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Familiar Faces, New Sounds
A Conversation With Void Reunion
By J Hubner
Fort Wayne Reader
Rock and roll. It's something that when you fall for it, you fall hard. You know the words to your favorite songs. Hell, you know the words to your favorite albums. The lyrics speak to you. The music gets you through good and bad times. It's a life preserver for disenfranchised youth. You get older and get a secondhand instrument -be it guitar, bass, keys, or drums- and you make those favorite songs come to life in your parent's basement or garage. You start a band with some like-minded guys and gals and start writing your own songs, playing gigs, making gig posters, and get some t-shirts made. You choose the perfect font for your band name. You record, put an album out, play more gigs, sell some downloads on Bandcamp, do some out-of-state shows, drive a crappy van around the state, and have the time of your life.
Then, one day, you realize you're tired and it's time to move on. The dreams of "making it" are just that. You settle down, get married, have a kid, get that steady teaching job and are pretty damn content with all of it. Still, you miss it. You don't miss late nights, sweaty van rides across state lines, dealing with shady club owners, losing money on merch, and not being at home on a Saturday night with your significant other watching a Breaking Bad marathon. What you miss is being in a room with your friends and making music. That's what it's all about anyways, isn't it? It's locking in with a group of friends musically and making magic happen. Creating something special with that thing that started it all: rock and roll.
Void Reunion are five guys that did the rock and roll thing, got out and started careers, then decided they missed the rush of making music. The band is George Gardner on vocals and guitar, Bob Haddad on guitars, Ben Larson on keys, percussion, and vocals, Bryce Wiseman on bass, and Eric Frank on drums. All have played in great bands in the Fort Wayne area, including Heaven's Gateway Drugs, TIMBER!, House Of Bread, Looking For Astronauts, and King Jimmy's All Stars. They now all play together in a new great band, and are pretty excited to share their music. Eric Frank sat down to talk to me about the band and their music.
J. Hubner: For those have yet to hear the band, give us an idea of what you guys sound like? You all come from different bands with different vibes, what drew you guys to the music you're making in Void Reunion? What artists and albums fueled the creative process?
Eric Frank: The band’s sound is unique unto itself, but we hope familiar enough for people to latch on to and find something relatable. As you said, we all come from different backgrounds from synth pop to psych rock. We feel this band is the perfect union of all of those elements. We try hard to make sure everyone’s voice and sound is preserved and melded into the sound we’re producing. It seems the best descriptions are the simplest, so on our page we have our sound described as “Midwest indie rock”. We can go with that. There aren’t any specific albums that come to mind. We all have such a diverse collection of tastes that to give praise to any one artist may give a misrepresentation of our songs.
J. Hubner: Give me an idea of how the creation process is in the band. I mean, song-wise is it very much a collaborative affair, or are song ideas being brought in by one or two members and then the rest of the band fills in the blank spots?
Eric Frank: The songs are very much a collaborative effort, although George has the most song writing experience since he’s been the front man for bands in the past. George has a seemingly endless supply of loose verse and chorus combinations. He’ll usually present an idea to the band at which point we’ll all start adding our own flavors to it and molding the song into the end result. Bob also has a really great writing sense and at least two of our songs come directly from his writing. We try our best to encourage ideas and provoke free thought within the group. We never say our music has to be set in these boundaries or that only so and so can write a song. We’re all too old for that bullshit. Our goal is just to write songs that make us feel and remind us why we keep doing this thing even after all these years. We think we’ve achieved that.
J. Hubner: There seems to be a very specific aesthetic visually with the bit of artwork the band has released. The profile pic on the band's FB page for example. It has a very 80s retro look to it. It looks like some lost Fixx album art. Very cool. Who handles the graphic design aspect of the band? Are the visuals just as important an aspect as the music itself?
Eric Frank: The artwork is handled by our good friend and spiritual leader Adam Garland. This aspect of the group is solely his responsibility and we have given him complete creative freedom. We had him sit in on a few practices and from that he created the art and formed the concepts. Adam’s a great artist and we in no way wanted to detract or interfere with his creative process so what you see is merely Adam’s interpretation of what he hears in us.
J. Hubner: Void Reunion recently had their live debut at the Brass Rail. Since you all come from different bands, and some very much loved by local guys and gals, I wondered how their response was to the new local "super"group.
Eric Frank: The show went better than we could have hoped, it actually sold out! We were all overwhelmed with support from the music scene, friends and family. We all carry years of experience playing music and our hope is that that gets reflected in our music. We’ve all put a lot of work and hours practicing our songs over and over again. We didn’t just want to play an average first show, we wanted to bring something polished and complete. We wanted to give the impression that we’ve been playing together for years, not months.
J. Hubner: Being out of a band for a year or two, how does it feel to jump back into it?
Eric Frank: It feels good, different but good. The approach I take now is completely different then what I’ve taken in the past. I stopped playing because honestly I just got burnt out. When I played before there was always this hope of “making it,” whatever that means. But as I toured more and played more you just see people who have been touring years longer than you and they just look beat up, burnt out. So many of them have manifested in their own minds that they are some kind of rock god by virtue of trudging along and hanging on to this dream. Unfortunately that dream usually manifests itself into washed up 40 year old doing blow in the bathroom and trying to pick up chicks younger than his illegitimate daughter who he only calls on holidays. The focus all seems to be on the self. And once more, even if I could make a living playing I don’t know I’d want to. Music has always been an escape for me, not a job, and it started to become that. I feel this band has given me a chance to approach the writing process in a different light, from a more earnest place. Everyone has a voice in this band and I think we try as a whole to keep everyone’s voice heard, to make it a real creative collective. Once more, the guys in this band are some of the most genuine, down to earth guys you’ll ever meet. It’s a real pleasure to be in such a positive and creative environment.
J. Hubner: Does being a dad now make you come at music differently?
Eric Frank: Finding out I was going to be a father is one of the key reasons I started to play again. Music has been such a therapeutic and creative outlet for me over the years. I want my son (Wolfgang) to be able to have access to that avenue. When I used to play I selfishly wanted the attention of people. I wanted to be noticed and I wanted the fame, however small that was. But now I’m playing because I’m trying to preserve a part of me for my son. I want my girlfriend and mother of my child (Sophie) to see that side of me. It’s for them now.
J. Hubner: Is the process a little more laid back than when you were in HGD? Maybe coffee at practice instead of a beer? Or maybe just a light beer?
Eric Frank: The process is still pretty driven. It’s more laid back in the sense that we only practice once a week and aim for a show or two a month, but we are still very focused and are always setting goals for ourselves. I think that for all of us time is very precious. Two of us are teachers, I work in IT at a consulting firm, George works with troubled teens and who knows what Bryce does. But the point is that all of our time is increasingly more valuable, we don’t have the luxury of wasting it. So when we practice, we all have this unspoken agreement that we are all gathered in this room together and all of our time is limited, so we better make it count. With that said, beer at practice is a must.
J. Hubner: Are there any more shows penciled in at this point? Any tentative gigs you want to share with us? Any Void Reunion swag in the works?
Eric Frank: We have a show December 4th at the Rail and January 2nd at CS3. Allow me to shamelessly use this moment to promote the new t-shirts we will have at both those shows printed by local Indian based clothing company Yonder Clothing Co…..who is coincidentally owned by a former high school bandmate.
J. Hubner: As far as recording goes, is there a specific time Void Reunion would like to get in and record by?
Eric Frank: We are shooting for an EP by early 2016. The EP will probably be recorded at a friend’s home studio. We’d be looking at getting in a studio and recording a full length by the end of summer.
J. Hubner: So where do you guys want to see Void Reunion in a year?
Eric Frank: In a year we’d like to have an EP and full length out and just continue to play a steady stream of gigs. We’re not looking to play out of town much unless the opportunity seems worth it. Like I said, we all have careers and other obligations so sadly, I think we’ve all given up the dream of being famous rock gods.
Rock Gods or not, head out to the Brass Rail on December 4th and CS3 on January 2nd and check out Void Reunion.