mental wavelength with.
7. What are the instruments involved in recording the album?
We just really started out having it be anything but acoustic instruments. Ya know, electric guitar, drums, bass, keys, a lot of midi and synth stuff, drum samples – but of course the acoustic guitar always crept its way up on the album. Can’t deny that influence. James’ brother John laid down some trumpet on some tracks, Ryan laid down some pedal steel guitar. We added quite a bit of auxiliary percussion too, some shakers, and even this weird little wooden two-piped flute thing we found in James’ old house. I think with this new album though, we’re using a lot of the same instruments, but we’ve been fortunate enough to get some new gear and really push our limits with the sound we can get out of what we have to work with. We’re doing a lot more with mic and equipment arrangement and our amp sound and pedals and the like. All in all, I think it’s making for a serious beast of an album coming your way soon!