During a guitar player’s dream of a show that defines Interval‘s The Shape of Colour Tour, Angel Vivaldi took some time to sit down with Steve of Damnation Magazine to discuss the current tour, his past and present musical influences, and to offer helpful advice to aspiring musicians looking to take things to the next level. The tour also features the licks and riffs of 24 year old Australian guitar virtuoso Plini and Pittsburgh, PA’s Save Us From the Archon. Do your best to catch this show in a city near you!
Damnation Magazine: How has this current tour compared to your recent headlining tour?
Angel Vivaldi: It’s been great… It’s been fantastic… The energy’s completely off the charts… I definitely got spoiled on the first tour, only because it was a headline tour so I able to play a lot longer, but it’s definitely worth the change… close friends of mine and the best guitar players on the planet so it’s a fantastic combination. It’s good for everyone. I’m excited.
DM: Have you seen a lot of familiar faces in cities you played just a few months ago?
AV: Oh yeah, a tremendous amount… I mean, even on the smaller (tours) that we’ve done, previous to the headlining one. I’m really good at remembering names. People are always kind of shocked at that, but if you come to the show 2 or 3 times, I’m gonna know you. These are people that typically message me or comment me very often, and every once in a while I get curious, I want to see the person behind the profile or the comments so I just go in there a take a look at them and get familiar with their faces that way as well. But yeah, tons… tons…
DM: Recently, there have been a lot of instrumental bands that are becoming more and more of household names over the last years like Animals As Leaders got really big, Scale the Summit recently, CHON and Polyphia just came and they’ve been selling on all across the country – why do you think instrumental music is starting to appeal to more people?
AV: There’s a lot of ways you can look at it… Personally, the way I look at it is I think that with everything going on in the world, there’s so many new mixes of human emotion that I think not a lot of people lyrically are capable of describing it. So I think to get away from that everyday sort of bullshit, instrumental really takes you somewhere. I think that people are gravitating towards using the canvas that instrumental music is painting to interpret whatever they’re feeling. It’s not necessarily a song where the lyrics are set, “this is how I’m feeling about this”…
More dynamic players are people who actually play with a lot of emotive type of melodic phrasing, stuff like that. I feel that the ones that really speak beyond the instrument, I can really relate on that level. That’s probably the main reason why, I think, that instrumental music is doing so well.
DM: Excellent, one of the first instrumental bands that stuck out to me in addition to Animals As Leaders and Scale the Summit was Cloudkicker. The CD with “Genesis” on it, the whole intro through the first three song make you feel like you’re literally floating in the clouds getting ready to fly away. It’s crazy!
AV: Yeah, yeah… It paints quite a picture.
DM: Some of my favorite instrumental artists recently have been Conquering Dystophia, Cloudkicker, there’s just so many out there now, which is great! I love it; I have 15 Gigs worth of instrumental on my iPhone just ready to play. Plini and Aaron (Marshall of Intervals)told me to check out Owane, he said he’s pretty. I just wanted to know… what you have been listening to that people may not have gotten around to yet?
AV: Man, I don’t really listen to too much of what I do – unintentionally and intentionally – because I feel in order to have longevity in this industry you have to not follow what other people are doing. Because, what happens is you’re sharing your audience with a bunch of artists doing the same thing you are, and what’s going to make them buy your record or follow your career aside from someone else’s? As a business person, I’m aware of what’s going on, and I’ll take little additives of it – the aspects of music that I like – but I won’t go as balls deep into it. This other stuff I immerse myself in is old school jazz, I’m talking like old school Herbie Hancock and Ella Fitzgerald, Brazilian jazz samba and Spanish samba, some of those rhythms and musical blueprints, so to speak. I listen to a lot of EDM, a lot of instrumental rap, stuff like that –
AV: Ratatat, yeah! Washed Out, Weathertunes, all the Mushroom Jazz compilations are all incredible… I can go on and on about that, but… Yeah, it’s interesting because with every record that I’ve done I knew exactly what I was listening to, like when I was doing “The Speed of Dark” I was super into All That Remains and Parkway Drive and August Burns Red and it reflects that. And then “Universal Language” I got influence from modern progressive metal and then with “Away With Words (Part 1)”, the transition between “The Speed of Dark” and “Universal Language” was where I felt like I found myself musically. When I went to “Away With Words” that’s where I proliferated that. And I’m happy where I’m at. It evolved within my own mind – and, again, take access of what’s happening but not go so hard into exactly what’s happening cuz it’s going to be in and out – it’s pop – and gone.
DM: Are there any cities this tour isn’t hitting or your headlining tour didn’t hit that didn’t stop in that you’d like to play sometime soon?
AV: I only did two or three dates in Canada on the last tour, and we spent the first week in Canada this time. Canada’s been a really hot market for my fan base. They came out in droves and it was absolutely crazy. They bombarded the place, crowd-surfing the whole night, it was just bananas. So a lot of the Canada dates covered a lot of that market. Aside from that, I think we hit a lot of places – we played Fubar last time – so I feel like we’re back-tracking some of those same areas that we played last time, which is good because every artist on this tour package, we’re sharing our arts with everyone else’s fans.
A good portion of them know the artists but the ones who don’t get to experience Intervals for the first time, they get to experience Plini for the first time, and Save Us From the Archon, who are absolutely amazing. But yeah, overall I can’t recall a specific city that we haven’t hit yet that I’d want to hit.
DM: They’re all unique…
AV: They are unique, but I mean, they’re not at the same time… For us, anyway, it’s another black box and a black room. And the energies… I see different colors of it. The home show in New York was just… there’s no words… that was just insane. So yeah, there are different waves of energy in different cities.
DM: What songs that you’ve been playing on this tour gotten the most response from the crowd? And what is your favorite song that you’ve been playing on this tour?
AV: I’m actually playing about 35 minutes and I’m actually packing a lot quote/unquote hits so there aren’t really too many lulls in it. We’re also doing a lot of different things, we’re doing sessions where we’re extending improvisation, definitely a lot of showmanship – performance is what I focus on the most. I sacrifice 10-15% of accuracy to actually perform because I feel like that’s what a concert is. If you want to listen to it perfect, go listen to a record. If you want a different experience and you want to experience the energy of the artist go to the show. I designed the lights by myself so that’s weeks of my life…
DM: It showed last time… it was awesome. On the headlining tour… it definitely showed.
AV: Thanks, man. We’re doing all sorts of different things this time as well. We’re doing “Crystal Planet” which is the newest single that I did. People are loving it and the flow of the set too, like how we’re going into songs people don’t expect. They’re like “oh my god” and so immersed in one song and then it jumps into another one. And obviously “A Martian Winter” is one that everyone is going to fucking losing their shit. But yeah, the set list is really cool; we’re packing a lot of content into a short amount time so it’s fun.
DM: For the aspiring musicians out there trying to take that next step, what kind of advice would you offer them as far as writing, composing, getting your name out there and reaching that next level?
AV: Oh, man, I could be here for days… But, overall, the most important thing is do not follow trends because they’re going to die out. If you want longevity in the industry you have to stay true to yourself. Even staying true to yourself, it’s a journey because at different times you are influenced by certain things. You just have to be very honest with yourself and aware. Like, “oh my god, this person did that” and again, you want to take a little bit of this, a little bit of this and a little bit of this. You don’t want to just take it verbatim. You want to take it and interpret it. And I think that’s that step that people are forgetting, and that’s the interpretation of what the artists are doing and not just copying it.
Be prepared to wear a lot of hats because nowadays the artist doesn’t just focus on the creative, they’re focusing on everything. You have to pay attention to your audience, you have to pay attention to your demographic, and you have to be very wise with your investments. You don’t want to spend $20K on a music video if there’s no one to make a music video for… Same thing albums and production and artwork and the whole presentation of social media, because that’s where people are going to find you. So, it’s the best time and the worst time to be a musician, because you have a lot of stacks to cut through, but if you’re in it for the right reasons it’s the best time. You can do everything yourself.
I don’t like the term “separates the men from the boys”, I think that’s kind of bullshit. I think it’s more about what separates those who are sincere about making art and those who are just doing it to get a lot of “likes” or get a lot of response for a year or two. Just always stay true to yourself. That’s the best advice I can give to you.
DM: Recently, Thy Art Is Murder’s singer quit the band due to financial struggles, stating that he and the other members of the band only made $16-$17,000 over the span of 6-7 years, amounting to roughly $200 a month. Do you think this adequately describes the struggle performing artists face in the industry, or is it strictly situational?
AV: I think this might get me in some heat, but, I don’t think that’s the case. Put that on the record, I don’t care what happens: I don’t think that’s the case. It is a situational situation as far as how much you make. Listen, I live very comfortably doing this because I am very wise with where I invert my money. But what you’re gonna see more of, and it’s going to break the hearts of fans and I don’t to discourage artists from doing what they do in bands, but you’re going to see a lot more members leaving bands and that’s what you’re seeing. In and out, in and out, in and out, constantly changing members. And you’re going to see a lot of more solo projects popping up because this is literally one of the only ways to make a living doing it.
The point is to really know what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. If you know you’re very strong in your vision and you have the capability of running a business, writing songs, doing live shows, booking the tour, doing all that, designing merch, then you’ll be alright. You have to want the show if you want success. You have to want to sleep in a van every night. You have to want to be broke for a very long time.
I mean I was for about a year and a half before I wrote my first record, and for me personally it was worth it because in the end I was being true to myself. I felt like at that very moment, when I wrote my first record that I put out my first record, that was success for me. That’s why I haven’t been very disappointed. That was the cake, and all these things that have happened since have been a lot of icing! That’s why I haven’t been very disappointed because I’m very realistic with my goals. Not that that was going to deter me from doing more, but I think it’s a matter of you have to know the business, you have to know what contract you’re signing, you have to know who to trust and who not to trust.
If that’s the case with Thy Art Is Murder, then that was a really bad business deal. I highly doubt that anyone would go 7 years – I don’t care how much you love music, you have to live. No one’s going to do that, man, I’m sorry I don’t care what they say. I mean, that’s ridiculous. And also by the look of his Instagram and all of the embellishing crazy inners and all of the expensive shoes he was buying… I’m sorry, I think it’s kind of bullshit to be honest. It’s just a matter of trusting your bandmates, having a good business plan, sticking to it, and monitoring it.
I define success in four different ways:
- You define where you are
- You define where you want to be
- You take action
- You monitor the action
So just because you sell 10,000 albums in a week doesn’t mean that you’re successful. If you’re gonna hold it out, you have to monitor it, see how people respond to it. And have an open line of communication with your fans because they’re the ones supporting you. I never wanted to tour. You think I wanted to go through all of this? Absolutely not! I did it because the fans begged and begged and begged and begged and begged me to tour the world. And I feel like I owe it to them to at least give them the opportunity to look them in the eye and shake their hand and say “thank you”. I’m going through all of this bullshit – and touring is 82% bullshit. I’m going through all of this literally to play for 35 minutes and say “thank you” to people and support the family. That’s just my 2 cents and it’s excellent. It might get me in trouble but I really don’t give a shit, haha.
DM: Haha, excellent. Thanks, man. That’s all I’ve got.
Credit for the following pictures goes to Tim and his cell phone camera.
Click here for more pictures + a review of Angel Vivaldi’s headlining show at Fubar back in November 2015.