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A Dirty Dozen with VINCENT TORRES of AWAKE AT LAST – May 2019

 

According to a recent press release: “Both as a band and as individuals, Awake At Last continue to stand for positivity, spirituality, self-help and making an impact every single day. Returning with their debut full-length release, The Change, they have never sounded more confident, more energized, or been more determined to reach out to those who might be struggling in the world. The Change releases June 21st via Outerloop Records. “We pushed ourselves to our limits as songwriters,” states guitarist Imran Xhelili. “There is more variety on this record and there are songs that lean in a heavier rock/metal direction with other songs being a lot lighter and more dynamic. All of the choruses on this album have huge hooks, and there are more sections that are less guitar heavy and carried by different elements, like pianos and orchestral instruments.” We get vocalist Vincent to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The Change is an over arching concept record about life, mental health, humanity, and overcoming the obstacles of the modern world.  It is a direct sequel from our previous release Life/Death/Rebirth, and follows the character as they journey into their new reincarnation.  There are a lot of themes about learning lessons, and trying to break the current meta or norm of society.  Overall it is about the character trying to break the reincarnation cycle by living the “Perfect Life”.  So the soul imbued this new vessel with all of their cellular knowledge from the past in order to bring about a great revolutionary artistic change in this world that is consumed by social media.  Unfortunately though all of this cellular memory takes the form of voices in the child’s and causes a bit of damage even though the child still goes on to try and make a great change.  It’s pretty involved and I hope the listeners listen to it from beginning to end.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Like a lot of kids around 14 or 15 I was going through a phase where I didn’t quite know who I was.  I always tried to follow certain trends or do what I thought my peers would think was cool, but art always played a pretty significant role.  I had always liked being in Choir, and playing the piano and stuff but it wasn’t till my teen years that I picked up a guitar and started really thinking about being a musician.  Music for me has always been about the stories we tell as artists, and I knew I wanted to tell a story about a kid who struggled with fitting in, and also dealt a lot with mental health and other obstacles.  Eventually I stood in front of the whole school and performed and that was the first time I felt like I was genuinely me and not who I thought they wanted me to be.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

The Taste of Chaos Tour was the first big concert I went to, and it was bands like Killswitch Engage, The Used, and My Chemical Romance that really helped me get through that era of my life.  I was also huge into the band AFI and loved the Sing The Sorrow album they put out.  A lot of those kinds of bands still inspire me to this day, including slightly different bands like Muse who really inspires the theatrical element of my music.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

AFI, The Used, My Chemical Romance, Killswitch Engage, and Muse.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I’d love to do a song with Stevie Nicks.  I’ve always wanted to work with a female artist, and I love her song writing and her message.  I was raised with a lot of their music as well and I love her.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I usually tell people that we’re a Theatrical Rock Band.  We love heavy guitars and huge drums, but we also introduce a really nice symphonic and choral element that I think really polishes the sound.  Most people have given us pretty cool references and I can’t think of any specific time we were compared to a band that I didn’t like or really didn’t agree with.  I think it’s important that the listener hears what they hear and there isn’t much I can do to influence or change that.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

I love the sense of adventure it gives me, and it is extremely rewarding to be able to talk with the fans and help elevate and inspire them.  When the fans come up and tell me that one of my songs helped them through a tough time, or a performance inspired them to focus on some of their art it feels amazing.  I also love traveling the country with my best friends and getting to try different things from different places.  My number 1 though is definitely the fans who believe in us and then in turn believe in themselves.  There is nothing better than that 🙂

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I do all of the cooking when we’re together and have some groceries.  None of us are super big drinkers, and usually it’s Eric or I who will bust out the acoustics and jam out.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I’ve never really been super star struck.  As an artist I know we’re all human and by acting any other way it can be a bit off putting.  Although a recent encounter I had that was pretty cool was when I was in Nashville and I met the Actor/Musician who plays Deacon Clayborne on the television show Nashville.  His name was Chip Esten and I’ve been a fan even since he did Whose line is it anyway, so that was really cool.  It was particularly nice because he was very cool and friendly.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

I’d love to be an Author.  Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved telling stories and writing about different characters and worlds, so I suppose if music ever fell through i’d love to be a published Author.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I can’t really think of anything I would do different.  I guess I just wish I knew more earlier on in our career so I could’ve avoided some of the more exhausting and expensive decisions.  But with that being said our journey has been pretty amazing so there isn’t much I would want to do different.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Wow this is a hard one, I’ve never been asked a question like this.  I think I would love to have been there for Muse’s Resistance album.  Its one of my absolute favorite albums of all time and I’d love to see the process that went into making the songs, and the over arch of the story come to life.  I love Matt Bellamy’s songwriting and it’d be awesome to be in the room with him and learn from him.  That was one of the first records that inspired me to work in concepts into my music, and even if it wasn’t a concept when they wrote it, I turned it into one in my own mind.  That record hasn’t left my car since and I believe it came out in 2009.

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

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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