An Interview With Verdegree
Verdegree just released a melodically driven alternative rock EP laced with gorgeous vocal harmonies, a huge soundscape, and a progressive undertone that shines through almost constantly.
The Gatekeeper EP is packed solid with completely addictive hard hitting hooks as guitars rock while vocals sooth and the records sonic tones take on a unique and somewhat graceful style.
You can feel the fun this band had making this record as the endite band has a certain vibrancy and sheen that makes up their staple sound.
There is an energy on this EP that's incredible and the songs come off sounding like any one of them could easily be in the soundtrack to a film.
Songs are clean and crisp but have a hard rocking edge and it's all very tastefully done as the band sounds like seasoned musicians with a young gusto.
Almost all the tracks on this release give us some killer guitar solo action and even that sounds super tight and at times gives a touch of classic rock while atmospheres swell and songs gain a slight ambience.
The Gatekeeper EP is quite the musical journey and really takes on a life of its own. Each song seems to tell a story that leads into each other.
It makes one wonder if this is a concept album or not. It certainly sounds like it could be.
This whole EP has an aura about it that gleams and with it, Verdegree has nailed down their sound.
With such a bright new release, we wanted to have a sit down with the band to talk about where it came from and what's next for them.
Here's what happened.
TSWS: Okay let's start with the Gatekeeper EP. The record has some beautiful vocals and melodic alt-rock feels to it. Where did this record come from?
Elisabeth: Gatekeeper is a project we’ve been working on for sometime now. I always wanted to work on a conceptual piece… And a few summers ago, I sat down and wrote down a story that I thought would make a good musical journey. After writing the story I separated the parts of the story into songs and started writing from there. After Mitch and Shawn joined the band it finally seemed like this was something we could do and pull off correctly… I love how it turned out and we can’t wait to record the second half for sure!
TSWS: This sounded like a number of great bands rolled into one record! What are some of your biggest musical influences?
Elisabeth: yes! It definitely is. I think that’s a strength of this band that we all have various influences that somehow come together to make a unique sound. It’s interesting because I have drastically different influences from everyone else in the band. I grew up listening to bands like Bread and Dan fogelberg. Joining those melodic influences along side the heavier and more abstract bands that Mitch Shawn and Marc bring to the mix creates an interesting texture. I love it. And obviously I’m very into bands that write conceptual albums such as the Dear Hunter, Coheed, and the Mars Volta etc.
Mitch: Mine change all the time but I tend to gravitate towards a lot of improvisational and experimental music. That all influences my drumming, plus all the rock, jazz and classical I’ve done in the past. I always try to listen to as many different artists as I can, I think that’s important.
Shawn: I've always had a penchant for 70s prog, art rock, and I've somehow managed to rip off most of the British Gibson players of that era in one way or another. Bowie, King Crimson, Yes, and Thin Lizzy are my home base and with the wide scope of influences in this band I can call upon that stuff without sounding retro at all.
TSWS: How did this all start for you?
Mitch: I came on board later as a Craigslist find. I was looking for a group to play with and was stoked on the original material the band showed me. It worked out well, I got very lucky :)!
Elisabeth: it’s been kind of a lifelong musical journey for me. This album is a more mature rendering of everything leading up to this point I think.
Marc: I’ve just tagged along with Elisabeth for a few years. Haha. I have always heard this metaphor when it comes to creativity where you can be a spark or gasoline. The spark creative can create something from nothing and the gasoline creative can add to what is already there and add to it in a really productive way. I’ve always considered myself the gasoline type and need people like Elisabeth, Shawn, and Mitch to create the spark first to work off.
Shawn: I was also a Craigslist find. Not only did I find a band that I wanted to be in, but it was a very smooth, organic process of joining. I was so fortunate to join a band that allowed me to grow stylistically to fit a sound we allp built off of our chemistry and growth.
TSWS: Will you be focusing on any live performances in the near future?
Mitch: I very much hope so! When things come back, we will go gig crazy.
Elisabeth: yes. It’s been way too long.
Shawn: Ugh, yes. Playing over backing tracks at home makes me feel like I'm 14 again, but not in the way I'd like.
Marc: I have been overthinking everything we could possibly do musically, so I can’t even wait to get back to something as simple as practice together. That’s where we do a lot of our writing and experimenting with the songs and it’s such a rewarding process to see how that plays out live in front of other people.
TSWS: What's next for you as a band?
Mitch: Part 2 of this record!
Elisabeth: yeah for sure part 2. Although this pandemic was not a blessing for anyone, I do feel like it brought us closer as a band somehow even though we were mostly separated. Working on a project like this streamlined our approach to writing and performing and recording music.
Marc: I think the response to this first half of the album has definitely convinced us that part 2 is up next. We still have a couple songs to write so once we can safely get back together that ball will get rolling quick…
TSWS: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Mitch: I teach a lot of drums and play chess, haha. I like watching movies too! This is my indoor quarantine life....
Elisabeth: teaching elementary music (and drawing a lot of the time.)
Shawn: Just playing guitar, working, and trying to watch all the things on my queue.
Marc: We just adopted a rescue dog and K-9 band mascot, so a lot of time now goes into making sure she’s happy.
TSWS: What kind of things inspire you guys to write?
Elisabeth: watching/ listening to other bands
Shawn: I've found Youtube and Amazon Prime to be treasure troves of inspiration with live footage and documentaries. I went down a rabbit hole the other night of live Whitney Houston videos and it was glorious.
Marc: Hearing when other bands or musicians are kind of pushing the envelope of what you can do with music/musical genre really inspires me. A lot of times learning a new concept either in playing, theory, technique, tone, etc. and thinking “how can I apply that?” will make me sit down and work on creating something.
TSWS: Whats everyones favorite midnight snack (this is a need to know questions people)
Elisabeth: gotta be some cold crab Rangoon
Shawn: I'm actually fond of a chilled rangoon as well, especially in the morning. Cream cheese is a breakfast food after all. Also, seasonal Reese's. They're always fresh.
Mitch: Ooo good question, I feel like my favorite is fast food or frozen food... McDonald’s, Wendy’s or like Ellio’s pizza always taste a little better late at night. Chocolate too, I always go for desserts!
Marc: I would definitely have to go for any kind of cheese standing in front of the fridge in the dark eating it with the door open contemplating your life.
TSWS: It feels like this was a big undertaking. Did it take long to create this record?
Mitch: About 10ish months from basics to mastering? I think? The pandemic had a hand in pushing our schedule around, but we were lucky enough to be able to get it all done! We had a great team at the studio that helped.
Elisabeth: it felt big. This was a just outside my comfort zone of projects with so many parts- I think that setting that bar just a little higher so we had to reach for it turned out to be an excellent way to display our project. I feel so proud of this.
Shawn: While I didn't expect to take this long, having that much time did give us an opportunity to really decide what to keep or redo.
Marc: I think this definitely took longer than we were expecting, but we also didn’t want to make any compromises on it even though it was a little tougher to make it happen in 2020. So the little bit of a wait was totally worth it after hearing how the final product came out.
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to express to fans of the music?
Mitch: Thank you so much for listening, I hope you enjoy the music!!
Elisabeth: tell us what you think the album is about! I’d love to hear reflections on the concept!
Shawn: Be safe, and whenever we're gigging again we would love to see you at a show!
Marc: We have been blown away with the response to this release, so thank you all!