About a month ago, punk super group Versus the World came back from a five year (!!!) hiatus with Drink. Sing. Live. Love.; an electrifying and rambunctious sophomore outing. Before embarking on a tour with MxPx Allstars and Unwritten Law, I got to interview vocalist Donald Spence about the album, where the band was, and where they are off to.
Alan: In the age of the internet, it’s rather unheard of to put out an album a couple years apart apart from one another. However, your newest release Drink. Sing. Live. Love. took five years to come out. Why such a long time between albums?
Versus The World’s Donald Spence: We needed a break. Mike had been touring pretty nonstop before he’d joined up with us. We had a member change and a divorce. Just a lot of shit that had to be resolved before we could go out and tour again. We back, we happy, we’re healthy. That’s important.
Alan: Although this is technically your “sophomore album,” it’s clear that you guys are no rookies, as D.S.L.L. is one incredibly solid punk album. What was you and your band mates’ mindset while making this album?
Donald: Thanks, I appreciate that. We didn’t have a set mind frame or specific vision to the record, we just were really focused on making it as good as we knew how. We’d been gone a while so we took extra time to make sure we were happy with it.
Alan: How was the writing process for the album?
Donald: I pretty much wrote most of the record on my porch with an acoustic guitar and a bottle of wine. Chris and I built a studio in my back yard so the guys would just cruise over, we’d have a couple drinks or a smoke and we’d just make music. It’s really relaxed and natural. It’s the way I started making music when I was a kid.
Alan: Versus The World is made up of former members of The Ataris and Crooks and Liars. How is the dynamic between the four of you both in the studio and on tour?
Donald: Chris still plays in Lagwagon, Mike left the Ataris right when we started and Bryan and I had crooks and liars as an outlet for the mellower music that I write. All of these bands were connected by friendships, shows, side projects, ect. so working together is really easy. We all have our roles; I write and sing, Chris is just amazingly talented so he can make anything that I write into something interesting. Mike keeps us all motivated and focused & Bryan is the brains behind the operation. With ours him, we’re lost. I love my band, I’m lucky to have ‘em.
Alan: Speaking of tours, you guys are about to head out on a small US tour with punk legends MxPx AllStars and Unwritten Law this fall, then later going on the Soundwave Festival early next year. How do you guys prepare for two incredibly different tours?
Donald: MxPx will be a blast. Mike Herrera has been friends with us for years. Lagwagon took them on tour a couple years back, they took the Ataris out before that. And when he plays in town he crashes at my place. We have been playing a lot of shows with Unwritten Law recently and Scott is one of the best front men in rock & roll. So a tour with a buddies like that is just a blast. You prepare by knowing ahead of time that we’ll be drinking a lot, so take a bunch of pictures. Sound wave is just insane. We only have 30 minutes sets so we HAVE to be tight. Festivals that big, there are so many people that may never have seen your band, so every show had to be amazing. I’m really looking forward to that tour.
Alan: Which do you prefer, the intimate nature of club touring or the giant venues of the festival?
Donald: Festivals are cool because you get to see a lot of old buddies you don’t get to run into that often, you get to meet new bands. The organization is insane, foods usually good and the bands are killer. So as a fan of music I like playing the festivals. I’ll check out bands all day. But there’s nothing better than the energy at a small venue. You get to meet fans, really meet them, you know? Love the small venues, love the festivals.
Alan: For new listeners reading this interview, how would you describe your band in three words or less?
Donald: Your new favorite.
Alan: And for new bands coming up, what advice would you give them as a veteran in the business?
Donald: Be nice. It sounds cheesy but the touring world is very small. You will see the bands that opened for you last year killing it next year. Just being around nice, good, honest people makes touring so much easier. That, and try to hire a sober dude to work for you. Hope that helps. Cheers!
And cheers to you, Donald. I hope you guys have a great tour this fall – might have to go see the show when you come to St. Louis in November. You can find their tour dates with MxPx Allstars and Unwritten Law below, along with their first single from Drink. Sing. Live. Love entitled “A Fond Farewell.” The album is out now through Viking Funeral Records, and can be bought through iTunes and Amazon, and streamed through Spotify.
Oct 29 – Columbia, SC – New Brookland Tavern
Oct 31 – Charlotte, NC – The Milestone
Nov 1 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
Nov 2 – Allentown, PA – Crocodile Rock
Nov 3 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
Nov 4 – Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall
Nov 6 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop
Nov 7 – Detroit, MI – Shelter
Nov 8 – Chicago, IL – The Bottom Lounge
Nov 9 – St. Louis, MO – Firebird