Vancouver’s THE VEER UNION has sold 100,000 albums and has over 20 million streams worldwide. The band has also had seven top 40 singles on the US Billboard Rock Radio charts. These are some impressive statistics, if that floats your boat. But let’s talk history for a moment. Formed in 2004, and originally called Veer, this band released their debut independent album ‘Time to Break the Spell’ in 2006, then won a place on a CFOX 99.3 Vancouver ‘Seeds’ radio competition in 2007 and started to gain a name for themselves. The following year they changed their name to The Veer Union and signed with Universal Records, releasing their sophomore album ‘Against The Grain’, which included the hit single ‘Seasons’. The band’s third album ‘Divide the Blackened Sky’ was self-produced and contained the Active Rock hit ‘Bitter End’.
The following year The Veer Union suffered a crushing blow in the departure of all the original members apart from vocalist Crispin Earl, who found and recruited new guitarist Ryan Ramsdell. The duo decided to turn their attention away from albums and recorded the ‘Life Support, Vol. 1’ EP as part of a Kickstarter campaign. After recruiting a whole new band, The Veer Union’s fourth album, ‘Decade’ was released in 2016 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the band’s first album release, and was a huge success. The single ‘Defying Gravity’, which spoke about vocalist Crispin’s struggle with depression over the years was released from the album to critical acclaim. We asked Crispin how he found the strength and perseverance to build the band back up from the ground whilst dealing with his own chronic mental health issues. He says, “In my experience nothing great has ever come easy… Just being able to make music and release it and have people enjoy it gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. I've learned that it's worth fighting for another day to appreciate the gift of life”.
The band are now set to release ‘Decade II: Rock & Acoustic’ on Crispin’s own Rock Shop Entertainment label (RSE) on 31st August 2018, as the second part of a stunning box set chronicling the band’s history, present and future. Crispin has this to say about ‘Decade II’, “I find it hard to describe in words how proud I am to be finally putting out this album. It has been the most challenging and rewarding album I have ever made; this project came into inception in 2015 and we are more than half way thorough 2018 so I am happy to have finally completed it, especially with getting so much amazing feedback on it!”.
The eighteen tracks on ‘Decade II: Rock & Acoustic’ are made up of the remaining four songs from the ‘Decade’ recording sessions, four new songs, plus acoustic versions of all eight of those songs and two covers. As a pre-release to the album, The Veer Union have already put out a stunning acoustic cover of Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’, to honour Chester Bennington on the first anniversary of his death. The sensitive and heartfelt tribute has over 120,000 views on YouTube and almost 500,000 on FaceBook. It’s a massive, iconic song that means so much to so many people, so we wondered if The Veer Union had any reservations about covering it? Crispin says “When you do anything artistically, it’s like standing naked in front of someone and saying: ‘Tell me what you think?’ LOL. All you can ever hope is that people will appreciate it for what it is, and what it is to me is passion and raw emotion stemming from a place of real truth”.
So, onto the album. Industrial sounding opener ‘Living Not Alive’ grabs my attention from the outset. The powerful drumming and heavy production with a wonderfully distorted vocal weaving between the clearer vocal from Crispin makes for an absolutely incredible combination, and I can see why this impactful song has been picked for the next single. The guitars on the acoustic version are beautiful, and together with the lilting vocals make for a beautifully atmospheric track. ‘Save Yourself’ has implanted itself firmly into my brain after listening to the album for several days. Pounding drums from Ricardo Viani drive big choruses with added guitar riffs and such a catchy vocal; you’ll catch yourself singing along before the song has finished. It has a real haunting quality to the vocals in the quieter verses. The acoustic version is simply breathtaking, the vocals sound absolutely stunning combined simply with the acoustic guitar and I had serious goosebumps.
The anthemic ‘Embrace the Day’ is a industrial, hard-hitting yet melodic track taking a look at what is going on in the world. “We all point and blame the other side, we all fan the flame of the divide…we must change this life, embrace the day. We must bring this to an end, embrace the day”, it’s a track that is sure to get the crowd going when played live. It’s perfect for getting those fists in the air! Although I really like both versions, I personally prefer the acoustic version of this one, as I love the guitar work and the rawness of the vocals. ‘City of the Sun’ is a track that’s full of those thwacking, driving drums and raw vocals yet has slightly softer interludes. The rock version feels really dark yet acoustically it sounds like a different song altogether, more uplifting and brighter.
People’s reliance on technology and the effect it is having on us is explored in ‘Man Into Machine’. The lyrics bemoan the loss of humanity as we increasingly “plug into our devices” and even the beat has a robotic quality at times which reinforces the lyrics. I much prefer the rock version of this song to the acoustic, I think it fits much better with the ethos of the song. ‘Last Regret’ begins with less of an impact than the other rock tracks, but as the song continues it slowly builds. The vocals switch effortlessly between growling and clear and really show Crispin’s versatility as a vocalist. As with the other tracks, this has the intense, smacking drum rhythm that drives the track forward and makes it impossible not to move to. Acoustically, it is hauntingly beautiful and moving, full of heart-rending emotion.
‘Awaken’ does just that as it kicks some serious ass! It’s really grungy in places, with chugging guitars and awesome frenetic drum fills. The acoustic version brings about a completely different story and has my attention focussed on the lyrics, incredible vocals and the guitar. There’s a groovy beat to ‘Letting Go’, which also has some cracking riffs from lead guitarist Dan Sittler, and the driving rhythm section of drummer Ricardo Viana and rhythm guitarist Ryan Ramsdell really go to town! The acoustic version is a gentle strumming version that couldn’t sound more different.
Even though I’ve looked over the track listing, I’m not expecting ‘Epic’ when it starts. I listen to it a few times on repeat as I try to decide what I think of this version. When Faith No More originally released their version in 1990, they were one of my favourite bands. The Veer Union have given the song a fresh vibe by adding their own twist. It might split the rock nation, but I think it works very well. Crispin had this to say about covering the song, “Faith No More is one of those bands that influenced so many musicians in the world including everyone in my band at a very young age. We figured if we were going to do a cover from such an iconic band we would need to do it in our own way, not just replicate Faith No More. We believe we achieved that”. I completely agree!
The Veer Union’s version of ‘Numb’ gives me goosebumps like I’ve not had in a long time; it’s simply breathtaking. I’m at a loss for words other than these. With the following acoustic tracks already covered, my mind wanders to thoughts of The Veer Union’s imminent tour of the US, and wondering if the band get up to anything interesting in their down time on tour? “I wish I had a cool answer for you, but the truth is when you’re not playing you do pretty normal stuff like sleep, eat and talk to fans, friends and family while travelling”, says Crispin.
Talking of the tour, The Veer Union have some pretty impressive VIP bundles available on their website, which include a box set, t-shirt, ticket to the show, meet and greet and backstage acoustic performance, all for the price that some bands charge just for a quick photo opportunity. With this in mind, we asked Crispin for his thoughts on the very high prices that seem to get charged as standard in the industry for these experiences. He says, “I think the music industry is evolving and I think that if bands/artists aren’t really making money from CDs and download sales like they used to - they have to be creative and do something to try and find a balance. You have to generate revenue in any way you can, just to stay afloat – especially until the corporate giants start paying a fairer royalty rate”.
‘Decade III: Demos & Rarities’, on which “You can expect to hear all the demos and rarities from over a decade ago, which will help people really get a sense of how the band has evolved”, completes the six album box set and can be exclusively pre-ordered direct from the band’s website (link below). Says Crispin, “Together the six albums outline the history of the band’s evolution”, hence the ‘Evolution’ headline tour (dates below, with more to be added).
This album definitely shows the versatility of The Veer Union. There is the full throttle hard rocking side, full of anthemic songs that get you moving to the driving beat and could easily fill a massive arena, and then there is the flip side, the acoustic versions of the songs, where you can feel the intense sentiment not only in Crispin’s vocals, but in the beautiful guitars too. It’s striking how different these songs sound when the instrumentation is changed and the heavy production removed; in most cases they sound like totally different songs as the focus is changed entirely. These days it seems as if every musician is talking about mental health, and that is such a positive thing. Crispin has talked very openly about his long struggle with depression over the years, and this album’s theme is one of taking negativity and turning it into something positive. I can imagine these songs being played live and the whole mood of the room changing with each one; they are really powerful. I’m actually gutted that I have only just discovered this band, and I’m hoping The Veer Union bring their ‘Evolution’ tour to the UK!
Crispin Earl - lead vocals
Dan Sittler - lead guitar/backing vocals
Ryan Ramsdell - rhythm guitar
Ricardo Viana - drums
‘Decade II: Rock & Acoustic’ track listing:-
Living Not Alive
Embrace The Day
City Of The Sun
Man Into Machine
Epic (featuring Amalien)
Save Yourself (acoustic)
City Of The Sun (acoustic)
Living Not Alive (acoustic)
Man Into Machine (acoustic)
Embrace The Day (acoustic)
Letting Go (acoustic)
Last Regret (acoustic)
US tour dates:-
The ‘Resurrection’ tour with Puddle Of Mudd, Saliva, Tantric & Shallowside
30/8/2018 - Newberry Opera House – Newberry, SC
31/8/2018 - Firmament – Greenville, SC
1/9/2018 - Devault Vineyards – Concord, VA
2/9/2018 - Main Steet Staion - Daytona Beach, FL
3/9/2018 - Captain Hiram's – Sebastian, FL
6/9/2018 - Red River Music Hall – Altus, OK
7/9/2018 - Tonys Pizza Event Center – Salina, KS
8/9/2018 - Crossroads KC - Kansas City, MO
9/9/2018 - Hermans Hideaway – Denver, CO
14/9/2018 - Bear River Event Center – Loleta, CA
The Veer Union ‘Evolution’ headline tour:-
16/9/2018 - Malones - Santa Ana, CA
17/9/2018 – Full Circle Brewing Company – Fresno, CA
18/9/2018 – Backstage Bar & Billiards – Las Vegas, NV
19/9/2018 - Pub Rock – Scottsdale, AZ
21/9/2018 – Joeys Bad Company Bar – El Paso, TX
22/9/2018 – Homers Bar & Muisc Venue – Abilene, TX
26/9/2018 - The Deadhorse - San Angelo, TX
27/9/2018 – Curtain Club – Dallas, TX
28/9/2018 – Dirty Dog – Austin, TX
29/9/2018 - Jack's Bar - San Antonio, TX
3/10/2018 – Boozer’s Rock Bar – Corpus Christi, TX
4/10/2018 - Ethos Live – Laredo, TX
5/10/2018 - BFE – Houston, TX
6/10/2018 – The Brick House – Houma, LA
7/10/2018 – Olde Towne Tavern – Slidell, LA
10/10/2018 - The Warrior - Tallahassee, FL
11/10/2018 - South Street City Oven & Grill – Naples, FL
12/10/2018 - West End Trading Company – Sanford, FL
13/10/2018 - Brass Mug – Tampa, FL
14/10/2018 - Nighthawks – Jacksonville, FL
17/10/2018 - Furnace 41 – Jonesboro, GA
19/10/2018 - Southern Shakers Bar & Grill - Summerville, SC
20/10/2018 - The Rabbit Hole - Charlotte, NC
21/10/2018 – Blind Tiger – Greensboro, NC
24/10/2018 – Drunk Horse Pub – Fayetteville, NC
25/10/2018 – The Calico Room – Wilmington, NC
26/10/2018 – The Hideaway – Johnson City, TN
27/10/2018 – The Warehouse – Clarksville, TN
28/10/2018 – Sidetracks Music Hall – Huntsville, AL
31/10/2018 – The Smoking Moose Sallon – Anniston, AL
Connect with The Veer Union here:-
Official website: https://theveerunion.com/
Pre-order ‘Decade II: Rock & Acoustic’ here:-
Pre-order ‘Decade: History Of Our Evolution’ six album box set here:-
Listen to ‘Numb’ on Spotify here:
Bands in Town: https://www.bandsintown.com/en/a/198004-the-veer-union