What makes you feel alive?
What is it about music that makes us feel alive? It’s different for everyone. For me, when I find a song that sounds as if it were written about my own life, there’s a special feeling. Or when I hear the sound of loud, crunchy guitars feeding back in between power-chords, there’s an energy that I can’t help but headbang to.
So how did I get wrapped up in a world of guitars, bars and craft beer? It started when I was in first grade (not the craft beer part!). I remember when my brother brought home Weezer’s debut album on CD. I could hear the sound of guitars and three-part harmonies blaring from his bedroom down the hall. It was the greatest thing I had ever heard. I memorized most of the lyrics and sang Weezer songs at school, where I met a girl named Christine who I discovered could sing every song on the album from memory just like I could. There is nothing like a friendship born out of love for rock ‘n roll. Before long, I was writing songs using only one string at a time on a toy guitar. I built drum sets out of empty ice cream tubs.
At age 12, I decided to finally learn how to play guitar. I saved up money for weeks to buy the cheapest guitar in a local music shop; a red knock-off Stratocaster by Mako. By then, I was addicted to the meaty midrange Marshall tone of Green Day and dreamed of making a punk band. My weekends were spent in suburban garages jamming with friends, writing some of the worst punk songs you’ve ever heard and driving the neighbors crazy, but it was a start. I honed my craft and continued to buy every new rock album I could get my hands on to inspire my young songwriting career.
At age 18, I finally played my first gig at a bar in Indianapolis with my old rock band Project Hero. Since I was under age 21, I had to hang out in the parking lot until it was time to play. When I was inside the bar, I was only allowed to be on stage or I would be kicked out by the bouncer. I couldn’t get the full experience yet, but it was a glimpse of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and I was hooked. For me, it wasn’t glamorous, not like what we sometimes see on TV; it was the music, the people and the relationships that made me realize this was where I wanted to be. In that dark, smelly bar with a tiny crowd and a guy running sound who read a book during our entire set, I didn’t care; I had found my place in this world.
Years later, I began recording solo albums under the name Vandarth. I poured my heart and soul into recording music that others can relate to. It’s not glamorous; I’m just a normal person living in Kansas, relating to others through honest songwriting and a huge guitar sound reminiscent of those glorious summer afternoons jamming in the garage. Today, you’ll find me playing rock shows in venues around Kansas and hanging out with friends as we search for the best local craft beer together. Although there’s nothing like the raw sound of a cranked and distorted electric guitar, it’s the people that truly bring meaning to the music. Without the relationships and friendships to share the experience together, it’s all just noise. If you’d like to be a part of this journey with me, take a listen to my most recent album, The Essentials: (2009-2018). I’m not a rock star; I’m just one of you. So let’s rock together!