Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Weekend's Release Party at Hill Country Was a Unicorn of a Show

After playing anywhere between 50 and 150 performances a year for the past five years, I’ve learned that you can put each performance into one of two buckets.  The first bucket of performances I’d call “gigs.”  These are the types of events where not only are people in the room not there to see you, but they probably aren’t there to experience anything new or or interesting that night.

You can smell that type of atmosphere are soon as you walk into a venue.  Families giving off skeptical looks as you bring in equipment that looks “loud,” bros wearing NFL jerseys huddled around a glowing screen yelling louder at the events on the screen than any instrument could possibly play over, and young women approaching you to ask you “What’s your band play?,” and before you can answer, they follow up with 5-10 requests for songs that I can only assume reside in the top 40 somewhere because 4 dudes with instruments would never be able to pull off.

These are the types of gigs you have to bear down, pick out the poppiest songs you have, and make the most out of it.  If your volume level and song selection are alright, you’ll win over the crowd just long enough to play your own music, or something you actually like, for about 5 minutes.  Fortunately these gigs pay a lot more than the lion’s share of shows available to local bands, so we bear down and make the most of them.

In the other bucket, you have a “show.”  These are largely low paying affairs, but everyone in the room is there to see you, or at least to see new music.  The only problem is you are the sole person responsible for getting those people in the room.  Thus these can either be great experiences where hundreds of people share in the joy of a band getting to express their creativity and personalities, or soul crushing ordeals where the band plays to an empty room wondering what fate brought them to this demoralizing moment, and the 5 people there want to crawl out of their skin from discomfort.

The former is a rare gem of an experience that I’ve grown to cherish more and more.  The Hide Away is  working band.  We aren’t really part of any scene, partially by our own choice, because we’d all rather keep this band as a part of how we make a living instead of passing around a tip bucket at a hipster house party.  So, when it comes time to put out new music, we have to create our own scene.

Last Saturday at Hill Country was one of those narrow cross-sections of “shows” where everybody won.  The crowd had a blast, the band had a blast, and the club was happy because everyone walked away with the type of cash most of us only see at a “gig.”

We’ll be doing a lot more of these in the future, supported by a consistent outpouring of new, rockin’ tunes.  “Somebody to Lose,” the latest single, is coming out on July 7th, on the heels of “Velocirapture,” and we’ll be bringing it in the same way we brought that song in.  With that unicorn of a show where everybody has fun.

Monday, May 4, 2015

and so it begins again...

I'm sitting here on the eve of my band's first new release in over 2 years, and I'm filled with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for writing, recording, and performing.  It's been great to hear positive feedback on the new song, and inspiring to know how much work ahead of us we have on finishing up a new full length record.

"Velocirapture" was the product of 2 years of struggling to reconcile the desire to write and perform, with actually being a real member of society and not being taken over by hubris and narcissism.  What came out the other end is a pure expression of rock and roll, and I'm confident it will claw any listener's face with it's aural Raptor talons.

Check it out tomorrow (May 5th) on Spotify, or anywhere else you get your music.  It's just the tip of the iceberg.  There's a lot more where that came from coming down the pipe very soon.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Real Life Story of Alex Vans (New Bio)

Behold, friends and fans;  I have a new biography, and a brand new life story, never before seen by human eyes.  Rejoice, and believe in the Raptor, May 5th! #velocirapture

Alex Vans is an iconoclast. His hook-driven, guitar-laden rock aims to dismantle staid traditions. Through plaintive, raspy vocals reminiscent of Tom Petty, Alex shares his personal observations on conventions, and offers an honest expression of the id. Alex’s first language is rock, but he is fluent in jazz, country, and blues, resulting in a unique and exciting versatility. While sophisticated in sound, Alex keeps a foot firmly planted in fundamentally rebellious and fun nature of rock.
Born in Virginia, Alex cut his teeth as a solo singer-songwriter with the self-released acoustic EP “Old Souls and Other Cellar Songs.” Alex then played backup guitar for the critically acclaimed country rock band, Justin Jones, and got his first taste for the road, and the rock and roll lifestyle that goes with it. Drawing on his experience, Alex formed his own outfit and immediately began touring in the support of his the genre-bending power-pop album “DJ Booth,” playing over 200 shows since the beginning of 2011.
The new single, "Velocirapture," is a whiskey-drenched, hell-raising southern rock jam. With a pounding beat and screaming guitar licks, Velocirapture thrusts absolutist religions under the microscope, playfully dissecting the ignorance within them.
The apocalypse is nigh, and Alex Vans is throwing a party. We invite you to please stand, rejoice, repent, and "believe in the Raptor."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Believe in the Raptor - New Music Out May 5th

Making music is a fun way to pass a Sunday afternoon.  Making raucous absurdist protest songs and pompous indie parodies with three amazing musicians, one wild card producer, and an engineer who can put up with days of bourbon-infused testosterone-feuled craziness makes for an unforgettable two weeks.

Throw in tracking sessions of grown men making Velociraptor noises, shouting non-sequiter soapbox religious rhetoric through a megaphone, and about 50 tracks of handclaps, and I’d have a hard time deciding whether my recent studio experience or being Miles Davis during the recording of Bitches' Brew was the more enviable position.

Excuse the hyperbole, but the session that will soon yield two great songs (with a full album to come shortly thereafter) has been the most enjoyable music making experience I’ve had to date.  I’ve recorded two albums before these sessions, and while both past experiences have been positive, this was the first time I decided to let go of any expectations around having these songs be “successful.”

In short, my first two albums I made for someone else to sign off and say I was cool.  Blogs, radio stations, college kids that dig around sound cloud to find the next Grizzly Bear or Deer Tick.  But after two PR pushes and support tours on albums I made for the cool kids.  I had a realization.

Nobody knows whats cool….wait, scratch that…

I don’t care anymore.

I don’t care about being the cool kids' click bait. I don’t care about being talked about in the over-analytical, soft whispers of public radio.  I don’t care about showcasing at an exclusive wine party at an overhyped industry-festival-turned-tech conference.

I care about cranking an amp and singing as loud as I can while my buddies play their hearts out.  I care about the listener grabbing onto that energy and bringing them to the same level of excitement that my band has when we’re playing these songs.  I care about the Raptor noises scaring the shit out of everyone.

Oh right... the first single is about a Raptor.  A divine Raptor that when you hear the song you’ll have no choice but to fall to your knees and believe in the Raptor.  And in the power of sweet, sweet Rock and Roll.

The new single is called Velocirapture and drops Tuesday, May 5th everywhere along with a bonus b-side track.  Thanks to Andy Valenti, Mike Douaire, Erik Estrada, John Daise, and Adam Ashforth for making some killer music with me.  There’s much more to come.

Can’t wait for you all to hear it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Falling Out of (and back in) Love with Music

After almost a year of playing cover shows with the band, pretending to be Beck (, working a day job, trying (sometimes successfully) to quit smoking, and trying to grow up in a number of different ways, I’m gearing up with my label to get the band back together and back in the studio for a project I’ve been getting more and more excited about.  But if you asked me six months ago if I was trying to get back into recording and performing original music, I would have given you a bitter look and changed the subject.

I’d played to many empty, beer-soaked clubs whose glory days had passed way before the music machine crumbled and left every band out there alone with nothing but their minivans, a cooler for food, and a vague dream of success.  And success for me as a musician didn’t even mean millions of records sold, and arena (or even big theater) shows.  It just meant a small income; enough for me to pay rent and to keep making records and performing.  Right around the end of 2012 we hit that sweet spot where the guys I took on the road and I were able to do that, and we hit a nice ground swell with the record “DJ Booth.”  We started seeing repeat fans at clubs, more money from the door, and some online press to support our touring endeavors.  But in a climate where everyone interested in making a living in that space is fighting for so little money to go around, there are vultures and bottom feeders around every corner.  I was green enough, gullible, and so excited to break into more success that I fell right into the trap of some of the more unscrupulous individuals in the music industry.

But- we kept playing shows.  For another 8 months, pooling every dollar from merch sales, door fees, spotify, Pandora, and almost any source, and putting in the van’s gas tank to get to the next club.  I commend everyone in the band for sticking with it on the road for so long, but we finally decided to hang it up, go to work for a while and push the reset button.

I parlayed my touring experience into a decent job in sales at the end of 2013, and for almost a year I didn’t want to have anything to do with music unless I was at a bar getting paid at least 200 bucks to play someone else’s songs.  As the months wore on, a number of my friends in DC, where I grew up and still live and work, started putting together some amazing bands and releasing great records.  Watching bands like the Cowards Choir, the Deadmen, The Beanstalk Library, and Derek Evry rock out helped me keep a little spark of inspiration and creativity that has in the last month or so transformed into an overwhelming desire to write and perform again.

I let my narcissism about being the guy who could “make it” get in the way of actually writing and recording great songs, and that’s not what playing should be about.  As I get ready to re-enter “Alex Vans & the Hide Away,” I think about everyone who has helped inspire and keep that creative spark in me.  I can’t wait to get this new music out to everyone.  When the songs come out, I don’t care if you listen to them on vinyl, itunes, spotify, Pandora, or by tying a string to a cup and having your grandma play it off her old cassette player.  I don’t care if I make a an eighth of a cent from it or 10 bucks- I’m just looking forward to you hearing it and getting your own value from it.  It’s my job to figure out how to make it happen and your job to rock out.

The new EP is coming out in March.

Monday, July 8, 2013

big shows this weekend + new single on the way + new live videos

Just finished up an amazing weekend recording a new single at Bias Studios with the inimitable Mike Douaire producing/engineering.  The new song "Somebody to Lose" will be finishing up mixing this week, and will see a september release along with another cool new b-side.

Haven't named the release yet, but stay tuned.

As for some new show announcements, the band has been rehearsing hard for a huge east coast weekend.  On friday, we will be hitting my favorite venue in Brooklyn, the Rock Shop, with my favorite band in Brooklyn, These Animals.  Show starts at 9pm, for ticket info click here:

Then, we will be blitzing down to Richmond to play Hardywood brewery for a marathon 3 hour set.  We are armed with a bunch of new tunes, and some of my favorite classic rock arrangements (a rad new Neil Young cover is in the works for the Brooklyn show Friday).

If youre new to the band live you might want to check out the latest video from last month's NYC show:  My favorite part is at 4:22.

Hope to see some of you on Friday in NYC, and in the meantime, rock on!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Alex Vans & the Hide Away NEWS: What I'm Doing on my Summer "Vacation"

Alex Vans & the Hide Away NEWS: What I'm Doing on my Summer "Vacation": One of my new years resolutions that it has taken my roughly six months to make the first step into doing has been keeping a more regular bl...