From one man band to a four-man odyssey, Vast Robot Armies are on the march but still managed to put a little time aside to chat to James Nock about their journey…
Jason Thomson’s formidable solo multi instrumental project ‘Vast Robot Armies’ has recently become a fully-fledged band effort – a natural progression for the former frontman and drummer of the now sadly defunct Canadian three piece ‘Sometimes Why’. After a fantastic first album, pretty much wholly written and performed by Thomson, he wanted his next outing to be a more dynamic record, bringing in other likeminded musicians to evolve the ‘Vast Robot Armies’ (VRA) sonic footprint.
A few months before the recording of Jason’s last VRA effort ‘Goodnight Myopia’, a friend recommended he check out the band ‘Sundiver’. A new fan was born and in turn, unknown to Jason, John Agee from ‘Sundiver’ was already hooked on VRA’s sonic workings. John shared the new discovery with fellow band mate Joe Wells, and thoughts of possible collaboration started to form.
After spending a while digesting ‘Goodnight Myopia’, John and Joe finally reached out to Jason, establishing a friendship borne out of a mutual musical respect. Working together seemed like the natural progression of this budding creative partnership.
With John and Joe hailing from Kansas City, Missouri and Jason from Toronto, distance was a minor obstacle, so they set about sending demos back and forth, adding to them and deleted over eager sentiments, repeating the process, sending audio over the web and back to each other again and again.
These musical sketches would eventually become the audio blue prints of the space rock, shoe gazing collaboration that became Vast Robot Armies’ new album Little Creatures.
Soon it was time for a face to face. John and Joe took to the road, heading north through the States and over the border to meet Jason in Toronto. A classic American road trip for two creative heads full of ‘what ifs’ and excitement for the musical collaboration about to happen.
The newly established VRA line up took to the streets of Toronto, played a live gig and embarked on a relentless schedule of practice sessions. Soon it was time for the Kansas City boys to return home but the to-ing and fro-ing of demos and edits took on a new urgency. This was going places.
The new core of VRA had now been established but Jason was unsure that his drumming were up to the standard needed by their new songs. They approached old musical cohort and formidable drummer for ‘The life and Times’, Chris Metcalf ,who jumped at the chance to join the VRA project. Allen Epley and Eric Abert, also from ‘The Life And Times’, were already on board to engineer and produce the record, so Chris joining VRA was something of a no brainer.
His drumming perfectly complemented the guitar and bass parts that Jason, Joe and John had intricately created. They had found the perfect dynamism to complement their epic opus. A passion for their art had brought members of three vibrant and prolific bands together to bolster the ranks of Vast Robot Armies.
The morning after Jason joined the Sundiver boys in Kansas City, the new core of VRA hit the road, their destination: Electronical Studios, Chicago.
After a prolific and productive week in the studio (and Chris only having one practice with the rest of the band before recording), the studio fell silent. The record was done. It was time for post-production to take its turn with Allen and Eric bringing all the tracks together with Jason overlooking the process.
The melding of creativity was not only on the musical front but also in the artwork produced by Lauren Sharp. Lauren has crafted art for a handful of bands from the Kansas City music scene, creating a number of inserts and gig posters.
Again, like the sharing of demos, after the to-ing and fro-ing of images with Jason and the other members of VRA, Lauren established a portfolio of concepts that all parties felt would represent the ethos of the band. Lauren eventually came up with the goods for their single ‘Foxtrot’, as well as producing promotional art and other supporting images, including the shadow puppet teaser for the album.
A team effort, finally the look and sound that would represent the new incarnation of ‘Vast Robot Armies’ had become a reality.
The new album, ‘Little Creatures’, is due out in the UK in March 2015. You can catch early releases of ‘Everything new is old again’ and lead single ‘Foxtrot’ by following the links below.
About the author
James is a single parent, learning to write, so he jumped right in at the deep end, volunteering to write for CALM
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