Interview: Vinnie Caruana talks Acoustic Basement tour and solo EP

Vinnie Caruana is a busy man. Fresh off a successful year with I Am The Avalanche and new material from Peace’d Out, Caruana somehow found time to record his debut solo EP, City By The Sea, released February 5th on I Surrender Records (here’s our review). Caruana is currently out on the road with Geoff Rickly, A Loss For Words, Koji and Brian Marquis for the Acoustic Basement tour, but he found a few minutes for a quick Q&A about his new solo endeavor.

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Jay Stone: City By The Sea, I think, will sound instantly recognizable to people that have followed your career, and yet, it’s very much got its own sound. Was that a conscious decision to continue to broaden the musical palate, or did it just turn out that way?

Vinnie Caruana: The overall sound has a lot to do with my songs vibing with producer Steve Choi’s ideas. He really did a great job adding to my vision.

Like a lot of your work, the lyrics on City By The Sea are quite intense and relatable. While the stories are still personal, it seems like now more than ever, the emphasis is on storytelling rather than on your own personal feelings. Did you find it a challenge to write from someone else’s perspective?

Everything is from my perspective and is non fiction. I just mask it with characters some of the time haha. Its all out there.

You’re no stranger to playing solo sets, but it’s frequently been billed as “Vinnie Caruana from Movielife” or “Vinnie Caruana from I Am The Avalanche.” Was City By The Sea and the Acoustic Basement tour a concerted effort to begin to establish a name for yourself as a standalone solo artist?

Whatever they need to put on a flier to inform the people, I don’t mind. I’m just out here letting people know I make more music than just that. To be a professional musician and make a living, you must diversify.

The ‘punk-frontman-gone-acoustic’ genre has obviously exploded over the last few years. Do you think that’s more a maturation of the punk scene from our generation (you and I are only a couple days apart, coincidentally), or a result of a tougher economic climate, or a little of both?

There’s a demand for it. Diehard fans can get close to their favorite artists. Economically speaking, its just like anything: the more you play and create, the more money you have the potential to generate. This is one of my many jobs as a musician. I truly love to travel and play tunes way more than any other job I could work when Avalanche gets home from tour.

 Continuing on the theme of the last question…this is maybe less a question than an observation, but you seem to have gone a different route than some of your counterparts, who have a habit of playing acoustic versions of the songs by their ‘day job’ bands. Musically, what were you listening to during the writing/recording process for City By The Sea? I see some similarities between your album and Trever Keith’s solo album, Melancholics Anonymous, a personal favourite of mine.

I was listening to a lot of Jets to Brazil, Paul Simon, Kate Bush, Beach House, though I’m not too sure what exactly influenced me.

 Speaking of Trever Keith, I first saw the Movielife a handful of times while opening for Face To Face (along with, if memory serves, Midtown and Thrice). Looking back, who are some of your favourite tourmates from years past that you’d like to hit the road with again?

Bayside, mxpx, Midtown, Reach The Sky, boysetsfire , Thursday, The Sleeping, Hostage Calm, Brand New, Goldfinger, Transit, the list goes on.

This Acoustic Basement tour features you, Geoff Rickly, A Loss For Words, Koji and Brian Marquis, as well as some local acts like Nat Rufus from Blacklist Royals. That’s a pretty great lineup. Can fans expect solo sets by each act, maybe some collaborations between acts or have you guys got some other special ideas in the works?

In theory we will be collaborating. We are putting something together soon. We gotta get on that.

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