Today has not been a good day. Anyone who knows me knows how important music is to me. Those who truly know me may even know who some of my favorite bands are. Two of the bands — letlive. and Vanna — called it quits today. Both bands…on the same day. Not just on the same day but they made their announcements within about two hours of each other. I am absolutely gutted.
First, there was this post by letlive.
Then came Vanna’s announcement.
Our band has always strived to take the negative in our lives and use it to fuel positive change. To foster good in a world that can be so bad. That and to cause the biggest ruckus with our fans while doing so. The relationship we share with you all and with our music has brought us to places we never dreamed of going; countries we never thought we’d step foot on, stages we only dreamed of playing. But the biggest impression left is the overwhelming sense of family that this scene has given us and let us be a part of. It’s helped us become the men we are today and, in a way, is partly responsible for different parts of our lives blossoming. After touring for over 10 years, living our lives on the road and on the stage, it’s time for us to go chase those other dreams that may have waited on a shelf. We’ve started families, careers, and new lives all the while spending our nights sweating in a club or a Warped Tour parking lot with you and those sides of us and our lives need attention as much as Vanna did. Words can’t begin to express what you have all done for us. In keeping with always sharing ourselves with you, we now turn to you to share one last time with us. Let’s make this tour a celebration of every moment and memory as well as make a bunch of new ones with some amazing friends and bands. Come sing your hearts out and inevitably cry your eyes out with us as we leave a little piece of Vanna on every stage. This isn’t goodbye forever, it’s just a ‘we’ll see you around’. Our music will be here whenever you need it, we truly love you and we will miss you all. But remember, all good things must come to an end, but all good things can begin again. Viva Vanna 🌹#ALLGOODTHINGSTOUR tickets available with link in bio
It’s too much to handle in one day.
Now in order to understand why this is so devastating to me, you’d really have to start with how much of a role music in general has always played in my life then move on to what these two particular bands have meant to me.
I was raised on music. It’s a vivid part of my childhood memories, much like my grandmother’s cooking or vacations at the beach. I had what could easily be described as a shitty childhood — lots of abuse, moving around from place to place and school to school, very little emotional support — but music was the one constant positive. I grew up listening to everyone from Otis Redding and Elvis to Pink Floyd and Kiss. I’ve gone to more concerts and shows than I can even remember. There’s a radio station in my head that’s constantly on and has a pretty eclectic playlist.
I also raised my own kids on music. I tried to expose them to some of the same stuff I grew up on, the music I listened to when I was their age, and to a variety of genres like soul, rap, metal, and even a little bit of country. Other parents teach their kids about different religions so that they can make informed decisions when they get older; I taught my kids about different music genres so that they could discover their own tastes.
Music is something we’ve bonded over. I’ve gone to shows with each of my three kids and those have been some of my favorite memories. Now that they’re older, they’ve introduced me to some “new” (to me) stuff. About six years ago, I started getting into the stuff that my son was listening to, a lot of post-hardcore, metalcore, and some pop punk. He was 18 at the time and, like I did at that age, he was constantly listening to his music on full blast. I told him I liked the style of music — I’ve always been a fan of various rock and metal genres — but I couldn’t get past the screaming which made it impossible to understand the lyrics. I’ll never forget the time he told me that there was a song called “Second & Sebring” by a band called Of Mice & Men that reminded him of me. I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered or offended because the song was so loud and angry. “Just listen to the lyrics, Mom,” he told me.
This time I’ll, make you
Proud to see me over, come on daylight
Proud of, who you raised
Your shelter, your peacefulness
So this time I’ll make you proud
Proud of, who you raised up
You know that I will
Always be here till’ the end
Come back so I can say thank you for this
Home cooked meals and a place to rest
My troubled head when you’re away
I’ve passed the test, I’ve earned an A
Not just in school, but in life
You’ll always be right by my side
To help me show, hope to all
That are lost and sick in this dying world
I’ll use the love you left behind
I’ll change their mind, I’ll change their mind
He went on to explain to me that the (then) lead vocalist of the band, Austin Carlile, had written the song about his mother who had passed away when he was about my son’s age. Once I knew the lyrics, it made sense. So that was the first band he got me interested in. From there, I took an interest in a band called Pierce the Veil who had a song called “Tangled in the Great Escape” which featured guest vocals by someone named Jason Aalon Butler, lead vocalist of a band called letlive. I remember sitting in the car with my son, waiting for his little sister to get out of school, and him explaining that song to me. I told him I really liked this guy’s voice, so when we got home, he had me listen to letlive. That, as they say, was all she wrote.
Now let me explain something about these genres. Most of their fans are in their teens and 20s, and a lot of their songs reflect that. Lots of angsty stuff, getting your heart broken, feeling trapped in your hometown, wanting more out of life, things like that. There’s also a lot of songs about living life, having unforgettable experiences with your friends, enjoying the freedom of adulthood. But whether it’s the darker stuff or the songs on the lighter side, a lot of it isn’t stuff that people my age can relate to.
That’s why letlive. really appealed to me. Their songs hit me on a deeper level. Jason Butler writes a lot, if not most, of their lyrics and he’s a very old soul. Their songs are more political and philosophical in nature, ruminations on the world around us and reflections on how our experiences have shaped us. I was completely digging letlive. and they quickly became my favorite band. I had the chance to go see them with my son a few years ago and, because it was Thanksgiving and they were far from home, I made them some Thanksgiving food to take with them after talking to them via social media to find out what they like. I had totally forgotten that I gave them my number and told them to let me know if they needed anything while they were in town. The night of the show, I met Loniel and Jeff before their set and walked with them out to their van to put the food away. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick around after the show to meet Jason and I was extremely disappointed. But the minute I walked through my front door, I had a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. Jason Aalon Butler had texted me the most sincere expression of gratitude along with an apology for not being able to thank me in person for the treats. That’s just the kind of people they are. So very down to earth and so appreciative.
Now, around that same time, my son also listened to a lot of music by a band named Vanna. I remember him asking me if I could import some CDs to the computer so he could transfer them to his phone and I listened to a little bit of it while I was working on it for him. But it wasn’t until last year that I really got into them. I was taking my youngest daughter to Warped Tour and I asked him for recommendations on who we should see. He said I should check out Vanna and told me that they had a new album titled All Hell that was coming out soon. So we made sure to catch their set on Warped and they put on such a killer set that I didn’t hesitate to buy their new album. When we got home, I learned more about their lead vocalist, Davey Muise, and discovered what an inspirational person he is. (In fact, when he’s not touring with Vanna, he’s on the road giving motiviational speeches to high school kids.) That was last summer and they’ve been in constant rotation on my playlists ever since. Ask my daughter what my go-to music is and she’ll tell you it’s either the Hamilton soundtrack or anything by Pink Floyd, Thirty Seconds to Mars, letlive., and Vanna.
So I told you all of that to tell you this. Both letlive. and Vanna broke up today. This hurts more than if someone had broken up with ME personally. My daughter laughed when I said that and I was dead serious when I told her that I’ve cared more about these bands than anyone I’ve dated in the past seven years. (It also occured to me that this might help explain why I am still single.)
Being a fan of this kind of music is very lonely for someone my age. I’m constantly trying to introduce some of these bands to my 40-something friends but I don’t think it’s working which makes me sad. (Shout out to Derek and Angie though…they get it. They’re Warped parents too. And my sisterwife Katie, even though she doesn’t listen to the same kind of music, she still understands how important it is.)
And today feels even lonelier because few people will understand how much losing two of my favorite bands in one day has crushed me. I am not exagerrating when I say that I sat in my bed and cried and then I picked my daughter up from school and cried some more. She understood though. She didn’t laugh at me — okay, maybe she did a little but in more of an “awwww” way than an “omg what a loser” way — and she didn’t judge me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to grab my headphones and crawl back under the covers.