Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Squid Pro Quo Talks With The Scissors' Singer/Guitarist, Darren Vorel
Photo by Randy Michael Korwin
L to R: Ken Fletcher (bass), Darren Vorel (vocals/guitar), Yvonne Szumski (vocals/guitar), David Schneider (drums)
Interview by Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: For the new fans, or people just discovering The Scissors, can you give us a little bit of background? How did the band get started?
Darren Vorel: "Originally, we started out to do a record or two and play around Chicago a few times a year. We didn’t want anything serious or time consuming, just a way to satisfy the urge to play four chords as loud as possible. We recorded our first E.P., “Riv Rat Rob” in a couple days back in 2002. That got us excited to do more. We went back to Atlas Studios to record “Tijeras” (2004), “Viva” (2007) and our latest release, “You Can Make It Dangerous” (2010). We’ve been touring around the Midwest and east coast lately and have plans to tour a lot more in the coming months."
SPQ: What was it like early on? Was it hard finding gigs outside of your hometown?
DV: "Yeah, it’s really hard. Most places don’t answer phone calls or e-mails. You really gotta work to get their attention. Luckily we were content playing only Chicago shows. Our city has great venues and helpful people who book them. MPshows has been insanely kind as well as the fine people at House Call Talent."
SPQ: What was it like working with Matt Allison at Atlas Studios? Was it nerve wracking just knowing who this guy's worked with?
DV: "Matt is an extremely knowledgeable guy when it comes to music and baseball. If you’re interested in either of those things, you’ll probably get along with him famously. He has wonderful insight into recording and life in general. A few times after our sessions, we’d grab a beer at a bar and catch the Cubs game. Those were the best studio days for me. I can see how working with him for the first time would be intimidating, but after about 10 minutes in the studio, bands will feel right at home."
SPQ: The band's music has really grown over the course of the last few years. Do you feel that the band has matured musically?
DV: "I feel like people are constantly changing, whether they know it or not. The Scissors as people are changing, which reflects the music we make. Everyone’s writing what they know about and that keeps us honest. Every record we’ve done has been different from the last. I’m not sure I’d say we’ve matured musically, but I will say that we’ve allowed ourselves the freedom to write without limits or expectations."
SPQ: Since Yvonne and Ken have joined the band, how has the songwriting process changed?
DV: "It’s changed for the better. Yvonne is one of our strongest songwriters. She’s really grown into that role since our last record. She writes completely different from the rest of us, and that keeps us on our toes. Ken has us laughing through it all. He keeps us from taking it too seriously. That’s a really important part of why we’re still a band."
SPQ: I understand the band's working on a new album. Is there a tentative release date?
DV: Not going to set a release date yet. We’re demoing at a studio right now. There’s about 20 songs floating around. We’ll Probably demo 10 more before we start recording for real. Hoping to start that next month (May)."
SPQ: What can we expect from the new Scissors release?
DV: "We haven’t chosen the final songs yet, but I can say that it’ll take a side. Our last record was a little in-between genres. We loved experimenting with different things, but this record will be more of a straightforward effort. Yvonne will be singing lead vocals on half of it too. We’re all really excited about that."
SPQ: Over the last few years, the band's been able to tour outside of Illinois. What's your favorite city to play outside of the Chicagoland area? And is there any plans for a nationwide tour in the near future?
DV: "Hmm, so far mine would be Indiana. It’s close enough to home and the punk rock scene is really alive. Kids come out to support local acts and touring acts. I just gotta remember to watch what I say when I talk about The Bears. They don’t like Bears fans too much. Of course there’s a ton of other places I enjoy...every place on the map is interesting and gives us an opportunity to perform for people who really care about the music we make. We’re working on a tour right now, but it’s too early to talk about the route as we are still booking it."
SPQ: You recently played SXSW in Austin, TX. What was it like being part of something so special, and how was the band received?
DV: "SXSW is incredible. Music is literally in every bar/restaurant in town. It’s a great mix of styles and genres. Bands get little to no money to play, so I recommend touring around it if you’re broke like us. I think we were received well. At SXSW, people are actually interested in checking out bands. There’s only a few ‘big’ shows to catch, so most people are looking for that diamond in the rough."
SPQ: The band's song, "Let's Go," is featured in the new Playstation 3 game, "MLB 3: The Show." How did the band get involved with the game?
DV: "Luckily, the Internet has been our friend. The fine people at Sony saw our video for the song and liked it. We spent most of October 2010 – February 2011 biting our nails and hoping we’d get on."
SPQ: Being a big baseball fan myself, I can only imaging how exciting it must be to be involved in something this big. Has the bands fan base grown since the release of the game?
DV: "I think so. We’ve had a lot of nice responses from baseball and music fans. 'Let’s Go' has that great 'whoa' hook. I always pictured it playing over the loudspeakers at a game to rile up the crowd...so it’s amazing to actually have our song affiliated with MLB in some fashion. I’m an avid baseball fan myself, so I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about this."
SPQ: The band recently got an endorsement deal from Ernie Ball. That's a pretty tall order! How did that come about?
DV: "We sent out our CD to Ernie Ball. We all use their strings and products anyway, so we thought it’d be a good pairing. Turns out, people actually listen to CDs when you send them, and they liked us enough to sponsor us. We’ve been fortunate to have them as friends."
SPQ: I know the band's got an acoustic gig coming up in a couple weeks (Thursday, April 21st at Rockit Wrigley - 3700 N. Clark, Chicago). Are there any plans for an all acoustic album?
DV: "Not really, but I like the idea. I always liked to hide behind loud guitars, but I’m finding myself performing acoustic shows more and more."
SPQ: Besides the upcoming acoustic gig, are there any Scissors shows coming up?
DV: "Yes, we have a show coming up on April 30th with The Frantic. Then we'll be at Subterranean on June 4th with our friends, The Super Happy Fun Club. It's their record release show. We’re also really excited to play the Ryan’s Hope reunion show on July 16th this year. Those guys are great dudes and we’re all huge fans of the Hope and The Reaganomics."
SPQ: I want to thank you for your time, Darren. Always a pleasure talking with you. How can people reach The Scissors for further tour dates, record release info and merch?
DV: "Thanks for taking the time to spread the word about us. We appreciate the help! Everything you need to know is encapsulated here."