At a time when albums like Lifetime’s Jersey’s Best Dancers, Jawbreaker’s Dear You and Saves The Days’ Through Being Cool were on a constant loop for many bus-rides to school and introspective afternoons spent staring out of my bedroom window watching the sun set, Long Island pop punk veterans The Movielife were a pinnacle group that had a huge impact on my musical upbringing in my teenage years. Ironically enough, I was listening to frontman Vinnie Caruana’s post-Movielife project, I Am The Avalanche, years before I even knew who The Movielife was. However, by the time I made the connection between both bands when I first heard iconic Movielife hits like “Walking On Glass,” “Hand Grenade” and “This Time Next Year,” needless to say, my jaw dropped.
While I was too young to catch The Movielife in their prime and also missed out on the opportunity to catch both their reunion sets at Bamboozle 2011, as well as their “last show” at the Best Buy Theater with supporting acts Brand New and Crime In Stereo later that year, The Movielife have returned from beyond the grave once again, announcing a small run of dates earlier this year. Since their comeback, the band was graced with the opportunity to play in front of an overwhelming number of devoted fans in New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Pretty soon, The Movielife will curate the Idobi Meltdown Festival at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, which will feature co-headlining support from New Brunswick-based melodic hardcore forefathers Lifetime, as well as opening support from The Menzingers, Balance And Composure and Timeshares, among many others. [Note: The Idobi Meltdown Festival has just been postponed.] Prior to the fest, I had the honor and privilege of speaking with Movielife ringleader and frontman, Vinnie Caruana, and discussed The Movielife’s return, organizing the Idobi Meltdown Festival, the identical parallels between New Jersey and Long Island’s established underground music scenes, as well as the current state of I Am The Avalanche.
You have been killing it with all of these reunion shows from the past few months. What would you say was the one thing you genuinely loved the most about playing again with The Movielife?
I think what I like the most is how happy people are. Looking out at the crowd when we’ve been playing is pretty awesome. It’s really heartwarming—everyone is smiling, everyone is there with their homies and everyone either there with their best friends or friends that they have made since seeing The Movielife, and it just feels like one big reunion. You know, we’re not the only people reuniting, and that’s really special. I mean, I get a lot of joy out of that.
There is no doubt that there were a lot of people who were very, very excited to see The Movielife again the second you announced those first reunion shows in New York City. At first, was it going to be a one-time thing, where you were going to play a few dates? Or were there a lot of extra dates planned out for the course of the year from the very beginning?
We knew the plan was going to just be a band. You know, the plan wasn’t just to play a few reunion shows, but you know, plans don’t always go that way. So we added shows here and there as we went. Shows nowadays need to be confirmed way earlier than it used to be when we were a band. I remember it was like, two or three months, and now it’s like six or seven months, it’s crazy.
But no, our plan all along was to try to be a band, and play shows when we can, and you know, not make any announcements like, “This is it,” or, “This is the end.” Because, you know, we’ve been doing that before, and we know it’s not the end. We didn’t know, but we found out quickly because this is something that we keep revisiting. Everyone’s lives and routines will dictate exactly what we can accomplish, but right now, we’re just having a good time playing shows. People are really stoked like you said, and yeah, we couldn’t be luckier.
You know, I was very surprised that you guys didn’t play the Skate And Surf Festival. Did you get the offer to play this year?
We did get an offer for Skate And Surf, but we turned it down. It’s not something we’re ruling out for the future, but this time around we chose to pass, and we chose to play at Starland Ballroom instead, where we’ll get to play a nice, long set, and it won’t be in a parking lot.
How did the idea come about the curate and put together the Idobi Meltdown Fest shows at the Starland Ballroom?
Starland came to us originally with an offer just for a Movielife show, and someone at Starland must have been talking to someone at Idobi because Idobi came in with an offer to basically pick some bands, and kind of put on the show as a two-day thing, so we were interested in that.
We had a lot of ideas on who should play… we came up with a lot of bands, and it was clear at the end Idobi wanted it to be more of a punk kind of thing, so we ended up choosing the bands that kind of fit that mold in a very broad way.
But the number one thing was to get Lifetime to play the other day. Lifetime has been chiming in with bands that should play their day, and The Menzingers were also on our list, so that was a total no-brainer. Lifetime was very opinionated on who should be playing their day, and rightly so. So, we kind of let them have at it, and we were sure they would form a nice little day of music, which they have.
For us, Balance And Composure are buddies of mine for a very long time since they were little kids, you know? They were a band that when we locked down, we knew how to round out that bill, and it’s really the same with Make Do And Mend. Those guys are homeboys—I mean, we slept on their floor when we were young. (laughs)
Timeshares we know from playing a few shows, and some of the guys are from Brooklyn, and yeah, it kind just came together in a way where… you know, it wasn’t easy to get everybody that we wanted, just because other people have stuff going on—people are on tours and stuff like that—so I consider what we accomplished as a bill, I think this lineup is pretty great.
I’m like an older guy who doesn’t get excited as much as people who go to shows like every week, so I know if I am stoked on this bill whenever I look at it, I know everyone else is going to be stoked. It’s really something that we are looking forward to. I mean, New Jersey was our home away from home—we always had our best shows as a band in New Jersey, so it’s important that it was a good one, and it looks like it’s going to be.
I can imagine that it is going to be a treat to see and play with your friends in The Menzingers and Balance And Composure again, but what’s it going to be like to co-headline a festival with Lifetime?
I think if you told me that to myself and especially Brandon Reilly, the guitar player of The Movielife, that in 2015, we’d be co-headlining and curating a festival along with Lifetime, we would be shocked, and we would be giddy… and we are still. We’re grown men, but we still have a massive homage for the music that we came up with and that shaped us as punk fans and punk songwriters and stuff.
So, we have a massive respect for Lifetime, we always will and it makes us feel cool. You know, it’s funny, people would be like, “Oh, the young me would be so excited,” but, “You are you! What the fuck are you talking about.” So, I am excited, and I am still excited, and stuff like this will make us feel like we will be good to do some cool stuff.
I know for a fact your current band, I Am The Avalanche, has always had a hugely supportive and devoted following in New Jersey, especially in places like Asbury Park and Atlantic City. Would you say that following originated from when The Movielife played here back in the day?
I think I Am The Avalanche had its head start in New Jersey—I think people were ready to listen to my new band, which is not new anymore (laughs). You know, I think in certain cities where people were going to follow me wherever I went, in those cities, we had a little bit of an easier time, but we still had to work hard, and still had to play a bunch of shows and open for the right bands, and eventually, headline our own shows.
But yeah, I think there are some I Am The Avalanche fans who are Movielife fans as well. Some of I Am The Avalanche’s fans are confused as to why I am doing this or whatever because they’re not really in touch with what I was doing before I Am The Avalanche, which is cool too.
I mean, I am a massive Morrissey fan, but I never listen to The Smiths—I am not into The Smiths at all. By the way, I will go on record and say that I am not comparing myself to Morrissey (laughs).
I totally get what you’re saying. Actually, I first listened to I Am The Avalanche when I was in middle school, and didn’t get into The Movielife until a few years later when I was halfway through high school.
Right. I guess it depends on where you grew up, when you grew up, and how you grew up, and sometimes you found one before the other.
Now, before Idobi Meltdown, you’ll have the opportunity to play a few shows in the UK. What was The Movielife’s relationship with the UK back in the day? Internationally speaking, was that one country in particular outside of the U.S. where you also had a huge following as well?
Definitely. I wouldn’t say it was the first place where we had fans, but when we went to the UK for the first time, we played our biggest headlining show in London that we had ever played anywhere in the world; including New York, including Long Island and New Jersey. The Movielife took off very fast in the UK—magazines got behind it and the English rock magazines were very influential back then, and songs were playing on the radio and stuff like that.
When we went there for the first time, we played in a room that held about 1,000 people in London, and it sold out. So ever since then, it kept getting better and better for us in England.
Full Collapse by Thursday was exploding in the U.S. and they supported The Movielife in the UK while that was happening, so that was who supported us on their first tour. Those were exciting times, you know? Everybody was doing well—everybody was putting out good tunes, and all of our peers and our friends were all making records that are still revered today. It was definitely a productive era.
It’s incredible to see how there are certain bands that do very, very well in different music scenes from the U.S. and around the world. I remember speaking with New Found Glory vocalist Jordan Pundik a few months back and he told me how New Jersey was the first place to be their “home away from home” when they were starting out.
I think Jersey was and still is that way for a lot of bands. I don’t know what it is about New Jersey, but I feel like Long Island and Jersey are very similar in a way where both have really awesome scenes with very good bands coming out of them. We’re both suburbs of New York City, and there’s tons of kids where our parents either moved out of the city or from Brooklyn to Long Island or New Jersey or from Staten Island, or whatever.
There’s a lot of parallels there. I mean, I remember New Found Glory coming very early on in the game, and being like, “Holy shit, there are a few hundred kids here to see this band that I have never heard of.” So I think Long Island and New Jersey are both of those places where people are like, “Yeah, that’s where we felt like a rock star for the first time.” (laughs)
You’re going to be headlining Today’s Mixtape Fest as well this summer. What are you looking forward to the most about playing with The Movielife again on your home turf on Long Island?
Yes! Summer time party is the way I view that. Total party! I know all my friends that I grew up with are definitely going to want to hang out for that. My mom already told me that her and my dad are going to bring some friends. It’s going to be a friends and family vibe, you know? A lot of bands on the bill are also friends, so that’s going to be a joyful occasion. It’s definitely going to be a summertime party—I might have to bring a little barbeque to the place.
Now that The Movielife has been actively playing shows once again, has there been anything new with I Am The Avalanche lately?
Nothing at all. I Am The Avalanche is in a “resting period.” The other thing with me is that I am cyclical and very planned out, and I am sure you have noticed that I Am The Avalanche was never really a full-time band. You know, we don’t put out records every year, so the fact that we put out a record last year and toured on it all year kind of means that this is… kind of now this is time for rest, and do something else this year.
Everything I do, I revisit when the time is right, and that is what is going on with Avalanche now. It’s not dead, it’s not buried—it’s one of those things that’s just on the burner, and it’s simmering, and it’s hanging out there. When something happens with Avalanche, everyone will know about it. It will be that much more fresh and exciting and fun when we revisit it.
With that being said, what does the future have in store for The Movielife when these dates are all said and done?
Some more dates are going to be popping up for sure. We’re always planning more shows, and I am quite sure that we are going to be playing at least a show or two a month for the rest of the year, which is awesome! After that, I’m not sure. I think we will probably ask ourselves that question and see where everyone else’s head’s at what they want to do, what they want to accomplish, and we’ll take it from there.
But, you know, right now we don’t feel any pressure to really do anything except get on stage, be awesome, show people a good time, and bring, like I said before, bring people back together just to kind of relive that feeling, and that’s the best part about it.
I think people get the most excited about the end of the show when we are like, “Hey, we’ll see you guys soon,” and people are like, “Holy shit… maybe I will see you soon.” It’s not one of those things where it’s like, “Alright, now we’re going to go underground for another 10 years,” you know? So right now, the door is open for any new possibilities, and that is exciting for us.
The Movielife will be headlining Day 2 of the Idobi Meltdown Festival at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on June 27 [Note: The Idobi Meltdown Festival has just been postponed] and will also be playing Today’s Mixtape Festival alongside Kill Your Idols, Every Time I Die, Incendiary, Iron Chic and more at The Emporium in Patchogue, NY on Aug. 15 and 16. For more information, go to themovielife.nyc.