Back in June, I was graced with the opportunity to interview The Movielife frontman Vinnie Caruana to preview an upcoming headlining show supporting the Idobi Meltdown Festival, scheduled to take place at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville. Curated by The Movielife themselves, Idobi Meltdown was a weekend-long festival that was set to feature a stellar lineup of seminal and rising acts including New Brunswick’s emotive hardcore heroes Lifetime, as well as The Menzingers, Balance And Composure, and Laura Stevenson, among many others. For those who had the chance to read my feature about The Movielife last summer, both Caruana and I talked in great detail about the festival, as well The Movielife’s plans for the rest of 2015.
Unfortunately, the Idobi Meltdown Festival was canceled a few days before the shows were set to take place. While I was extremely bummed that the festival was canceled entirely on such short notice, The Movielife made their return to New Jersey at the end of the year, and shared the stage with The Starting Line for their annual holiday show.
After a successful comeback year in 2015, it definitely appears that The Movielife train isn’t slowing down any time soon. After announcing several East Coast dates for the month of March, The Movielife also brought up that they would be breaking out some new material as well. While no specific plans for a potential release have been announced at this time, it’s still exciting to hear that they’re back in the swing of writing again.
About a month before The Movielife was set to play a small run of shows in New York City, Philadelphia and Virginia, Vinnie Caruana and I talked about the band’s plans to premiere this written material. While discussing the writing process and the potential future of these new Movielife songs, Caruana also shed some light on the release of his forthcoming solo record, to be released on Equal Vision Records later this year.
So, it’s been quite a while since we last talked, and it’s safe to say that The Movielife had a great run of shows throughout the rest of 2015. What were some of your personal highlights from the second of half of last year?
The year was filled with the best Movielife shows we’ve ever had in almost every place we’ve played. It’s a really good experience, and it was definitely something that… once we kind of talked about at the end of the year of like, “What do we want to do here?” or, “How did we want to continue doing this?” everybody was really into continuing with Movielife, and not just kind of doing this “year of shows, and then just leaving for another five years” sort of thing (laughs).
And everybody kind of had the same feeling of, “I’m down to play more shows, and I’m down to keep being in The Movielife,” which is cool because everyone had a great year and had fun. We kind of missed that feeling The Movielife gave us. And everyone was unanimously under the opinion that if we were to do this, that we should start writing new music. You know, we’re not the first band to ever think of that (laughs), but it’s definitely a thing where we’re like, “Okay, let’s not go back and do the same exact thing again.”
So, what we’re doing this year is to work on some new music, and we’re definitely going to play some new music. We’re not sure how much new music yet—we’re going to see what is ready to go by the time the shows arrive, but the new music is awesome!
Coming up, you have a few East Coast dates where you will be debuting some new material with The Movielife. Tell me, what was the inspiration behind wanting to write new music with the band in 2016?
Me and [guitarist] Brandon Riley have quietly jammed a bunch last year. We didn’t discuss it with the public, and to be honest we didn’t really discuss it with anyone else in the band because it wasn’t anything yet, so we really kept it quiet.
We basically were writing and thinking of it as, “It’s just Vinnie and Brandon writing music and let’s not call it The Movielife yet,” you know? Like, “Let’s just do that just in case and be ahead of the game in case we decide to do this.”
But the songs that we ended up working on are actually songs that are newer than the stuff that we [Brandon and I] were working on last year. So, the stuff that we were working on last year kind of took the backseat for some of the other stuff that we liked a lot more.
What was the writing process like for these new tracks? How did it feel to get back in the groove and brainstorm ideas for these new Movielife songs?
It’s the best feeling we’ve ever felt in a long time. It feels great to me. It feels right, and it’s kind of scary too because I know that there’s going to be heavy judgment on like, “Okay, I am going to press play… this is the new Movielife song” (laughs).
Me and Brandon are very capable songwriters, and we have a really good dynamic together. So, when we wrote the music I was like, “Okay, the music is good. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about the music—we’re all good to go.” And when it came down to write the lyrics, I felt a little bit of pressure, but then things kind of just started flowing, and I started putting some of the pressure off of myself.
I was just like, “Alright, don’t think about anything. Just make a good song here.” Do you know what I mean? So, that’s something that I kind of learned really early on in the process.
We’re going to call it [the new material] The Movielife, and either people are going to like it or they’re not (laughs). There’s nothing you can do about it but write the best songs that you can do, you know what I mean?
Yeah, I totally agree! Do you have any plans for a possible release in the future? Or is it too early to say at this time?
I mean, I think it’s very, very logical to think, and to expect, the songs to be recorded one day, but there’s nothing set in stone for that at the moment. But these songs sound really good for us.
You know, premiering new music in a “live setting” isn’t ideal in my opinion, because you don’t hear it exactly the way you want people to hear it, and it’s not in the comfort of their own home, or they’re actually listening to every nuance of the song. But, if we keep writing music that we really love, then I’ll definitely want to get into the studio and record it, so people can actually hear it.
Sounds cool. That would be very awesome!
Yeah, I mean, that’s my hope. The Movielife isn’t going to just keep playing shows forever. Like, I think The Movielife has some longevity to it, but what’s not going to happen is we’re just going to go year in, year out, playing the same songs.
So, if there is longevity in The Movielife, then that’s going to depend on us recording new music. That’s yet to be decided, but we’ll figure that out.
Definitely. We have a whole year left and there is a lot of time to think it over, so only time will tell.
Yeah, we will see what happens, but I’d love for people to hear these songs—they sound great so far. We still got a ton of work to do. But you know, I’m going to be pretty busy this year touring on my solo record.
I would like to periodically write with Brandon and just keep doing what we’re doing. Even if nothing ever happens with the songs, I’m still happy to sit in a room and make the music with Brandon because he’s definitely a partner in crime. Me and him do well together, and I like hanging out with that dude.
Nice. Now, along with giggin’ for The Movielife, you also have plans to release your debut solo record on Equal Vision Records this year. How’d the opportunity come about to work with the label?
Yeah, in 2013, I did a lot of solo shows, and I put out an EP that was out on I Surrender and Run For Cover Records, and I loved doing that. It’s actually something that is a really awesome thing for me to do, and I always wanted to go back to it, but we got really busy.
With I Am The Avalanche, we wrote a record [Wolverines] and recorded it, and toured on it; and you know, 2015 was kind of “The Movielife’s year.” So last year, throughout all The Movielife shows, it was cool because we played a lot of shows, but not so many that I wouldn’t be able to be home writing. So, I knew 2015 was going to be a great year for big shows with The Movielife, and on my downtime, which was plenty of time, I can get this record together.
I demoed two songs without really talking to any labels, and I recorded the two songs with [I Am The Avalanche drummer] Brett “The Ratt” Romnes in the studio [The Barber Shop Studios] that we did the record in. And I went to Equal Vision Records first with the music, with two songs.
I have a really long-standing relationship with Equal Vision. They tried to sign The Movielife in like, 1999, and we signed to Revelation Records instead. I sent them [the two demo songs] to the same exact guy who tried to sign The Movielife in 1999, who is now running the label. I said, “You’re the first guy to hear these songs. Let me know what you think.” He came back and said, “I want to do a record,” and that was that.
Interesting. It’s really cool how things work in full circle like that. There’s no doubt that you have another eventful year ahead filled with exciting shows and new tunes on the way. What are some other plans that you have lined up for all of your musical endeavors in 2016?
I am going to do a headlining tour when my record comes out. The release date is undecided, but it’s definitely going to be like, late spring. I am going to do a tour in support for the record in the U.S. and I am going to do some stuff in the UK and in Europe as well. Then most likely in the fall, I’ll be doing a full… like a more comprehensive tour in the United States. Like, more dates and hopefully teaming up with some other groups and acts and some performers, and stuff like that.
There will be Movielife shows sprinkled throughout, and hopefully me and Brandon, in between my touring and all that stuff, we can keep getting together and write Movielife jams because it’s going really well right now. I’d like to kind of see that through and see what these songs turn into.
The Movielife will be playing in the Grand Ballroom at Webster Hall in Manhattan with Crime In Stereo, Incendiary and Aviator on March 24, and at The Fillmore in Philadelphia with The Early November on March 25. Vinnie Caruana’s forthcoming solo record, Survivor’s Guilt, will be released on May 27 through Equal Vision Records. For more information, go to themovielife.nyc.