Last year, Dead Vinyl entered that career phase a lot of bands go through when all the members live together. In lots of cases, the “let’s all rent a house” period can easily degenerate into a darkened blur of nonstop partying and eventual burnout. But for the now-Meadowbrook-based rockers, they say their era of cohabitation has imbued them with ambition, focus, and attention to detail. You might say that Dead Vinyl’s living situation is helping to turn them into a grown-up band.
“We’re trying to put our big-boy pants on and do what needs to be done,” said guitarist Tyler Vela.
What Vela’s metaphorical britches and to-do list have entailed is for him and his bandmates to tighten both their chops and their professionalism. The endgame is to vault to a place where they can be on the road as often as possible, to evince the sort of “have gun, will travel” rock ’n’ roll ethos that separates the national names who come to town from their local openers. With the release of their new EP, Dead Vinyl will at least have the first part of their goal down. In terms of “have gun,” Gold Mine is packing six high-caliber rock songs loaded with massive blues-rock riffage, thundering drums, and balls-to-the-wall vocals.
Recorded in May at producer Taylor Tatsch’s Audiostyles Recording Studio in Austin, Gold Mine reflects the band’s refocused energy as well as a willingness to expand their musical horizons. Along with lead singer Hayden Miller and bassist Zach Tucker, Vela attributes Dead Vinyl’s maturation to the addition of drummer Park Anderson, stick-man of now-on-hiatus Animal Spirit, who took over the traps in the summer of 2016 after the departure of original percussionist Valmir Hajro.
Anderson “can play any style,” Vela said. “It was very easy for us to take weird concepts and have him play a beat over it. We were able to try stuff that we were sitting on for a while that we couldn’t get anyone to work on. And they were just really popping off fast with him.”
Anderson is a versatile drummer whose interests in jazz and worldbeat made him a good fit for Vela’s and Tucker’s heightened songwriting aspirations, but he also spurred the band to shore up their business and promotional practices, Miller said.
“He brought a PR presence,” Miller added. “He knows how to work social media better than we do.”
Vela, the least tech-savvy of the bunch, said it’s made him catch up with the rest of the world to help his band. “Parker’s the main reason I got a smartphone,” Vela said, chuckling.
For his part, Anderson is energized by his friend’s drive to hit the next level.
“That was the most exciting thing for me coming into this band,” he said. “All of us have that hunger. All of us want to live on the road. We can take it as far as possible, but we need to make sure we’re representing ourselves as an adult band.”
Yet even with their going-pro objectives, the guys still retain the improvisational streak that’s endeared them to fans around town, though they’ve learned when to let loose and when to stick to the script.
“We’ve added [vocal] harmonies to our songs now, which makes making up crap harder,” Vela said. “But we’re trying to do a mix of song structure and improv.”
Anderson pointed out that they’re still very much a live band, despite the polished arrangements on their EP. “A lot of our performances are us watching each other,” he said. “Every show is going to be different because we want them to have that fun, live feel. But the structures remain the same.”
Dead Vinyl’s aim of balancing that live show strut with matured songwriting seems to be hitting the mark. The band’s EP release show is Friday at Lola’s Saloon with Matt Tedder Trio and Royal Sons.