Q&A with Kenny Vasoli of Vacationer

It’s impossible to be in a bad mood at a Vacationer show, and vocalist Kenny Vasoli’s positive and upbeat attitude towards life definitely has a lot to do with it. We got the chance to sit down with Vasoli before Vacationer’s nearly sold out headlining show at The Marquis Theatre in Denver recently, and the good vibes and happiness were absolutely infectious. Check out the interview as well as Vacationer’s new music video “Go Anywhere” below!

Interview and photos by Shannon Shumaker

I know it’s only been a couple of days, but how has tour been so far?

The last couple of shows have been great! Saint Louis was really fun and Kansas City is always a great time too – there’s a lot of really chill, fun people that come out. And we even had a week of dates before we picked up the tour again on the east coast with Brick + Mortar.

So this show was originally at a smaller venue and had to be moved here because of high ticket demand, so how does that feel?

It feels really cool, that doesn’t always happen. Any time it does, it gives us a nice boost. It’s nice that we have some people here that want to see us, because it’s such a beautiful place to come.

From where Vacationer first started out to now, how has the journey been so far?

It’s been great! It’s been kind of a gradual build, like there hasn’t been just one boom moment with our popularity – people just keep catching on and trickling in – but I love it that way because we’re really paying our dues with this band and I feel like it’s paying off. It’s not for nothing. It’s nice to reap the rewards of putting so many hours in on the road.

Well it’s cool to return to cities and see familiar faces, too.

Yeah, totally. I try to put myself in their shoes, too, and it’s hard to have repeat business with a band. Because if I see a band and then six months later they come back, I’m like ‘oh, well I saw them six months ago…’ so it’s cool that people want to see us that much.

So you guys released Relief back in June and you’ve played festivals and toured a bit since then, so how has the reception been so far?

It’s been good. It’s gotten a really warm reception. I think if you’re a fan of our old album, then there’s no problem liking this one.

There’s definitely a smooth transition between the two.

Yeah, we wanted to just stay along the path and get a little bit deeper with our production and the energy that we have as a band, and I think we did that on this record. So, mission accomplished.

When I was listening to it, I felt that Relief has a very chill, laid back almost summer vibe to it – did you ever worry about how that would translate live?

No, I kind of worry about that after. In the studio, we kind of just want to make the best thing that we can. That’s the spirit that it started with. You know, we just wanted to make a record and a year later we just finished it and just put the band together and started transcribing it to live instruments.

I guess with this one, we did sort of keep the configuration of the band in the back of our mind with it, but we still kind of went all out and got string and horn ensembles. It’s so fun with this band because we’re not just a three piece rock band, we kind of have everything at our fingertips. It’s all based in 60’s and 70’s exotica soundtrack orchestration, so when we take pages out of that book, we get to mess around with all sorts of stuff.

I think that totally bleeds over into your music videos, like “The Wild Life,” too. I just watched your new video for “Go Anywhere” yesterday and it was awesome! Where did you come up with the idea for it?

Greg, our guitar player, came up with it. He had a friend who shot and edited it and the people at Sperry Shoes were nice enough to give us some funding for it. I don’t even remember how the hot air balloon hook-up thing came about, but Greg somehow had a channel to get a hot air balloon ride.

He’s got a hot air balloon hook up!

Yeah! He just knows all sorts of people. He runs a venue, too so he’s very good at networking with people. So he fixed us up with this hot air balloon ride and we just brought a bunch of GoPros and one legit camera and that was that!

Having been part of the music scene for quite a while, how does being in Vacationer differ from your previous projects like The Starting Line? Is there a big difference in the way that you perform and the people that come out to your shows?

Oh yeah. It’s apples and oranges. Anybody that has seen both can attest to that. It’s funny, cause I do run into people who were The Starting Line fans at these shows, but it’s usually people listened to The Starting Line and then found out about Vacationer separately, and then they come to the show and they see my face and put two and two together. And I like that! It’s like those blind taste tests where people are like ‘Oh this is Dominos!?’ Because then people don’t have this preconceived notion. And you know, that’s easy to do with artists that come from the emo scene – it’s easy to keep them in that box.

Oh, totally.

Like Sonny [Moore] or Skrillex is the first one that comes to mind. While that really isn’t my cup of tea, I have a ton of respect for him for being able to transition into a totally new genre pretty seamlessly. I just want a sliver of what Skrillex has got.

How has the experience with Vacationer differed from your previous projects?

It has given me a whole new work ethic. Not just this one, but I was in a band called Person L with our drummer Ryan before this one, and we did extensive touring and it was just really hard and we didn’t get a lot of traction out of it. It was a fun experience, but it just taught me that you can’t take anything for granted and you can’t expect everything you touch to turn to gold. Especially in this day and age, you have to make a presence for yourself and you have to do something that stands above the rest, so we strive to do that.

We’ve put in a lot more muscle work with this band. You know, The Starting Line, almost from the get-go had techs and after only maybe after five tours we were touring in a bus for the rest of our career. And we haven’t had anything like that with this. It’s all do it yourself style. But it’s good – it builds character and keeps you grounded and I have such gratitude for the people that come out to our shows. I don’t think I had that level of gratitude when I was with The Starting Line.

I think that’s something you grow into, too. Especially with Vacationer’s style of music, it’s easier to come out and play and do something you enjoy.

It’s nice. I feel like with this, there’s a little bit less pressure with people knowing who we are. I feel eager to show people who we are if they’ve never heard of us before. With The Starting Line, it was all about crowd surfing and if the crowd wasn’t going nuts then it was a bummer, and now people just get to relax. That’s what I want to do at a show – I don’t want to be jumping off the walls. I want to hold a beer and not even really clap and just appreciate it. I just want to act my age and be the person that I want to see.

So is there anything that you’d want people to be able to take away from Relief or any of your music?

I really want it to be audible relaxation for people. I love music that does that to me and I find myself needing that kind of music more and more. As I get older, it just becomes more and more complicated being a person. It gets to be tense – it’s just a natural thing for your mind and your body to tense up, so I like stuff that reminds me that you don’t need to be tense and that life is much more enjoyable if you can let go and relax and find some relief.

Oh, that’s so perfect.

Yeah, I really try to hit people over the head with the message.

Well, I think that’s about it – is there anything else you’d like to add?

I think that’s it! Thank you!