UpVenue had the great opportunity to chat with Crispin Earl from the band The Veer Union. The band released their self-titled debut album on April 21, 2009 and are currently on tour supporting it. Their first single "Seasons" is bringing this Canadian band out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
UpVenue (UV): Hey Crispin, how are you doing?
Crispin (C): I'm doing very good, yourself?
UV: I'm doing good, thank you very much for doing the interview with us.
C: No problem
UV: So, where are you right now?
C: We are driving through South Carolina, not sure which city exactly, we're kind of just driving through.
UV: You're getting ready for a show tonight or tomorrow?
C: No, we actually have a day off tonight and it’s a travel day. We played Baltimore last night.
UV: So how was that?
C: It was awesome. It was really good actually. Really good crowd and it was pretty packed. It was awesome.
UV: You guys are currently out with Halestorm
C: Halestorm, Burnt Halo and Since October.
UV: How has that been so far?
C: It’s been awesome. We've been on tour with a lot of different bands and really I have nothing bad to say about any of the tours we've been on; its all just been really really cool and for us it's really about playing in front of people and that’s what we've been doing every night and we've been getting great feedback, so we're really happy.
UV: That’s awesome. So right now you have that single out, “Seasons”
C: Yeah, we just shot the video for "Seasons" as well, it’s the first single and its up on iTunes and it seems to be doing pretty well for us and we're happy with it.
UV: I saw the video for it (available on iTunes) , and it’s more of a performance video, do you like that type of video, or are you hoping to do more of an acting type video?
C: You know what, it really depends on the song and for us, at the end of the day, it really depends on whatever fits the song, so I don’t think you go in with any pre conceived notions, you just kind of go in "well I'm going to make a good video for this song and I think this is what this song needs". We're happy with how this video turned out for sure.
UV: And of course, Seasons was used for the WWE, are you a wrestling fan?
C: I think that all of us were wrestling fans for sure.
UV: Who was your favourite wrestler?
C: umm... I don’t know. You know what, I don’t think I actually had one. Eric says that he really liked Diesel.
UV: Have you ever seen a live wrestling match?
C: I've never been to live wrestling match. To be honest with you, when you play in a band, we can’t even remember the last time we really had a day off to do something. We've been on the road literally since January and our day off is usually a travelling day. So we're kind of looking forward to that day that we could actually have a day or two off to explore a city we're in to see what’s actually going on.
UV: And at the moment there is no end in sight for the tour because after this you go out with Hurt and Sick Puppies
C: Yeah, that’s correct, we're looking forward to that. We actually have a couple of days off in Vancouver, but they're mostly going to be family days. We haven’t seen our families in 6 months, so we'll pop in there for a few days, do a few dinners and then it’s off with Sick Puppies tour.
UV: That’s cool. How excited is your family about all of this?
C: I think my family is really excited about this. They've seen how hard I've worked over the years, and you know every person has struggles going through life and I've had many, I've gone through many letdowns with other record companies and other situations and so this is the one where I put everything I could. I put every bit of my heart and soul into everything that has to do with this band. From the name of the band, the name of the record, the songs on the record, the lyrical content, you know everything was really very much, I've got to do it the way that I think it needs to be done, in my heart and so I'm really happy with how everything has gone and I definitely know that my parents are proud of me.
UV: You mention that you had a say in the way that the songs were written and produced, how hard was it to choose which singles get put out?
C: It was very easy actually. We're very very fortunate that our record company has been 100% behind us, and nowadays, record companies don’t usually give creative control, but I think our record company really realized our vision and they kind of said "We're here to support you guys to do what you think is going to make you guys the best band that you are", and they had an idea for a single because they really like the song and we said you know what, we really feel like "Seasons" is the one that represents us the best. And they said ok. It was really honestly that easy.
UV: That’s a very rare thing that a record company lets the band decide
C:Yeah, so we're very honoured, very happy. It like we're not even signed to major record label. Honestly, we call them up and go "hey, we have an idea" and they go "hey, that’s a great idea, cool lets do that". It’s like hanging out with a bunch of buddies. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of different things in every situation, there still is a contract involved, but creatively we're working really really well together and we couldn’t be happier
UV: When you were putting the album together, just by listening to it, you can tell that there is a very good natural flow to all the songs and how they lead into each other
C: Thank you.
UV: How hard was it to choose the order?
C: It was very hard actually. It was very hard. We literally went through about 10 different orders and we wanted to be able to show off the different sides of the band as much as possible. We didn’t want to have too many rock songs up front, we didn’t want too many ballads up front, we wanted to spread it out because there are many different kind of tiers I guess you could say to the songs on the record. So when we finally got to the last order, we were just really really happy with it and we were like this is the perfect flow and so it really worked. The only song we definitely knew would be in its place is "What Have We Done" which is the last song on the record. It was kind of like the kind of artsy song that we were really excited about and definitely still one of my favourite songs but we knew that it was going to be the last song on the record.
UV: Any ideas what the next single is going to be?
C: Umm... there’s definitely some talk, I think there a good possibility that it could be either "Youth of Yesterday" or "Darker Side of Me". We haven’t really decided yet, but we're definitely getting some good feedback from those two.
UV: I have to agree with Darker Side of Me, its one of my favourites off of the album
C: Oh really, Darker Side of me? That’s cool. You know its kind of a split decision between Darker Side of Me and Youth of Yesterday. But I definitely appreciate your input, and I'll definitely let the guys know. It’s also great because the labels like, "you pick the single", but it’s also a scary thing because if it fails, it’s our fault. (laughs)
UV: The pressures on now! Which would you say is your favourite song to perform live?
C: Our favourite song live? We really like playing "Seasons" live. I'd say Seasons and probably "Final Moment", you know both of those songs are pretty high energy and they really get the crowd going,
UV: What’s it been like having the crowd sing back the lyrics when you sing them to them?
C: Completely 100% gratifying, because there is so much hard work that goes into making a record and having people sing back, and you know its funny because some people get crazier than what you do on stage when they're shooting those lyrics back at you, you're like ok, I just connected with that person and there is nothing cooler than that.
UV: I've heard in past interviews that you've said you can’t really describe what its like to see Veer Union live, till you actually see it
C: Yeah, I guess you could say the same thing about many bands, I mean, you don’t know what a record's going to sound like till you listen to it and vise versa for a show, but you can have your idea of it, but it’s always going to be a different situation when you actually see our show. The only thing I can say is that with our show, it is definitely very high energy and it’s very interactive with the crowd. We didn’t set out to make it that way, it just kind of became that way.
UV: What type of feedback have you been getting from the fans, like maybe when you started the show you didn’t have them as fans but then after they heard you they were just convinced that they wanted to know more about Veer Union
C: I think that right across the board that the very simple thing is that this is what I hear all the time, "We've never heard of you guys, but I love you guys and now I'm buying your record" which is the best thing you can hear from any fan. You know turning people who have never heard us before into a fan, so that’s what’s been happening and that’s our goal of playing a live show
UV: I've noticed that you’ve used different types of media outlets to get the word out, you use Twitter.
C: I know that our band uses twitter, but it kind of freaks me out a little bit. It’s a little bit weird, it’s kind of almost like they should maybe change twitter into the word stalker. It’s just a little weird, you know what I mean? It’s like, I am now eating my Cheerios. You know, why does someone want to know when I’m eating my cereal? That’s a little bit weird. But it’s cool. Everyone is into it, I know that I don’t use it personally, I don’t have a personal account but definitely the band uses it for sure.
UV: The same thing can be said for Saynow.
C: Yeah Saynow, actually I really like that, I think it’s cool. We definitely use it when we talk to our fans. It’s cool. They're really excited, saynow is really cool.
UV: What type of feedback have you been getting from that?
C: I think most people are surprised that they're talking to us on the phone. You know we're just very down to earth normal people and we just think that we are very lucky you know working doing the coolest job in the world and I don’t think that our relationship is really going to change from that point of view. We're just small town Canadian boys, you know.
UV: Another thing I checked out was your MySpace page, I saw that you guys do the cover of the month which I think is like the greatest thing ever
C: Thank you.
UV: The cover that you guys did of P!nk's song was really good
*cue fan screaming into the van, Crispin lets them know that he’s doing an interview, fans walks away to scream anther day*
UV: What type of songs have fans been requesting?
C: They've requested a lot of different songs, you know what, I read the list yesterday and I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head right now, I'd have to go look but its right across the map. I know its been very different songs, super poppy songs, heavy songs, you know lots of different songs, but I'm excited about the next one were about to do, because its a song that we actually really really love by a band that was one of my favourite bands growing up, but I cant tell you what it is.
UV: So I'm just going to have to wait and see?
C: Yup, just wait and see.
UV: What would you say are your top 5 cover songs?
C: Umm well, Framing Hanley are very good friends of ours, I love those guys and I think they've done a great job with "Lollipop". Although on the other hand, you know I think people take for granted that they're a band that just did a cover song when they're actually really really great, but umm.. You know what, I'm drawing a blank. It’s hard to choose five off the top of my head, you'll have to get back to me on that one.
UV: If you could choose any band to cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band would it be?
C: Wow, interesting, let me think. I would love Alice in Chains to cover one of our songs. Which song would it be? Into you garden, I'd like to see what they could do with that.
UV: That would be great. Do you mind just talking a little bit about the "You can Do Anything Foundation". I was reading up on that and I think it’s a fantastic idea just bringing awareness into peoples minds about getting music into schools. How did you get involved and what are you gonna do in the future?
*death beeps on Crispin’s phone. He's given me the heads up that we may get cut off*
C: We got involved because we got contacted by the founder of "You can do anything" and he basically just gave us a call and said that he was putting this together and that he wanted some help and I was just like "this is the perfect cause", because I thought, if I didn’t have a music program in my school, I wouldn’t be out there living my dream right now. Its all because I had a music program, so, I wish that I had a rock band come to my school and play for me, they wouldn’t have been anything cooler than that. It’s been a very cool thing for us and being able to connect with our fans 1 on 1 like that. It’s been a cool thing. It definitely something we want to see grow and we'll see where it goes
UV: Just say, if you didn’t have music in school. Where do you think you would be right now?
C: Good question, I would probably be, you know, I've always wanted to be a police officer, I don’t know why. So maybe I would be a police office.
UV: How old were you when you started playing
C: I started playing the drums and singing when I was 10 years old, and I started playing guitar when I think I was 11.
UV: Did you talk any lessons, or were you self taught?
C: Yup. I took lessons and private vocal training and sang in classical and jazz and chamber choir.
UV: Going back to the album, one of the last songs is "Where I want to be" So, where is it that you want to be in 5 years?
C: The same place that I'm in right now, living my dream, continuing to play music, continuing to tour, continuing to make music. Definitely. That song is where I want to be. I've finally got to where I want to be in my life.
UV: We mentioned before that your next tour is with Hurt and Sick Puppies, are you fans of the bands, did you know much about them before?
C: You know I just kind of heard about both bands to be honest with you, because truthfully, being a Canadian, we get sheltered from a lot of stuff in America. That’s one of the coolest parts for us. We become fans of the bands and I can tell you straight up, I'm a fan of both bands. They're both very cool
*Crispin calls back*
UV: Honestly, I had never heard of Veer union until Sick Puppies announced their tour and mentioned that you guys would be opening. So I did a bit of research and found you guys and I was super impressed
C: That is very cool. When they were introduced to us we're just like "that’s great" and also literally it was like yesterday that we pulled up some of the songs from Hurt and they're actually a very cool band as well. I’m excited about the tour.
UV: So am I, I'm actually going to be going to two dates, unfortunately, they're not coming to Canada so I have to go to the states to see them
C: Gotcha. It should be fun anyways. Definitely. And if you’re coming, we should effeminately hook up and have a drink or something.
UV: Trust me I'd love to. Maybe Burlington or Albany
C: Sounds good.
*Interviewer note, Check back on UpVenue the first week of August for pictures from the Veer Union shows*
UV: Its kind of the same situation with Sick Puppies, I didn’t know much about them till they opened up for Evanescence and I was like who are they? In a weird way you guys are getting a lot of fans by "stealing" them from other bands
C: You know what, I think that’s the goal for every band. That’s why Sick Puppies was on tour with Evanescence. I think that’s really the goal. I don’t think its a matter of "steal", I think its more of a matter of well, now you're a fan of both bands, cause you don’t go well, I'm a fan of this band now and stop being a fan of the other band.
C: That’s the great part about music
UV: Out of all the bands that you’ve seen live, and the bands that you haven’t seen live, who would you love to see live in concert?
C: Alice in Chains. Honestly we had a chance to play with Alice in Chains at Edgefest, actually it was Rock on the Range, and I've been such a big fan of the band for so long and it was one of the most impressive concerts I've seen and even though Layne Stayley’s not in the band I think that the singer Ryan did a great job and yeah, very cool band, and I think that they have something so original and I'm so excited for the new record
UV: How was Rock on The Range for you?
C: It was awesome. One of the coolest shows we've ever played and I hope we get asked to go back again
UV: Any plans to play Rock on the Range Canada?
C: You know what, we actually talked about it and you know what, if we get asked to play it and it’s an option, I'm in, for sure.
UV: Any other big festivals that you love to play hopefully in the future?
C: You know what, we love playing festivals in general, you get to see so many bands that you’re a fan of and people are just so hyped up. If there is a festival, count me in. Put it that way.
UV: Any other festivals coming up?
C: you know what, Let me find out.
*asks the rest of the band*
C: Edgefest in Albany
UV: That’s where I'll be seeing you guys
C: Perfect. There’s a couple of shows that I cant even talk about yet because they're being talked about and haven’t been confirmed, but definitely excited for the next few shows coming up.
To see a full list of The Veer Union's upcoming shows, check out their official MySpace page
The Veer Union is Crispin Earl (Vocals), Eric Schraeder (guitar & backing vocals), James Fiddler (lead guitar), Marc Roots (bass), Neil Beaton (drums)