From Indian Lakes
words by liz watts | photos by Emma Watts
Joey Vannucchi • OKC, OK • 5.13.2017
Joey houses the beautiful mind that creates the music for From Indian Lakes, his project that essentially started with a more post-hardcore sound and has softened throughout the years, leading to the most recent record Everything Feels Better Now- an indie-rock dream. When we met before the show, I could tell from the git-go that Joey had a gentle yet driven soul and I couldn't help but note how he spoke so honestly and eloquently. I guess I should've expected that, though. Just listen to a few tracks and read the interview below- you'll get it.
He is currently on tour alongside Queen Of Jeans (who radiate girl-freakin-power) as a supporting act for Balance + Composure, yet the entire sea of people seemed to have been there just for From Indian Lakes. Maybe it was the venue with its too low ceiling and too bright lights over the crowd that never dimmed, but I felt a noteable closeness and connection with the people around me- and it wasn't just because I was directly behind the drunk fan-boy who fist pumped during the entire set. There was a certain energy created as soon as he started that I couldn't quite grasp. I do know though, that I wouldn't mind if it lasted a little bit longer.
When working on a new album, how do you make the songs complement each other while still holding power as individual tracks?
I think you should just write a song and not worry. I’ve seen bands and artists that are like “Writing and working on the new record!” and they know what it’s called and what it’s gonna be about and I have no idea how that works because I’m a song per song type of person- whether it takes a year or month to write the songs that you end up seeing on an album. It’s kinda like “Oh, I think this is an album.” I think naturally, based on what you’re flowing with, they kind of tend to have the same vibe. Personally, I just try to not write the same song twice. I think I answered your question somewhere in there!
In your writing process- you say you kinda go with the flow- do you spend a lot of time on each track then come back to it and change things, or do you believe that once you initially complete it then a song is as good as it’s gonna get?
There are a couple tracks on this past album that are essentially the same as the way I demoed them but there’s always one or two songs on the record that I’m not satisfied with and I tweak them forever. There’s even songs that end up on an album that I wrote an album before and I come back with a fresh intake. You can write a song and demo it and its shaped in your mind but you still don’t think it’s necessarily a good song and you can’t work on it from an outsiders perspective and change what you don’t like about it. It’s sort of like if you heard a pop song on the radio and it was catchy and stuck in your brain, it’d be like trying to change one of those songs when you couldn’t really get away from what the song originally was. But, if you took a song and came back a year later and you knew all the lyrics and chord progressions and key but you just like totally started over differently. I’ve even done that before and still hated whatever new version I made and had to just keep throwing it away.
Do you just have an archive of songs that never made it onto EP’s or records?
Yes! This guy (tour manager) has heard hundreds of them.
What do you do with them? Does the creative process not feel “complete” if they just sit there unheard?
No. I mean, I do feel a little weird having so much stuff. A lot of it is really good and I just don’t feel like it is right based on the industry’s sort of boxes that they put artists in. So, there’s a lot of stuff on hard drives just sitting here that I think is like my best work and that I don’t know necessarily what to do with. There’s a feeling of like “Oh, what if I’m in my thirties at some point and I think about these songs I wrote when I was like young and now they’re outdated but at the time they could’ve been really cool.” I do think about that every once in a while. It’s kind of a depressing thought.
I like how you said “the industry puts artists in boxes.” Do you ever feel like that over powers your own creativity?
I think the industry is a big reason why a lot of artists can be sort of handicapped. Some of my favorite- absolute favorite- albums of all time, no one ever heard and no one even knows who the band is. I was always like “Wow this is so lame!” but I know now after touring and being on a label and having agents and PR, that you know exactly why they weren’t heard. It's all total bull shit. It’s stuff that's so stupid and makes you feel like…I don’t know. Weird. I know really massive artists that feel like that about From Indian Lakes. They’re like “Oh you guys need to be heard. You’re so small and I want you to be popular.” I’m just like “Well, we can’t all.”
Do you feel like it’s more important for you to do what you want the way you want over being popular?
That’s the point, yeah. I think people don’t realize that for some artists, there’s paths. Some labels have offered a ton of money but the sacrifices... I don’t believe in a sacrifice being on the art side of things. Most artists I’ve ever met, which is hard to believe I know, don’t do things this way. A lot of people are like “Oh man, you’re two or three albums in, why aren’t you more popular?” in a lot of ways. There is a certain point in your career when you have to decide like how big of a crowd in each city is okay with you to make the kinda music you wanna make and it's definitely interesting. I’ve never had to deal with like managers and labels coming into recording sessions and asking me what the hook is- all the stuff that everyone else I know that kinda shoots past us has to deal with. And they’re like “Yeah, it’s just part of the business.” But it’s not really…unless you really need money.
Are you constantly feeling the need to create or do you kind of go through waves where you’re more or less inspired?
I do go off and on. I really, really, don’t like to force it and I think that’s how people make stale art. Before this album, I told everyone I kinda didn’t wanna tour and that I didn’t know if I could make more rock music, ever. And then six months later I was in a position to let out creativity and it sorta just flowed. I wrote this last album and it was really cool to feel fresh going into that and not being held back by old habitual things. The album does feel really different.
Do you think writing this album was different than past records because it coincided with whatever sort of place you’re in?
Like my spirit?
I mean, I guess yes. I think it’s really funny because people are saying they miss the old angsty stuff and I think that like all the new songs are so much sadder than previous ones- which is strange because I’m not saying like “I’m soooo sad.” It’s more about painting a picture of a scene that evokes really sad emotions. I’m like the least sad I’ve been in life, but nostalgia can give you power as you age. I don’t really know what it is.