Photo credit: Todd Westphal


Ian Cole (guitar/vocals)
Aristotle Dreher (bass)
Oliver Williams (drums)

“With great rock, comes great responsibility…”

It’s not quite the mantra that Uncle Ben bore into Peter Parker as he underwent his metamorphous into Spiderman, but we’ll allow Vaeda a little room for creative license as they reveal their band mantra. Any number of goofy parallels can be applied, but the simple fact of the matter is, the members of Vaeda don’t take their opportunity to be musicians lightly. “I’ve always felt, as an individual, that I have been given so much, yet have never felt deserving of it,” says singer/guitarist Ian Cole. “I think it reminds me to try and give of myself and give back to those who have given to me.”

Before Cole gets too heavy, bassist Aristotle Dreher chimes in, seemingly out of left field: “The name Vaeda is Sanskrit for knowledge. The original Rig Vedas are the stories that are the basis for the Hindu religion, and in that religion the possession of knowledge brings people closer to the ultimate truth, and that which is divine. Music is an art form that lives and dies in the moment—It is pure, honest, and the ultimate truth. Yes, with great rock, comes great responsibility…”

And like the music on their STATE OF NATURE debut, everything comes full circle. 

But what’s lost in the conversation so far, is the offbeat and whimsical nature of the members of Vaeda. While their music bridges the sonic gap between the power and absolution of progressive rock and the contemporary realm of pop-punk, the results do so in a manner that is fresh and spirited, dynamic and animated. Much like the band. “I think we blend punk and progressive very well, and we do it with three people,” says Cole, who’s joined in the band by Dreher and drummer Oliver Williams. “We love throwing curveballs on the first pitch, and we’re not afraid of leading the listener astray, messing up the rhythm of their headbanging.”

Their music may lead the listeners astray, but they invariably find their way back to the band, who were the No. 1 unsigned band on MySpace in Sept./Oct. 2005 based on song plays on the band’s homepage. The polling came at a pivotal time for Vaeda, who had recently relocated to Los Angeles from New York City after the recording of STATE OF NATURE and undergone a downsizing from four members, to three. The consolidation had a profound impact on the new release, as well as the obvious effects on the band. “Now, instead of yelling at three people, I yell at two people,” laughs Cole of the change. “Then they yell back at me and I end up shutting up, which is a very good thing. It’s the first quasi-functional relationship I’ve ever had…”

“It took tons of adjustments and a redistribution of the effects pedal jigsaw puzzle but, in the end, the downsizing helped us streamline the existing songs and squabble less about the particulars of the new songs,” explains Williams. “Instead of having a guitars-and-rhythm section sense of dichotomy, the three of us found a balance between each instrument so that each person’s part relies heavily on what the other two were doing.”

The results are staggering, as STATE OF NATURE shines on two fronts: first as a collection of individually dynamic songs, and second as a gripping collective of songs, each playing a part in shaping a multi-faceted listening experience. “All For You” is purely pop, featuring melodic choruses and pining music that could seamlessly co-exist on the landscape of modern rock radio. But Vaeda aren’t your little brother’s radio-friendly band. Drawing from an amalgam of influences that range from Nirvana and Tool to Living Colour and Pennywise, each plays a part in the evolution of the band’s sound. “Battle Song” has guitar parts that ring with the melodic shimmer of progressive metal, while the rhythm section similarly does its part in elevating the track to anthemic heights. “Jesus Rides the Subway” is meaty in the middle with an eerie ambience melted over the top, “1.25” offers a more emotive missive, “Imperial” pays homage to Maynard Keenan’s ethereal vocals and Tool’s textured depths, and “Kneejerk” rolls the divergent paths into a tightly-wound bundle of energy that sizzles and sparks with hyperactivity.

Vaeda were raised on a diet of musical diversity, and they dish it back with their full-length debut, acknowledging the influence of the acts that came before them, and uniting their sounds into a sonic zeitgeist for the new millennium. Vaeda have created a sound that is inclusive of styles, rather than exclusive in taste, and it makes for one of the more refreshingly musical albums of recent memory.

“We’re three everyday dudes from New York,” says Oliver. “We eat, sleep and bitch just like everyone else. We’ve had personnel changes, we’ve had our hearts broken, we’ve hit the road and, of course, we’ve had our chances to quit. But the power of rock compels us, and we’ve finally been given the opportunity to channel these things and present them to an audience.” Dreher brings it full-circle, once again: “The bands we enjoyed growing up gave us more than just music, they gave us the inspiration to be great… And with great rock comes great responsibility.”

Subliminal Spiderman references aside, the band do have one simple request if you should happen upon meeting them: “Please give us a high five, ninja turtle-style… We're huge fans, sinceriously.”

–Paul Gargano (7.06)




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