Vadim Taver has an extensive history in the music industry, particularly in the punk rock and hardcore scenes. He has played and recorded with notable bands like This Day Forward (Equal Vision Records) and A Life Once Lost (Ferret Records). Additionally, he has been playing guitar for Poison the Well (Atlantic/Trustkill Records) in live performances since 2016.
Beyond his punk and hardcore roots, Vadim’s musical background is diverse, having played in Concert and Jazz bands, orchestras, and even toured the world as a singer with the Philadelphia Boys Choir. His latest album, however, represents a departure from his previous heavy music releases. Instead, it features sound and arrangements more reminiscent of artists like Air, Pink Floyd, and Radiohead.
Slated for a March 26th sel-releae, his upcoming LP shows Taver’s versatile musical background and ability.
“The intent was always to make an album in the true sense of the word, with careful attention to detail and arrangements, to create something that will have the listener finding something new on each listen.” – comments Vadim.
Working for 6 years at Revelation Records, Taver also brings a DIY ethic to his music having recorded and played the majority of instruments at home. All CD packaging was handmade and each one of a kind with a limited run of vinyl coming in April.
Following the release of his debut album, Vadim is expected to embark on live performances with his band.
With the unveiling of his debut album drawing near, we spoke with Vadim to learn about his story, the days of A Life Once Lost and This Day Forward, his recent shows with Poison The Well, and his new solo album.
“I was born in Ukraine (when it was still part of the Soviet Union) and my grandmother took me to try out to sing for the Kiev children’s choir when I was 4.” – recalls Vadim. “Around this time, I was evacuated from Kiev due to the proximity to Chrnobyl and spent 6 months away from home. When I returned, I continued to sing in this choir and my mom would show me little things here and there on the piano. I was given my own turntable and my own records. My favorite at this age was a German 80s band called Modern Talking.”
In 1989, Vadim’s family started their immigration process to the United States. “We already had family in the United States who petitioned for our move and the legal process at that point took 5 years from getting on the waiting list, to getting the government’s approval, to taking on the journey.” – says Vadim.
“In Elementary School I started playing the trumpet in the school band and was listening to Michael Jackson until I discovered MTV. Once MTV entered my life in the early 90s, I was addicted. I loved everything from Nirvana to Guns N’ Roses to Dr. Dre. I soaked it all in.”
Vadim tried out for and was accepted into the Philadelphia Boys Choir, where he toured the world and served as a soloist from 1991 to 1996. Throughout his time with the choir, he had the opportunity to perform in some of the most renowned venues around the world, including the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and Westminster Abbey. Vadim’s experiences in the choir allowed him to showcase his musical talents and perform in front of audiences worldwide.
He started to discover punk and hardcore music in Middle School when his neighbor made him a mixtape and started pulling him away from MTV and into more independent and obscure bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Inside Out, Shelter, 108, etc.
“My first hardcore mixtape was made for me in 1994, but it wasn’t until 1996 that I went to my first hardcore show with my neighbor who was a few years older and his band was opening.” – recalls Vadim.
Vadim began A Life Once Lost when he was a Sophomore in High School and this became his first real band to play out, record an album, and tour. At this time, hr got heavily into other metallic hardcore bands like Converge, Cave In, The Dillinger Escape Plan, etc.
He joined This Day Forward in 2000, and stayed with them until they broke up in 2003.
“At this point, I was touring almost nonstop and exploring bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Mineral, Handsome, and began my lifelong obsession with Elliott Smith.” – says Vadim.
Speaking about what made him leave A Life Once Lost, he commented: “My time in A Life Once Lost and This Day Forward ran concurrently for about 6 months, and eventually I was given an ultimatum by ALOL to choose between playing with one band or the other. I wasn’t very happy playing in ALOL for various reasons at the time while the guys in TDF were my best friends, so that made the decision very easy for me.”
In 2006 VadimI moved to California and began working at a music distributor called Smartpunk where their warehouse manager started introducing him to many UK bands from the late 80s and early 90s – Suede, Pulp, Swervedriver, Slowdive. “I fell in love with most things from that era.” – admits Vadim.
“I put music to the side for a few years to go back to school for physics, doing two internships with NASA, and began private tutoring and teaching chess which I still do now.”
In the last 10 years, he really fell in love with a lot of electronic music, including acts like Air, Thievery Corporation, Zero 7, Massive Attack, Unkle, and the Ninja Tune rosteretc.
“I’m a HUGE fan of Bonobo, especially the Black Sands record.” – he expounds on his take on the Ninja Tune artists. “Cinematic Orchestra, Tycho (early couple records), Jaga Jazzist are all bands I enjoy a lot as well. I saw Cinematic Orchestra play at the Disney Concert Hall in LA with a big band and they sounded incredible. Moses Sumney came out as a guest.”
In 2016, Vadim was asked to play live guitar for Poison the Well, and has been doing so since.
“2020 was supposed to be the year PTW played a bunch of shows doing the Opposite of December album in full.” – says Vadim. “We did the LA show in Jan 2020 expecting there to be more, but COVID put that on hold. In 2021, the first show back was playing Psycho Vegas but after that experience the guys realized they didn’t want to do the Opposite of December thing anymore, which is completely understandable.’
“The anniversary had passed and they have multiple other records to play songs from which they, as the makers of the music, are much more proud of. Canceling Furnace in 2021 was difficult but it was due to health issues with one of the members so was necessary but glad we got to come back and do the fest in 2022. I got to play on the same stage as Sunny Day Real Estate only a couple of hours apart, which was basically a bucket list thing for me.”
“Vadim Taver” is technically his second solo record, but it’s the first time he really started to piece together different elements of his musical upbringing.
“My understanding of voice and instrument arrangements from singing in choirs and playing in orchestras, the composition and songwriting I learned from The Beatles and Elliott Smith, and the need to sit with songs and parts and work on them until they feel right.” – says Vadim.
“Lyrics are the most difficult thing for me.” – he admits when asked about the lyrical content for the new album.
“I don’t consider myself a very good writer and I sort of dread the process. There is an ark that formed in the making of an album which was a hopelessness and sadness that turns into an acceptance and appreciation of life.”
“I suppose it’s what a lot of people experienced going through the pandemic, but the truth of it is having this album to work on during that time saved my life. In the first few months of the lockdown my relationship of 6 years ended followed by the passing of my grandfather, who was more my father, two weeks apart.”
Having the album to work on was the best way to turn his attention from the grief and sadness to having a project to work on to pass the time. He spent more hours on this record that anything he has ever done in his entire life.
Asked about the distribution and promotional process for this release, Vadim told us that so far the release is self/crowd-funded, but it would be nice to have a label support him if that opportunity opens itself up.
“I don’t particularly enjoy the promotion aspect, but I had to learn the ropes and i got to use what I learned from the DIY experience growing up in punk/hardcore.” – he continues.
“I had help from a bunch of awesome people, and I appreciate them immensely. All of the CDs for my album are hand-made. I cut out cardboard, pages from magazines, tape, glue, the whole works. Each one is completely unique because I wanted them to be special.”
Looking back at his experience and the fast moving changes in the music industry, Vadim admits that he sees pros and cons of the fast growth. “The pros are that there’s a greater probability that your music will get into people’s ears simply from the ease of having it available to anyone that cares to check it out. As a music lover, I found so many amazing musicians and have dove into missing albums of artists I already loved simply because they were available and because I’m curious.”
“As a musician, it’s a much more difficult time to be able to do music as a career and there’s also a new game in the digital setting that I don’t really care to play which is trying to get on playlists and things. If it happens naturally, great – but buying onto those things – that is just not for me. Maybe that means less people will hear my music, then so be it. I’d like to think that what I did is at least interesting enough that people will pass it on through word of mouth.”
Lastly, asked about his plans to expand beyond touring with Poison The Well and launching possible new projects, Vadim admit that PTW is a pretty part time band. “All of the other guys have other things going on and are not very interested in being a full-time touring band of the past. It’s just unrealistic, and that’s ok. I’m happy with just showing up when they need me and getting to play some music in front of people and have a good time with friends. It’s all wonderful to do every once in a while.”
“I don’t know for sure if I will be part of the writing process for new music, but it would be fun given the opportunity.” – he admits. “I love collaborating with people and writing music with other musicians and I did a lot of that during the pandemic both with people I’ve met over the years and musicians who have been in other bands, big and small. I’m always welcome to do more projects like that. Creating music is such a beautiful thing and even if no one hears it, the act of making it is very gratifying and fun. I kind of live for it.
“Vadim Taver” is out March 26, 2023. Pre-order and listen here.