You’ve heard of a rock star, but what would you call an individual who transcends the stars? Is there a name for the individual whose enlightened way of thinking elevates them to a whole higher plane than the average and mundane? Rising above the status of normal musicians, Curtis Casey (Vocals), Bruce Weitz (Drums), Armin Peterson (Guitar), of the band Vayden are more like rock philosophers expressing their theories about life through the artistic medium of music. Curtis says, “We don’t view ourselves as a rock band; first and foremost, we are artists.”
Lead singer, Curtis Casey, admits, “Between my Irish background and my Polynesian background, there’s probably very little chance that I couldn’t sing.” Music and singing has been a huge part of Curtis’ life. He recalls that even from a young age, when his family would go Christmas caroling, he would always want to rearrange the carols adding different harmonies and medleys. While he grew up listening to his mom’s R&B, Motown, and Funk music and his dad’s “elevator music”, and despite the fact that Rock and Roll was forbidden in his house, Curtis dreamed of becoming a rock star. At around 18, Curtis knew that if he didn’t pursue music he would never truly be happy.
Curtis said, “As I grew up, as a vocalist, I realized I needed to hone in on what my voice was.” In order to do that, Curtis explained that two important factors contribute to finding one’s voice: references and roots. Curtis picked artists like Maxwell, Babyface, Kurt Cobain, and Freddie Mercury as reference points and tried to emulate them and was curious to know what it would sound like to combine all of them. But according to Curtis, roots are even more crucial than reference points.
“What was most important to me was keeping that Polynesian strength of the voice. Knowing how to sing is very important in the culture, which is why most Polynesians can sing three part harmonies without any problem. That’s how our ‘whakapapa,’ our genealogy, is passed down – through song. Musically, my Samoan and Maori sides have influenced me with the strength of a voice and what I really learned from the Polynesian culture is harmony. Learning how to sing with people and how to coexist! [Polynesian culture] is very much focused on those tones of harmony.”
Likewise, Drummer, Bruce Weitz said, “I never really had a choice. [Music] has always been something I knew I was going to do . . . It was really never an option to not play music.” Bruce also grew up in a family of musicians. His father and grandfather were both musicians and his passion for music almost seems to run through his veins. When Bruce decided to seriously pursue a career in music, his father told him, “If you’re going to do it, make sure you’re going to be the best you can be and have a good experience.” Bruce says, “I took that to heart and have been pluggin’ away and he was right! The better you are at it, not just at your instrument but at crafting songs, at playing live, at knowing your fans and people, and having that kind of interaction, is the best thing you can do. It’s all about the experience.”
As founding members of the band, Curtis and Bruce have been together for about eight years and, throughout that time, have had a myriad of experiences that have both affected their band and their music. Starting out in Arizona under the name, “Simplfy,” Curtis says they were relatively content at being “weekend warriors” in the local bars until tragedy struck leading to inspiration – Bruce’s son, Vayden, passed away in a car accident. Curtis says, “It was an event that made us realize that music was ALL we wanted to do…it just flipped our switch! No more day jobs! Whatever it takes is what it’s going to take for us to make sure that all we’re doing is making music.” They decided to change the band name to Vayden in memorial to Bruce’s son. Bruce says, “We just all felt like that was the right way to go.” Not long after, Vayden put out their first album, “Children of our Mistakes.” Over time, band members have changed. Armin Peterson joined the band about four years ago and, most recently, and the bass position is ever changing, but the boys of Vayden have become a brotherhood of philosophers.
Vayden has been on national tours with bands Tantric, Drowning Pool, and Candlebox, and for the past three years have headlined at Dithmarscher Rock Festival in Germany. While their sound is entertaining and unique, Curtis says, “It’s not just about having a sound, it’s about moving people. Music and Art is meant to evoke emotion not impart information….Our whole thing is to make sure that we are advancing the conscious collective, and how that happens is through art, music, cinema, or whatever way you want to do it and [most recently] that has been our motto.”
What’s next for Vayden? Curtis says, “We are definitely working on dropping another album,” but fans can first look forward to their new song “Hansel and Grettle” dropping on Vayden’s website. Curtis says, “What we’ve found out recently is that the record industry is dead, but the music industry is very much alive and there are plenty of outlets to create and distribute music. “We live and we work and we write at the speed of inspiration. So we’re always trying to stay in the flow of being inspired.” And since they work at the speed of inspiration, you can definitely count on Vayden to continue to consistently drop new art!
Armin says, “I’ve been lost in a paradox of thought for a long time as to what is important and what is real and what is not real. I’ve kind of decided that nothing is real, not even music is real, and that’s the ultimate truth, but you still have to live by the conventional truths of the world in which we live and if I have to live by the world’s rules, I might as well make music!” And that’s WHATITDO!
Article Written By: G_Writer
*Photos and YouTube video courtesy of Vayden