hrough the eyes of our quaint little publication, 2019 isn't quite feeling like it's own year yet. 2018 is still pretty much on our mind, given the frenzy over our current awards season, but the year has to progress and things have to get better. The upside to our award season is that submissions go through the roof. The downside, is that there is so much to go through. Where do you find the time to take it all in? One submission that stood out simply because it was a band that hails form my home State. In the past, ROCKWIRED has given it up for such Maryland-based rockers such as SILVERTUNG, BLACK ANGEL DOWN and the more regional band SEPIA. VEER is the latest offering to the world of active rock from the Old Line State and they've demonstrated that they've got a one, mean, knock out rock n roll punch with their new album APOCALYPTIC, BABY. Powered by brothers RONALD (vocals) and JON MALFI (drums), RYAN FOWLER on lead guitar and CHRISTIAN MATHIS on bass, VEER issues the kind of rock that is as heavy on guitar as it is on hooks. Throughout 2018, they had released a series of singles that had reached respectable chartings on the 365 RADIO NETWORK and Australia's 89.5 THE VOICE OF THE VALLEY. With the release of APOCALYPTIC, BABY, hopefully it won't be long before VEER make a good impression Stateside. Due to a snowstorm that had blon in through Maryland, ROCKWIRED conducted an email interview with the members of VEER regarding their new album. Here is how the interview went.
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The album APOCALYPTIC, BABY has been out since December 1st. With the release of the album behind you, how do you guys feel about the finished work?
RONALD: I'm very satisfied with what we've done. It’s a solid record. I mean, with anything you've created, you always hear the imperfections in it, but that’s to be expected. Tracking these songs seemed to take forever, too, and I find it hard to maintain interest in a project that goes on and on. The excitement during the recording of the album was continuously buoyed by the energy of the rest of the band.
JON: I am also very happy with the way it turned out. It's nice to hear the reactions about the songs, and what fans think of them. It's always fun to document songs on an album to remember where your mind frame was during the recording process.
CHRISTIAN: Very pleased with the final results, it's exciting to hear the evolution of some of these songs.
RYAN: There is a saying in music...a record is never done but eventually you have to let it into the wild. That’s how I feel about this record. I love the songs and we have some great performances as a band so I feel like we put a great first record considering some of the restraints we had with time and budget. Adam said yes to our every request and we couldn't possibly thank him enough for powering through what was a very slow recording process.
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Describe what the roll out for the album has been like? Has there been a series of shows to help promote the thing? Is there a music video in the works for any of the songs?
RONALD: We played a CD release party the night the album dropped. We did the whole record, front to back, which was the first time we’d done that at a show before. We also released a video for MAKE YOU ahead of the album’s release, which has gotten some nice traction, and the song began to rank on several indie charts. We're currently contemplating a second video to keep the momentum of the record going.
JON: Like RON said, we are contemplating which single we want to shoot a video for next. We had a lot of things planned for the promotion of this album and tried to build it up as much as possible. We also have some pretty big shows lined up to help promote the release. Friday February 22, we are one of the headlining bands on the “rock” stage at Frozen Harbor Music Festival in Baltimore, Maryland at the Power Plant Live! Complex. We will also be direct support for TRAPT in March, which should be a great show and really help push the release.
Who all did you guys work with in putting this album together?
RONALD: We tracked almost the whole record at APOLLO STUDIOS here in Maryland. ADAM IACARINO produced the album with us. He’s also a killer guitarist in the band LEGION.
CHRISTIAN: ADAM and SEAMUS, who assisted, were great to work with, great personalities and positive vibes during the sessions.
RYAN: We did about half of the production at APOLLO STUDIOS with ADAM and SEAMUS and the rest of it was done at my studio at my house. There were very few people involved. We like to work on a shoestring budget because it forces us to be creative with the recording process. ADAM did all of the final mixes and made us sound great!
Have there been any reactions to the album that have surprised you guys?
RONALD: It’s always interesting to hear what people’s favorite tracks are, and how they interpret the sound. One reviewer noted a distinct ’70s vibe to some of the songs, which I find interesting.
JON: I think it is really cool that all the reviews so far have been very positive and has had a great reaction from everyone who has heard the album.
In the previous month the band was awarded the MARYLAND MUSIC AWARD for BEST ROCK ARTIST. In a way, that acknowledgment kind of answers this next questions but I would love to hear it from you guys. Describe the music scene that you are surrounded by in Maryland. Is supportive? Is it indifferent? You tell me.
RONALD: We’ve been overwhelmed by all the love and support, from our fans and from other bands in the area. Maryland has such a rich and diverse music scene that it never feels like the pool is too small and we’re all stepping on each other’s toes. It isn’t like that. We go to shows and support other bands, and they do the same for us. It’s like a big family.
JON: Yeah, the music scene in Maryland is very impressive. There are a lot of amazing bands that come out of the Annapolis and Baltimore area, and everyone really shows support towards all the other bands and projects. It is a really great scene!:
Before the formation of this band, what was each member's musical experience?
RONALD: Well, JON (the drummer) is my brother, so we’ve got a lifetime of jam sessions under our belts. Even when we were in separate bands, I’d always grab JON to lay down some beats on something I’d written. It’s almost crazy that we hadn’t been in an actual band together before. And RYAN (lead guitarist) and I had been in a band called NELLIE BLIDE back in the early 2000s. Recruiting him for this project was no-brainer. He’s a stellar guitarist.
JON: When we originally formed the band, we had tried a different bass player out. Due to some conflicts it didn't work out and Fowler recommended a long time friend of his. That’s where CHRISTIAN came in to the band and from the first practice, we all just clicked.
CHRISTIAN: I had played with few bands mostly in the early 2000’s, been mostly jamming with friends and making some bad bedroom recordings that will never see the light of day.
How did the band come together?
RONALD: Jon and I had backed up a friend’s band for a festival in, I think, 2016, and after that we both just kind of looked at each other and said, “Why the hell don’t we do this ourselves?”
CHRISTIAN: I had known RYAN for years, he phoned me about trying out for a band RON and JON were assembling to support a joint festival between FREESTATE CUSTOM GUITARS and DEVILLE INK TATTOOS.
RYAN: RON and I have worked on a number of creative projects over the years. We had a band called NELLY BLIDE with RON and JON's other Brother DARIN on drums in the early 2000s and that one ran its course after a couple years. After that we worked on several film score projects and eventually produced a film ourselves called the MIDNIGHT DISEASE. Ever since we wrapped on that project we have continued to work on music off and on and it just seemed like the time was right to jump back into a live band. CHRISTIAN and I have been best friends since we were kids so when we needed a bass player he was the only person we called. JON came packaged with RON and without his playing and the work that he puts into promotion, we would probably still be in the basement. JON is the perfect combination of dynamic and funky for a band like this.
Where do the songs from APOCALYPTIC BABY come from? What inspired them?
RONALD: The songs are unexpectedly dark, lyrically. I’ve learned that it’s best to let the lyrics come and the story behind the song develop naturally instead of trying to force it to mean something. Because of that, and for whatever reason, most of these songs are about some pretty heavy stuff—addiction, deceit, loneliness, insecurity. Musically, we made conscious effort to combine riff-heavy, hard rock verses with choruses that have a more pop sensibility, where the melodies get stuck in your head. I’ve always loved that juxtaposition—the heavy, minored verse chords into the bright majored choruses.
Describe the songwriting process within this band. How does that get accomplished?
RONALD: Every song is a bit different. For the most part, I write the music and the lyrical melodies then introduce the songs to the band. Sometimes the songs undergo some changes once everyone gets their input in, other songs have stayed pretty much the same. It’s not about everyone playing one person’s idea for a song, but to—as JON says—“VEER” the songs up, which basically means everyone doing their part to make the songs sound like a collective whole when they’re played together.
JON: Once you have been playing and writing music for so long, you kind of get “stuck” in your ways. RON does an amazing job of organizing and working out vocal arrangements and guitar melodies. I think we are very fortunate to have grown up playing music, that everything kind of flows together easily. Some of the tracks on this album were written within a couple of hours, from start to finish. Everyone in band really adds a multitude of layers to the songs that really helps bring out our sound.
What songs off of the album stand out for each of you the most and why?
RONALD: I like different things about different songs. The album opener, POWER DRIVE was written before we even had a band, and it remains one of my favorites. I think it really sums up our sound as a band. Aspects of other songs stand out for me—RYAN's guitar solo on DOUSE, the half-step modulation at the end of COME CLEAN that seems to brighten up the chorus, the composition of BREATHE, which was written partially by JON and me, and partially during the recording process. In fact, it was really during the recording of that song that it really started to shine. We almost ditched it from the record, and now so many people have said it’s their favorite track.
JON: I tend to like different songs at different times depending on the mood I am in. As a whole, I am really proud of the entire album and haven't gotten to the point where I am sick of listening to it yet. I am kind of partial to the newer songs we wrote like BREATHE and REASONS cause I haven’t heard them as much as the others.
CHRISTIAN: POWER DRIVE sold me on joining the band, its a strong track to open the album. There are a lot of different things about each of these songs that i enjoy, I also think REASONS is a standout track sonically.
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In a live setting, what songs from your catalog get the most reaction?
RONALD: COME CLEAN is our most popular, and the one everyone seems to know. We also get a lot of people singing the chorus to MKE YOU probably because it's really a simple chorus to sing.
JON: COME CLEAN gets a great reaction live because that was the first single we released in 2017 to help build the momentum for the album, and a lot of people have heard it. I have noticed that since the album has been out, more people are starting to sing along to different songs, which is a great feeling when you are playing live.
With the release of the album behind you, what is next for the band musically?
RONALD: We’re continuing to play shows and working on new material.
JON: We have a lot of things in the works to help keep the train rolling. Working on ideas for a new music video, new material and a possible remake of a cover song, which we have never done before. Things change day by day, so it is hard to say, but we will definitely continue to build our fan base and get the songs out there.
What is the big idea behind APOCALYPTIC, BABY? What would you guys like for people come away with after they hear it?
RONALD: That it’s still possible to make a solid rock album without any pretense, glamour, or flash. Just four guys, their guitars, and some drums.
RYAN: We all grew up with music like NIRVANA, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, LIVE and real guitar focused rock. We felt like our brand of rock music is still very relevant next to some of the popular rock bands of today so we just wrote songs that we like to play and the record took shape from there. We never really intentionally try to write music that has a particular sound. It’s a very organic process for us and this group of songs really fit well together.
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