Interview: OF VIRTUE discussing in detail the process behind WHAT DEFINES YOU and EU tour.
Today we are catching up with OF VIRTUE metalcore quintet from Lansing, Michigan lining up Tyler Ennis, Damon Tate, Michael Valadez, Jon Fox and Kyle Pruehs. After singing to label SharpTone Records and debuting brand new single SUFFER in January 2019, followed by NO CONTROL, THANKS FOR NOTHING and ALONE, the band gave a taste of their new record to come.
So after introducing the band, discussing the announcement of a new label and exploring their first single of the year, we are now teaming up again with Of Virtue and TYLER ENNIS to explore in depth the details and the process behind their amazing new record WHAT DEFINES YOU released on May 24th, 2019.
Of Virtue have just drawn to a close the EU/UK Tour they embarked with THE WORD ALIVE celebrating their 10 year anniversary, along with Make Them Suffer and Aviana, so we also took the occasion to know more about the wrap up of this run of European shows.
Thank you Oliver for making this happen. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Thank you Tyler, for taking time out of your busy schedule to provide valuable contents and adding to this interview an exquisite personal touch. Thank you for opening up on your personal loss and sharing your deepest emotions. Thanks for being an inspiration of goodness, positivity, dedication and honesty when it comes to being true to ourselves in the creative process and life.
- Hello guys, I’m catching up with you after the last few months. So you’ve just drawn to a close your European/UK Tour with THE WORD ALIVE celebrating their first decade of music along with MAKE THEM SUFFER and AVIANA. What feelings and best memories have you brought back home with you?
What a tour! Every single person on the tour were great. I (Tyler) think everyone clicked and being on a bus together helped all of us bond. The best memories, for me, was just all the shows we played, all the people we met and how much fun we had with all the other bands. We all bonded in one way or another and it’s always a pleasure touring with genuinely good humans.
- What was typically different during this EU tour as opposed to your US tour? In terms of audience, venues, soundscape, welcome, setup..
The catering, the crowd reaction. Everything about Europe is always so fun no matter how many people go to a show. We are very thankful we got to do this tour because we got to play in front of a lot of different people this time around. I haven’t taken this many pictures with people after our sets before which was really awesome and everyone was so welcoming and kind. As for setup – we don’t normally have our own setup because of the travel costs so that gets very tricky overseas but the good people at Captured Live in Germany have taken care of us the past two tours and we are very thankful for them!
- I would love to talk about the songs that have been jammed the most along this tour, the impact you received and how this has matched or mismatched your expectations.
The whole tour was phenomenal! Suffer and Thanks for Nothing were definitely the more well received songs of the tour for us. There were people that knew most of the lyrics and it was just so awesome to see. It definitely took me by surprise and I think this tour exceeded our expectations because we didn’t really know what to expect. What a tour though. It was just such a good time for all of us.
- On May 24th, 2019 you dropped your new full-length WHAT DEFINES YOU. What’s the message and vision that of Virtue are ultimately getting across with this record, if any?
The message we wanted to spread for this album is that no matter what, the things you’re going through, you are not alone. Whether it be issues going on internally, mentally, physically. Whether you’re dealing with loss, a breakup or not feeling good enough. We’ve all been there and we wanted this album to be something that others can listen to and relate. Of course we enjoy when people like the music, but the platform we have to talk about things that actually matter, even if it’s a small platform, it could help that one person and helping one person is better than helping none at all. We need more positivity in this world and none of us want to bring a negative light into anyone’s world so the easiest way is spread a message that only you can define yourself, no one else can. You have control over who you want to be and we all start at the same place when we’re just DNA and the rest is up to us to create who we want to be, and you get to decide what defines you.
- Let’s explore the lyrical themes behind some of the tracks.
The lyrics range from a break up song, to a song about finding yourself, to a song about suicide and mental health, to a song about how being a bully isn’t tolerated with any of us, especially when someone is trying to change their life around, to a song about losing a loved one, to a song about getting rid of the ones that hold you back and tell you to live a certain way. There’s so much in depth details about the lyrics of these songs that would take forever to talk about but we want you to know that we put our hearts into this album and the lyrics resemble how hard we fought to get this album out to you because at one point, the odds were against Of Virtue and now we can say we released an album that means the world to us.
- Track PICTURES OF YOU. Would love to know more about the experience you had featuring Kalie Wolfe, vocalist for R I V A L S and more about the song itself.
Well at first we weren’t going to have anyone on the record. We had floated around the idea but never any serious talks. Then we heard RIVALS and fell in love with Kalie’s voice. She’s a phenomenal singer and I couldn’t be happier to have her on a track, and I think she was a perfect fit. A bit if back story … I wrote Pictures Of You about my sister passing away. In 1993, my sister Stephanie passed away from complications with pneumonia at age 17. She would be 43 years old today. It breaks my heart so much because I was told that she was the best sister anyone could ask for and it’s been very hard still to this day on my mom and dad. They’re my biggest supporters and I love them so so much. I wanted to do something very nice for them and something that they can look back on and always be reminded of her when they hear the song. No one will ever forget Stephanie Ennis now because this song is out there for everyone to hear. I miss her everyday and I hope anyone else that has lost someone they love, knows that it never gets any easier but it’s ok to mourn and still be sad about losing a loved one. The best way to cope is to keep their memory alive and include them in things. Thank you again Kalie for wanting to be a part of this special song and I really hope everyone enjoys it.
- What song do you consider to be the heaviest, the most melodic and the most experimental on this record?
Heaviest: I Won’t Break – there’s really no singing and the song itself was written about seeing people being bullied for trying to better their own lives. It has a lot of breakdowns and it’s just a heavier style we haven’t explored before so it was awesome seeing it come to fruition.
Melodic: Pictures Of You – Like I said earlier, I wrote this about my sister and I think it’s catchy, emotional but also very melodic. It’s one of my personal favorites on the album because it’s one of the softer ones.
Experimental: Immortal – we took a chance on this one because it’s not something we would have normally done but when we were finishing writing this album, we basically said “you know what, let’s do something different and this song came to fruition”. I remember Damon looking at me in the studio and saying “just trust me”. It turned out awesome we think!
- How long have you been working on What Defines You and what was the typical writing process approached?
Honestly since I started touring with these guys. I remember the first demo they showed me and I was very excited about it. At that point I didn’t think I was going to be the vocalist of this band. Funny how things work out but I’m glad they worked out the way they did. We demo’d out about 36 songs with this cycle and the first cycle was 8 songs. We had about 44 songs written by the time we went into the studio so we had to buckle down and make some moves because I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is picking 10 songs to fully record and show to the world. Usually how it works is I will write some lyrics and send them to Damon and if he likes them he’ll send me something to go with it, or he’ll send us all a phone memo of a song he’s working on and basically ask our opinion on it if he should continue. It was awesome working with these guys on ‘What Defines You’ because I think all of us created something we are so proud of.
- What makes your album unique and sets it apart from some of your contemporaries in the genre? Describe it in your own way or with a few adjectives.
Emotional, impactful, melodic, catchy, etc. Like I said earlier with the lyrical content, I try and portray a story within the actual meaning behind the song. Like Pictures of You is about my sister passing away but when we were in the studio, we all came to the agreement that writing a more broad song about losing a loved one makes it so much easier to relate for others. I like making a connection with people that listen to our songs. I’m not a very aggressive person and I don’t want to be a gimmick. What you see is what you get. I like writing about experiences and life and I think what sets us apart from other bands in our genre is just being true to ourselves. You might not like what we’re doing or writing about but the thing you can’t take away from us is the passion behind our songs. They all have a deeper meaning to us than what it means to you.
- What were some of the challenges or concerns you faced, if any, when writing and recording What Defines You?
There were a lot of challenges. Comes down to financials, scheduling conflicts and the transition from one vocalist to another. When I joined the band, I never knew this would be the direction we would go because of the bands past albums but when we sat down to demo some songs out, it just wasn’t clicking at first. We had to go back to the drawing board a few times until we got the sound we wanted and took it from there. The recording process was a breeze with Josh Schroeder. He is one of the most talented producers out there (very underrated in my opinion) and helped us create an album we hope people will be spinning for years to come. This album means so much to us and we hope people are enjoying it as much as we are!
- How are you going about the promotion of the record and what anticipations on shows or festivals do you have for us?
We are constantly posting on social media about it and spreading it the word to friends and family in hopes that we can make a connection with people and get some newer fans that way. Nothing beats a face to face convo!
We can’t talk about it right now but we have a few tour announcements up which we are very excited about! A few fun ones were happy to do. No festival announcements currently, but we definitely looking forward to more festivals!
Thank you for your time and all the best with the promotion of your fabulous record. We are keeping Of Virtue on our radar and following up in EU and US. Love and support Of Virtue, always.
Of Virtue – What Defines You tracklisting:
1. No Control
5. Thanks for Nothing
6. Pictures Of You (feat. Kalie Wolfe)
7. I Won’t Break
9. Torn Apart
10. Confide In Me
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