Interview: Vaines on his first US tour, that first record and his journey so far
When I first saw that a Emarosa tour was going down in Boston in a room that holds 200 max, we legitimately were shooketh. Then you tell us that Too Close to Touch and Vaines are coming for the ride too? We knew we had to be there and I’m grateful that we were. The performance Vaines aka Jared Gaines gave, with some assistance from former Boston resident Mark Hylander on drums, was one that I dream of for many bands. A packed intimate room with a room of music lovers with their eyes glued to the performer, bobbing their heads and singing back the words to them.
Post performance, I sat down with Gaines for a chat in the van about how wild this journey has been so far. Be it his experiences so far on his first tour to how quickly things have been moving for him when it comes to Vaines coming to fruition. Find our chat below and I’m sure we’ll be seeing this guy all over 2020!
You talked about it a little on stage. Is this your first full US tour or first tour in general?
First tour ever.
Never done like half the places that we have. Some of the dates I’m just rolling in, “So this is “insert city” here. So this is Nebraska!”
Maybe how have the dates been going so far? This is a small club tour for Emarosa to play, with Too Close To Touch kind of making their return to touring, maybe how have these dates been going?
It’s been good. I don’t really have a measuring stick because I’ve never done this before but it’s been very comfortable. I already knew Too Close To Touch before I even agreed to do the tour. They told me that I was going to be touring with Emarosa and I was like, “Who’s the other guys” and they were like, “Too Close To Touch”. And I went, those are my buddies! We had a group chat, I was like, “Guys, check it out!” So it’s been really cool, because they’re already my buddies, and Emarosa have been doing it for a long time so they just know how to make someone feel comfortable. So it’s super comfy. We’re doing a lot better for merch sales then what we thought we we’re going to do. We’ve gotten super great response from people so it’s great.
I saw people in the crowd already singing the words.
Well, I had one song that did pretty well and people kind of know the words to that one but, I signed to Hopeless Records recently, shout-out to them. If you know Emarosa intimately enough, you know they’re part of Hopeless Records as well. So, it just gets some little crossover action. People shouting some words to the new song today and I saw some people trying their best. Because it’s only been out for a few hours, so they’re like oh man, this chorus sure has a lot of words doesn’t it.
Maybe speaking of that song, the story behind that song in particular?
“Everybody Hates Me”? I mean, we only have four songs out. I guess two now on Hopeless. I guess we were just trying to figure out what the direction is and that’s a new thing for me everyday. Such a bummer of a song. I wasn’t even in a bad mood when I wrote it, and I got to the end of the song and went wow, I was really feeling something there. Suppressing some stuff and just let it slip out a little. “Are you gonna break me down?” It was just a cool song and at the time, I thought that was the song to beat. And that song really opened the floodgates for the other songs to come thru. And now we get to release it. We got cool art, there are t-shirts, we got the hoody. People are already buying the hoody and stuff and now it makes sense because the song came out. People are like, “Oh I get it. It’s not such a bummer anymore, it’s a song. Alright!” My dad heard it and I was kind of scared for him to hear it and he was like, “Nah you do it all the time. You’re like, ‘Well I shouldn’t be dancing to this, why am I crying in the club right now?”
And then just from looking at it, things have been going really well. You signed to Hopeless, this is your first tour. Considering that, you’re still obviously really young. When did you realize that you really wanted to start to pursue music?
I’d always known that I wanted to do something. I was a skateboarder when I was younger but I messed up my knee so I couldn’t do that anymore. So I guess it was guitar. I think my dad bought me a guitar when I was around eleven. And I got really good at it. And I didn’t know that I wanted to do that specifically. I just thought it could be cool, obviously when you play guitar, it’s one of the things you imagine. Like being a rockstar but it wasn’t real until I was playing in bands and stuff. And I saw this band, Set It Off, who were friends with my good friend Marshall, and I got to see first hand as we became friends, how a band can go out and tour. It was like, these are my buddies and they just do that. That’s part of their job. And I was like well I can see how that could happen. So I put out some music, got hold of a manager. Really it’s all been happening to me than rather me making anything happen myself. It’s all just been people going, “Hey can I manage you? Hey can we sign you to a record label? Hey do you want to go on tour?” It’s not anything that I’m doing. I’m just like, well I just get to accidently live my dream. This is great. I didn’t know it was so easy.
People have all been coming to you, not the other way around?
Yeah. Well I put out a music video for a song for a band I used to be in years ago. And my manager found me, through Cody from Set It Off actually, he showed him the song. The manager found me and he flew me out to LA for a little while. Saved up some money to move out. Another newish person on my management team, his name is Billy, he just heard it and he wanted to get in. He was like I want to be involved in this in some way and I just went, well come on in! The more the merrier. I like having a team. Somebody at Hopeless Records heard a song and wanted to have a meeting. There apparently had already been a relationship between the managers and them. They were like, well let’s talk business, let’s see what we can do here. So suddenly, it was like, well here’s a record deal, do you want it? Well, yeah. Well then here’s a tour with Emarosa and some of your buddies, do you want that too? Yeah, absolutely! So yeah it just kind of fell into my lap. You can say that I had something to do with it, just making music that people would want to listen to, but I feel like a lot of people could do that and some aren’t as lucky to have a bunch of people that just kind of come to them. I don’t think I could have done it myself. I wouldn’t know what to do. So I’m very lucky for a lot of that.
Considering you’ve played with bands before, I know this is a solo project but you have a drummer with you, former Boston guy. Maybe going into the studio with the mentality of just being you versus having a full band, how did it differ for you?
So originally when I got this tour, I thought it was just going to be me. We weren’t even going to have a drummer on this. I was going to go play up there, if you haven’t seen a show, I play with heavy tracks. Lots of things going on.
Yeah because you would be by yourself!
Yeah, and I make all of that on a laptop and stuff. The laptop that I have on stage is the laptop that I made all these songs with, the ones that are on Spotify right now. Because I make them all in my room. So all I have to do is a matter of taking out the main vocals, taking out the lead guitar track, and just playing along to the actual song. So bringing a drummer on, Renee our friend, knew Mark, we didn’t know anybody and he was like, yeah I can play drums. And it was like, well then Mark it is. So he made it really easy because he’s a really competent drummer. And he can play to a click track and that’s what we’re both on. Click track and samples. He doesn’t steal the show but people are like, you two are such a good combo. He’s over there flipping sticks, that’s exactly what I was hoping for. To have a circus act over there on the drums, but it doesn’t take away. It’s very cohesive. I didn’t even know that I wanted that but now I can’t imagine doing a tour without a drummer.
Obviously in signing to Hopeless then, you’ve been releasing songs. But I’m sure an EP or an album is kind of the long term plan. But maybe for you, when it comes to the songwriting, maybe something new you’ve tried lately. I mean I’m sure you wrote while you were in the bands, but this is something new. This is your baby. You make all the calls, you take all the shots. So maybe something you’ve tried recently in the writing process!
Beforehand, actually, the last band I was in was a full band project but it was still just me. I’ve always been in bands but I don’t write the best when I have to split it up between parts. When I write a full song in my head, I just got to get it out. It’s tough for me sometimes to write with somebody else. Like with two writers or even three people. Somebody wants to write their own guitar line but I imagine something different. I tried a band where it was a full band but I was writing the drums, writing the guitar, all the vocals, all the melodies, all the lyrics and stuff like that. All the tracks, I produced the whole thing. Put it out and that’s like how they found me when I put out a music video for one of those. So, I’m already kind of comfortable. It was a twelve song album that I did, so I’m already comfortable writing a ton of songs. Or it was way easier actually to do something just by myself other then have a bunch of people just kind of put it in.
So, Vaines is a lot easier for me because now I feel like that’s just going to happen. I’m going to write an album. We already have enough songs for an album. The thing I have to figure out now is being a solo artist as opposed to just a solo songwriter. So that’s the real challenge more so then writing.
Perfect. Then you are so new to this tour. Maybe only a week and a half into it.
It’s kind of short. I think it’s only three weeks long but it’s so action packed. When I’m not on stage or when I’m not watching the bands in the room or doing the merch rush, meeting all the fans and stuff, you know just doing show stuff, I’m in a new state driving for hours and hours and hours. Sleeping in the van, sleeping in a stranger’s bed, petting a stranger’s dog. Eating weird food that people tell me is really good and local, that this is the best steak you’ll ever have in your life. This is the best pizza you’re going to ever have. I got into an argument with a pizza vendor last night in NYC. Because that’s what you do in NYC, you fight with a pizza vendor. “I thought you said this slice was $1? It’s $2 you piece of shit”. It’s so crazy. It’s a week in but it feels like this is my life now.
Like you said, you haven’t been to a lot of these states before. So it’s exciting.
This is all brand new to me. People thought I was going to hit this tour wall, where you just want to go home. Sleeping in the van sucks, you don’t want to play another show.
And I’m like, I think you guys underestimate not my optimism but my pessimism. Because I thought I was going to come in here and it was going to suck. I thought I was going to be the opener, nobody was going to watch me. The other bands were going to bully me. I’m going to get in this van and it’s going to be cold, I’m going to sleep never. And drive all the time and crash, and it’s been the opposite of that. Everyone’s super nice, the crowd response has been awesome. The drives are beautiful, we’re going to new spots that I’ve never been. So I’m so excited to drive to a new place. It’s just so cool. Again like I said, it kind of feels like this is my life, because this is what my life was supposed to be the whole time.
That’s a really great way to put it.
I’m finally doing the thing that I was supposed to be doing the whole time and now it’s like, well this feels right. Here we go!
Then to end it off, 2020 is coming so fast. Coming up on that, focuses or goals for you personally?
Personally, I’ve been doing so much music kind of under the radar. There’s been a lot of setting up to even get to do a tour, put out any music. Trying to figure out what the image is, what the brands are. It’s something that I’m so new to, that I thought people just came up with in a conference room for you. And you just did it. They’re like, no man what do you want to do? Well I guess I want to do this and that. So there’s so much planning, there’s so much being in my room writing songs, not even sure if they’re going to even come out. So now I feel like, we’re on tour. There’s going to be more tours coming, there’s songs coming out actually right now. I think 2020, my personal goal is to at the end of the year, just be an artist that people are talking about. I’ve done the grind, I’ve done the years and years of planning to get to this spot. So now I’m ready to just go at it. Dive head first into it.