I Am The Avalanche have been going for around a decade now, creating fantastic post hardcore/punk music that is celebrated in scenes across the world. They’ve described their upcoming album ‘Wolverines’ as "the achievement of what we’ve been progressing towards." Killyourstereo.com recently got the chance to chat to frontman Vinnie Caruana about the release and to find out when we can expect the band back down in Australia.
Evening Vinnie, how are you doing today?
My evening is going really well, thanks for asking. Just hiding from the nasty weather outside.
Yeah, we’ve got some pretty shocking weather down here right now as well. What’s happening for you guys in I Am The Avalanche right now?
We’re releasing our new full length ‘Wolverines’ in Australia on March 17th through Rude Records, and we’re about two weeks out from starting all the touring in the US and Europe.
Just over a month ago, you released the first song from the album, ‘The Shape I’m In.’ Why did you choose that as the first thing you wanted people to hear?
I thought it was the most ‘Avalanche’ song that we wrote for the record. The one that wouldn’t shock our fans and make them hate us forever. We chose it because it encompasses a lot of the sound that we’ve made up until now.
Nothing on the record is really that shocking, but we wanted one that encompassed what we were, who we are, and where we’ve been.
So if this is the most ‘Avalanche’ track on the record, how do the other tracks differ?
It goes into some different places for us. It’s all punk music, but some of the songs are more rock and roll than punk. Some of it sounds like it could be on a traditional punk record, and some of it sounds like it could be on some of the newer more modern ‘who the hell knows what’s happening here’ records. It all sounds like IATA, but there’s a pretty broad spectrum here.
How have you found the response to ‘The Shape I’m In’?
Honestly, I don’t read that stuff. I’m told that the reaction is overwhelmingly positive. I try not to drive myself crazy by reading all the stuff that people are saying.
What do you think sets this record apart from your self titled, or from Avalanche United?
I think we’ve finally achieved what we’ve been progressing towards. This is a record that has a lot of the character and energy that Avalanche United has. It’s kind of perfecting the progression that we were kind of in the middle of when doing Avalanche United, and it’s good to be here right now, and it’s a good place to be. I’ve decided I’m not going to write music for a while, I’m just gonna let the well fill back up.
How did you approach this album differently than any previous works you’ve done?
Other stuff was usually written in the van or whenever, and months would go by and we’d write nothing, and then we’d have cram sessions and write stuff, which kind of worked, but this one I designated a certain amount of nights per week where I set aside time to really think about what I was doing
This is the most prepared I’ve ever felt going in to the studio, because I spent that time with a notepad and a guitar sitting in the house just not doing anything and resisting certain social events and things like that.
Do you think that’s affected the record positively?
I do, I do. As long as the songwriting goes and the craftsmanship goes, I think that this record is my finest achievement.
Where did you take inspiration from in terms of the lyrics of this album? Is there any prevalent themes that seem to stick out on the album?
There was two things going on. One, I injured myself pretty badly, so I was in this crazy situation where I wasn’t particularly mobile and sometimes it was hard to walk and sometimes it was hard to sit. I did a lot of pacing around, and I would eat standing up, just because this injury was so debilitating. Basically, I herniated a disc in my spine, and the disc pops out and presses against a nerve that runs through the lower part of your body.
They had me on these pain pills to help me be able to actually walk. So when I wasn’t in excruciating pain, I was writing the record under really, really doped up circumstances.
At the same time, I live in a beach town called Long Beach, which is on a very thin barrier island. When Hurricane Sandy came and hit the East Coast, it completely drowned our whole city, and so I would look outside my window and watch people rebuild the city. It was pretty interesting mental and physical place to write.
What would you say are the prevalent themes that stick out in the lyrics of ‘Wolverines’?
A lot of ‘friends and family’ type stuff. Things directed at friends and family. Feelings directed at friends and family. There’s a lot of loss on there, but I really tried to balance the negativity and the positivity.
As a lyricist, are there any tracks that stick out to you among the rest on the album?
Right now, ‘Where Were You’ is my favourite. That’s a song I wrote to myself about not being there for my friends and family, because of what I do for a living. That’s my favourite right now. We’ve just started playing it at practice, and it feels really good. It’s really therapeutic.
As he has on previous releases, Brett Romnes was producer on this album – Do you guys find any complications with him being both in the role of a musician and a producer?
I don’t. I find it’s really easy. It simplifies things. If he was a totalitarian dictator type of musician, it probably wouldn’t work. But he’s the type of guy that you want playing drums and producing the record. He’s quite a guy, and I’m really comfortable tracking stuff with him. Tracking with just anybody can sometimes be a bit strange, but it’s always really comfortable with him.
What do you think he brought to the table as a producer that wouldn’t have been there without him?
The biggest thing for me was that I felt like I didn’t have to pull strings to get where I wanted with our sound. Since he’s in the band and is our partner in crime, he gets it. We both know what the records supposed to sound like. We don’t have to sit there and mess around, because he’s familiar enough with it all, so we don’t have to worry about it.
‘Wolverines’ is your first release since the departure of Kellen Robson and Michael Ireland. How do you think that has impacted the release?
They still have their two cents in on the record. Kellen still played bass on the record, and Mikey wrote the music for two of the songs. They were still kind of dwindling, still in the band and thinking of leaving, but still throwing in their two cents where they could.
Mikey didn’t play guitar on the record, I recorded all of the rhythm parts, which was fun for me. I never get to do that in the studio, so I was really excited. I’m going to miss them as musicians, but I’m excited that we’re still friends, and we don’t just say that in the press – We’re actually still good friends.
The last time you guys were down in Australia was for Soundwave in 2012. Tell me a bit about how that was?
That was cool. That’s a really fun tour to do. A nice, cushy experience. We’ve done it twice now, and it’s important to us to come and play some small clubs. That’s what we’re going to do in our Summer, so around June – August.
How, if at all, was touring Australia different to other parts of the world?
You know, we’ve only toured Australia on Soundwave, which is a very unique situation. It’s a bunch of friends bands all playing together, travelling together, and playing to huge crowds. I don’t really know what it’s like to tour Australia any other way. All I know is it’s this amazing festival experience, but apparently it won’t be like that since we’re coming in Winter.
‘Wolverines’ is coming out this month, what else is in the pipeline for you guys?
It’s basically just lots of touring. We’re going to do the US, we’re going to do Europe. We’re gonna do Japan, and we’re gonna do Australia, and then some more US stuff in the Summer, and then a support tour in the fall. Which is exactly the way we want it to be.
WOLVERINES will be out digitally on Tuesday 18 March and available in Australian and New Zealand stores on Friday 21 March via Rude Records/Rocket.