Q&A with The Young Veins
The Young Veins recently played in Atlanta, Georgia and I had the privilege of meeting with the band to discuss their first tours as a band, the split from Panic! At The Disco, and what’s in store for their next album.
I, like many others, was a little baffled by the break up of P!ATD and the continuation of the band without its other members. For Ryan Ross (lead vocals, guitar) and Jon Walker (lead vocals, guitar), former members of Panic!, it’s been a process of achieving creative freedom at the cost of starting over. And how has the journey been thus far? Pretty. Fun. And full of surprises, which the band doesn’t seem to mind.
With a sound so very reminiscent of ‘60s pop and rock, The Young Veins’ debut album, Take A Vacation!, is much quieter and gentler on your iPod than it is live—and that’s not because of the audience. Having recorded the album without the three present band members, Andy Soukal, Nick Murray, and Nick White, the songs have now taken on new personalities, and shine through with more fun and more rock. Here’s the interview with Jon, Nick, and Nick.
Beth (The Blue Indian): So you’re still getting some love from Panic! on their website… how is the relationship between you guys (Ryan and Jon) and them (Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith)?
Jon: It’s hard because, you know, we’ve been so busy focusing on this thing, we haven’t run into each other. I recently was in a little bit of contact with them, but not much.
B: The relationship is fine between you guys?
Jon: Yeah, I mean it is what it is. We’re good friends, but, there was just so much going on between all of us that we couldn’t really work together.
B: Was it difficult finding a label that would release your album?
Nick M: I just remember it took a long time.
Jon: Yeah, we expected there to be more outreach from different labels considering the band we used to be in. And it actually ended up being really hard for us, as we got dragged along by one label in particular, which I won’t mention, for about two or three months. Until they basically just came up to us and said that they didn’t want to work with us. So, at that point, the record had already been recorded for about four months and we were just really anxious to get it out. We met the guys from One Haven and they seemed to really understand that we just wanted to do what we wanted to do, and it worked out great. And it really worked out too because it’s a summer album, and it came out directly in the middle of the summer.
B: Especially for you and Ryan, you were headlining tours for Panic! and playing bigger venues, what is it like to be playing smaller venues/ shows now?
Jon: It’s different…
B: Are you guys just having enough fun with each other?
Jon: At this point, yeah. I think that we are. I think me and Ryan, especially, are having more fun than we had playing in that band. Especially towards the end of it, just because there were so many instances that kind of distracted the entire situation. It’s really fun playing. It’s hard being an opening band and not having any consistency, but it also adds to the excitement—it makes every night that much more interesting for us.
B: How did you guys get together?
Jon: I met Andy in high school. He was my first friend when I went to a different high school.
B: Was that in California?
Jon: No, in Chicago. I’m from Chicago and that’s where we grew up. I had jammed with him in high school and even later on, and so when the prospects of finding a new bass player came along, he was the first guy I thought of. Nick and Nick are from LA.
Nick M: I met Ryan at a dinner. And then me and Ryan, we had the same size coat, and I was like ‘we should be in a band,’ and he said ‘I’m just starting a band,’ and I was like ‘I just left my band!’ And then I took Ryan to a soul club and I think the next day we jammed and it was pretty coincidental.
Nick W: We met through mutual friends. Like I remember that Ryan was at a party at my house one time, but I didn’t really know any of them at all. But what’s so weird is that Nick and I live like a block away and have tons of mutual friends, but we didn’t know each other. But yeah, Ryan came over and gave me a copy of the CD, and I learned some of the songs and he was like, ‘that was good.’
B: What bands were you in before?
Nick M: I was in a band called Foreign Born.
B: How long were you with them?
Nick M: That was about six months. Before that, I mean, I’ve been in a lot of bands throughout LA over the eight years that I’ve lived there. So, kind of a lot… too many to mention.
Nick W: I was playing in this band called Tilly And The Wall for about, I guess since like 2002 or something. And we had a baby in the band so we went on hiatus and timing was perfect.
B: And what about Andy? What was he doing?
Jon: He was in a local band in Chicago. He was just kind of playing on the weekends here and there. He had a regular job, it was his first job out of college, 9 to 5 kind of thing. So, I knew he got that job maybe five months before this happened, and I knew how unhappy he was with doing it so.
B: Yeah, this seems like much a better thing.
Jon: Yeah, it really worked out well. We didn’t have tryouts or anything for other members. We just kind of went with the first people we met and went with our instincts.
B: The inspiration for Take A Vacation! is, everyone’s saying it and it’s true, it’s 60s based. What is the evolution of that for your next album?
Jon: I think for the whole 60s thing, it has to do with the way we like writing songs. And also just the classic ways and techniques they used to record albums back then. It’s so different from how they do it now, that I think we were definitely striving for that. But, we just recorded some covers in the studio a couple months ago and it was like the quickest and easiest recording session I’ve ever been a part of. I think that taught us a lot as far as just trying to capture the sound the band makes. Rather than try to manipulate it to sound like a certain thing. I think the next album will definitely just sound more realistic to what we sound like.
Nick M: It will sound a lot more live.
Jon: Right. ‘Cause we recorded this album before we met these guys and the band. Actually, Black Gold, their keyboard player and their drummer played on our album. So, it was great to have a band actually there. We thought we were going to have to piece it together ourselves, track by track. We didn’t want to do that. Definitely, I feel like now that we’ve been playing as a band we will come across way more cohesive.
B: Anything you guys want to add about that?
Nick M: I think it’s going to be weirder.
Nick W: Yeah, I definitely think it will be weirder.
Jon: It’ll be a little more rockin’ too. We’ve played these songs live for the last five months now, and you just start to get a feeling for what works and what doesn’t work as a band. And, you know we wrote the majority of the songs still thinking they were going to be Panic! At The Disco songs. So, the whole record was kind of completely spontaneous and came out of all these different directions. I just think it will be more focused next time.
B: Have you guys started writing new material since you’ve had five months to play together?
Jon: Yeah, I mean, we really haven’t had any time to do anything other than tour and play shows. That’s all we’ve been doing. But I know me, personally, I’ve just been writing the whole time. It’s just something I want to keep up so I don’t get rusty. Same with Ryan.
B: Since you guys are all going to collaborate for the second album, just from playing together and knowing each other, how do you think that’s going to come together structurally? Will Ryan and Jon lay the foundation and everyone else come in, or…?
Nick 2: I mean, I’m open to whatever.
Nick 1: Yeah I think we’re all pretty open minded at this point, too. And we all play really well together. And we all get along, which is already the number one best thing about it. We all pretty much see eye to eye on these things.
B: So it will be organic?
Nick 1: I think it will be very organic. And I think we’ll be able to take a lot of chances too.
Jon: It’ll be a lot of experimenting and just trying different things to figure out what works.
B: Do you feel like a lot fans from Panic! carried over to your new band?
Jon: No. I mean, there are a few; there is a handful at every show. But we’re definitely starting over.
B: Is that a good thing?
Jon: It’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a reality. I mean, I want as many people to hear our music as possible and make their own opinion of it based on what it sounds like and not, you know, anything else. Only time will really tell.
B: So you’re touring with Rooney, who did you tour with before?
Nick M: Foxy Shazam.
B: And who would you love to tour with next?
Jon: That’s a good question.
Nick M: That’s a really good question.
Jon: This has been a great tour for us. It seems like their fans are a lot more receptive to us than the last tour we did, at least. Yeah, I don’t know, I think we’ll pretty much tour with anybody that’s good. As long as they draw a crowd of people that aren’t completely close-minded, we don’t mind getting on stage and playing.
Nick M: Yeah, ‘cause I could say a band but if it comes down to that niche thing that sounds a lot like us, that’s never the right answer.
Jon: Most bands I feel like I would want to tour with would have fans that wouldn’t want anything to do with us just because. You know it’s hard to open up for a band that people are going to see. People don’t go to see an opening band for most shows. Especially ones they haven’t heard before. It’s been great for us though to play and just get better at playing. It’s really been our main focus.