"10 Years' Brian Vodinh brings passion to music." - Interview

One of the best days of my life was getting to cover the Carnival of Madness tour. It was the first time I really got all the access I wanted. I did my first on site interview with Brian Vodinh of 10 Years and my second with Vinny Hornsby of Sevendust. Both went as well as they could possibly go. 10 Years has a new album coming out Aug 31st entitled “Feeding the Wolves.” I’ve heard it and I can promise you that it will not disappoint; it’s great, aggressive, and I think people are going to like it. Check out my conversation with Brian from 10 Years.

Zoiks! - How has the Carnival of Madness Tour been going so far?

Brian - It’s been awesome.

Z - There are a wide variety of bands on the tour. What does 10 Years add to the show?

B - We’re not necessarily a new band, but people are still getting to know us. We’re still finding a lot of people every day who are saying, ‘wow we love the show, but we’ve never heard of you guys before.’ But really, hopefully, we’re bringing something new to a lot of people. Also, our live show is our bread and butter. That is where we feel the most comfortable, so we’re hoping that we can just get up on stage and entertain people, show people it’s a rock show and to have a good time.

Z - What do you have planned for after the tour?

B - We’re going to take a little break, go home for a couple of weeks and then we and Sevendust have a tour we’re going to do together. Those guys man, we’ve been such good friends with them for a long time. Before we were signed or anything they were taking us on the road. We definitely have an outstanding history with them. If we can all survive this tour together then we’ll all get on that one and start partying again.

Z - What brought that tour on?

B - Anytime we have a chance to get together we do. We share the same management now, so we were just like, ‘let’s do it.’ Our album comes out soon; we’re going to have to be out anyway, so why not be out with our boys.

Z - Have you gotten a chance to check out the other bands on this tour at all?

B - Yeah, we’ve watched everybody.

Z – Who has stood out amongst the bands?

B - Everybody has something different and unique going down. Of course Shinedown, they have a lot of production, the cool lights and the really cool video screens. So from a pure visual entertainment standpoint they take the cake over everybody because they have all that. Everybody brings something unique and different. We’re huge fans of Chevelle as well. It’s funny because they play right before Shinedown. Shinedown has all the production and Chevelle has a very minimal set up. Their back drop is just white, doesn’t even say Chevelle, nothing. Their stage set up is almost kind of the anti-production. Every band is cool. Sevendust is actually the band that got up there and taught us to smile and have a good time and not to take yourself too seriously. Those guys are always a blast to watch. Actually a lot of the guys on the tour go back while their playing, behind Morgan the drummer and we start dice games and stuff during their set. When Morgan doesn’t have to play for a second he’ll spin around and throw some dice and then spin back around and start play. So yeah, we’re out here having a good time.

Z - How do you guys spend your down time on tour?

B - Because we’re all friends, it kind of seems like summer camp. There are a lot of backstage partying, barbecues, some people are skateboarding, and some people get out and try to run. Some people just hang out on the bus. Our band, a couple of us try to stay active and get out and work out. We have this game called Corn Hole, I think up in this area it’s called….

Z - Baggo?

B - Yeah Baggo. We have a set for that, so we get that out all the time. So yeah playing games and stupid stuff like that.

Z - I got a chance to listen to your new album on the way up here. I am from Moline, which is out by Iowa, so I had a lot of time to listen to it. I like “Feeding the Wolves” a lot. How would you compare this album to your previous albums?

B - The previous albums, we actually had a different line up then. What we were doing then is basically a snap shot of what we were at the time. Each record has been different. This time around we really got on the same page as far as wanting to make a more aggressive sounding album. We didn’t want to over orchestrate. We didn’t want to try to write a gazillion guitar parts or stuff like that. We wanted to try and write some really cool riffs, really good melodies, some great lyrics and keep it based around that. We didn’t want to over think it this time and I think on some of our prior records we were trying to over think it a little bit. I still love those records. Those records take you to where you were at a particular time, but this time around the process just seemed a little bit easier and not as gut wrenching as usual, because we were all on the same page. We had a definitive goal from start to finish. That helped the process.

Z - Is there any level of stress or anxiety regarding the billboard chart and the sales performance?

B - There definitely is. In fact “Shoot it Out,” the first single, that song sums it up really, the stresses of this industry. “Shoot it Out” is basically a reference to the industry whether it be record companies, managers or whoever, they want you to have a hit single. They want a hit song. So “Shoot it Out” is basically talking about how everyone wants us to just shoot out a freaking hit song. It’s not as easy as that. There is a lyric in “Shoot it Out,” “Feeding the Wolves,” and that’s why we called the record that, because it’s a metaphor for the wolves being the industry people. As a creative entity and an artist you almost feel like you’re getting preyed upon by the “Wolves.” They want a hit song out of you; they want something that will lead to success. Obviously as an artist you want to have success, but you have to maintain some sort of artistic integrity. You can’t just give your soul away, in rock n roll and be happy, or at least we can’t. That’s what the concept of “Feeding the Wolves” is about. To play this game for a living you do have to compromise somewhat, but you can’t give yourself away. You can hold on to who you are and still write something that is catchy. So for us “Shoot it Out” being an aggressive song, we knew that had to be first single, because this is where we’re at right now and this song sums up the pressures of the industry. There is nothing worse than having people breathe down your neck when you’re trying to be creative.

Z - With the music industry the way it is, what keeps you going? It has to be frustrating at times.

B - Yeah it is and honestly I can’t even keep up with it. The industry is changing so drastically and so quickly that it’s hard for me even to keep up with it, and this is the industry that I’m in. It all goes back to the passion for music and the passion for writing and performing. If we didn’t have that we wouldn’t be here in the first place. That’s the driving force behind everything. But then you get to a certain point where you get a record deal and you start to make a little money, you have a few songs on the radio. Now a couple of us have families and you can’t abandon ship, you have to keep going, you have to keep working and everything. Ultimately it’s like you’re creating and performing and that is leaps and bounds about everything.

Z - What advice would you have for an upcoming band who’s trying to make it in today’s musical landscape?

B - That’s a tough question, since the industry is so much different than when we were coming up. I guess the only thing I can say, well there is two things I would stress: Number one, work on your song writing nonstop, because it all starts there. If you don’t have good songs, then nobody is going to give you a chance anyway, but if you can write something that is going to make some heads turn then that’s getting your foot in the door. Second, try to learn as much about the business as you can. So if you have a combination of good songs and a little bit of business savvy then you’re going to have a big one up on whoever else is going to get in the business.

Z - My last question, and as a fan of music it’s something I’ve always wanted to know. That moment when the crowd starts singing your song back to you, can you describe that moment? Is it even describable?

B - It is a little indescribable. It’s almost surreal sometimes. The crowd is different day in and day out. Some days they’re amazing and really into it and other days you go into a market that’s not as familiar with you, so they’re not singing like yesterday’s crowd was. But boy when you get a crowd that you can look out and there are thousands of people with their hands in the air with their mouth moving singing your lyrics, honestly I just stand there and start smiling, kind of laughing like wow this is the stuff you dream of since I was freaking five years old. When I was a little kid I would watch these old Elvis videos that my parents had and I would see how those people were reacting to him, even Michael Jackson, live Michael Jackson concerts, the power that is in that music that can make a fan in the front row cry. The effect you can have on somebody’s life, it’s….it’s something. I don’t know if there are words for that.

Z - For me it was watching some Billy Joel concert at Yankee Stadium with my dad and in the middle of “Piano Man” he just stopped playing and the crowd finished the song. Ever since then whenever I’m at a concert and there is one of those moments I get goose bumps and I’m not even up there, I’m just a fan watching.

B – Yeah.

Z - Does that magic or emotion, especially now that you’ve had a few hits and been around the block, does that moment when you come up with a cool riff or song and everything is just fitting into place, does it still feel magical?

B - Absolutely. I guess the only way I could describe writing a song and having it come together so that you’re happy about it, it almost feels like it’s the first time…every time. Every time something comes together for us it's not like, ‘oh it’s just another song.’ I remember how I felt after I wrote the first song I ever wrote. Every time I get a song done now I still get that like gratifying, really just inspiring…anytime you create something you’re so proud of, that inspires you to create more and you just get on this roll. Yeah it really does, it’s almost like the first time every time.

I love music. I’m into rock music the most, but music all around is just an amazing thing. Everybody listens to some sort of music, everybody without exception (unless I suppose if you can’t hear, but even then who’s to say you don’t have music in your head and you don’t know it). Music is a language; it’s a universal language that everybody can understand. Some people like it more than others. I’m the type of guy that would tear up during that infamous bus scene in Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.” I remember watching the MTV music awards 10 years ago or so, Kid Rock was performing with Run DMC and then all of the sudden Steven Tyler and Joe Perry came walking through the crowd as they went into this huge rendition of “Walk the Way.” Kid Rock had one hit at the time, he was just making it and now he’s sharing the stage with his idols in Aerosmith and Run DMC.

Talking with Brian Vodinh of 10 Years was such a treat. It was all of ten minutes, but the passion and excitement that dude showed for music was extremely inspiring. Most artists that I interview don’t really want to be talking to me, because that is the business part of it, but Brian just seemed to love talking music and I’m eternally grateful to him for giving me those ten minutes. If you want to hear that passion first hand check out their new album “Feeding the Wolves” coming to stores Aug 31st. You can also catch 10 years with Sevendust this fall.


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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