Rock ‘n roll will never die but for me it came awfully close. There was a time when the crunchy guitars, sledgehammer drums and heartfelt lyrics that bring life and energy to my everyday existence were almost locked away for good. We’re drawn to rock ‘n roll because it’s full of life. It is raw, wild and untamed. Every lyric connects us to a dream we hold deep inside but forgot about. But what would happen if rock ‘n roll died? This is a comeback story.
The Essentials is “essentially” an album that brought my dreams of writing and performing original rock music back from the dead. I’m sure you can relate to that feeling when a dream seems too far gone to become a reality. Mine was music. It had been six long years since I had released an album. As far as I knew, my days of jamming and performing live were over. In 2011 I had packed up everything I owned and moved to Austin, Texas to try to make a living as an independent musician. Austin was amazing! It was heaven to a rock guitarist like me, but the honeymoon wouldn’t last. I had left everyone I knew only to suffer a paralyzed vocal cord shortly after my arrival in Austin.
Half of my vocal range disappeared. Occasionally I would dust off my old acoustic guitar and attempt to sing a single song but would only make it about halfway before experiencing pain. I couldn’t even go to a restaurant with friends because I couldn’t talk over the noise of a small crowd. Even trying to speak a few words to order food was painful. My dream seemed to be fading.
Months went by with no sign of improvement. I even traveled to Houston to see a famous voice specialist but every doctor or voice therapist I consulted was unable to figure out why one of my vocal cords refused to vibrate like it should. Alone in a strange city, I watched in silence as the music world moved on without me. Rock ‘n roll was dead… at least in my world. Without being able to sing, I even lost my love of shredding away on my guitar. It was difficult to continue life in such a vibrant music town with constant reminders of what might have been at every turn. I packed up my guitars and moved up to Wichita, Kansas in search of a quiet place to escape for awhile.
After a year without singing, I became restless. It came to a point where I didn’t care about having a music career anymore; I just wanted to be able to sing in my own house! My voice was still weak but I decided to begin the long journey of rebuilding my voice. Not only would I need to regain the necessary muscle strength and stamina, but I would have to learn an entirely new way of singing. I couldn’t go back to belting like a maniac as if I were still a teenager in a young garage band. It was time to learn proper technique to ensure that I could have a thriving future as a rock singer.
Learning to sing from scratch was a very difficult task. They say old habits die hard and it’s true; I was learning to use a new set of muscles that I had never used before. In fact, I’m not even sure I knew these muscles existed. Just trying to find them to use them while singing was difficult. Progress was incredibly slow and I felt like I had to fight to regain each note of my vocal range. I slowly began singing in short bursts with a band at my church, but every Sunday when I returned home my voice was wiped out.
Finally after six long years, I felt strong enough to return to the stage. I dusted off my guitars and found a late night open mic night in downtown Wichita. It was time to get back on the horse. I only played four songs that first night, but it was a start. But was anyone still listening?
A year before my voice injury, I sent my music off to a company that could potentially get my songs into movies and TV shows. Occasionally I would hop on Google and run a search to see if my songs turned up in any film projects. In March of 2018 I discovered my old song “Waiting For Me” had appeared in season 2 episode 6 of the Netflix show Cable Girls. I read many comments from fans of the show as they discussed my song. They were searching for it and were trying to find out where they could download it. I couldn’t believe people were actively searching for my music. After all, I was just some guy in his house who hadn’t made music in years. Someone out there wanted to hear from me though, so I remixed Waiting For Me” along with 16 of my best songs. Suddenly my album The Essentials was born. It would signal the beginning of a new era for me. Out of the ashes my rock ‘n roll dream had found new life.
These days I’m an active musician again. In January 2020 I released a second album titled Space Coffin. I’m currently recording Metanoia, my most ambitious rock album yet, as well as recording an acoustic album at the request of my listeners. I currently perform live as a solo artist but I plan to turn Vandarth into an all-out rock band in the near future.
I consider The Essentials to be a “greatest hits that nobody’s heard” album; it’s a mix-tape of my best songs from my first 10 years performing as Vandarth. Each song has been remixed and remastered to give them a sense of new life and energy. Releasing this album after my long hiatus from music was a way to “reboot” not only my music career, but some of my very own hopes and dreams. It’s the end of a hard-fought chapter in my life and the beginning of a new chapter filled with musical creativity.
I hope these songs inspire you and bring new life to your love of rock ‘n roll. Maybe this album can do for you what it did for me. Maybe it can remind you that it’s never too late to dust off those old dreams.
Long live rock ‘n roll!
Nathan (aka Vandarth)
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