Interview: Vandoliers

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Alt-country outfit Vandoliers blend Texas two-stepping country rock with touches of Tejano and mariachi—and throw a little rowdy punk rock in for added flavor. “The punk is my fault,” laughs frontman Joshua “Fireball” Fleming. “I was in a punk band for a long time. When you’re in a three-piece band, it can get a little volatile, especially when you’re playing volatile music. After our last tour, things weren’t going right, it felt like an eight year-long wild goose chase, it was getting too hard. Being in a band is hard enough in itself, and if you’re not having fun, why do it? I’m a songwriter, and no matter what I write it always comes across punk-y, it’s just who I am.”

Fleming got inspired by hearing Marty Stuart’s fiery mandolin picking, grabbed an old acoustic guitar, and started writing. “By the weekend, I had 20 songs,” he says, and then began to enlist friends to help him bring the music to life. “I had friends who wanted to come play with me, and it sounded pretty badass,” he laughs. “We decided to play a show, and people came to see us, and the crowds got bigger and bigger. It’s all been very random and very organic, like a happy accident.”

After they tracked songs for an album, The Vandoliers decided it was time to climb the proverbial mountain, and go on tour. “I quit the punk band, and put all my efforts into the Vandoliers,” recalls Fleming. “There were six guys with the same motivation and the same passion, and that’s something I’d never had. It’s hard to come by.”

“I didn’t try to make a country band, I just wanted to write honest songs; ‘Joy Ride’ is about my wife and me on a motorcycle, ‘Simon Says’ is based on problems I hear about regarding spousal abuse and domestic violence. ‘Blaze Of Glory’ is a balls-out rock song talking about traveling through the night, ‘Springwater Supper Club’ is about dropping acid and driving to Nashville from Chappell Hill,” Fleming explains. “All these things happened, it’s all about memories. I’m not deep, I’m not mysterious, I just write what I know. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

The band’s debut album, Ameri-Kinda is set for release on October 21st via State Fair Records, and Fleming says their second record is already in the can. “We’re a good-timing, let’s have some fun, melodic kind of band. The punk roots came out because I don’t like slow music. It definitely doesn’t sound like anything else out there,” Fleming says with a laugh. “We’re not a red dirt band, we’re an Ameri-kinda band.”

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Susan Hubbard

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