With the Long Island melodic punk band “the Movielife” releasing their latest album Cities in Search of a Heart on the 22nd of September this year, I spoke to vocalist Vinnie Caruana about the new album, their upcoming UK tour dates, Donald Trump and the band’s future plans.
As Cities in Search of a Heart is the first album released since the band’s 2003 album Forty Hour Train Back to Penn, what was the creative process like?
“The creative process was very organic, because it was four very close friends in the room together for about a month sharing ideas [when recording]. Brandon Reilly (the guitarist) and myself wrote the record over the course of a year in Brooklyn, New York, and once we got to recording it we really just holed up for about a month and watched a lot of strange movies when we weren’t creating.”
“We didn’t play these songs out loud with the band until September, which is kinda crazy.”
Do you feel that the band’s approach to creating music has developed since your reunion?
“It’s changed quite a bit. All the demos were made with just some computers and stuff. We didn’t play these songs out loud with the band until September, which is crazy. In the old days we would hash it out and rehearse songs over and over again, and this time we just kinda went in trying to be pros.”
With some tour dates lined up, are you excited to be playing in the UK again?
“I’m very excited […] this might be my 30th time going to England in my life, and I love it. I just feel great when I’m there, and Brandon Reilly feels the exact same way. […] When we go up North I get to watch my football team [Liverpool F.C.] play, which is really special. I do instruct our booking agent to – if possible – have us near Anfield on certain days so that I can go to games – and play some shows of course! […] The first tour we ever did in the UK was obviously a mind-blowing experience for us, and this is gonna feel that way ‘cause we’re going back to playing those size rooms. A lot of the people that come to our shows have been coming since the early 2000s, so we’ve gotten to know each other and we’ve all grown old together. There’s a real connection there, so I’m excited to see everyone.”
“…a large part of this record is coming from [a] place of frustration and uncertainty.”
The song Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel really stands out in this album, what’s the inspiration behind the single?
“It’s written from a place of being in America in 2017, which is a really miserable experience. You know, half of the population wants our president dead, including myself. I think he’s pure evil. I’m in Brooklyn, New York and New York did not vote Donald Trump into office. It was an interesting time to write a record and record lyrics, so it’s really a plea for compassion and mercy. There’s a massive divide in the United States right now. […] I haven’t been able to keep track on what’s going on in England, but I know that the whole Brexit thing is basically based on this kind of sentiment. This kind of new world order that they’re trying to white wash the f****** world again…maybe it’s not directly on the nose, but a large part of this record is coming from that place of frustration and uncertainty.”
“I would encourage everyone just to make music, even if it’s just for a hobby or to take over the world.”
It’s clear that Vinnie is a professional at this stage in his career, do you have any advice for aspiring musicians at the University of Nottingham?
“Make electronic music. It seems to be really popular right now… No, that’s not true… Make electronic music if you want to. Regardless of the genre, make a statement and make it important- or don’t, and make it fun. Just make it something that can change someone’s life and change someone’s mood or change someone’s day. Being a musician for a living is not an easy thing to do, so for anyone who can do it, enjoy it, because life is short. It’s my motto. It’s my credo as a musician. I’ve been doing this since 1997 and the reason I do it is not to be a rich rock star. The reason I do it is that it’s what makes me complete. I would encourage everyone just to make music, even if it’s just for a hobby or to take over the world. Just do it in the name of righteousness and name of fun.”
Is there a particular song that you wish you had written?
“I have this song that I listen to like ten times a day [by] a band called Ween. They’re this really strange, psychedelic, alternative, jammy kind of band and they have a song called “Ocean Man”. A lot of their songs are somewhat dark and strange, [but] this song is like a ray of light. […] every time it’s on, I just do a little dance and it makes me feel good. I definitely wish I’d written Ocean Man. Apparently my niece and nephew knew the song, […] they said that it was in the SpongeBob movie, and it was! I looked into it, and one of the weirder, more psychedelic records to come out in the 1990s has this one song that’s not weird and it’s in the SpongeBob movie!”
Before I let Vinnie go do his “pre-tour laundry”, I ask if the band has any set future plans on the horizon.
“The plan is to go to the UK; then we’re coming home and doing some holiday shows, which is kind of this US tradition. The next thing we’re doing is going to Japan in April, so we’re taking the winter off and we’re gonna do a lot of writing to get a head start on another record while we still have time to do that. We have another US tour in the spring. I have a feeling that we’ll probably hit the road next fall, but all the while we’ll be writing another record and I think we’ll probably record it next winter.”
Although the Movielife won’t be gracing any Nottingham venues during their UK tour this month, Vinnie seems eager to have the band playing near UoN next time around. In the meantime, I highly recommend listening to their album Cities in Search of a Heart the next time the state of the world is bringing you down, and you need a melodic punk pick-me-up.