Vinnie Caruana is a veteran of the New York punk scene – he’s been making music for over 15 years, and in that time he’s amassed an army of dedicated fans. At the beginning of this year he announced his first ever solo release and has just flown over to England for a string of shows. In the poorly lit band area above The Macbeth in London, with the smell of stale pot smoke hanging in the air, Solomon Radley met with him to ask why he chose England as the first place to play after the announcement… apparently it’s the football.
“I came over here to watch the Liverpool match and I’m playing a few shows while I’m in the country,” he said. “It just kinda worked out that way! London will be the first place to actually have the record. This is my home from home – I love it here.”
‘City By The Sea’ will be released on February 4 via Xtra Mile Records. Although Vinnie has amassed a massive back catalogue over the years with his bands The Movielife and I Am The Avalanche (not to mention his many other side projects and guest appearances), this is the first time he’s ever embarked on a solo effort. So what’s changed?
“I started playing solo shows quite a bit, and a lot of people were asking after them if I would do one and I always said I would, and when [I Am The Avalanche] stopped touring after the record I finally had the time,” he said. “I’m really glad I did and I’m proud of it.”
Vinnie has always written songs about his own life, creating works that are deeply personal and absolutely honest. With his solo effort, it looks like we can expect more of the same.
“I think the songs are very personal,” he said. “It’s kinda my life and the way I’m thinking these days. Some of it’s quite depressing, but it’s therapeutic for me to do.”
After writing the bulk of the material for the EP while on tour, Vinnie went into the studio with Steve Choi (RX Bandits), who produced the record.
Talking about working with Steve, Vinnie said: “He’s been a really close friend and peer of mine for a long time and I knew he would be the man for the job. He’s a really talented musician and producer, and he really helped bring the songs to life. It’s great working with friends – it’s very comfortable.”
Last November, hurricane Sandy struck and devastated New York, killing 48 people there, causing mass flooding, and reducing large parts of the state to rubble. Vinnie explained how the tragedy impacted on the record.
He said: “I live in a city right by the sea. I recorded the album before the hurricane, but it means even more now, after that happened. We got hit really badly – a lot of people’s lives are affected by it. With the title, it’s nice to pay respect to Long Beach NY, where I live.”
Recently Vinnie (along with Kevin Devine, Thrice, Manchester Orchestra, Balance And Composure and Sainthood) has been linked to a mysterious new super-group called Shone, which is thought to be Brain Lane’s (Brand New) new project. The group have been promoting themselves through a viral campaign in which people in New York are sent cryptic clues, leading them on elaborate treasure hunts. Exactly who is in the band is still a mystery and, when pressed, Vinnie was reluctant to give anything away.
“I don’t know if that information has been divulged yet,” he said hesitantly. “They’re all being very secretive and I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag if it hasn’t been already.”
He added: “A lot of people have been linking me to that because of the Tweets and that, but the real story is that some close friends of mine are doing a project called Shone and the reason I’m Tweeting about it is we have a real close community of friends and we like to help each other out.”
So no luck there…but we had to ask, right? He was much happier talking about when the next I Am The Avalanche album is likely to surface. The guys will finish writing in March, after Vinnie’s finished playing his run of solo shows, and they’ll record a new full-length in May for a fall release.
After we’d done chatting I left Vinnie to warm up and headed back downstairs to have a beer and watch the support acts. Check out what I thought of the show here.
Interviewer: Solomon Radley