Friday, March 03, 2006

Ladies, don’t worry too much about getting your picture with him for you MySpace page, because the next time you see him Kenny Vasoli is gonna be older and he’ll be looking his age. Not that looks are what he’s about, but that’s kind of my point. As lead singer and bassist for the Starting Line since age 14, the 21-year-old has already had a career most musicians would kill for. While most of us were going to prom and sitting in our intro to psych classes, he’s been finding out what’s really important in the music industry and how to keep your band right where you want it.

I sat down with Ken before he went on at Tremont Music Hall. Here’s the meat of it:

Me: How do you avoid or resist the temptation to just cash in at a time when band’s like Fall Out Boy are getting up on MTV and straight up selling themselves and their image and throwing the door wide open for any band “like them”?
Ken: I guess we’ve just always felt like, “Here’s us and our music. If you don’t like it, fuck it.”

Me: That’s a good answer and I know you mean it, but I’ve heard Pete Wentz say it over and over, too. Can you elaborate at all?
Ken: Yeah, you’re right. What I mean is I have to do this for me. I want to be able to look back on this time and still love it and be proud of it when I’m older.

Me: Do you think taking that stand to sell yourself has hurt you in the industry? You recently split from Drive-Thru. Were Richard and Stefani upset that you weren’t going the way they wanted you to?
Ken: Actually, we didn’t get kicked from Drive-Thru. MCA brought us up, then MCA turned to Geffin, and Geffin let us go.

Me: Oh, ok. I knew that New Found Glory and Something Corporate had been brought up. I didn’t realize you guys did as well.
Ken: Yeah, us, NFG, Something Corporate, Finch, they got us all. It was in Drive-Thru’s distribution deal with MCA.

Me: So how is it going shopping for a new label?
Ken: We just got a new label. Yeah, we just signed with Virgin.

Me: Congratulations! Are you nervous about working with another major after the mess with Geffin?
Ken: Not really. Virgin has been great. They know who we are and they trust us and are big enough to let us grow and do what we want. We’re not gonna be making the same records over again and they respect that.

Me: That’s awesome. I know you were working on the new record in the winter. Is it written now?
Ken: Um, we’re still finishing it up. I’m really excited about it. I think it’s gonna be the best Starting Line record yet.

Me: Cool. You guys have really grown with every record, musically and lyrically. You’re friends with Ace from the Early November. Not that whatever you do won’t be great, but have you given any thought to doing anything as ambitious their new triple album?
Ken: (laughs) No, I can’t write a triple. Ace is nuts, that’s his thing. I’ve heard a lot of the new record and it’s amazing. There’s so much great stuff going on in the whole thing. You’re gonna love it.

Me: Just one more topic: You’re only a couple months older than I am. I was always inspired and in awe when I was in high school that someone my age was getting the chance to do everything you were doing. What was it like being 17, recording an album, and spending the whole summer on Warped Tour?
Ken: It was crazy. I was sitting there at that point thinking, “Here I am. I’m gonna finish high school and then I’m just gonna go to college to study something I’m not excited about.” Now I get to do what I love every day. It’s awesome.

Me: [Guitarist] Matt Watts graduated from college with an engineering degree. Do you think/know if he regrets that?
Ken: I don’t think so. He’s just happy to be doing what he really wants to now.

Me: Alright, I won’t take up any more of your time. I know there are lots of girls waiting to talk to you.
Ken: (laughs)

Me: Thanks for talking though. I’ll see you up front in a bit.
Ken: Yeah, man. Thank you. I’ll see you up there and hopefully I’ll talk to you again sometime. I hope you love the new stuff.

Their set was the best of the six times I’ve seen them. They’re only getting better as they go. The Starting Line will be spending the rest of the spring headlining the Screaming is for Babies tour will guests Copeland, Gatsby’s American Dream, and Cartel. This summer they’ll be heading into the studio to record the follow up to 2005’s Based on a True Story.

[buy album]

Stephen Mayer
Contributing Writer

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