Deas Vail is an
American band from Russelville in Arkansas. Formed in 2003 and composed
of Wes Blaylock (Vocals, Keys), Laura Blaylock (Keys, Synth), Kelsey
Harelson (Drums), Andrew Moore (Guitar) and Justin Froning (Bass).
After a couple of years of touring, the band, noted for having musical
similarities to Death Cab for Cutie, Mew and Muse signed to Brave New
World Records in 2005, label of producer Mark Lee Townsend.
In late 2006, the band entered the studio to finish their first indie
label LP "All the Houses Look the Same". The album was nationally
released on March 6th, 2007. Deas Vail is currently on tour across the
East Coast of the United States.
Interview with Andy, guitarist of Deas Vail:
S: When and how was Deas Vail
The band started out in 2004 playing Wes's original music as well as
some songs the band had written. Since then, we have developed a style
of our own that is created by the collective members. The founding
members of the band as well as some new members went to college
together in Russellville, Arkansas and knew each other prior to the
forming of the band.
is the name of the band coming from?
“DEAS VAIL” is a mixture of Latin and Old French.
“DEAS” is a phonetically spelled form of the Latin
“deus,” meaning God. “VAIL” is
an old form of French meaning 'humble servant' or 'to humbly serve.'
However, you may know the meaning of it better than we Americans do.
S: How and when did all begin
with music ?
Most members of the band have been involved in music throughout their
lives. Wes comes from a family of musicians who are involved in more
traditional folk music as well as having formal vocal training in
college. Laura Beth has been trained in classical piano and vocal
performance from a young age. Kelsey has played concert percussion
since elementary school and started playing drum set in college. Andy
was in band as a teenager and started playing guitar at the age of 16
as well as having vocal training and choir experience in high school
and college. Justin has played guitar, vocals, drums and bass in
different groups since he was a teenager.
So, we've all got a bit of musical
history individually as well as having developed a chemistry together
since the band formed over 4 years ago.
are the positive and negative sides of being a musician in the USA?
The positive side of music in America is the variety of music, venues
and audiences available. The internet (not exclusively American) has
changed the business of music drastically over the past few years and
has given us greater reach. We can have listeners in France, Australia
and the US all in a matter of seconds, which is exciting. Also, we are
able to contact fans personally and they can contact us, thanks to
Myspace and Purevolume.
The negative side of music in America is
the amount of music that is available to listeners. There is such an
abundance of artists for listeners to appreciate, it is a challenge to
make our music stand out from the rest. However, I believe that our
music is unique and original and that it is universal enough that a
broad audience can appreciate it.
S: Do you feel anxious before a
Sometimes I do feel nervous before a show. Typically, I won't be
nervous at a show, but if I have friends or family present, I am prone
to be anxious. Also, if any music industry people are in the audience,
I feel nervous because I feel it is all the more important for those
people to enjoy the show because of the opportunities that they might
offer. Typically, however, I feel confident before a show and I feel
that makes the show more enjoyable for the audience.
S: What musicians or artists had
an influence in your life and in your work?
artists that influence me are continually changing, but the primary
musicians are U2, Radiohead, Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, Beck, Mew, Muse,
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, Death Cab for Cutie, and Wilco. If
you asked me again in a month, that list would probably change some,
but these are all influences in my personal musical style as well as
the band's style.
S: Do you remember what was the
first CD you bought ?
Oh, man. That's emberassing. My first CD ever was
“Gravity” by Kenny G. I was 11 or 12 years old and
CD's were kind of a luxury at the time since tapes were still highly
used. I was about to start Junior High School and was planning to play
saxophone in band, so my parents thought a Kenny G CD would be
inspiring. I can't say that it ever inspired me in a good way.
S: Do you think the emotion is
different between a song in English and in a different language?
I think it all depends on the singer. If the language speaks to them, I
think it will be an emotional delivery and the listener will appreciate
the emotion in the presentation of the music. As an instrumentalist in
the band, my main focus is creating a feeling through the
instrumentation (guitars, keys, drums, and bass) so my goal is to
translate an emotion to the listener through the language of music.
That being said, I hope the emotion is appreciated equally despite the
language of the lyrics.
S: How could you define the
music of Deas Vail?
Deas Vail's music is melodic rock with energetic beats and memorable
S: Do you agree with
Victor Hugo who said : "Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad" ?
I recently read that quote and thought it was insightful. I agree that
there is some comfort in sadness. My theory is that sadness is a strong
emotion and subconsciously, a person feels more alive when they
experience strong emotions. However, it can be abused and melancholy
can be tempting to embrace in an unhealthy amount. I feel that it is
good to be melancholy in moderation, to be comforted in sadness, but to
embrace sadness and find pleasure in it is self-indulgent. There is so
much joy to be experienced, it would be a shame to trade that joy for
S: When you write a song you
follow your heart, your brain or your hand ?
It has to touch the heart. If the brain and the hand are doing amazing
things, but the heart is not moved, the music is in vain. I think the
heart guides the brain and hands to create what is beautiful. For the
greatest ability, the hands have to be trained and the mind must be
sharp, but the heart is the ultimate guide in any task that is worth
S: What is your favorite song of
Deas Vail and why?
: We are
releasing a 5-song EP called “White Lights” on
August 26th and there are a number of songs that I like from that
release. My favorite song at present is
“Undercover” from the EP because the production on
it is so unique and the song is fun to play at shows. Mark Townsend did
some really great things with string arrangements and background
effects that set the song apart in my mind.
S: As musicians, what are your
feelings about Internet?
It is a great tool and unique opportunity for musicians. It has opened
up a world-wide audience for musicians to influence from which to draw
influences. Although it has many negative effects such as reduced
interpersonal activity in society as a whole, it has proved to be
useful for so many things that I feel it will ultimately be a positive
thing. For the musical community, I believe the accessibility for
listeners will draw quality music to the forefront of the industry.
S: Can you describe what is a
typical Deas Vail's day ?
A typical day for Deas Vail on the road is getting up around 10 am. If
we're lucky, we'll get to eat some breakfast. Then, some of us will do
our best to exercise (run, walk, yoga, etc.) and shower up. We'll try
to be on the road by noon and head toward the next venue. In
the van, we'll listen to music, sleep, read, watch a movie, check
emails or talk to each other. We also make a stop or two to gas up the
van, eat lunch, use the restroom and sometimes play frisbee. Once we
get to the venue, we'll load in our merchandise and instruments and
start setting up for the show. If we're headlining the show, we like to
set up our stuff at the back of the stage and the other bands will set
up in front. If we're not headlining, then we'll just get our amps,
keys and drums set up on the side of the stage.
Next, we'll go grab some dinner if we have time and just relax a bit.
Once the show starts, we typically hang out in the venue at the merch
table or in the audience. Depending on the band, we'll stay for the
bands before and after us to listen to their music and support them.
Right before we play our set, all five of us will gather and discuss
the set list and see how everyone is doing. We always pray before a
show in order to focus our minds and hearts and praying together unites
our purpose, no matter what has happened during the day.
After the show, we stick around and hang out with people who came out
to the show. Once most everyone has left, we will pack up all of our
gear in the trailer, then head to wherever we're going to sleep for the
night. Usually we'll get to bed around 1 or 2 am, so we like to sleep
as long as possible to start the whole thing over again the next day.
S: What are your hobbies aside
As a band, we like to play frisbee. Ultimate frisbee, like soccer or
rugby with a disc, is one of our favorite pastimes thanks to the
influence of Justin, our bass player. When he joined, he taught us all
how to play and it has been our favorite hobby.
Also, a lot of us enjoy rock climbing.
Wes, Laura, and Justin are all proficient climbers, and I (Andy) enjoy
it, but am no expert. Kelsey hasn't really shown a ton of interest in
it. He's more of a fisherman and enjoys spending time on the lake in
his fishing boat.
S: Are you venturesome persons?
: Yes. I
think when I first joined the band, I wasn't so much of an
adventurer, but facing the challenges of touring the country
has given the entire band more of a venturesome attitude. And in the
ever-changing music industry, it's almost a requirement for success to
be adventurous .
S: Where would you like to play
in the future, is there a place in the world you would love to visit ?
We would like to play in Europe and play France, Great Britain,
Germany, and as many European nations as possible. New Zealand is on
our list as well. We have friends there that have invited us to play,
so we are working toward that as well. An ideal world tour would be
from the US to Hawaii, to Japan, then New Zealand, Australia, the
Mediterranean, Europe, maybe a stop in Iceland, then back to the US. Of
course, that may take some time to accomplish!
all the shorelines look the same ?
Ha ha! The shorelines actually are calling the sea (sometimes even long
distance), but they have different personalities and unique physical
attributes. However, the houses built on the shorelines do all have
striking resemblances to one another.
S: Are there any things, which
you are afraid of? Do you have any fears?
Wes and I were talking about this the other day. I have strange fears,
such as: ice-driving, tornadoes and snakes.
S: What is the best moment and
best place to listen to your music ?
Somewhere that's comfortable, quiet, and surrounded by friends.
our website is dedicated to Manic Street Preachers maybe can you say
some words about them, if you know them ?
My ignorance will be obvious here, but I've looked up Manic Street
Preachers since you told me about them. I like their use of vocal
harmonies and guitar-driven songs. Also, they have a strong stance on
workers rights and speaking up for the common man, which is both noble
and inspiring. Thanks to you, I think I'm becoming a fan of the Manics.
know it’s a difficult question, but if you would have to keep
just one album from your CD collection what album would it be?
A few months ago, I would have said “Pet Sounds” by
the Beach Boys. However, that slot has been filled surprisingly by
Radiohead. To me, their newest album “In Rainbows”
is the album where they've most fully expressed themselves artistically
both in production and songwriting. It's a beautiful album that's fully
cohesive, dynamic, classically informed, and forward thinking. I know
that may be a silly choice, since it's not even a year old, but I
haven't been affected by an album like “In
Rainbows” in a long time.
S: What was the last song you
listened to before the interview? And, if you know, which one will be
“Don't You (forget about me)” by Simple Minds. I
think the next song I listen to will be “Cath...”
by Death Cab for Cutie, but that's a guess.
S: Can you tell me the name of
one French song, or singer, or band?
: Clair de
Lune is French, right?
S: And say something in French?
S: What are your plans for the
I'm going to play ultimate frisbee with some guys from the band in a
S: And finally, what’s
the most important thing in life for you?
: That's a
big one, right? The most important thing in my life is my relationship
with Jesus Christ. I spend much of my time and energy
pursuing closeness with Him.
S: Thank you very much Andy for the interview
: Thank you for the interview, Sam. It's been a pleasure! All the best to
you and your readers.
MANY thanks to Andy and Deas Vail for the interview!
More informations about Deas Vail:
- on their site:
- on their Myspace: