Forget-Me-Nots #3: Vasudeva

In Forget-Me-Nots, Conor discusses bands he's become obsessed with and tries to convince you to become obsessed with them, too. For March, it's Vasudeva.

Forget-Me-Nots #3: Vasudeva

By Conor Mackie

Mar 31, 2017 17:00

Corey Mastrangelo of Vasudeva is welcoming, gentle, friendly. Discussing manual labour jobs, the feeling of being tired and stuck in between things, there is a genuineness, an openness to him and his ability to relate to others. There’s an immediate reciprocity, a willingness to listen and to share.

He is excited about Vasudeva and what they have to come this year, but also about other bands he knows and is influenced by. Vasudeva have created a record that speaks to many, despite saying nothing at all. ‘No Clearance’, the sophomore effort from the instrumental three-piece from New Jersey, comes out on March 31st on Skeletal Lightning, and will propel the band into uncharted territory.

Coming from a small suburban town, Vasudeva are three childhood friends who have been playing together for nine years. Mastrangelo plays guitar, joined by Derek Broomhead (drums and programming) and Grant Mayer (guitar). The genesis of Vasudeva lies in friendship, as Mastrangelo explains. “We all grew up together and there’s not many people around us who’d be willing to tour and all that. This is the second band we ever formed, we started this band in high school in 2008, so we’ve just been hanging out and doing this forever. Grant lives really nearby to me, so we’re all really close”

‘No Clearance’, the follow up to 2013’s ‘Life In Cycles’ is the first material from Vasudeva since parting ways with their bass player. Explaining the gap between records, Mastrangelo is honest about the challenges the band faced with their line-up change. “We’ve been writing ever since ‘Life In Cycles’ came out, but, um, I guess during that time we parted ways with our bass player, so we were sort of trying to reform our live show in a way. During that time, we were mainly figuring that out.” The move from a traditional band setup to one playing along to programmed instruments and samples is a tricky one to navigate, but Vasudeva had no choice. “We had our first European tour in the works and we kind of just took it upon ourselves to make it work, and then sort of just kept going with it because we felt good about it. It was kinda just…not a rushed decision, but we kind of had to make it work, if that makes sense,” Mastrangelo explains.

He is keen to heap praise onto Broomhead, who took on the role of programming the bass and leading the rhythm section himself, playing to an in-ear click track. “He seemed to pick it up pretty quickly, he’s the only one playing to the click and he got it down pretty easily. He didn’t play to a click before, and I would say we have got tighter as a result. It works really well. I was sort of hesitant at first, I guess just because we were so used to what we’d been doing at the time. I almost had a sort of ‘purist’ concept to the band. We’d always talked about adding different sounds and samples to our set, so the programming just feels like a natural progression.”

Mastrangelo explains how his admiration for bands like Now, Now, alongside Broomhead & Mayer’s inspiration by electronic music, played a large part in easing the transition. He jokes that ‘No Clearance’ is the meeting point between dance music and Death Cab For Cutie. “The other guys are heavily, heavily into electronic music, anything like Jungle, Grime, Garage, they’re about it all. I am into it through them, but it doesn’t connect to me all the time. Nowadays, I listen to a bunch of pop stuff – Alex G, Frankie Cosmos and that sorta lo-key stuff, that’s sorta my vibe these days”. This wide-range of musical influences plays a huge part in shaping Vasudeva’s sound. They are catchy and driven by rhythm, with more groove than many of their post-rock, math-inspired contemporaries. Mastrangelo credits this to the way their musical career has evolved. “Me and Derek were in a post-hardcore sorta band in high school. We played Warped Tour one year and we were totally about that stuff. But then, yeah, just trawling through Myspace I eventually came across toe., and that was probably the first band that changed the way I looked at guitars.”

‘No Clearance’ is a beautiful record, weaving and winding its way through a narrative arc, electronic interludes providing respite after soaring post-rock build-ups. Sitting delicately between electronic music and more math-rock inspired material, the album pushes Vasudeva to the perch of the post-rock world they find themselves in. The songs are centred on the interplay between Mastrangelo’s and Mayer’s guitars. “I would say that when a song starts, it’s mostly on an acoustic guitar. One of us brings a riff to the table and then we write around that, all of us. It’s always very collaborative. It will start with a piece from one of us, but there’s always three of us in the room.” This collective song-writing leads to Vasudeva sounding huge, allowing the band to create soundscapes that live and breathe, creating beautiful space in between the wall of sound. Nothing sounds disjointed, as can often be the case with music of this intricacy, and Vasudeva are ultimately more danceable than most of their peers.

There is a genuine enthusiasm, a palpable excitement to Mastrangelo’s voice. Vasudeva take nothing for granted. They are eager and ready to share their music as much as they can, and to make as many new friends as possible along the way. Their willingness to shout out other bands and their lack of concern for showing their enthusiasm for others is refreshing and needed. The next year is going to be a big one for Vasudeva, and you would be wise to get on board now.

‘No Clearance’ is available now through Skeletal Lightning. You can order it here and read our review of the record here.