It’s fare to say that music has an amazing amount of influence on the conscious of our society; most of all though, it can make you feel part of something, which for me is one of the most incredibly exciting things about it. Lately, I’ve been listening to lots and lots of new music from essentially undiscovered artists. There is a lot of crap out there fused with a strong dose of delusion and irrational ambition to wade through and after the ear ache of 300 tracks I had discovered no buried treasure.
About to stop digging, I found myself listening to a record called ‘If You Wanna’ by a band called The Vagabond Union. For the first time in ages I felt a deep sense of connection to a record that I had not felt since I was in my teenage years. I listed to the track over and over again thinking to myself, and pardon my French, ‘this is f**king outstanding’. Wondering why this band had not been snapped up by a record company quicker than Jack Sparrow could say ‘pirate’, the answer remained elusive.
JUST CHECK THIS OUT!!! IT’S UNMISSABLE!!!!!
I was compelled to get involved with the The Vagabond Union in some way and immediately contacted them to request an interview and permission to post about them. I was completely honored by incredibly talented Dave Hedemans humble down to earth approach to me and requests for an interview were. We then carried out the following interview… X had marked the spot…
So… who are the Vagabond Union? The Vagabond Union is made up of Dave Hedeman (Guitar/Vocals), John Kenney (Guitar/Vocals), Dave Cannon (Drums/Percussion) and Dillon Partin (Bass).
I have to say, I really enjoyed the track ‘If you Wanna’, what inspired you to write it and what’s it all about?
Essentially the song is about coming to terms with oneself and accepting oneself despite what others think. It’s about being comfortable in ones own skin, which to me is something everyone struggles with… or at least I do. At the time, I was noticing a lot of noise, judgment, and criticism getting spewed out into the world from every direction. Between the talking heads on TV, and the know nothings engaging in the social media conversation, passing judgment has become America’s new favorite past time. How to live, how to be, who’s right what’s wrong… it gets pretty exhausting. So the song is kind of a big “Fuck You” to that cultural mindset. People are far more complex and each individual experience is completely different. So I think on some level it was my response to that.
So has it been your most popular track so far?
I’m not really sure to be honest. I know “If you Wanna” is one of our favorites to play because of it has more of a rock edge to it. “Blue Shoes” and “Drive” are getting some solid response too. But I think “Not Coming Back” has had the biggest effect on people. It’s a super personal song about the loss of my father and the last conversation we ever had. I think on the surface it comes across as another soft ballad, but once people put it into context it takes on a whole new meaning. Either way it turned out better than we ever imagined it could…we are all pretty proud of that one.
How long have you guys been together and how did you come to know one another?
This band has been together for a little over 3 years now, but John (Kenney) and I have known each other for about 20 years. We lived together briefly while we were in college and bonded immediately through music. At the time I was in my former band and already touring and John was looking to join a band while also spending a lot of time overseas. In 2000 my band broke up and I walked away from playing music and moved back to WashingtonDC. At that same time John returned to DC, from Australia, to starting touring with his former band until about 2006 or 2007. It was in that band where John met our drummer Dave Cannon.
In 2010 John and I reconnected. John had moved to Charleston, SC and had been working on some songs that are actually on the record now. I had recently moved to Carrboro, NC and had begun to write music again myself. We live about 5 hours apart from each other, so initially we thought it would be difficult to get something going. About 2 weeks later we said “fuck it” and met in a motel room halfway between where we live to write some songs together and see if we could make it work. (Hence “The Motel Sessions.”) The weekend went well, so a few months later we were in the studio making a record.
While we were recording we brought Dave (Cannon) in to play drums and we asked him to be in the band immediately. About a year later we picked up Dillon (Partin) as our bass player after he responded to an ad I placed. Dillon messaged me saying “I’m your bass player”… and after we heard him play, that was that.
I love the name ‘The Vagabond Union’, how did you come up with it?
We liked the idea of a band made up of guys who had been around the block a few times. It’s in our nature to travel so we thought Vagabond was a good description of ourselves. The Union portion has two meanings. The first is the obvious union of four good friends. The second meaning is a little nod to where John and I grew up around WashingtonDC. We both live in southern cities now and love the southern culture and the style music, but we are both Northerners by birth, therefore part of the “Union”. It’s a bit of civil war humor. Finally we added the “The” every great band has a “The” before the name. Hence – The Vagabond Union.
Who are your musical influences and how have they inspired your music?
Man, there are too many to count. I think on some level we all came up as Rock & Roll kids. If you were to ask all of us you’d get four completely different answers. Everything from Metal to Punk to Folk music and everything in between. I’d say some of the current artists that inspire us are bands like Son Volt, The Drive-By Truckers, Social Distortion, My Morning Jacket and Dawes to name a few. But that doesn’t even really scratch the surface. I think at the end of the day for us it’s all about the songwriting. We are inspired by bands that not only have a great sound but also know how to lyrically craft an honest and beautiful story. That’s where it’s at for us. It’s not about guitar solos and showing off, it’s about writing a song that makes people feel something.
What has been your most memorable moment so far as a band?
We’re such a new band, so essentially we are starting over from the ground up. But recently we were included in this really cool festival in Charleston, SC called the Spring Jam Music Fest. It was a really great line-up with artists like the Mowgli’s, Family of the Year and Ed Sheeran. I think we were one of the only unsigned bands on the bill, so it was amazing just to be included, especially since it was only about our 10th show we played as a full band. We met some really great people and everyone was very complimentary.
What do you hope the future holds for TVU and where would you like your music to go?
Currently, we are focusing our efforts into putting out our next record sometime before the year-end. We have a lot of new material that we are excited to record. Once that’s out we’ll shift focus back playing more shows. If all goes well we’ll continue that pattern.I think the goal for this band is to keep it going as long as we can. We made a decision when we started this band to not really worry about what comes next. We’re not trying to prove anything. We are doing this because we all love making music and crave that connection we make with each other and the listener. If we gain any success or recognition along the way, that would be awesome, but it’s so far down on the list for us. We’ve been doing this long enough to know how lucky we are to be able to share our music with anyone and are grateful that people like it. All we want is to put out a great record or step out on the stage and leave people going “where the fuck did these guys come from?” Doesn’t matter if its 3 people or 3,000 people. We’re good either way.
I would highly recommend checking out The Vagabond Union. My Favourite track as you have probably worked out by now is If you Wanna.
Also the official Vagabond Union website at; http://thevagabondunion.com/
Like them on facebook at; https://www.facebook.com/TheVagabondUnion
Or on twitter if you prefer;
Also check out their Reverb Nation page; http://www.reverbnation.com/TheVagabon