A lot of talent seems to be coming from Canada these days, most notably the Vancouver-based band The Veer Union. As Crispin Earl (vocals/songwriter/producer), Ryan Ramsdell (rhythm guitar), Dan Sittler (lead guitar/harmony vocals), Tyler Reimer (drums) and Amal Wijayanayake (bass guitar/screamo vocals) prepare to release their sixth studio album titled Decade on January 29, 2016 and the launch of their tour in February, Screamer Magazine was able to talk with Crispin Earl who is also the founder of the band.
Starting as a solo project in 2001 by the name Everything After, Earl tells us “I started it as a solo project and was playing drums in a band that signed a record deal with Hollywood Records and we moved to Los Angeles and at some point I decided to leave the band and go back to Vancouver where I’m from and do my own thing as a singer/songwriter so I went to the studio and began writing and recording demos songs. From there I sent them out and received a lot of interest from different record labels and I needed a band to play so that is how things sort of transpired.” Among the interested parties was Motley Crue’s very own Tommy Lee. Lee decided to use two of Earl’s demo recordings titled Watch You Lose and Make You Believe which were used on Lee’s solo album titled Tommyland. This was a phenomenal step forward for Earl and his career and certainly gave him credibility as a new singer/songwriter which undoubtedly shine through as Earl and his band The Veer Union continue to progress in their musical journey. After the disbanding of his previous band, he received a phone call from an industry friend who mentioned Tommy Lee was interested and had let him hear a few of Earl’s demos. Earl took the money he made from that and went to record a record with his band known at the time as Veer and they started touring which is how everything changed. Earl says with gratitude “without having the money from Tommy Lee using my songs, I would never have had the funds to actually make the first record titled Time To Break The Spell.”
Deciding to go into a completely different direction, Earl goes into detail about how he just wanted to do something totally new and independent as possible including playing fundraiser shows around the United States as well as touring for a few years playing shows at various high schools. “We would go in on their lunch break and do a full sound check then play for the students, make new fans and got our music out that way which was really the beginning of us breaking into the music scene in the US” Earl says. As the band went from being known as Veer to their current name The Veer Union, the inspiration behind the name is one that a lot of people can identify with. Earl says that mainly it came from all of the ups and downs he experienced at a young age in the music industry and while there were some great people to work with, there were also some that were not so pleasant and basically he wanted to veer away from that and all of the politics and everything else that goes on within the music industry and get back to making music. “I have loved music since the time I was 10 years old and I wanted to do it for the right reasons and for the love of it and I want all of the people I work with to be in the same headspace” Earl tells us. “That is how we came up with the name Veer but then when we signed with Universal Records, in 2008, we were forced to change our name because there was a company with the same name so in order to avoid any problems, we sat down and decided we didn’t want to lose the name so rather than start from scratch and the fact that the band was and is a union, we are all in it together, and from that moment we became The Veer Union.”
Now that The Veer Union has been around for a while, they have experienced all of the changes within the music industry as it continues to evolve and the internet has paved the way for live streaming and on demand music. Earl feels that there is two sides to every coin and that there are pros and cons about being in the music industry not only as a songwriter but as a band. “I do feel that this is a time where independent artists can flourish a lot more than 10 or even 20 years ago” Earl expresses. “The market wasn’t built for independent artists and now it is. The biggest problem is that because it is so easy for the independent artist, there is so much noise. So trying to get above the noise and separate yourself from everyone else has made it difficult. These days you really need to have a marketing budget and it comes between the band and the art of the music. That is where I feel things are getting lost in translation nowadays. It has always been about the art first and foremost for me so I try and make the best art I possibly can and just hope people will connect with it and that is one thing that will always be pure. Whether it’s with five people or five million, as long as people love it, you have done it right.” While it is certain many artists feel this way, we can all appreciate the honesty that comes with music and assuredly with Earl and the mission statement of the band.
Living in Los Angeles, you can’t help but run into a musician every step you take and what usually happens is that when those bands travel outside of California is when they are valued more, at least the independent bands we have come across over time. Lately, Canada has been evolving some extraordinarily talented rock bands and artists that fans in the US are taking notice of. When we asked Earl what it was like breaking into the music scene in Canada and were there a lot of obstacles to not only become known in their hometown but as they crossed over into the US and other parts of the world, he expressed that it wasn’t as hard as one may think. “At the time I started in the rock music scene, there was a lot going on. With a lot of bands coming out of Vancouver that were blowing up at the time. It seemed there were more people looking for bands in the area and because of the buzz that was going on in the city, it made it a bit easier and brought us a little bit of light at that time, around 2008. Although, it wasn’t my focus point to be there at the time, it seemed to be the way things were starting. To me, one thing I have learned along the way is that it doesn’t really matter where you are from or the art you have created or how it is you want to portrayed or perceived. Even as I look back to our first release Time To Break The Spell in 2006, you can tell that it’s the same songwriting style that we have now. It’s the same nucleus in a 10 year span. You can hear the evolution but it is the same band.” While many bands feel the pressure to change their style completely and some artists write music that they think will sell as opposed to music from their soul, Earl feels strongly about the importance of evolving in your music but also stating true to your sound. Adding certain styles and sequences can always bring some added spice to a song yet you can always find comfort in knowing your favorite band the second you hear them. “When a band just turns into a completely different band” Earl asks the question “how true are you to your art? It makes me feel as if the artist is chasing the fame and not the art which is discouraging and I have gone through that with people I have been in bands with in the past and even in some of my favorite bands. But if you are going to change your sound, you may as well change your band name and the image too.”
With the approach of the release of The Veer Union’s sixth studio album titled Decade, and the acclaim from fans and critics alike on their first single Defying Gravity, Earl goes into detail about the inspiration that went into the songwriting for the album. “The album title is a celebration of our first album which was released 10 years ago in 2006. We wanted to convey that we have been around for 10 years and while there have been a change in members and it has been a tough business, we have grown musically and as a band. So many bands have been struggling, myself included through many challenges within the industry that have made it difficult to want to stay in, I spent a lot of time in a depressed state just trying to survive so I wanted to put that into my songwriting and five of the songs on the record are songs I have written over the past year and the other five are songs I have written back in 2001 so it spans the times and bringing them all together to bring one focus sound even though they were written 10 years apart.”
We can all agree that when we listen to music, we connect first and foremost with the lyrics and based upon what is going on in our lives, be it good or bad, we tend to be attracted to the songs that say what we cannot say. Earl has struggled with depression and thankfully he has been able to write some amazing songs to express what he has endured throughout his life. “I think a big thing is that you need to have the right people around you and if you have people that are negative who can’t grow with you as a human being, they are only going to drag you down” Earl acknowledges. “Whether it is your family or friends, if they are continuously dragging you down rather than propping you up, it is hard to come out of that depressed state of mind. For me, I have always been lucky because of my supportive family and even more so now because of the guys I am working with in the band. The new members are all extremely excited and feel privileged to do what we do and love what we do whether or not we make a ton of money, it is all about the music. Sometimes outside forces can create chaos and if you have a strong force within the band, you can overcome anything that is thrown at you. It is all about the unity and for me it is the strongest force I have ever had.” It has been a diverse time for Earl he tells us. “The last band lineup was very hard for me to deal with. Gradually the members came in because I didn’t want to just throw a bunch of people into the mix. I wanted to know everyone was in there for the right reasons and it shows in our new album Decade and I am so lucky that Defying Gravity is the first single off the album because it is my favorite song and truly delves into what I have been through.”
The Veer Union is going above and beyond by offering VIP bundles for their upcoming tour and signed physical copies of the new album and fans are already flooding their social media sites to inquire or purchase these items. It is crystal clear that they are in total union with their fans and even handle all of their social media on their own. Earl admitted that it is important to him and to the other band members that they acknowledge most if not all of their fans. It can be challenging at times but they always do their best. As The Veer Union flies high in their career and continue to gain momentum, we are excited to see how big these guys can become. With such a humble and talented artist like Earl and the other members of The Veer Union, our hopes are high.