Interview: Vinnie Caruana [February 2015]

By Chris Marshman

In what was arguably one of the best early Christmas presents ever when in December 2014 the announcement came that The Movielife would be reuniting. This was coupled with the announcement of a headline show at the Irvine Plaza in New York City that then went on to sell out almost immediately, prompting an extra date being added and the promise that the band would be heading over to the UK sooner rather than later. We sat down to talk with Vinnie Caruana to discuss those shows, the bands impending UK dates and just what the UK means to them.

Two months on from The Movielife announcing their reunion, how has the reaction been for you?

People are really excited, I mean, they’re reacting the way I thought they would which is good. I thought people would be happy and they are. We only played two shows, they were both in New York and they were the two best shows we’ve ever played.

Selling out the Irvine Plaza twice must be a pretty great feeling…

It was! You know, we sold that venue out in 2003 and that was a massive achievement. The show was on sale for five months and we had really strong support we announced ahead of time. For us to come in and sell out two shows there in a day, that’s really special. So that let us know that it wasn’t just us who wanted to do The Movielife, people wanted it too. So that’s nice to know because instead of sitting around now, we’re kinda figuring out where else we can go and have a good time, playing music and making people happy. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg to be honest.

How were you feeling in general before the initial announcement of the reunion, because it did come out of the blue for a lot of people.

We planned on announcing on a certain day and that was coinciding with tickets going on sale for the first shows. We had to wait a while to announce. I knew and I actually saw a bunch of people out the night before and I had everybody texting me the next morning “I hung out with you all night last night and you couldn’t tell me you were announcing this tomorrow?!”

You said the two shows were the some of the best you’ve done as a band…

I would say they were the two best shows we’ve ever played.

So do you think you guys have benefited from the time away from the band, having less pressure on your shoulders…?

Definitely. You know, everyone in the band has different careers and family and kids. When we first started the band, it was for the same reason any other band starts. You don’t expect anything is gonna happen or anyone is gonna know who you are, but that happened for us so as we grew into that we kinda just ran ourselves into the dirt.

Now we look back and think “Wow.” We’re really lucky to have this thing that we built when we were young and we’re really lucky that people still care about it and that we have the opportunity to do this kinda stuff. So that’s the feeling we have now, we’re lucky to be able to do this and I’m so glad we all want to and let’s make it really good.

…and how great does it feel to be able to sing those songs with a band again?

It’s awesome. I love singing those songs and not playing guitar at the same time. It’s so fun for me and it feels easy for me. I didn’t have to re-learn how to sing those songs and I also think that from then until now my voice is stronger so everything feels kinda easier… which is fun. Easy is fun. You don’t have to think too much, you just have a good time and enjoy that hour of music with everyone.

Looking forward then to the UK shows in June… How excited are you to bring The Movielife back to the UK?

Very excited, I knew from day one it was something we were planning on doing. We wanted to come to England earlier, but timing wise for all five of us, it couldn’t work for the time we wanted to come. So it works out fine just because we can come a few months later and you know… we would’ve been playing a festival here, there and maybe a club date. In this case we’re playing club dates and we’re playing nice long sets. I think the people that have been waiting will appreciate the fact that we’re playing in clubs.

Yeah I remember you guys saying it was important for The Movielife to play headliners on their return…

I think getting together and playing for a half hour at a festival is certainly easier for the band to pull off and rehearse for and basically come back to life … but for the fans, you’re not waiting for that long to go hear 8/9 songs. You wanna hear 20 songs. So we made that decision, not being selfish. We know what people want, not that we won’t play festivals but we wanted to make sure we could play nice long sets for the people that could be there and the next time we come there might be a festival involved… Who knows?

Yeah, for me anyway, as a fan of a band who recently reunited, seeing them do a headliner makes me think that band definitely want to be doing this.

Right, you know, that’s definitely true. We want to do this the right way and we want to do it the way we want to do it. We want to be thorough, if we put on amazing club shows every time we play in London then people will always come. Festivals will be there when you want them to be and in the mean time we’re able to do it like this, which is great. It’s nice to be able to execute things the way you want them to be done, it doesn’t always happen in a band.

What memories do you have of The Movielife and the UK?

My biggest Movielife memory was definitely at Reading and Leeds playing The Lock Up… that was definitely a huge thing because that stage was just slammed with awesome bands and then the big, more mainstream bands that were playing were also some of my favourite bands. It was really special. It was cool to say we were playing with those bands, even though we were very low on the list. I think as far as festivals go they were always memorable. The Finsbury Park show on Deconstruction was a massive thing for us.

I think the most monumental one for The Movielife was our first show in London. We came over, it was our first time playing and a thousand people showed up and we had no idea what was going on. We saw the tickets selling out and they kept moving the venue to bigger rooms and I remember calling my manager at the time and saying “What the fuck are you doing?! Why are you letting them do this?” he was like “because they keep selling out” and I was thinking there must be a mistake… but no.

It wasn’t like we were a massive band in the States and that filtered over to England, we didn’t draw anywhere close to half of that many people anywhere including our home town. So it was a very interesting thing, you know, the magazines were covering The Movielife and the next thing, people wanted to see us.

Is that what makes the UK so special for you, that sort of reaction, specifically for you and your bands…

Well… I remember my Father made me play Lacrosse in high school and I didn’t like Lacrosse. I told my Dad I wanted to quit and it was the first thing I ever quit and he was like “Are you just quitting because you don’t think you’re that good at it?” and I had the same conversation with a friend of mine who I won’t name… who’s a singer in a band and he was like “I don’t like going over there!” and I was like “Why?!” and I asked him, I was like “Is it because you don’t have as many fans there?” and he was like “Uhhhh… No, no, no!” and he knew I was fucking with him.

So yeah, I love going to England, even if it’s cold and grey. I still love being there and probably part of it is because I always get a lot of love in England so I’ve learnt to love it back.

There are quite a lot of fans who would’ve been so young back when The Movelife were at their peak who are so excited about the reunion, so what can they expect from a Movelife live show?

The Movielife live shows have never been some massive production, there won’t be confetti cannons. I think The Movielife getting on stage after this long and doing what we do is gonna be a very moving experience for people in England. New York… looking back on it and looking back on some of the footage… I can tell it’s better than ever. That’s nice, it’s nice for the long time fans because we’re not gonna come back and be worse than we were or be like old and boring.

So that’s cool for the old fans and that’s cool for our new fans or people who didn’t get to see us because they’re actually gonna see a better than ever Movielife which is kinda hard to say for a lot of bands that’s come back.

What have you guys got planned for when you’re over in Manchester or London…

Well I’ve been going to Liverpool a lot, I don’t think I’m gonna go there. I would go and watch a match but I don’t think pre-season is even on.

London… I want to explore. I know we’re gonna be in London for at least a full day before we play. I’m definitely looking to reacquainte myself with the city. That’s the beautiful part about it, I’m probably gonna be wearing shorts and a t-shirt… hopefully there’s sun. I’d love to walk like ten miles that day.

I know we’re flying in and playing two shows, and there’s talk of adding a third show now [Birmingham was added since the interview took place -Ed], we’re definitely cramming it into a short amount of time. So I wanna just experience it as much as I can… and I wanna experience it with those guys too. We haven’t been to England together in twelve years. The last show we played in England was Reading Festival 2003.

Finally, as a band, how aware of you of the legacy and influence left behind by The Movielife from the original run?

You know, on one side of it we’re aware of how much it means to people since the shows have gone on sale… we’re seeing that urgency and love and longing for The Movielife. I don’t know how much of it was us or the era we were in, but it seems like a lot of younger bands are fans of The Movielife.

Yeah, as far as us being influences sometimes I hear the influence in younger punk bands and sometimes I don’t hear it. It’s nice to be that band… I know the bands who I looked up to and still look up to and to be that band for somebody is awesome. I mean, I have The Descendants, Minor Threat and Youth of Today so if I’m that to somebody that’s pretty epic.

The Movielife will be playing three shows in the UK this Summer in Manchester, London and Birmingham, tickets are on sale now.

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