Interview: Vinnie Caruana [May 2016]

By Lais

This week we went to see the legendary Movielife play a ridiculously brilliant show at Tufnell Park Dome, and we got the chance to speak to frontman Vinnie Caruana, also of I Am The Avalanche, who is now currently playing solo shows in the UK ahead of the release of his debut solo album ‘Survivor’s Guilt’. We talked about the album, fear of death, and how it feels to work on a solo album when you’re used to working with a full band.

Hey Vinnie! How’s it going?

Yeah, it’s going well. Just finishing The Movielife’s European Domination tour. Four whole shows.

How are your four whole shows going?

They’ve been great and it’s the most shows we’ve played in a row since 2003. It’s felt like a tour because we usually just do a weekend trip, but we’ve been here for half a week.

I’m excited because the last time I saw The Movielife play was at Bamboozle Festival in 2008 when you played with Set Your Goals, and the last time I saw you as a full band was in 2001.

No way! Yeah, me too. That’s great.

What can I expect, seeing as I haven’t seen you play for so long?

Most of us haven’t aged poorly. Haha. No, we’re doing our best to play a solid set of tunes and not let anyone down in any way. There won’t be any backflips or pyrotechnics or anything, it’s just really what everyone expects from The Movielife: lots of energy and a really fun time.

And then obviously you’re doing the solo shows immediately after this.

Yes, this coming Friday. I have a little vacation in Brighton the next two days. I’m staying at the seaside and unwinding and then I’ll jump back into the solo shows.

How are you feeling about the shows?

Great. I get to play the new tunes I’ve never played before, and I’ll play some old tunes. I’m really staying over to help promote the new record that’s coming out here. We really wanted to take advantage of the fact I was here, and kind of put the word out about the record.

So the new record comes out on May 27th. How are you feeling about it?

I feel amazing about it. I wish it was tomorrow. I’m really proud of it, I’m really happy with it, and I just can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

How would you say it compares to your work with I Am The Avalanche and The Movielife?

It’s definitely a bit of a different sound. I think a lot of people who are used to a full band with me are used to really big guitars, which does exist on the record, and it’s still me doing what I do but I think it shows a lot more range. There’s some stuff that’s more punk-influenced like you might expect, and there’s some stuff where my voice is showing a little bit more range, which I’m really happy about. There’s some progression there, and it’s like everything from “Woah, is this an indie song?” to “Oh, that’s a punk song”, so I don’t know, I’m just kind of opening up the range a bit. It’s not just ten aggressive songs, it’s more peaks and troughs.

So it’s more what you want to do?

It’s exactly what I want to do.

How do you find playing The Movielife, and then playing by yourself?

I’ve actually never done it. This is the first time I’ll do The Movielife and be in that mindset, and then switch gears and do solo shows, so I don’t know. I’ll have a few days to switch gears and chill. I’ve been working so hard on this Movielife stuff and getting the record together I haven’t really had the chance to go over things, so those two days are gonna be a bit of a rehearsal as well, to kind of remember how to play everything and put the pieces back together.

I had a quick listen to the album and I love it. What would you say are the themes you explore on there?

I think there’s a very fatalistic thing going on. I don’t know why it always comes to that for me lately, but it’s mainly fear of death, fear of not making the most of life. There’s a few love songs on there, which is very new for me, but yeah. I’d say death is the main theme, me trying to come to terms with that and me also trying to be happy with my life and taking advantage of what I have and what’s in front of me, because obviously we take everything for granted. We’re sitting here right now and taking it for granted. So that’s really where I’m at right now. Full steam ahead on everything in life, because everything could change instantly. That’s my whole thing. Full steam ahead, positive attitude, working hard.

Oh yeah, you don’t know when anything will go away. A boy I know, a 20 year old, died last week, and you just have to make the most of life, because you don’t know when it will end.

Exactly. It’s trying to touch on that without being all doom and gloom about it.

It doesn’t come across like doom and gloom at all.

Well that’s what I was hoping. I would sit back and listen to the record and make sure it’s being presented the way it should be.  I mean, I don’t listen to it too much because I don’t wanna get sick of myself, but recording and doing all the mixes, you listen to yourself a lot. It’s exactly the way I wanted it to be. I’m saying what I need to say. It’s what I set out to do.

How was it recording this album compared to when you made the I Am The Avalanche or The Movielife records?

It’s more nervewracking, because you’re not looking at a bunch of guys like “Alright!”, because it’s your song. I think I paid a lot more attention in the studio, because I played most of it. I was basically alone with The Ratt [Brett Romnes of I Am The Avalanche] who produced it for the entire time, aside from the day Kellen [Robson of I Am The Avalanche] came in and played bass.

Did you do the rest?!

Steve Choi [Rx Bandits] came and played keyboards and some lead guitar but he tracked in California and I wasn’t there, so he was sending me tracks and I was making notes and sending them back. That’s the hard thing about making a solo record.

I guess it’s scary. If you do a record with a band, you can blame things you don’t like on other people, but if it’s just your record, it’s all on you.

Exactly. So you have to be on top of it. I used to be a total pothead. I stopped smoking the day before we started recording. That’s my new thing. I need to get so much stuff done this year, I need to sing so much and play so many shows, that I’m trying a new chapter and not being stoned all the time. I get more done. I’m not just constantly figuring out what to snack on while I’m sitting on the couch. It’s a good way to be.

With the solo shows, will you be playing much of the new album or will you be holding off?

I think I’ll be playing a bit of it, but not too much. I’ll be playing some old songs, some Avalanche songs, some Movielife songs, some older solo material, and then a handful of the new songs. When I come back and the record’s out and everyone’s got it fresh in their minds and learnt the words, that’s when we’ll play a lot more.

It must be exciting to have some new stuff to play.

It is. It’s really exciting. Making a setlist is gonna be so much easier now that I have more songs.

Did I see you’ve got a new video on the way?

Yes! We filmed the video in California. We went out to this crazy desert that nobody knew about. Some local guys brought me there, and we didn’t see anybody all day, and there were the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. I was like, “How does nobody know about this thing?!” And they said, “Oh, you know, everyone goes to Joshua Tree or this or that”. So we filmed in this desert state park and we didn’t run into anyone all day, and we went through all these orange groves, and I have friends who own a ranch down there, and then we went out to Malibu and we filmed out by the coastline, and basically California should give me the key to the state, because it’s basically an amazing commercial for California. It came out really good and I’m gonna see a rough cut next week. I’m not sure when we’re releasing it, but soon enough, because the record’s out in three weeks.

So after these solo shows and after you’ve released the album, what have you got coming up?

In June and July we have five weeks in the US touring with a full band backing me, and then after that I’m still trying to figure out when I’m coming back here for a full tour, more comprehensive than this one, and then a fall tour in the US supporting somebody I can’t say yet. Very busy, lots of touring, lots of shows, some time at home.

Do you anything else you want to cover?

Honestly, right now, it’s just these shows in the UK, and the album’s out on the 27th, so it’s building up to that. As soon as the last chord is struck tonight, my whole mindset’s gonna switch to the task at hand. These shows will be awesome, just me and an acoustic guitar, and I’ll be coming back to the UK later in the year with a band backing me. It’s gonna be an exciting year.

You can catch Vinnie Caruana at his remaining UK solo dates:

07 BRISTOL Deadpunk Festival
10 LIVERPOOL Shipping Forecast
11 LEEDS Key Club


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