DS Interview: Versus The World on new album “Homesick/Roadsick” and the perils of maintaining ‘supergroup’ status

The internet, including Wikipedia (which we are STILL banned from), will tell you that supergroups never work out. However, that fact falters in the face of Versus The World. Featuring members of the Ataris and Lagwagon, the California act churns out melodic anthems and serves as a reminder that heavy songs can still sound fun. The band exemplifies this in their third studio effort Homesick/Roadsick, a sucker-punch of an album that gets catchier with every listen. We were able to catch up with frontman Donald Spence before he embarks on an extensive European tour with the rest of our crew.

You can read the full interview below.

Dying Scene (Drea Rose): Versus The World have a reputation for writing high-energy and catchy tunes, and Homesick/Roadsick is no exception. This of course translates into your live performances. Is most of your music written with performing in mind?

Versus The World (Donald Spence): You know it’s always kind of in the back of your mind. I’m usually thinking about the general theme of the record and how every song will help contribute the the overall tone of the album, but when you’re getting everything together there are definitely moments when you think “this is gonna be a lot of fun to play.” From a vocal stand point I think it’s smart to think about how you can pull things live. Your voice is a lot different in the studio than it is after three weeks on the road.

You guys are obviously all heavily involved in a lot of different projects, with Chris Flippin in Lagwagon, and Donald Spence doing some solo tours. Has there ever been a time where you considered just throwing the towel in?

We all knew that everyone’s musical backgrounds would come into play with this band. I think it makes use who we are. There are definitely touring conflicts that come up but we all respect each other and we know that these things will just have to be worked around. When Flip couldn’t do Australia we enlisted our friend Gavin from Senses Fail and had a blast. So things like that have really only made our little family even bigger.

…or does everyone having different projects going on the side sort of keep things fresh when you do come back together?

We don’t do it to keep things fresh, it’s just another aspect of our lives. Mike and I did the Ataris, So Long Astoria reunion tour last year, Flip has a ton of Lagwagon tour he’s involved in. I try to make sure I have enough time so solo tours to fit in and then we have to make sure we have time for home life too. It all part of a balance. We’re lucky to be as busy as we are. It’s a good thing.

 Dave Hause appears on “The Santa Margarita”, the opening track of Homesick/Roadsick. How did that collaboration come to fruition?

Dave and I are buddies. He lives up the hill from me. We hang and drink, he uses my home studio to rehearse so it wasn’t like we needed to book time for him to come sing. We were just in the studio drinking beers and working on vocals and he just jumped on the mic. He sings back up tracks on a couple other songs too. He’s all over The Black Ocean. That guy is always a good time.

Homesick/Roadsick obviously refers to the constant battle between feeling out of place and missing home while on tour, and wishing to go back on the road once touring comes to an end. This seems like it can become a never-ending and vicious cycle for a musician. How do you guys cope with it? How has this affected your home life?

Every touring musician I’ve ever met has the same attitude I think. The truth is, touring is a privilege and we’re lucky to be out here at all. It’s an insane amount of fun but it costs a lot of time. Home life, our families and friends, every relationship you have runs pretty much on the currency of time too. So you just have to keep in mind that this is a balance and it requires work and time to stay alive. You will always miss home when your gone for a long time, you’re going to miss things, you just are. And when I’m bar tending at home to make sure that I can pay my bills, of course I want to on tour singing songs, but I get to go home to my wife and house and get to see all my friends. It’s balance and you can’t let one ruin the other.

 The album definitely solidifies the Versus The World sound, and was produced by Thom Flowers who you have worked with in the past. What is that process like?

I feel like I learn something every time we go into the studio. Thom is amazing. This time we all really focused on preproduction, so most of the work was done before we even set foot in the studio. A lot of home demos, Tony and I were traveling back and forth for writing sessions. It was a really collaborative effort and I think it shows. The thing is, even though we’re working, we all really have a lot of fun in the studio. It’s pretty much the way it was when we were kids. A bunch of buddy’s, playing music in a room, laughing and drinking and creating something. That’s pretty much why I started playing music in the first place.

You leave to tour Europe later this month with Strung Out. Do you have a favorite city or venue to play over there?

Every place has its charm. I love touring Europe. Ever since our first trip over there Mike and I like to go early and fly into Amsterdam to spend a few days before we head our on the road. That’s one of my favorite cities in the world. There’s a really rad club in Vienna called the Arena. It’s like a tiny little village. Has a little bar for the bands, an apartment with bunks stacked 20 feet. That’s a fun place. But like I said every place has its thing. In England I will get a ton of cider. Flip loves the beer in Belgium. Italy is really the best food for and vino, of course. I guess what I’m saying if we like to travel so we can drink everyones booze! Ha ha.

Homesick/Roadsick was just released via Kung Fu Records, and I know you just added some New Zealand/ Australian dates to your extensive tour calendar, but are there any plans for some North American shows?

Yeah. We’re going to do a couple west coast dates with A Wilhelm Scream. Those guys are super nice dudes and they’re one of my favorite bands ever. Then we’re doing some US/Canada dates with our brothers in Authority Zero… In December. Which might be a mistake but it will be fun as hell.

Congratulations, and I’m looking forward to hopefully catching you guys soon!

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