Beyond Indie

Vundabar Were Inspired by "The Sopranos" on New LP

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The Boston indie rockers in Vundabar really haven’t had a smash hit single or a career-defining record yet. Instead, vocalist/guitarist Brandon Hagen and drummer Drew McDonald — along with bassist Zack Abramo — have had a steady, organic growth over the last several years and three records. With the release of their fourth album, Either Light, the former high school friends are looking to continue that expansion with a higher (and less rushed) production value.

“It’s kind of insane to think that we’ve been a band for seven years,” Hagen said. “Drew and I started it when we were children, so it’s been this slow-burn progression of getting new things with each [record] and hitting new benchmarks. This time, it’s getting released in places like Japan and Australia — which is new for us — and we worked with a producer for two weeks in the studio, whereas we recorded Gawk (2015) in like three days and the last one (2018’s Smell Smoke) in a week. It’s given us more time to hone in on tones and aspects of songs.”

In addition to the changes in their music over the years, Vundabar has seen their audience slowly grow as well. Rather than performing to audiences of 20-30 people, the band has crept up to filling venues with hundreds of fans in most cities. Of course, with that growth in popularity has come more eyes on them when things don’t go exactly as planned. For Hagen, that transition from being entirely self-promoted and self-released teenagers to a fully functional band of young adults has been both rewarding and humbling at times.

“As the band has grown, it’s just kind of been a trial by fire,” Hagen said. “We’d always self-released and those kinds of things, so we’d just try to learn from our mistakes. You try something, you fuck up, you learn from it, and then you try something else. It’s a great way to learn how to do your thing, with the downside being that every record and every tour has just been a public learning experience.”

Either Light brings a more complex sound than Vundabar’s previous work — largely because the group intentionally forced themselves out of their comfort zone during the writing process. Additionally, Hagen decided to mix things up a bit by taking the age-old subject of examining life in today’s society and writing about it through a slightly different lens.

“I’d literally just watched The Sopranos two times through while I was writing the record, and I feel like Tony Soprano is an archetype for a lot of the American experience in a way,” Hagen said. “He’s the ugliness and the underbelly of capitalism and our culture. A lot of the record sort of deals with this looming sense that we might be doomed, and I see Tony as this character where from the first scene, you know he’s fucked. He’s a doomed hero, and in that sense, he’s a great symbol for what life is like now.”

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