‘Vows’ is an eclectic dream band that formed in late 2011, after their self titled album, “Winters Grave“, was released in April 2011. Originally formed by James Hencken and Jeff Pupa, Vows became a band, after the addition of their long time friends, and active recording artists’ Sabeel Azam (lead guitar, backup vocals), Scott Soffer (bass), and Ryan Ward (drums, percussion, backup vocals). However, in late 2012, Ward moved away to Texas, and Steve Masi joined the group as the backing vocalist. Recently they have released a record titled “Stranger Things“, which features one of our favourite songs, ‘Carousel’. ‘Vows’ is definitely a part of the indie genre, and their songs are pleasantly composed with synths, organs, eclectic vocals and calming beats.
Below, we speak with Hencken (keyboard, synth, and supplemental percussion) about the formation of ‘Vows’ and their inspiration for their music.
Hi there James how are you?
We’re doing well.
What was it like working on ‘Winter’s Grave’ back in 2011 as compared to your new album ‘Stranger Things?’
Winter’s Grave was an experiment. It was more careless and quick. It was more about trying something new for us. When it clicked and our friends/bandmates wanted to back the project, we began Stranger Things knowing we’d be playing shows and that people would actually be listening. We took our time with it. We recorded and re-recorded, did the drums and bass in my basement and then again down in North Carolina. Re-doing stuff is just something we never really bothered with. But i think it helped to make a more thought-out, solid album.
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What’s the recording process for a single like?
We’ve never sat down and said, “lets write a single”. They sort of just present themselves as the album comes together. We do however have some ideas brewing for releasing some B-Sides from ST, or later an EP.
What inspires you to create the music that you do?
Life at the moment. Lyrically ST is speaking to time. Making the most of it and losing it, dedicating a ton of time to this while our girlfriends sit patient and whatnot. Stress. Balancing everything.
Did you expect so much success from something that started out as a recording project?
No, we didn’t expect anything. We’ve made a litany of home-recorded albums over time; Winter’s Grave was just for us. It’s been really cool to see it getting such a positive response. That has really motivated us to keep the project going.
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What is it like touring out-of-state?
Well playing other states is a blast, it’s always an adventure. But when we play hometown shows its like a family reunion with all of our friends there, and that can’t be topped. So I’d have to say right here in NJ. After our live shows people always seem genuinely enthralled. That is something that has really kept us going as well. We’ll always be doing it in whatever shape or form, but when people are pumped about it with us it takes on a whole new life.
Do you think living and working where you are now has influenced the band’s style of music in any way?
I’m sure living around here in suburbia has shaped that. Some kind of lost angst (laughs). But yeah, I moved in between albums and the new space we have now is quite different. That has definitely made a big difference in our vibe. It’s evident to me.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had working as a band together?
Recording with our long time buddy Jeremy Snyder at his studio in Charlotte. That was the most productive fun I’ve ever had slammed into like three days.
Any news of an Australian tour?
No news yet. Our online stuff is doing pretty well overseas, though. We’d love spread out over there.
What can fans expect from Vows over the next year?
The next year is a mystery to us all. That’s part of what we’re talking about in the feeling and lyrics on ST. Everything, not just the band, is up in the air. We’ve started recording again though, and we’re tossing around the idea of a live EP since our live sound is pretty different. We’re kind of deciding between hunkering down for some serious recording or touring, as our schedules right now unfortunately wont allow for both.
Thanks again Vows, you should all visit Australia sometime soon!