VCTMS take the listener down the often torturous and most always precarious paths laid ahead in our minds. The heavy music project’s third full length Vol III: Halfway Happy burst out in fall 2018, contorting for the length of a dozen tracks that all combine to tell a story. That tale revolves around the band members themselves, but they’ve proven themselves willing to go the extra step with their music and reach a point where others — the listeners — can grasp on.
Their work emerges from an intense swirl that all the members — at least this time around — contribute to, hinging more on the personality than on a particular sound, in the estimation of drummer Meredith Henderson.
“The lyrical content is what VCTMS has particularly revolved around over the years,” she says. “When I first started this band five years ago, I always had dealt with heavy negative emotions and low self esteem. Eventually that turned into not just negative emotion, but as I grew older, I learned that it was mental illness, which was hard to deal with at first. I never wanted to be open or personal with people in a direct way, so instead I wrote about it. By doing so I avoided judgement and misunderstandings of others, and I could leave that fear out — especially since I didn’t track any vocals at first.”
Henderson does make vocal appearances on her band’s latest outing, including in the opening to the whole album itself.
On that first track, called “Ask Yourself,” she offers: “Death is a constant that I think about all the time.”
The chill underlines just what the band is tapping into here. It’s not just a particular sound, and it’s not a gimmick, either. It’s emotion.
“Volume III was very personal,” Henderson notes. “I think that’s why this band is so important to us and other people because we’re not afraid to be honest. We’re not afraid to try anything and everything even if it’s not expected from us.”
Supporting The Emotion
Through the emotional storm, the band does maintain a harsh but dynamic edge. The music’s tone matches the project’s emotional drive, but it also stems from its own well of inspiration that’s similar to the emotion. That vein continues through the entire work, in a sense — it doesn’t stop with the lyrics.
“For Volume III we wrote all of the songs in the studio mostly together,” Henderson explains. “There were some times where it was just two of us, and there was a couple times where it was one of us, but for the most part it felt more like a team effort than anything. This was the record I felt we just kind of found it. We all experimented with so many ideas, but it worked because we never shot anyone else down. Erik Stacy [of Dark Lord Recordings] was such a big part of Volume III and working with him made writing such a blast. We went to write a new demo once every week, compiled about 20 different songs, then fine tuned the ones that we liked.”
The band’s process encouraged personality to flourish, leading to the strikingly dynamic Volume III.
“It is never important for us to be heavy,” Henderson says. “I think it just kind of happens. All of us have different musical inspirations, and I think it shows. Weirdly enough, we get compared to bands that some of us don’t even listen to. We never aim to sound like anything other than ourselves when we come up with songs. My personal inspirations at the time of writing this record at least included The 1975, Panic At The Disco, Mat Kerekes, and Daphne Loves Derby. That’s what I listened to a lot during the process of Volume III.“
The band has been forging their sound for awhile — their first full length came out in 2014, and they’ve been building themselves up ever since. In other words, Henderson’s quip that she feels the band “found it” via their latest undertaking doesn’t arrive lightly.
All the way back before the first album Sickness: Vol. 1 came out, Henderson says that the band members were “just kids” who “didn’t really know what we wanted to do as far as the band and its sound went.”
Their vision focused since then, though, bringing them through the “learning” process of Vol. II: Inside the Mind and to the present.
Connection With Fans
The band’s reliance on their real and raw emotional, inspirational drives gives them an important space to connect with fans — as measured in part by the fact that operating entirely independently, the band charted on Billboard. They hit #25 on the “Heatseekers Music” chart.
“We want the listeners to take away that it’s okay to have days where you feel you’re at rock bottom,” Henderson says. “There’s nothing wrong with you. Don’t be ashamed — use that feeling to create or do something meaningful. It might be therapeutic, it might be very healing, and you might just find yourself in doing so.”
Photo via Alexandra Lorrae
Listen to VCTMS on Spotify below and catch them on tour in fall 2018 with Weeping Wound and Regime.