Interview – Deas Vail

Fresh out of the studio, the indie/alternative quintet is set to reveal their latest full-length, Birds & Cages. We had the opportunity to discuss the new album and find out more about it’s meaning and how it was created.

Deas Vail1

It’s been more than a year since your last release. What has Deas Vail been up to since then?

Wes Blaylock: We have been touring, writing, and living life day by day. We do have a new bass player since our last release. Justin Froning has joined our band and we couldn’t have asked for a better addition to our family.


Have any of you done some intimate soul-searching or maturing while being away from music for a bit?

Justin Froning: Though we’ve been out of the news for a bit, we’ve not spent much time away from music. In fact, since finishing Birds & Cages, we have already made quite a bit of headway in writing for our next album. I think we all are constantly engaged in soul-searching, be it music-related or not–it’s really a lot of what makes us the group that we are. We constantly face challenges that force us to grow and search ourselves for the correct answers. A lot of adversity has come from the business-realm of music, but we have stuck together and become stronger and more united through it.


Is the new album scheduled for an October 27th release?

Froning: This is true, and we cannot wait. We honestly hate that our fans have had to wait so long. We never intend for these long pauses between releases, and actually completed the recording of this album in October of 2008.


How did you guys come up with the album’s name, Birds and Cages?

Froning: We had a day off while recording the album, and decided to go to the studio anyway just to see what might happen. It turned out to be a very productive day, and actually produced the songs “Puzzles and Pieces” and “Cages”, which we originally titled “The Waiting Room”. A lot of the songs contained the themes of freedom and entrapment, and we had a song already entitled “Birds”. During a conversation, Birds & Cages was spoken into existence and there was no question about it–that was the title.


If one was to look back at your last record, will they notice any similarities on the new release or is Birds and Cages an entirely different music entity?

Froning: They will certainly recognize Wes’ distinctive voice, keys, and the interesting rhythms that we are known for, but I do believe people will notice more guitars and an overall increase in maturity on many levels. The band itself has evolved into what it is now with two new members, and the community that is our band has become more tightly-knit due to sharing life and living spaces together even when we are not on the road. There is a definite intricacy of instruments and voices in the way that they blend. The writing process was different on this album than on All the Houses Look the Same in that the songs were all written in equal parts by the group as a whole. Each instrument seems to have the fingerprints of all the others on it, as we are very open to one another’s ideas.


How would you describe the music on the upcoming record?

Blaylock: Most of the songs are about relief and freedom. The main theme for Birds & Cages is that we are all trapped by things that are our hypothetical cages. The songs on the album have various origins and directions but they share the same theme, that is we all can live free of the bondage in which we have encapsulated ourselves. We can realize our true purpose for existence and we can deal with the barrage of distractions we face in today’s society. Basically, we have been given the key to our own cage but it is very hard to muster the courage to actually use it. That said, we all can use it.


In regards to the new album, where was it recorded and how was the process?

Moore: The new album was recorded in s-s-Studio in Spring Hill, Tennessee. We took our time and made the best record we could. We were in and out of touring while we were recording so the process was split up in sections. This was probably a good thing for us because it gave us time to contemplate our progress in between sessions in the studio. We approached this record with more confidence and that gave our songs definite direction. There is a theme throughout this record lyrically, but also sonically. Although we don’t really carry any melodies over between songs, we do feel like we’ve developed a sound unique to Deas Vail and that sound is in every song on this record. We did have a guest appearance on the title track “Birds.” Listen for Matt Theissen’s recognizable voice at the end of the track. It was great to collaborate with someone who cares so much about our music.


What do you hope to accomplish with the new release?

Froning: We hope to encourage. As always, we hope that the art we create does more than create a purchasable product, but rather that it would inspire and help people to deal with life–it’s joys and pains. We ask some pretty deep questions on this album, and we don’t necessarily give all the answers, because honestly, we don’t have all the answers. We hope that people might search themselves a bit.


How has touring with Mae been so far?

Froning: Touring with MAE has been great. These guys are a great group of gentlemen who are truly humble and kind. They are doing great things with community outreach on this tour, and that is something we highly respect. Practical good is something we all talk about, but few of us actually ever do it. We are all becoming good friends, which is something you always hope for on a tour–especially a longer one such as this. They are great guys to pull pranks on as well.


Do you guys have any plans to headline in the near future?

Blaylock: We are planning on touring as supporting artist for most of next year. We usually will follow up or lead into a tour with headlining dates. For example, after we finish the MAE tour we are headlining a tour with our good friends Dear Future for about two weeks. We would love to make a trip to Canada in 2010.


Back in February, you guys stated on your MySpace that the new material may be your best work yet. Why do you think so?

Blaylock: I think we will probably always consider our latest work to be our favorite work. That does not necessarily make it true. With that said, we feel like our songwriting has greatly improved over the past year and a half. We also have had a couple member changes since we last wrote a full length. This record feels like it has more depth because everyone currently in the band worked really hard on writing. It was a group effort from start to finish. I think that gives the record a certain character that is interesting.


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