What do bands usually consist of? A guitarist, bassist, drummer, and vocalists? Well what happens when you incorporate strings into that? You get Our Vintage Film, the alternative/pop group consisting of Adam Swink (vocals & guitar), Dustin Reese (lead guitar), Mackenzie Williams (drums), Jesse Samler (bass), Eric Irvin (piano, vocals), Kevin Terry (cello), and Shawn Williams (violin). They’ve added a twist to the alternative sound and do so in a way that makes their sound original. They all hail from different parts of the country and come together at Belmont University where they attend school. Our Vintage Film talks to Hopeless Thunder on their style of music, their history, and their future.
Our Vintage Film tells us about themselves and their history.
We all currently attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee except for Dustin, who just graduated last year. Mackenzie, Eric, Kevin, Shawn, and Adam are now juniors and Jesse is a sophomore. Our band initially formed when Adam and Dustin went on Spring Break in 2010 at a beach house with friends in Destin, Florida. Adam and Dustin had previously met in the fall at a college party. We soon tried to find someone to play drums with us and Adam gave a call to the first person and drummer he met at Belmont, Mackenzie. In August of 2010, Mackenzie introduced us to Jesse, who plays bass. When we realized we needed a piano player after Adam added it to one of the first songs we recorded, Mackenzie suggested his roommate, Eric. Both Jesse and Eric fit naturally. As we played a few shows as a five-piece band, we all didn’t know each other that well at first, but we all became really good friends very quickly. When we realized a strings section would really polish our sound, we called our friend Kevin, an amazing cellist, to come to our next recording session. Kevin blew us away immediately and so did Shawn, who later recorded violin on a few others songs. They now play with us at every show, so we’re technically a seven-piece band now.
Everyone from the band (with the exception of Dustin and Eric) comes from a different state. When you formed, did you all have the same taste in music? Or did you mend all the different styles together to make your own sound?
We all have the exact same taste in music. That’s what fueled us from the start. We love the genuine acoustic/piano pop-punk drive with the sophisticated arena rock/full string sound. We like to play other styles of music though in our various side projects, such as blues, rock, hip-hop, mashups, and pop. But this pop style is definitely our guilty pleasure.
How Our Vintage Film describes their music.
The best way to describe us is if our best memories could make music. As a visual, we constantly see old homemade movies recorded by an 8mm vintage camera with white/black scratches. As for our sound, I would say we have broken into the alternative pop scene pretty well with catchy melodies and very well produced pop rock instrumentals.
Where they got the idea to incorporate strings into their music.
Whenever we start to record a new song, we’ve always layered it with fake cellos and violins on Logic Pro. It honestly has really become a dream come true to now have authentic and incredible strings players in the band. We thought Kevin and Shawn were only going to record cello for us as a favor, but when we learned they wanted to join the band after recording sessions, we were really stoked to hear that.
How they thought the addition of something so unexpected as strings affected them as a band.
In general, the way our band formed was very unexpected. We never would have thought that we would have evolved from an acoustic band to a seven-piece band with strings [laughs]. Looking back over the last year, our band feels like it has fallen in place almost perfectly. Another event that was really unexpected was when one of our friends who was interning at a venue at the time asked us if we would open for the giant emo rock group Hawthorne Heights. We were really honored to play with them and also got the chance to hang out and get some great advice from them as well backstage. It affected us a lot because Eron (the drummer) and their manager came up to us after the show to genuinely complement us. It really hit home with us and gave our band a lot of confidence.
Their fan reaction to their style of music.
We literally just released our EP a week ago and we’ve already gotten a lot of positive feedback in return on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and as well from our friends and family. It sucks right now because we’re all stuck at home on summer break while we should be playing shows and writing! We are going to change that once we get back to school this fall… for sure.
How being in the music capital of Nashville has affected them and their music.
It really keeps us on edge and focused. By going to a Music Business college in the heart of music city, we are constantly reminded of what we want to do with our music careers, and that is to pursue Our Vintage Film to the fullest. We all relate to the majority of the people who go to our University and in the community. College life has especially influenced our recent EP a ton… a lot of the lyrics on the record are about girls, friends, and partying! [laughs].
How they come up with their lyrics and music.
After we’ve written a chord progression, Adam sings a melody with mumbled none-sense words. It’s kind of hard to explain but while he fixates the melody, we try to picture what the song’s meaning could be about. Eventually, we try and piece together what we want the song to be about by replacing the mumbled words with a thought provoking idea. It took Adam months to write the second verse on our track “Road Trip” because he couldn’t let go of how well the melody of fake words fit in the song [laughs].
Bands that influence them.
As for influential bands, Jack’s Mannequin’s lyrics and instrumentals have touched us since our high school days. The first couple of years in high school are sometimes rough and Adam became obsessed with those songs during that hard time of figuring out who he was as a musician. Those rough early times are truly what have sparked the passion for our writing to this day. Other bands that have influenced us are The Postal-Service, blink 182, U2, and The Beatles.
What the album, Midnight Sun, means to them.
The Midnight Sun EP is a chronological story based on the good years of college. The first track is “Road Trip”. The story starts out saying, let’s get out of this boring town and take a road trip with our best friends. Once we reach our destination (or as you think you do) everyone wants to party, or live in “The Fast Lane” of youth, hence the title of the second track. “Used” is the third track. The song is about meaningless relationships and how temporary satisfaction, although great in the moment, will leave you feeling empty. Track #4, “Midnight Sun (War)”, is your breaking point in the story. The verses are about how ignorance is bliss, and how stupid we can be when there are problems growing inside you and you’re not doing anything about it. The chorus is really Adam’s way of releasing his own frustration with what he had been going through and what we’ve seen our friends go through as well. It’s an intertwined build up of different parts of life that have been hard, and in the end when the song says “what’s done, is done”, you just have to maturely accept whatever has happened in your life. “Summer”, our last song on the EP, is more of a reminiscent song that consists of the analogy of months as relationships with different girls. The song insists that the summer months are missed the most based upon relationships within that time period, opposed to other times of the year when things didn’t necessarily work out.
What we can expect from them in the future.
We really want to make a concept album next. We also want to tour and are currently in the post-production stages of editing a promo/music video. We’re always dreaming big. We always get ahead of ourselves sometimes though [laughs]. About a month ago, Adam told us, “How cool would it be to make custom Our Vintage Film ear plugs!!” [laughs]. I think that’s probably last on the list now…
Check our their EP, Midnight Sun:
Photo Credit: Kate Cauthen, Adam Swink