If you need something to “Believe” in, then believe in Vattica. The energetic alt-rock group is back with a new anthem that dives deep into feeling fearful of the future. It’s a feeling that couldn’t be more pertinent considering the circumstances in which we currently find ourselves with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the entire globe. Rather than go down the darker path, “Believe” is full of positive and optimistic feelings thanks to its unified vocals, driving guitars and hints of synth. The song is the title track to the band’s brand new EP which is due on March 27th.
Providing more insight into the subject matter of the song, and the frustration that came from actually being allowed to release their new EP, the band stated, “‘Believe’ is about feeling fearful of the direction our society is going, while still having faith in the potential of humanity. These songs were written, refined and recorded in 2016. Our ex-label then sat on our album and we had to fight to get out of our contract. We walked with the rights to our music and our recordings, after a two-year battle.”
While such a battle just to release their own music may break apart most bands, that’s just not in Vattica’s nature. They carried on, fought for what was rightfully theirs, and now have emerged more invigorated than ever. We recently caught up with the entire band to get their viewpoints on “Believe,” their long-awaited new record, and if they ever considered throwing the EP away due to its lengthy delay and starting afresh.
Your new single “Believe” is a totally radio-ready tune that has that addictive quality about it. Tell us a little more about the writing of this song. How did it come together?
Alexander Millar (lead vocals, guitar): “Thanks! I wrote ‘Believe’ with the original members of the band back in 2016. It was the start of a bold new direction for us; I’m always in favour of big arena-ready rock, and ‘Believe’ is definitely poppier and larger than we’d written together before.”
You refer to “Believe” as a song about having fear regarding the direction the world is going in, while maintaining faith in our potential. What personally helps you maintain this hope and faith?
Alexander: “Well, originally I wrote the lyrics during the 2016 election. Watching so much of the media and people support, coddle and make excuses for Trump, this clearly corrupt and vile person, was and continues to be really hard for me. It makes me angry. There are still news outlets that bend over backwards to be moderate in their coverage of him (looking at you, NPR)! Like, ‘the president seemed to strike a more serious tone today blah blah blah.’ Dude the guy is an inept, racist, narcissistic fool. And we’ve been feeling the effects of his idiocy this whole time, but even more so now during this COVID-19 pandemic. I think the song ‘Believe’ is even more apropos now than when I wrote it, because it’s up to us, you and me, our communities, to support each other during this time. God knows this administration isn’t going to get the job done. And we’ve already seen people banding together, taking care of each other, you know? So it’s about wanting to believe in the best in people while being cognizant that there is so much darkness in the world.”
Isaac Waters (bass, backing vocals): “Yeah, by maintaining meaningful relationships with friends new and old. Going beyond the minimal texting or likes and having in-person conversations, getting out there in the world and doing things together, from the great to the trivial. The key is human interaction. I know by the relationships I have and continue to form, just what people working together are capable of. When people are simply reacting and not communicating with each other, that is when start to I lose hope.”
Jonny Rosè (lead guitar, backing vocals): “It’s important to try to keep faith in people’s ability to be inherently good. There are flashes of it in daily life all the time, if you look hard enough. Today more than ever it’s easy to get bogged down with the mainstream media, social media and politics constantly reporting and displaying hatred and negativity toward the ‘other.’ It’s far easier to be tribal, pick a side and root against anyone whose values, opinions, tastes don’t align with your own. But that’s not a sustainable approach to life. The idea is that there must be an innate feeling in everyone that we are truly in this life together, and need each other to make it work, and that faced with a reality where the stakes become real, this feeling will come out when we need it most, because we are all connected.”
Ryan Linderman (drums): “For me, if you spend too much time watching TV… news and reality shows, or too much time on social media and just the internet in general, it can quickly paint a pretty bleak picture of humanity and its overall direction. To me that’s where the themes of fear in ‘Believe’ are coming from. But personally, I’ve found that something interesting happens when you’re interacting with people in the world, physically meeting new people, especially around music. Somehow the animosity and the divisiveness vanishes.
I was just on tour for the last ten days as the COVID-19 outbreak ramped up, but even as all of our shows got cancelled and social distancing set in, we kept showing up to each city and when we got a chance to talk to people face to face, we experienced grace and kindness. A hotel restaurant’s general manager let us play acoustically in his lobby. A coffee shop owner opened her doors to give us a venue. This was real humans seeing others in trouble in the real world and extending a hand, regardless of the fear that was engulfing everyone. That gives me hope.”
“Believe” is one of the many highlights found on your debut album which I must ask you about. Incredibly, it has taken you four years to release this record due to a contract squabble with your former label which resulted in a two-year legal battle! Can you tell us a little more about the details behind why or how this whole mess occurred?
Alexander: “It was less of a squabble and more of a bomb. (laughs) It’s a very, very long story with many twists and turns. I’ll try to give the shortest version. Basically me and the original members of Vattica got offered a record deal by an indie label, which we accepted with no independent legal counsel, no independent management and no real idea of how the industry worked. That indie label then got bought up by a major label, giving them the resources of a major, while the indie was still in change of us directly. We then got the opportunity to record this amazing record with Ben Grosse at The Mix Room; Ben is a legendary producer, he’s worked with Breaking Benjamin, Starset, Eminem, Daughtry, Filter, Third Eye Blind, just so many great artists. When you go inside his place there’s just walls and walls lined with plaques of all these amazing people.
We recorded ten songs with Ben and his team, many of which came from demos that the label already liked. Then we turned in the album and the indie label did nothing with it. A year went by and nothing was happening. They weren’t letting us play shows, they weren’t getting us any opportunities, they just sat on us. Oh, I should be very clear on this point; everyone at both the indie label and the major label were great, they tried their best to help us, but we were directly under the control of the main person from the indie label, and nothing happens there without his approval. He’s very manipulative as well as mentally and emotionally abusive to the artists he signs, it’s all about power for him. We just wanted to get to work! We wanted to have a label support us, put our music out and help us get out on tour, like they said they would.
Anyway, after a year of sitting on us we asked to be let out of our contract, which I think drove that guy crazy because who were we, you know? He sees himself as this big, important guy and how dare we try and advocate for ourselves, right? So he did everything in his power to hold up the process. We got independent legal counsel, and independent management, and they helped us get out of the contract. That process took over two years. During that time, the two other original members left the band, and I kept going. I found these fantastic humans that I am playing with now, and we’re finally in a position to release these songs and start building our buzz back up again.”
Obviously, people, and bands, change a lot in four years. Was it difficult to get back into the idea of releasing these songs since so much has changed and gone on since they were written?
Alexander: “No, because they’re still relevant. We write timeless, anthemic music. I don’t mean that egotistically at all. Every song we write is constructed so that it can apply to a myriad of situations; we try really hard not to be trendy.”
Isaac: “No, if anything where we are at as a society today feels like we need this type of music more than ever. Today’s generation has been met with the same amount of disdain and misunderstanding that the greatest generation had for the baby boomers during the counter culture movement of the ‘60s. The people of today do not have the same type of musical role models that the boomers did. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Bob Marley and so many more defined their generation with music of positivity, consciousness expansion, free love and acceptance of all. We hope to be just a small version of that for this generation.”
Jonny: “While it’s true that people/bands change more and more rapidly all the time, there are messages and ideas that should ring true universally. There are ideas that have a shelf life, and ideas that should be everlasting. Those ideas are the ones that can apply to any time in history, beyond modern fads, events, age differences and cultures. For example, our song ‘We Survive’ is an idea that crosses those superficial boundaries.”
Ryan: “I can only speak for me personally when it comes to the time between writing and recording a piece of music and going through releasing it, or re-releasing it, sometimes years later. I think what matters most is getting a piece of art that I had a hand out in into the world, and I think that driver should rise above the emotions that might be tied to the business aspects of the industry. I have released music and toured in support of that music, and in addition to never seeing a dime, lost untold amounts of money and time. That’s a hard lesson learned, but one that must be learned as an artist. Years later, I’m not bothered by the losses, but I am bothered that the songs aren’t in stores. They will be soon, and it’s not a difficult decision to want them available again.”
Once you regained control of your songs, did you ever consider scrapping them and just starting from scratch with a new record?
Alexander: “No. The songs are great. Why throw away something just because one person couldn’t see their potential? While it’s true that we’re always writing and always coming up with new songs, I think that we’re eager to get our music out there after feeling like we were put in a holding pattern for so long. Each of us hungers for that connection that only comes by sharing our art directly with people and having them make it a part of their lives. I’m hoping that people will resonate with both our music and our story so far. It’s a story of not giving up, no matter how overwhelming the odds feel, and this EP reflects that.”