Portland, Oregon Rockers Veio just released their new album Vitruvian via Silent Majority Group last week. Metal Contraband’s Chelsea spoke with Veio frontman Cameron Byrd earlier this month about Vitruvian, the Veio Legion, working with Sylvia Massy, their time at the Happens convention, and more.
So let’s dig right in, you’ve got the new album, Vitruvian, coming out this month – so I want to ask, how did you first approach following up on the Infinite Light, Desperate Shadows record?
So, we followed up Infinite Light, Desperate Shadows kind of with an approach that we wanted to write songs that were maybe a little more manageable to the average listener – and by that, I mean, on Infinite Light, we had a lot of songs that were super long, a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of songs that were fun for us to play, but didn’t really create a high-energy vibe between us and the audience as well, you know? So we set out to write some songs that were still very powerful, still very driven, but also almost, in a way, straightforward rock and roll, too.
Makes sense, a little more straightforward, and maybe even a little more radio-friendly than you guys have done before. I notice you guys kind of cross the line between the rock and metal world, especially in radio – you know, you’re working Active and you’re working Metal at the same time – do you feel more part of any one genre than the other?
You know, I consider ourselves just a rock and roll band. Because so many people get so caught up in genres and subgenres and all that stuff, but we’re really influenced by a lot of Prog bands. A lot of my favorite bands, personally, are Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal bands, but that’s not exactly what we do. And I love a lot of stuff that’s more straightforward rock and roll, more traditional metal stuff, but that’s not exactly what we do either. So when it comes to people asking or talking about it, I say, we’re a Rock band, let’s not get caught up in all the genre hype, let’s just play the music that we love, play to people that love what we do, and don’t really care either, and just go from there.
That’s good, because you’re not restricting yourselves in any kind of way – whatever comes out is what comes out.
Exactly, we try not to be too snobby about it all. *laughs*
*laughs* Good attitude. So far, we’ve heard “Flare of Defiance” and “Crux” from the album, talk to me more about these tracks, what they mean to you and in the context of the album.
To me, “Flare of Defiance” and “Crux” are both songs that are pretty high-energy and good songs for a live experience. Really fun to play, and within the album, kind of unique thought process behind it where I took the lyrics of each songs and gave them a label – so “Crux” is a song basically about spirituality, it’s a song about finding you, finding your being, finding your soul, whatever way you want to interpret that, and then “Flare of Defiance” is a song about, basically, personal freedom, personal liberty, being able to do what you feel is right, being able to do what you want to do in your everyday life, and those were two themes that I put to these two particular songs, and the rest of the album has themes like that as well.
Good stuff. Now, to go along with the release, there’s also something else you just launched – can you talk about the “Vitruvian Experience”?
Yeah, so the Vitruvian Experience is an opt-in, sign-up experience that we’re providing our fans that is just an in-depth look into making this album over the last…I mean, we spent a good year, almost a year and a half, making this record. It gives you opportunities to see behind the scenes in the studio, behind the scenes on tour, exclusive other content, you can find some merch in there that we’re offering our fans that isn’t available just on our normal website. So it’s a fan experience, we call our fans the “Legion”, the Veio Legion, so when you get the Vitruvian Experience, you become part of the Veio Legion, and that leads to a bunch of other perks for future use as of right now, seeing how we’re not out on the road, like everybody else. We feel like it’s a cool opportunity for our fans to get to know us, us to get to know our fans, have cool interaction back and forth, being able to chat with people, and especially in this time, reaching out and making sure that everybody’s okay, everybody’s feeling good, and then hopefully when this new record comes out in a couple weeks here, that people will find some hope, inspiration and joy in that, as well.
So you guys probably have a good fan connection there.
We do, our fans are awesome. We got a little crew, it’s unofficial, but within the Veio Legion, we’ve got people who we call our superfans, and they’re great, they support us in all that we do, they reach out, when we do livestreams, they’re in there commenting and we can have good dialogue back and forth with them, we really appreciate those people out there.
That’s awesome. So you mentioned that it shows more behind the scenes about the making of the album, something I wanted to ask you about is to talk a bit about working with Sylvia Massy. Now, I happen to be a fan of hers, she’s known for her unusual and quirky recording techniques sometimes, so did you get to do any fun stuff behind the scenes with her?
The time with Sylvia was cool. To answer your question directly, we did not do anything super quirky or crazy because we were on a pretty limited time constraint, but she has a very artistic, very creative, very…for lack of a better term, oddball approach to a lot of stuff, so one of the things that we found interesting that we’d never experienced before in our recording adventures in the past, was that she set up, I think it was 24 or 26 different mics on the drum kit, which is an incredible amount of mics for recording any drum kit, let alone the size of drum kit that my brother Brett uses. He doesn’t use a small drum kit by any means, but 24-26, somewhere in there, whatever that number was, was an insane amount of mics, and one of the mics was actually a cut up section of garden hose that she put around the kick drum, literally taped on to one end. So that was a funny, unique approach to capturing parts of the kick drum that probably otherwise wouldn’t have been captured.
Wow, yeah, 26 mics, that’s pretty intense. But good results though, I’m sure you guys were satisfied with whatever those 26 mics made happen, because it’s a great-sounding record.
Yeah, thank you, it was just awesome to be in her studio, it’s in Ashland, Oregon, which is the opposite side of the state from us, it’s about a 20-minute drive to California, and walking into her studio with Johnny Cash, Chili Peppers, Tool, and System of a Down plaques on the walls was pretty awe-inspiring.
Yeah, that’s awesome! So, Veio also did a Facebook livestream for the Music Mayhem magazine recently, so how did that go?
That was really fun to do. So, Chris and I did a two-song acoustic performance, which, we don’t normally do acoustic performances, it’s kind of not part of our gig, I guess. And to be honest, myself personally, I don’t prefer to do acoustic performances. But we morphed two of the first songs that you guys have heard off this album, “Flare of Defiance” and then “Ascendancy” into acoustic songs. Kind of changed the tuning on them a little bit, played them slightly differently to make it more of an acoustic vibe – but that was great, I watched the livestream and all the other bands and artists that were on there were fantastic, and I’m a fan of some of the people that were on there that I’d never heard of before now. So it was a cool opportunity to see some other people, and a cool opportunity to approach two of our songs in a different light as well.
Who were some of the other artists that you discovered that you dug?
I really dug the approaches that you could tell some of the more heavier, harder, more metal bands took but they approached the songs with more of an ambient, ethereal kind of vibe, real spacey sounding guitars, some of the keys that they added in that aren’t in their normal songs were awesome. There were several of them that did that type of vibe and I thought that was really cool.
That’s cool, well, you said you’re into Progressive stuff, so spacey and synthy definitely fits that category.
Also, last year, you guys performed at the Happens convention in Las Vegas, so I’m curious what your connection was with that initially, and how the event was for you guys?
It was a great experience, super fun going down to Vegas for a couple days, especially in February, when up here in Portland, Oregon, we’re pretty grey and overcast, so it was nice to get down to the sunshine, but it started snowing when we were down there, which was crazy. But we got in through our management team at SMG, Silent Majority Group, Jeff Hanson and Mark Fischer, they’re our guys, they’re responsible for a lot of big names acts out there in the past, and they got us in, suggested we did it, so we went down, had a great experience with several other fantastics bands. Especially – I mentioned I’m a Prog fan – we played with The Contortionist, which is one of my favorite bands and I’d actually somehow never got to see them play a live set. When they’d come through Portland here, I’d either not hear about it somehow, or we’d be on the road, and I’d miss their set. So it was really cool to be able to play a set of our own, and then see somebody else that I’ve looked up to and listened to and admired. Those dudes were really cool, it was cool getting to chat with them afterwards and hang out for a bit. And then they actually came through Portland like a month or two later, I went to the show and caught their set and chatted with them afterwards too, so it was a cool experience.
Oh, that’s awesome! So it was like a little bonus for you there.
Hopefully we’ll be getting back to actually seeing people live again in the near future, I know there’s no way to say anything about that, but it’s cool that a lot of artists are doing these livestreams, and even if you have to push your music into an acoustic version, it’s still providing an experience of some sort. All just doing what we can, right?
Oh, for sure. Trying to stay moving forward even though things are a little slow right now, and just hanging in there.
Exactly. Well, on that note, you’ve got the release of Vitruvian this month, and I know people are already excited about it, so what’s on the horizon for Veio? I know it’s hard to say anything about touring, but any new music in the works, or anything else you’re thinking about?
Yeah, definitely. It’s kind of funny that we’re releasing a brand-new album in a couple weeks, but we’re already looking forward to new music. We have a little bit of a fan vote going on our Facebook and Instagram with suggestions for cover songs, because we thought it would be cool to approach somebody else’s song in a different light. We’ve done one before, and we were just like, hey, this would be a cool thing, people are bored at home, and not having a whole lot to look forward to right now, so let’s get their ideas on what a cool cover song would be. But then, also, we’re just slowly continually writing new riffs, new ideas, new licks, I was just working on one for three or four hours yesterday, and yeah, hopefully even if touring doesn’t happen…it’ll be strange, we might have two new albums out by the time we get out and play live again. It’d be strange because you’re supposed to put an album out to tour, right? We’ll see what happens, but maybe this fall, we’re going to get back in the studio and record new material. So we don’t have a plan for that yet, but that’s what’s on the horizon for us right now.
That’s awesome! Stuff to look forward to, and you know what, when you get back on the road, you’ll just make your set doubly long, right?
Hopefully! That’d be the ideal situation.
Good stuff. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Cam, Vitruvian’s an awesome record and you guys rock, looking forward to hearing more.
Chelsea, thank you so much, we appreciate it.