The year 2020 was a journey for the members of VYNYL. The Denver-based pop group found itself hamstrung after its first national tour was shut down mid-pandemic. The bandmates decided to think about the direction their music was headed.
“When it all went down, it kind of really showed us where we were in terms of our internal dynamic,” vocalist John Tyler says. “It allowed us to take a look at what we’d learned on that tour so far.”
Tyler says that the band used the downtime to write, and the group has a new EP with a fresh musical direction to show for it: The World Is on Fire and I’m Lonely, which was released on April 9.
Members of VYNYL are style-conscious lads, and for this, they sometimes get heckled by jerks who think VYNYL is a boy band. That actually happened recently in Fort Collins, where they were playing a music festival. They didn't let it bother them.
Despite the band's cheery appearance, VYNYL's music is actually quite sad and pensive in places, and nothing like that vapid boy-band music that tends to plague the airwaves every ten years or so.
And the bandmates are used to not really fitting in with the Denver music scene at large anyway. Only guitarist Hunter Heurich is from Colorado. Bassist Andrew Cole is from South Africa originally, and Tyler hails from “the middle of bumfuck nowhere, North Carolina,” as he puts it. They do feel like they have found their place and their fan base, however.
“Our audience has really stuck with us through the pandemic,” Heurich says. “It's really powerful, honestly, and it surprised us."
On the new album, Cole says the band intentionally juxtaposed sad, introspective lyrics with some optimism. “It’s a pretty common theme of life,” Tyler says. “It's a lot of shit, a lot of hard times, but it’s also a lot of beauty, and finding that beauty in those difficult moments is what allows us to keep pushing forward.”
He adds that the writing process was therapy for the band as it tried to make it through the waking nightmare that was 2020.
“We went against our own natural tendencies to fight for something we believed in,” he says. “The reason this band has lasted so long is persistence.”
The bandmates strove for a rawer sound on their latest EP. They recorded the tracks at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, and they used more live instrumentation than on previous outings. Tyler describes the songs as the band’s “Van Gogh cutting his ear off.”
That’s one way to put it.
“We pushed ourselves instrumentally and lyrically and melodically,” he says. “The overall vibe of how the world was going, it inspired us to really let ourselves go for it and let it loose.”
He adds that he wants to see the band potentially reinvent itself every time it goes into the studio. While the group's usual pop sound is accessible, 2020 didn’t exactly feel like the time for happy pop music.
“It was a time to rage against the machine, in a sense,” Heurich says. “It just felt very visceral.”
The band shot a video for the single “Heart//Break” and used a filter to make it look like a worn-out VHS recording. The effect gives the video a color palette that is dreamy, almost nightmarish.
“We had an idea for it to be a bad-trip scenario,” Tyler says. “We were juxtaposing heartbreak to a bad dream or a bad trip. When you come out of a bad relationship and you kind of get out of that fog, you kind of look back on a chunk of time that’s like a dream state. You don’t remember a lot of it. “
Now that we are seeing the light at the end of the COVID tunnel — that is, if the light doesn’t happen to be a train barreling toward us, as a friend of mine says — VYNYL wants to pick up the tour where it left off.
“It seems like right before the lockdowns started happening, we got the taste,” Heurich says. “Now we want to take the bite.”
Tyler says he would like to resume touring, but he sees 2021 as a time to rebuild the sense of community that was lost during the pandemic and the lockdowns.
“There’s been a lot of camaraderie and a lot of people helping each other out,” he notes. “But I also can’t help feel disconnected from a lot of my friends that I have played music with, and I haven’t seen them in six to eight months.”
Check out VYNYL'S website for more information. The World Is on Fire and I’m Lonely is now available.
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