If you’re an eagle-eyed lover of underground 80s punk / noise rock tinged punk revival community (yes, we believe there’s such thing, sorry), you might recognize Dead Tank Records, a DIY label and distribution founded in 2001 by Josh Jubinsky. The label has recently teamed up with Tampa based noisy punk trio VACANCY to release their new EP “Empty Head”, a short yet ferocious offering that stands on its own thanks to an exciting batch of nervous, emotionally tinged noise rockish jams that will make you feel anxious, shattered and simultaneously empowered. We caught up with VACANCY’s vocalist Eliot Mayo and asked him to share some insights about the band and take us through each and every single track of “Empty Head”. Check out the result of our interrogation below.
VACANCY are: Christian Costello (guitar), Derek Stephan (drums), Eliot Mayo (vocals).
Here’s what Eliot told us about their other bands and what led them to form VACANCY:
Vacancy was formed late last year when Derek, Christian and I got together and started jamming. Christian and I met through playing and attending shows of each other’s previous bands and had been talking about starting something for a while, and early last year I found out Derek was moving back to Florida from New York, and we started talking about starting a band as well. It all ended up coming together very smoothly and organically, and here we are.
Currently, Vacancy is the only project that Derek and I are a part of. Christian also plays guitar in post punk band DRUG (who are unfortunately playing their last show at Fest 16 in gainesville this year) . As far as our previous bands, Derek was a member of thrash metal band PARTY TIME as well as weed/grind band SCOWL from New York, and I used to front the powerviolence/hardcore/grind band ESCAPIST.
“Empty Head” by VACANCY marks the band’s first proper EP and was released in late August via Dead Tank Records.
The record is inspired by our various musical influences with the central focus that everything is driving and loud. As far as the EP goes, it’s our first official release aside from the demo, and there isn’t so much a central theme around the record so much as it’s our first batch of songs. Lyrically, I come from a place that is less personal and more of a free form writing style. I tried to write from a base level that anyone could take in and relate to as they please.
VACANCY has plans on touring next year:
We’re a pretty new band so we haven’t seen much in the way of touring yet, though we plan to change that in 2018. So far we’ve only played areas in our home state, but the shows have been better than we could have expected for being so fresh into this project. We’re definitely looking forward to playing outside of Florida next year.
Lastly, the band elaborated on their local DIY music and art scene:
The scene in Tampa varies wildly in genre, and there are a lot of really great bands doing their thing right now. Bands like CAREER, PERMANENT MAKEUP, and LEVIATHAN CROSS are all providing their unique sounds in the underground punk/metal scene here. Recently local venue and institution Transitions Art Gallery has come back, and Lucky You Tattoo in St. Pete has grown in the past 2 years to one of the central spots for all ages DIY shows in the area. Everyone will always have their own unique take on the scene and whether things are good or bad, but lately things have been growing and thriving and we’re really excited to be a part of that.
Scroll down to get the full track by track commentary…
Pulled Under: Lately we’ve been closing our sets out with this song but it’s the opener for the EP. I really love the buiild up into the main riff/verse in this one, I get super hyped before my vocals start when we play it live. Lyrically, it loosely deals with themes of someone in your life, be it a friend or partner, who pulls you down with negativity and encourages reckless decisions that damage your relationship and your life in general, and the struggle to get away from those people before they take you down with them.
Empty Head: This is the title track to the EP and one of my personal favorites to play live. Empty Head I feel encompasses most aspects of the band’s sound in a blast of chaotic, condensed fury. A friend I sent the EP to described it as the feeling of waking up with an extremely bad hangover, which I feel is a pretty apt description. Lyrically, the song deals with the build up of frustration and anger that someone may feel before they go numb/feel nothing at all from the shock and overload of emotions.
Photo by Alton Plemmons
My Way Out: This is one of the catchiest and more anthem-like songs on the record. It’s got a driving drum beat and lyrically it’s more repetitious than the other songs as I’m way more focused on the catchy aspects of how everything sounds. Always a really fun song to play live. Lyrically, it loosely relates to the struggle of getting out of tougher situations that seem to have you locked in, and also reminds me of the feeling I get when I am able to release my aggression in a positive way by going off at punk/hardcore shows.
Extinguished: This is the slowest/longest song on the record, with a lot of build up to release that goes back and forth. I really love the heavier parts on this song, it’s the sludgiest that we get on the EP. Lyrically, I wrote the song at a time in my life when I was working 7 days a week and constantly in a state of perpetual weariness, always tired and always wanting to sleep but never having the time. It encompasses the feeling of frustration and eventually sanity doubting that can come with that.
Crushing Tyrannical Waste: This is the fastest and most straight punk song on the EP, and the closest thing lyrically that we have to a political song. “The pigs run the street” addresses not only the police, but the government in place that answers more to wealthy businesses than it does to it’s own people. The last half of the song is my favorite, as it spirals out into a particularly sludgey/nasty breakdown that I have a lot of fun with vocally.