Choir Vandals may be a fairly young band, but– for the second time in two years– they’re putting out a new EP and spending every day they can on tour.
Freshly signed to 6131 Records, the St. Louis-based band turned in At Night at the end of October, earning favorable comparisons to The Strokes and Sonic Youth. Right around the same time, they started covering the west coast, touring alongside labelmates Dads and Tiny Moving Parts. In January they’ll head to the UK, touring with Mooseblood and Boston Manor.
Frontman Wil McCarthy took some time out of his busy touring schedule recently to talk about the new record, expanding Choir Vandals from a trio to a four-piece with the addition of lead guitarist Micah Kelleher, and the fractured nature of the St. Louis music scene.
You initially started out as a trio. Why did you decide to add another guitar player?
Writing as a three-piece was practical to start, because we were able to get things off the ground. We actually tried jamming with a few different guitar players before we got Micah on board.
He joined up the week before we recorded our first EP. He fit in very well, and was one of Austin (McCutchen’s) best friends growing up. The leads they came up with for Darker Things helped make the songs sound fuller.
Your influences are not easy to quickly identify… and that’s a compliment. Do you guys listen to a lot of the same stuff?
When it comes to writing music, we all take influence from completely different styles of music. But there is definitely some overlap. The four of us can agree on certain bands that, when put side-by-side, make a pretty eclectic list.
To name a few, we all can agree on bands like The Strokes, Motion City Soundtrack, Bright Eyes, and The Postal Service. Some of these influences may be more apparent than others on the surface, but they are all present.
Being in the van is fun, because we all play the same stuff while we are driving at some point. I have no idea what Josh and Austin play half the time. But we do end up listening to things we can all agree on a lot, like Modest Mouse, The Smiths, Blink 182, and Fall Out Boy.
You put out an EP last year and have another 4-song record that just came out. Do you enjoy the pace of putting out a few songs at a time or do you have plans to take time off and focus on a full length?
I fell like we are still a new band to so many people. These days, it’s not very practical for new bands to throw 12 songs at someone and expect them to enjoy every second of it.
That’s not to say we don’t have plans for a full length. At this point, we just want to show people what we are about. I know we are all excited to write a full length, though. Choir Vandals is still a young band, and we have a lot planned for the future.
You guys have been touring quite a lot lately. What was the toughest thing to get used to about touring regularly?
We can all agree that we love being on the road. It’s one of the best parts about being in the band.
Honestly, the most frustrating thing about touring is coming home to normal jobs and lives. We are all eager to get to the point of being full-time musicians and considering being at home a vacation.
What is the St. Louis music scene like right now?
The St. Louis scene is super segregated. Not many hardcore kids go to pop-punk shows. Not many DIY kids go to metal shows.
It’s tough being a band that doesn’t fit in with any specific scene. But we are super humbled when we play in St. Louis, and we see people that we don’t recognize at our shows. It makes us proud to be from St. Louis.
What’s up next for the band?
We’re opening up for Dads and Tiny Moving Parts this fall on a full U.S. tour. We are on the second half of the tour right now, so we hit the whole western half of the country.
On top of that, we have our 6131 Records debut At Night out now. I’m super excited about that, because it came out right before the tour.
Those are all the questions I have. Anything else you want to cover?
I’d just like to thank anyone who reads this. There is so much stuff that you could be doing on the Internet right now. But the fact that you took the time to read about Choir Vandals leaves us in your debt.
We want to be as approachable as can be to anyone who listens to our music. So if there is anything that you need from us as a band or individuals, just let us know. We try to be as responsive as we can on things like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Thank you for your time! –John B. Moore