Introducing: Avalon Landing

By Lais

Avalon Landing are one of those bands you hear and immediately know they are going to be huge. Their songs are so catchy it’s almost a shock they’re not megastars already, but they’re on their way. We talked to vocalist/guitarist Mike Vargovich to find out how they formed, how it feels to be based in the land of debauchery and where they see themselves in the future.

The band – who are formed of Vargovich, guitarist Clayton Cobb, bassist Corey Surrat, vocalist/keyboardist Josh Rabenold and current drummer John Lloyd – are based in the original Sin City, Las Vegas. “The idea for Avalon Landing first popped up in our hometown of Buffalo, NY, between Josh, Clayton and myself,” says Mike. “I moved to Las Vegas in 2010 and started playing music on my own in bars and venues downtown. The two others came down to play a couple shows with me and the band formed officially out of that. Our current drummer John and bassist Corey came onboard once we got on our feet.”

The band have recently released a single, ‘The Cure’, which is ridiculously catchy. How would they describe it someone who hasn’t listened to it yet? “Josh wrote the lyrics about not living by the standards of others, and the idea that being confident in yourself and staying true to who you are is what’s really important and ultimately is described as ‘the cure’,” says Mike. “It’s got a great message and beyond that it’s a really fun song. The energy of it makes it the most fun to play live.”

‘The Cure’ was taken from their debut album ‘Reside’, which was released last year. Does it reflect the sound of the rest of the album? “‘The Cure’ is one aspect of the band. There really is a lot of variety on the record. In releasing ‘The Cure’ as a single, we really chose the song that a lot of people gravitated towards,” says Mike. “Radio outlets in Las Vegas started playing the song before we even officially called it a single, so in that respect it was picked for us. It’s one of our favourites though. The combination of high energy and thoughtful lyrics from Josh speaks to our goal as a band. That’s what we want to deliver.”

Although their debut album only came out last year, Avalon Landing are already working on new music. “The sound of the new songs has evolved. It’s not a total departure, but yeah, it’s different. There’s a different attitude and personality that I’ve noticed in the songs, and I think it’s for the better. We learned a lot from working on ‘Reside’ with our producer on the record (Bryan Russell) and what we learned is being applied to the new stuff.”

“Plus, we have a couple new members and their influence will affect the overall sound. We are working more collaboratively and that helps too. I don’t know how that will manifest itself on a recording; right now we are just working on creating sounds. I’ve been getting more and more into vinyl and so I’d love to see us release a 7-inch 45 with an A-side and B-side track. I honestly was never into the idea of releasing vinyl but now I’m all about it. See – evolving!”

On the subject of their influences, Mike claims that they’ve changed a lot since the band formed: “Honestly, we’ve been moving away from the influences that we had when the band first formed, or at least I know I am. I was always into pop punk bands like Blink-182 and I’m just not anymore. Again, evolving! I’m going in reverse chronologically, though, back to old stuff. When I was in my early teens I only listened to music from the 50s and 60s, specifically Motown. Then bands like Blink, Something Corporate and The Ataris made me want to pick up a guitar and start writing.”

“Now I’ve become more interested in how records like ‘Smiley Smile’ by The Beach Boys were made rather than anything modern. It just grabs me more. And I just bought it on vinyl! Our sound will always be rooted in pop music, indie-rock influenced, and I think it will always be ‘commercial’. We don’t force it that way, that’s just what comes out. As we progress it will be putting what naturally comes out through the filters of what excited us at that given time and that will create the sound of a specific future Avalon Landing record.”

As the band are based in Las Vegas, they must have some interesting stories from shows. How do they like being based in the most decadent place in the world? “It’s such an interesting place. I fell in love with Las Vegas at first sight mostly because it was completely different from where I came from. That’s important to me. But yes, we’ve had quite an adventure. Avalon Landing was born out of the downtown scene, which is different to the scene you find on The Strip, but we’ve played lounges and big resort stages alongside smaller dive bars and all-ages venues and it’s all been fun. Musically, my heart will always be downtown, because that’s where I really started growing as a musician, and started playing ‘real’ shows when I first moved down.”

Although they haven’t toured the UK yet and haven’t got any plans set in stone, they are definitely keen to visit our shores: “I’m telling you right now, we would LOVE to tour the UK. We have friends over there who help us out and have gotten our music into the ears of people over there and as soon as it’s financially and logistically possible, we will be there to play for them. The support out that way has actually been really great. We love hearing from kids in the UK who have gotten into the band. Means the world and we’ll get there eventually!”

And finally, what’s in store for Avalon Landing in the future? Where do they see themselves in five years? “I always say that if I’m still answering questions in five years about Avalon Landing, then we did something right. Jerry Seinfeld once said that asking a comedian about their favourite bit is like asking you what your favourite breath of air is. You’d say “Whichever one gets me to the next one”. That’s exactly the point.”


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