Sitting down with The Starting Line

Alexandra Capotorto

Chronicle– Each of your albums has a fairly pervasive theme: “Say it Like You Mean It” is mostly about teenage love/loss, “Based on a True Story” is a lot about sex, and “Direction” about finding your place in the world. Was this change in maturity intentional or an organic part of getting older?

Kenny Vasoli– We just try to do what’s in the now, try to act our age. I sing about what’s on my mind.

QC – Is it awkward to still play songs from “Say it Like You Mean It” so many years later? Do any of them still ring true in your life?

Kenny – Um, you know some of the songs, like I guess “A Goodnight’s Sleep” I can still kind of relate to everything. Just ’cause I start to think about what I was going through at the time when I was singing those songs. But yea, it is a little bit uncharacteristic of our sound now, it’s cool because kids really seem to appreciate those songs live. We get a good reaction too, so that kind of keeps us motivated.

Mike Golla – Makes me feel younger.

Matt Watts – Makes me feel like a kid again.

QC – What is your favorite song to play? And what is your favorite song from the album?

Kenny – Right now it’s a song called “Birds,” basically because it’s the easiest song to sing, and it’s fun to play, and I really like the song. [On the new album “Direction”] – I think “Are You Alone” is probably my favorite.

QC– What were your biggest musical influences on this album [“Direction”]? We know you guys just toured with Gatsby’s American Dream, and there was sort of a Gatsby’s influence. Any other influences?

Mike– The verses were a little Gatsby’s.

Kenny– Yea, there’s tons of them. For stuff like that, guitar wise, kind of starting on the last record, I started to get a little more influenced by the RX Bandits kind of style of playing, as far as melody and stuff like that goes I tried to take cues from James Brown, Bob Dylan, I got really into Radiohead over the last couple of years. Sort of a bunch of different stuff.

QC– Why James Brown?

Kenny– Because James Brown is the man. He’s the master of simplicity, he can just write a groove in three chord progression, and it’s a song. He can sing the same three words the whole time, and put something into it, and it makes you go crazy.

Matt Watts– He puts sexy into it.

Kenny– Yea.

Matt – Soul.

Kenny– Soul and sexiness.

QC – Since you mentioned Radiohead, what are you guys’ opinion on Radiohead and the release of their new album?

Kenny – So genius. They sold so many of them.

QC – They recently found that most people pirated the album.

Kenny – After two days, 1.6 million people downloaded that record and apparently the average price they were paying was like $4, so they made least $3 million at least the first day. They didn’t go through a label or anything. It’s just a genius thing, just by risking the couple of people that are going to illegally download and not pay anything for it. They just prospered so much because everything they did make went straight into their pockets. I feel like they’re one of those bands that could pull that off, I feel like other bands it’s like a big time gamble. Radiohead, I mean, everyone wants to check out Radiohead. Especially if it’s downloadable for free on the internet.

QC – So “Direction” was a great follow-up to “Based on a True Story.” How did you feel about the album and were you satisfied with it?

Kenny – I feel good about it, when it definitely came out I was feeling like it was like our best effort so far. And we’re just really proud of it. We think it’s our best work yet.

QC – And how were fan reactions?

Kenny – Fan reactions were good, people have been more into this than they were into the last record.

QC – Is there any significance of the tree on the cover of “Direction?”

Kenny – Um, no. I mean we kind of wanted, we knew we wanted like a clean picture, and had talked about landscape, and we kind of just went through a couple of different pictures of just solid landscapes, and the ocean and sky and beach and stuff like that. And then we saw that picture of just the colors and sky.

QC – Is it an actual picture? Somebody actually took that?

Kenny – Yea, I think it’s just a stock kind of photography photo. I heard it was on some world studies text book as well

Matt – It’s pretty sweet.

Kenny – Matt didn’t like it at first.

Matt – I like it now. I only like it ’cause Cartel uses a tree also. And trees are all of a sudden cool now.

QC – We realized that when we were putting up posters and we were putting up posters of trees.

Kenny – It’s also a drug reference [Laughs.] Jk.

QC – Speaking of trees, if you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?

Matt – One that you can smoke.

Kenny – Ohhhhh, police! Um, I’d be a willow, because I’m sad. [Laughs.] I don’t know. Um, yea, I’d be a marijuana tree.Um, stay in school, kids.

Matt – Crack is whack.

QC – So who are your favorite bands to tour with?

Kenny – We really like touring with Bayside, Cartel’s rad. We just had a great time with the Four Years Strong guys, New Found Glory.

QC – Are there any current bands out there that you love? Or any that you hate?

Kenny – There’s plenty that I love and plenty that I hate. I’ll leave out the one’s that I hate. There’s no need. Except for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I don’t care if they know. There’s tons of bands out there. Like, Cold War Kids are awesome, Jimmy Eat World, Four Years Strong, and a band Andy from Hot Rod started called The Escape Plan. They’re really good.

Matt – I checked out that A-Sides record you told me to get [to Kenny]

Kenny – Isn’t it awesome?

Matt – It’s really good, so A-Sides.

Kenny – How was that Matt Pond PA I told you to get?

Matt – I haven’t had a chance yet.

Kenny – You haven’t even listened to it yet?

Matt – I didn’t listen to it yet. I loved the last record, but I was too stressed out on the drive. I was really pissed off and really angry.

Kenny – How could you be too stressed out to listen to good music?

Matt – Check this shit out. I was driving up here over the GW [George Washington Bridge], and I was in the left lane, and there was traffic jams and then I’d go 80, and then there were traffic jams. And I hit like, five potholes, and thought I bent a rim, and I didn’t know what to do. So I grabbed my full Dunkin Donuts coffee, and I threw it at one of the barriers as I was driving because I was so pissed. I was like “F— this road, I’m littering.” I was so pissed.

Kenny – Did you get coffee anywhere?

Matt – No, I got coffee all over the f—–g road. F— that.

QC – Our next question was about funny tour stories, so I guess that will cover that.

Kenny – It’s a good segue into it.

QC– What about fan experiences?

Kenny– We try not to talk to our fans. No, I’m kidding. We have awesome fans. They stopped being creepy like three years ago.

QC– What are some creepy stories from three years ago?

Kenny– There were these two girls, they were the dynamic duo of creep. They showed up to every show for a while, just two teenagers. That wasn’t enough, apparently. They tracked down where I lived, my home phone number, my cell phone number, and just, like, ambushed me one day. They showed up at my house and waited outside my house. I had to chat with them for a little bit. It was totally creepy.

QC– No restraining orders?

Kenny– No, they kind of backed down after that.

QC– You’re about to go on tour with Paramore. How did that come about? Were you friends with them from before?

Kenny– I used to baby-sit Hayley [Paramore’s 18-year-old lead singer.] [Laughs] She loved “Green Eggs and Ham.” She was so good, she went to bed 8 o’clock every night, she liked to stay up a little bit late when “Full House” was on, I let it slide. No, it got set up through managers. We had the pleasure of meeting them on Warped Tour, and hanging out with them. They turned out to be really cool kids. And they rock. the casbah. We’re really pumped for it, it’s gonna be awesome.

QC– What is the significance of the band name. Why The Starting Line?

Kenny– Um, because it wasn’t taken. We used to be called Sunday Drive, and that was taken. It’s a popular name.

The Chronicle would like to thank Kenny, Matt, and Mike for taking the time out of their schedule to participate in the interview.

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