The Knoxville, Tenn. quintet playing at Brews Brothers West on May 19 may call themselves 10 Years, but they’ve been working for much longer than a decade to hone their alternative metal sound and earn a fan base independent of big labels and creative restrictions.
After three albums on a major label, 10 Years broke away and formed Palehorse Records, recording their latest release, “Minus the Machine,” at drummer and guitarist Brian Vodinh’s Kashmir Recording. Before the band’s Sunday performance, Vodinh talked to The Weekender via e-mail about taking that leap and its affect on the band and its album.
THE WEEKENDER: How did the group first form, and how did you decide on the name of the band?
BRIAN VODINH: The group formed when I was around 16 or 17 years old. It formed out of a group of friends who happened to all play instruments who decided to try to make music together. We actually booked our first show back in 1999 but did not have a name yet. After we came up with dozens of names that we ultimately passed on, we decided on 10 Years. It was a song title at the time, but we liked it for the band name.
W: What made things really take off after Jesse Hasek came on as your singer?
BV: Right before Jesse came on as our singer, we had decided to devote 110 percent to the band. Everyone had day jobs, and we were all broke, but we felt it was time to push things to the next level. Our vocalist at the time just had other aspirations that he wanted to pursue, so he moved on and we were then left looking for a new singer. We found Jesse and he was luckily on the same page as the rest of us.
W: You guys went from working with a major label to going independent. Is that just the way the music industry is going?
BV: Yes. Major labels are a graveyard for most rock bands. Major labels are concerned with their bottom dollar, and genres like hip-hop and pop better suit the criteria for most major labels. Rock bands need time to develop and time to cut their teeth on the road. Trying to nurture the career of a legit rock band is usually a job better suited for the band and their team, not an executive from a major corporation.
W: What was it like starting your own label?
BV: Starting our own label was something that we could not have done without the help of our management team. They, luckily, house the infrastructure that was necessary to pull off such an endeavor. Aside from being sure that the proper business decisions are being made, our biggest concern was just to ensure that we hold onto our creative integrity.
W: Did you end up starting your own studio, Kashmir, to record the “Minus the Machine” independently, or did you start the studio before that?
BV: I had been wanting to start my own studio before “Minus the Machine,” but it worked out that this was the perfect time for it. I used to be an engineer in a studio, and I had produced other acts and written for numerous other projects, so having my own studio is the single best thing I could have done for myself and my career.
W: What inspired the songs on this record?
BV: Inspiration comes from any and everywhere. Honestly, we were really inspired by the newfound freedom we could sink our teeth into from starting our own label.
W: Did making the album yourselves change the record thematically at all?
BV: The only difference was that we did whatever we wanted. Depending on who the outside producer is, sometimes they tell you to change certain lyrics or something like that. There was none of that this time. Only us critiquing ourselves.
W: Do you think it would have turned out differently if you hadn’t self-produced?
BV: Absolutely. Most of these songs would not have even been written. Since we wrote and recorded simultaneously, so much of the music and vocals just came out of the process. Most producers want to hear finished demos before starting to record an album, so we probably would have written totally different songs had we gone about this process differently.
W: 10 Years has experimented with different sounds over the years. Is there ever a fear of what fans will think when you’re moving in different directions?
BV: We have joked that certain songs might gain or lose fans, but we don’t genuinely fear that. I know for a fact that it is a 100 percent impossibility that we could ever please everyone. People will always find something that they don’t like about you! We just make music that we love and go from there.
W: How has this current tour been going since it started earlier this month?
BV: The tour is going well. We are enjoying getting some spring time festivals under our belt as well… We are playing some songs that we haven’t played in a long time, and we are just up there having fun!