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INTERVIEW: MARK VOLLELUNGA of Nothing More – August 2015

| 14 August 2015 | Reply

Out on tour in support of their self-titled album Nothing More, guitarist Mark Vollelunga was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few questions.


Photo Credit: Jeffrey Everett

Jeff:  As a family man, how do you balance your career and being on the road?

Mark:  It’s very tough.  We have been gone all but two months of the year, but you just have to remember your priorities daily.  Thankfully, I have a super supportive wife, who believes in this investment, and in the band.  We met while I was off the road, so we both love each other for who we are, and I totally trust her.  She has been basically a single mom while we are gone.  We have 2 1/2 year old son and I’m missing a lot of firsts, but I do get to keep up with him via technology and face time.

Jeff: So your family is back in San Antonia, is that the hometown of all the band members?

Mark:  Johnny, Daniel and myself are from San Antonio.  Paul is from New Orleans and now lives in Covington.

Jeff:  With so many changes in albums sales and the way people stream things, do you make your living off of tours and merchandise? What do you do when everybody wants things for free?

Mark:  Any money from records sales (coming from all digital realm) goes to back record label, to build the business.  The band makes money from tours, show guarantees, merchandise and VIP Packages.  Being personable guys, as another avenue of income, it made sense to us to pair with charities and other organizations like, Bring Change to Mind, Jed Foundation, and To Write Love On Our Arms. While another avenue of income, we also wanted to promote mental awareness for our I know Jenny Campaign.

Jeff:  You had done several releases on your own previously, then you went with a record label.  What was your motivation to switch to a record label?  Was it to have someone oversee the business due to the changing environment?

Mark: Before this album, we had done everything on our own, and including this album. Over time you build your skills and mature as an artist and a human being, so you learn to do other tasks.  We had always kept things in house, because we had never really gotten a lot of attention from labels before.  That was always kind of the way you do things, you know your a band, you get signed, and then you blow up and everybody knows who you are and you make a living at it.  Well, that wasn’t the case for us and we really didn’t think a label was in the cards.  Then all of the sudden, as things grew, and we had been touring for eight years or so more regionally, all of the labels sort of came at once, and they all wanted in.  We took our time getting to know everybody and then decided to go with Eleven Seven. Why you want to go with a label?  They have the contacts and connections set up to get to radio and more avenues online and touring as well.  So much of business isn’t by the books, it’s who you know.  You do favors, and at the same time some of the best bands never get know because they didn’t know the right people. We really wanted to take the next step and continue making this a career and one thing lead to another, and we are with Eleven Seven and we couldn’t be happier.  Things are changing and the record labels don’t have as much power as the used to, which is good, because the music industry is in bit of a reformation right now, so it’s catching up. ITunes is great, but it throws another party into the mix.  The music industry is in a bit of a reformation. A lot of fingers in the pie, but we are in this for the long run, and we are excited and happy about where everything is going.

Jeff:  You mentioned you had your own portable recording setup, are you primarily the writer, and where does the rest of the band fall with regards to the creative process?

Mark: We believe more in the band mentality, the collaboration approach.  I generally bring a lot to the table first and then it gets chopped and thrown around, and then with the lyrical approach, we all come together and talk about concepts, what’s going on in our lives, how this music make us feel. Some songs are just one person. For example, the current song I’m working on is about family stuff and is closer to my heart, so I write everything and then approach it to the band. Other members have done the same when it’s something that is more personal. Johnny does recording, and investing in equipment so they don’t have to out source. He also does a lot with video and helped edit our music videos. Dan heads the stage show. He learned welding and does our setup instead of outsourcing.

2014 Nothing More Press Photo_small_credit_ Jody Domingue

Photo credit: Jody Dominque

Jeff:  You have a couple of great music videos, who’s produced these and are the videos reflective of the true meaning behind the song?

Mark:  It starts as a thought process and how we want the video to be about. Those are called video treatments. So you brain storm and get it down on paper. We then have ideas on we want it to be about. Directors submitted their ideas and we went with the guy that had a similar vision. For “This is the Time” we wanted a twist like in a movie where you don’t see it coming. The arms reaching out that seem to dragging Johnny down, the camera flips and you see that they are actually pulling him up! Johnny has a background in video and does a lot of things during the tours. After we got the first video back, it wasn’t at all what we wanted and were really thrown off. We thought we were going to scrap the whole thing. Johnny jumped on board and did the final editing. With the song “Jenny” being near and dear him, Johnny directed and produced the that video himself.

Jeff:  In this part of the country, with Nashville be not too far away, there are a lot of people interested in music careers. What would your advice be to any up and comers that want to follow your path?  Any words of advice?

Mark:  Don’t give up.  In the thick of it, when obstacles happen, band members leaving… stick with it.  Don’t let obstacles deter you. It’s okay to question, if you are wondering how you are going to pay your bills, solve the problem. Don’t be afraid of it.  Also, find a mentor, somebody who’s been in this business, who’s outside of your immediate circle that you trust and respect. Our biggest mentor has been our manager Will Hoffman. He’s about 10 years older than us, was in a band, and offered priceless wisdom. Don’t see other bands as competition.  Work together and use all the resources that you can to help each other out.

Jeff:  Your band does a lot of different venues, from small ones like tonight to larger stadiums and festivals.  Which is your favorite?

Mark:  It really depends, playing the Budokan Arena in Tokyo was amazing and nothing compares to it.  At the same time, venues like this are really cool too because you get a bunch of people and pack them in there and everyone’s sweating and singing every word of your songs. Right now, in the big arena shows, typically people still don’t know who we are so it’s cool to have a new crowd because you kind of convert them. They each have their pros and cons.

Jeff:  Your band is really in that take off mode, where do you see yourself in a couple of years from now?  Where would you like to be next?

Mark: I really just enjoy the journey.  The next level, just further grow bigger, get smarter, mature more. Hopefully be able to start saving some money, and not be flat out broke and wondering how I’m gong to support a family back home.  I know that I was created to do this, this is my passion, it is what I love to do.  I have definitely faced a lot of obstacles along the way, but none of us gave up.

Jeff: I saw somewhere that you have known each other since middle school.

Mark: Definitely, I have know Johnny for 15, 16 years now and he’s the first guy that I was in a band with, and Dan joined the band ten years ago and that’s when the band got really serious. We have touring and creating since.

Jeff:  I think your lyrics are amazing, and one of the things that separates you from the other up and comers.  There is a much deep meaning to your songs, with a sense of moral value that’s missing today.  I enjoy the message that your band puts forth.


Photo credit: Jeffrey Everett

Mark:  First of all, thank you. That’s amazing and I feel honored. Any time you create something that other people connect with and our moved by, that’s the goal. Like any good movie or song, it moves you and gives you chills or makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.  Those are the songs that we want to write.  We want to create that feeling, that connection with the soul of other people. You think of good movies or songs and they create as sense of reality. Since we are a little bit older now, we have experienced more of life. As in any great stories, a lot of times the best ones are the ones with the greatest conflict so we like to dive deep into our past and things that we’ve gone through and get graphic.   We want to preserve our memories and be real with them.

Jeff: I’ve seen some things on the internet where a lot of people seem to misinterpret some of your songs, especially ones with religious connotations. Any comment?

Mark: That’s part of the beauty, it’s open to interpretation. Even though we didn’t mean this one thing, somebody could take it another way. You know, go in a great way or a terrible way.  Just like in religions these days, there are extremist and it’s sad when somebody takes things too seriously and reacts in a negative way.  We don’t want to contribute to that, but we want to be real and convey some of feelings and our opinions.

Jeff: Thank you so much for your time, I am really looking forward to the show tonight.






Category: Interviews

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ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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