Check out their music video for “The Hammer”
7 years ago, six friends attending Alabama’s Auburn University started playing at frat parties all over campus. Describing themselves as an Americana/Southern Rock/ Rock ‘n’ Roll band, The Vegabonds have come a long way since their college jamming days. The loss of a few members, two European tours, multiple album releases, and the addition of a classically trained pianist (the first person to answer their Craigslist ad!) has all led up to their biggest tour yet. Join us as we sit down with The Vegabonds frontman Daniel Allen and reflect on the journey that’s led the band to their latest record, What We’re Made Of.
VAVA: With five members in your band, you must all have varying tastes in music. How does this influence the ultimate “Vegabonds” sound?
Daniel: We all come from different musical backgrounds but we’re all Southern guys. In my hometown, all they played on the radio was Country music or Rap. I didn’t actually get into “music that moves me” now until I got to college. Once I was on my own, I researched what I thought was good music. Ya know, everybody starts with The Beatles. Now I like guys like Jason Issbel, Sturgell Simpson, Chris Stapleton – Country artists who are more edgy and teetering on Rock ‘n’ Roll. Paul likes more 80’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and Richard grew up liking Southern Rock like Pink Floyd and The Allman Brothers Band. Brian likes more hard rock – (being a drummer I’m sure you can understand that).
VAVA: It’s kind of crazy how Beau joined up with you guys, right? Tell us about that.
Daniel: We had six guys in the band…two of them dropped out two years ago. We were looking for a new keyboard player and we actually didn’t want to break the band up. We put out a Craigslist ad in Nashville and Beau was the first one to answer the ad. It was just a blessing and we definitely wouldn’t have been able to put out this record without him.
VAVA: How would you describe the evolution from your earlier albums to your most recent recording?
Daniel: We were really jammy when we were playing for Frat and Sorority parties, but when we got to Nashville we wanted to become better Songwriters and tell a story – unlike our earlier albums. We wanted to use money from our cover-song gigs to be able to fund our own projects. Thankfully, Dear Revolution had a great response and Kickstarter backing. One of our singles, “Shaky Hands”, even went to number 1 on the independent charts list. Something good was definitely happening. That’s when we hit up the touring company in Europe. They accepted us on the condition that we came up with some new material…so we wrote Southern Sons!
VAVA: What are the fans like in Europe?
Daniel: In Europe they think you’re huge because we made it over to their side. They get into the music more and let themselves feel free. They love Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s hard to find a huge Rock ‘n’ Roll fanbase here (the U.S). Now-a-days, there’s so many different genres out there. We’ve had to create our own genre which is part Americana, part Southern Rock, part Rock ‘n’ Roll, and part Singer-Songwriter. When we got back from Europe, they wanted us back again and that’s when we released a special EP.
VAVA: What changes were happening that led up to your latest record?
Daniel: I lost my grandfather December of 2014. It was a big change and I was really close to him. 2014 was also the year that two of the guys left the band (who were also our close friends) and we were in a slump. Then we got Beau and it reignited the passion we had for the band.
VAVA: Was there a big moment where you were like “Hey … this is our career. We’re doing this and we’re really seeing our hard work being paid off”?
Daniel: When our song “Shaky Hands” hit number 1 it was great, but I didn’t appreciate it. I was thinking “Well of course it went number 1, it’s a bad a** song.” Whenever we got on a plane to go to Europe however, that’s when we thought we really made it. Another proud moment was when we went in the studio for 7 days and put out this record.
VAVA: So now, you’ve toured the world for 7 years, what has been some notable places?
Daniel: Orange Beach, Alabama. We love playing by the beach. As far as favorite shows, we got to play at the House of Blues in Chicago. There’s gold just everywhere and I’m like “what in the hell, like where are we at?” Kind of intimidating haha, I think we’re in the wrong spot.
VAVA: What’s been the most difficult part of your journey so far and what has been the most awesome?
Daniel: Most difficult part is probably just the energy to keep going. Having your bandmates and good friends saying “I can’t do this” and moving on … we’re going to ask ourselves “Should we keep doing this?” We had a meeting after they quit and we agreed to keep going. Obviously another downside is never having any money…but it always seems to work out!
VAVA: Have you guys already given thought to your next album?
Daniel: Once I’m done with a record, I’m over it. We play it so many times I’m over it, but going on tour reignites the passion for the album. We’ve actually written 9 songs already for a new record.
VAVA: What do you and the band like to do outside of music?
Daniel: I actually just got engaged so I’m planning a wedding every second! As for the rest of the band, we like to go downtown and watch other bands and if we’re not making music, we’re always doing something related to music. We’re also big family guys so we like to go home and visit our folks.
VAVA: Any advice for up-and-coming musicians?
Daniel: Support your fellow musicians. Give love to everybody around you. Keep your head down and work on your craft everyday. If you’re songwriter, write every day. Don’t be afraid to take opportunities. Don’t say you’re not ready for this because this chance came to you and you are ready.
Want to know what The Vegabonds are listening to? Click Here to find all our featured artist playlists, including our Southern Rock friends. To find out if The Vegabonds are touring near you, check out their homepage for touring dates, album information,and more at www.thevegabonds.com. The album What We’re Made Of is available now on iTunes!