Versus the World Q&A

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SoCal rock band Versus The World have announced that will join MxPx Allstars and Unwritten Law on a fall U.S. tour in support of their new album, Drink. Sing. Live. Love., which was released on July 31 from Viking Funeral Records.

I got the chance to throw a couple of questions at vocalist/guitarist Donald Spence, and now you get the chance to read his answers.  Congratulations, no need to thank me, and enjoy.

Vinyl Mag: The record was originally going to be released as an EP announced in 2010 and then later evolved into a full length.  Why the delay/change of plans?

Donald Spence:  I think we wanted to put out an EP real quick, because we were just really excited to be making music again.  We had these songs written, and we wanted to release them as soon as we could.  We had our time booked, and we finished the songs that we’d set for the EP, but we had so many other songs we’d been writing.  We came to the decision that, since we had been gone for so long, we needed to take our time put out a full length.

VM: What is the message behind the anthem and album title “Drink. Sing. Live. Love.”?  Why are those four themes so important/emphasized?  Is that the overall theme of the album?

DS: The message is simple really; these are the things that make life worth living, to me at least.  We didn’t start out with a concept for the record, but that ended up being a common thread throughout the songs.  There are songs on the record that deal with loss, and fear, and anger, but at the end of all of it, there’s some hope.

VM: The song “A Love Song for Amsterdam” truly seems like a genuine love song.  What significance does Amsterdam hold for you (is it truly about the city or about a memory there…or neither?)?

DS: I love that town.  Something about it really feels like home to me.  The first time I toured Europe, there was a break in between when one tour ended and another started, and we decided that we’d just stay in Amsterdam and relax.  I got to know the town and got really comfortable there- made some friends that I still talk to regularly.  I try to start or end any Euro trip there so I can extend my stay a little bit.

VM: What is “The Kids Are F*cked” about (love the Freaks and Geeks sound clip at the beginning btw)?  There is an obvious note of despair throughout (“There was no savior anyhow”), which sharply contrasts with the hopeful feeling in “A Fond Farewell”. Where did the inspiration for each song come from?

DS: I’m not a religious person. I have some conflicts about religion that probably come from me being raised in Texas by a Mormon father and a Catholic mom.  It comes out in my lyrics from time to time.  I grew up in a place where every Sunday the Southern Baptist churches would sing worship music at the top of their lungs; a lot of soul went into their music.  It’s a cool thing to see.  I wanted to write a worship song about the things that move me, my friends, my family, whiskey, and long nights singing at the top of my lungs!   I wrote it from the perspective of a person that knows they’re dying.  And instead of being upset and scared, which is a natural response, he’s happy about the life he got to live and the people and moments that made it worth living.  It was loosely inspired by the death of a close friend’s father after a fight with cancer.  I admired how unafraid he was about the ordeal.  I actually got his widowed wife and daughter to sing on the chorus.  I’m glad they could be a part of it.

When I’m not on the road I run a live music venue in Santa Barbara called Velvet Jones.  All we do is live music, so I’m always interacting with kids and artist from all different genres of music.  I’ve been doing it for years and I feel like the attitude at shows is different than when I started seeing bands.  I wrote  “The kids are f*cked” after one of my friends, a security guard at our bar, got stabbed in the back just an inch from his spine by some punk assh*le teenage kid at a hip hop show we had.  I remember me and my buddy Mike Woods (he’s Versus’ one man crew- we travel everywhere with him) stuffing our handkerchiefs in his wound until the ambulance took him away.  I just couldn’t believe that a kid barely old enough to drive could do that to another human being.  That type of mentality scares the sh*t out of me.

VM: I love the video for “A Fond Farewell” (a few parts of it remind me of Blink-182’s video for “Adam’s Song”- in all of the best ways).  Where did the concept come from?

DS: Bryan’s (our drummer) brother, Mikey, is pretty talented with a camera.  He’s done some work with Lagwagon and a lot of other musicians, so we kind of left the vision up to him.  I think that videos can get really overthought and way too serious, so we told him that we wanted it to be mainly a performance video.  He came up with the rest.  He did a great job.

VM: What are you most looking forward to on this tour?  What can fans look forward to in your shows?

DS: We’re pretty good buddies with Unwritten Law & MxPx, so this tour is really going to be a bunch of old buddies playing music every night.  I think you can tell when bands are having fun.  I mean, tour is always fun.  You’re up there with a few of your best friends doing what you love…But when all the bands on this bill are friends…Then every night is a party.  I can’t wait.

VM: What is next for Versus the World besides this tour?

DS: We’re heading back to Europe next year, and were heading to Australia for the first time!  A lot of touring on the horizon.  It’s going to be a fun year.

Emily is an over-enthusiastic lover of music, books, movies, fashion, and culture in general. Her love of music spans across all genres (what is a genre anymore? she waxes poetic to herself), though she was nursed on true punk and will never understand “redneck country” music – tractors are not and cannot be sexy. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and considers herself to be a great wit, though she is still waiting on validation from a credible source.

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