New York anthemic rock outfit VISTA rage war against the machine. "We fight for what went wrong," lead singer Hope Vista declares on the band's new track, "Henchmen," a grunge-soaked entry into their growing songbook. The new sampling is considerably more gritty and detached than last year's Versus EP, which might be due in part to a lineup overhaul soon after the release. "It was definitely an eventful year, but we're just working to continuously move forward and not focus on any lineup changes that happened in the summer," Vista shares exclusively with Popdust over a recent email. The band now features Greg Almeida on guitar and Matthew Vlossak on drums. "It's a new year now, these guys are true family to me, and we're 100% ready to take on whatever comes next."
While the band looks optimistically into the future, Vista concedes the transition hasn't been easy. "There were many, many moments that shook me up, but it was all about maintaining the right level of patience, something I've never been very good at in the past," she says. But she did not allow what happened to dampen her resolve to continue pushing forward. "I just went right back on the hunt to find the right members. There wasn't a day that I stopped doing work, talking to people, or putting feelers out. Bands lose members very often. It's something that comes as part of the package of being in a band, and although I wasn't prepared for it to happen so soon, everything came to be."
Their destiny soon become clear. "We mesh really well, personally and musically, and I think that shows on stage and off," says bandmate Vlossak. Vista adds, "I've said before that this doesn't really feel like a revitalized lineup; it just feels like the lineup that was meant to be from the start."
With a fresh pair of eyes and a renewed spirit, the trio plots a new EP to be released later this year and a ton of upcoming live shows. "Henchman" is just the beginning, a track with a profound, universal message in the day of ever-increasing darkness. "[This song] was written in the perspective of someone who feels oppressed in today's society. 2016 brought along a string of events that rattled our world as a whole, and we wanted to hopefully send a message of unity to those who feel this oppression," says Vista. "The track wasn't written about one event in particular, so the lyrics can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, but the same message rings true: we stand with the oppressed and will do anything in our power to make sure everyone has a voice that's heard loud and clear."
Released nearly one year ago, Versus continues to carry tremendous weight for them. "It honestly never got the chance it deserved. We (as a band) reflect on that a lot and are trying to give it some life. It's a good stepping stone for the new music we're working on," explains Vlossak.
"The process was definitely rushed and a lot was happening around that time, so I don't think it had the opportunity to grow or expand," notes Vista. "We did get some sick songs out of it, cool things to add to a live show, and a lot to work with and expand on now. As long as we're constantly learning, every project is worth the effort." She then cites standout track "On the Brink" as her proudest moment. "It was written to define the band's sound and I still feel the most connected to that track as a whole."
While VISTA is undeniably, whole-heartedly a rock band, by all definitions, Hope Vista has a rich and diverse cultural reference point. Her father was an accomplished jazz guitarist, from whom she gained a tremendous sense of musicality and love for the art form. "He was brilliant. I was always in awe at his talent and didn't understand it at times; he was just too good. He got me playing guitar and reading music at a really, really young age. He just made it look so cool, and I wanted to be just like him," she says. "I wanted to be as creative as him and use creativity as my outlet. We got into little spats when I was in middle school because I didn't want to play classical music. I wanted to plug in a Fender strat; so that's kind of where we differed. But the passion was on the same spectrum, always. The awesome thing is that there'll never be a last song from him; he had uploaded a YouTube video years ago of him playing a jazz track that I discovered after he passed. So I can still turn to that, it'll always be there."
Meanwhile, Almeida turns to Thomas Erak and Mario Camarena for inspiration for guitar tricks. "I love Ben Gibbard/Death Cab. I love Adam Young/Owl City. Those are just a few off the top of my head," he says.
Vlossak, though, looks to a cavalcade of drummers to fuel him. "I look to some of my favorite drummers for inspiration like Atom Willard, Mike Marsh and Josh Dunn. They hit hard but at the same time on a sensible fashion. I'm a sucker for ghost notes and 'fast fills,'" he says. "For sense of direction and, in general, I listen to everything and anything. Sometimes I turn to soundtracks. Other times bands like Angels and Airwaves or Brand New."
For now, VISTA is riding the wave "Henchman" has created online. "I believe it is a logical next step, especially given the new members and influences. There's more intricate guitar work, cooler chords, different vocal elements, still anthemic though," Almeida says of the group's next studio efforts.
Vlossak continues, "'Versus' was a stepping stone seeing where this band could go. Having that understanding and moving forward with a general idea of what kind of sound we want, we made the new single. There's a lot of things to still explore for more new songs too."
Reflecting on her time in the music business so far, Vista collects her thoughts. "It's super different [being in a band]. I think the biggest thing I learned is to embrace other creative ideas. I was stuck in my own little bubble before, and because of that, I eventually didn't feel challenged anymore. I learned about patience, having a strong work ethic, being organized and persistent."
Take a listen to "Henchmen" below:
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