Featured Artist: Vandalia

Hey there Procrastinators! We’ve got another featured artist here for you, who we think you should check out called Vandalia. Vandalia comes to us from Cincinatti, Ohio, and they took the time to put together a playlist of some of their biggest influences. Here’s a little bit about what they had to say about the playlist.

Slow Bullet – ‘Day Drunk at the Airport Bar’
This song made my list because it’s one of my favorite examples of telling a story in a song, but in a ‘pick up the pieces as you go along. The title starts you off and sets the scene, as the song builds in speed and dynamics, the details of why this person is drunk in an airport start to come together, implying that he kidnapped some girl, possibly killed her and now he’s trying to flee. Slow Bullet also made this list because they’re one of my favorite new artists to me, their debut album is probably one of my top 10 albums of all time.
Remo Drive – ‘Hunting for Sport’
Remo Drive was the first ‘emo’ band I really listened to and got me into the genre I sometimes find myself associated with, even if I’m not explicitly trying to write ‘emo’. This song made my list because the explosive emotion and melody of the chorus really elicits a physical reaction out of me. While the lyrics are something to speculate about for me, I really admire the structure and pace of this song. Remo Drive is also significant to me in that I use their weird guitar tuning in my songs (DGDGBe).
Graduating Life – ‘God Killer’
‘God Killer’ was the first Grad Life song to make me feel something, and they continued to do so the more I listened. This song is a good example of what I admire about Bart Starr’s songwriting and lyrics; his raw emotion and raw energy, while still having as much fun as he can and not caring about making it big. The whole album this comes from (An Introduction to Rock and Roll) is chock full of themes surrounding life and death, which are themes I often think but don’t speak about, I just listen to Grad Life when I wanna deal with that. The acoustic and echo-y opening of the song is also one of my favorite ways to start a song as you can only get harder from that point on and is a nice release of energy when the drop hits.
Minor Threat – ‘In My Eyes’
This song was the first punk song I really got into, way before I started writing and playing my own music. Something that I connected with my bandmates early on was hardcore and early punk, so we made our true first (and eventually deleted) EP very much like an ‘80s punk rock album. I remember getting into this song after a local band I saw at a house in my
town played it as their set opener, and fell in love with the energy since then.
Nirvana – ‘Sappy’
While also being one of my favorite Nirvana songs, ‘Sappy’ was one of Kurt’s songs that inspired me to start writing and playing. The lyrics tell a simple story about ‘a romantic entrapment’ (- Michael Azerrad) and are highly catchy, which drove me to try and write something as catchy. I’m also in love with the raw power of Kurt’s vocals on this, which is something I would always try to replicate with my own songs.

Lightning Love – ‘Friends’
This is the oldest known of my songs on my list, and one of my favorites. While standing out from the others in terms of sound, the lyrics are very personal and revealing. They strike me as immensely sad and the melody of the chorus only emphasizes this. The topic of friendship and lack thereof is a common theme in my songs current and scrapped. The lead singer has a very nice deadpan style of singing which leaves interpretation of the emotions of the lyrics up to the listener, at least to me it does.

Vandalia is a project—nine or so names in the making—consisting of me, Leo Martini, on vocals and guitar, Simon Schadler on drums, Elliot Thompson on bass and Will Ross on rhythm guitar. Simon and I started the band in 2015, playing around with the line-up until finally settling on Elliot after he offered to fill in for our then incarcerated bassist. We started practicing in Simon’s garage in our hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, and soon began playing out as The Leeches in my late senior year of high school. Premiering at the Woodward Theater (to great response), we broke up immediately afterwards due to dissatisfaction with our first release.
Elliot and I began college and rejoined with Simon the following fall, eventually changing our name to Vandalia, a street name an ex-girlfriend of mine thought was pretty. As with the previous year, we started playing out again late that spring and releasing our debut single, Mass. After that, I spent the summer writing songs and we played a few gigs and until landing a real string of shows throughout the fall and early winter from connections we made with other local bands, including Vermont and Shag Lab, both nearby Northern Kentucky natives. We gained some traction and grew our fan-base during this string of shows. Meanwhile, we began work on our debut EP, recording drums in October 2018 and not finishing until this past March because of school and other delays. Our EP, How to Disconnect, was released on March 23, 2019. Right now, it seems a success as the third track, Just to Be Clear, has surpassed our previous “cult hit”, Mass in popularity. As far as future plans go, not much is known as Simon and I are both in college, but we’re looking to do a short tri-state tour somewhere in the late summer or fall. As of this writing, I’m in the midst of writing a second release. What I hope to do with this project is just make music that people like. For me, it’s not really about clout and money, I just want people to feel about us the way I feel about my favorite artists
and just have fun with it. That’s about the long and short of it. To see what we do from here on, you can always follow us on twitter @Vandalia16 or instagram @_vandalia_

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