WillToRock’s Tara Lakatos caught up with Nothing More Guitarist, Mark Vollelunga. They discussed the band being nominated for 3 Grammy’s, why they incorporate mental health in their writing, and who some of their dream collaborators would include…
Tara: I’m here with Mark Vollelunga from Nothing More. I’m just trying to catch up after a long time not seeing you.
Mark: Yeah. How you doing, Tara, I’m good, how are you, been good?. .
Tara: Yeah, well. So, You are really nearing the end of your touring cycle for “The Stories We Tell Ourselves”. You only have a couple tour dates left?
Mark: Yeah, just three shows counting today. Yeah, I mean it’s been a crazy ride.
Tara: You guys were nominated for three Grammy’s for “The Stories We Tell Ourselves”. One for Best Rock Album and For “Go to War” you were nominated for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock song. Tell me about that experience.
Mark: Finding out was a trip. I think that’s probably the greatest achievement I guess that we have, or whatever that you can get awarded for music. Really being able to tell your parents and your friends back home that were there in the front, you know, in the garage when you were rehearsing. To just be stoked and be proud that it’s your hard work that paid off. It’s awesome because we’ve always believed in the songs but to know that these stories you know live on and other people and in getting recognized like that is an amazing achievement. It’s something that we’re all really, really proud of and grateful for.
Tara: When “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” first came out, Octane on SiriusXM had premiered the entire album, and you’re the only band that has ever had three songs on their Big Uns countdown at the same time. How cool was that?
Mark: Oh, it’s so awesome. You know, I love Vinny and all those guys there for sure. They’re sweethearts and they’ve really been part of the family. I really think they helped break us, a lot of ways into the rock market. It was that early on belief, and that goes a long way. Yeah, just from some crappy shows, you know from playing for the bar staff, which I think Vinny was there for one of those, or whatever. And, you know, to, now we have been able to play the PlayStation Theater up there and headline and sell thousands of tickets it’s, awesome. It’s a dream come true.
Tara: Since you guys have been touring for this album for a couple years now. Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
Mark: Yeah, yeah. Probably the song I’m most proud of or favorite song is obviously the one that’s personal to me being “Fadein/Fadeout” about my son and my dad. It’s a blast playing live. Having that lull in the set in a good way to kind of get to something deeper, a little more heartfelt and not just a quick banger. It’s nice to kind of go there and get emotional for a little bit.
And I’m proud of kind of where we go sonically to into kind of more of more of a singer-songwriter type of tune and sort of an ode. As far as soundscapes go to classic rock or like a sort of almost Zeppelin type Floyd approach.
Tara: I actually have a question about that song. The video for “Fadein/Fadeout” just came out recently. The songs are personal me because I lost my father, a few years ago. How much of a meaning does that song have to you, being a father yourself.
Mark: That’s huge. Fortunately, my dad is still here and I’m so proud of my son. He just got some grades back and he’s like, in the 97th percentile. I’m so proud of him. I think just with the idea of the song, I originally thought it would just be for him. And it was more kind of about the idea of the Phoenix and what it mythologically represents, just with the death and the rebirth and the passing of the torch and the legacy. So when I finally kind of came full circle and I got the idea to make it about my dad too and that way there was this really full three tear cycle happening and it completely came together. I’m so proud of it and even, you know I know it’s very emotional to you, but just to hear these stories from other people on how music has touched them and helped them and it lets us know we’re not alone in these struggles. I know music has helped me so much in my past to get through some dark times. So it’s awesome to be a servant of music and kind of to give back, you know, to how much it’s helped me.
Tara: The approach you took towards the video was very simplistic. Was there a reason just to keep it with the music and just keep that story very straight-forward.
Mark: Yeah, we did want it to be more of a narrative, not be a performance video just because the story is very imminent just from the lyrics. The lyrics just tell a story themselves. And we wanted it to really reinforce those as much as we could with telling a similar story. I’m really glad that Steven Mallet did the video. Just because he had a lot of personal feel on it as well, and we got to work together and put in some personal Easter eggs of mine. As we kind of streamline this treatment and I’m stoked with how it came out and how much it tugs on people’s heartstrings.
Tara: You have a lot of songs that address mental health and I know that you guys are involved a lot in different things including To Write Love on Her Arms. When writing material for the next album, do you think that you will stick with this, will still be an important issue for you guys to tackle? I think in recent years that people have been more upfront about their struggles and I know a few that your music is definitely impacted in a positive way.
Mark: Yeah, it’s hard, not that I would jinx it by any means, you know, because we all have lots of ideas and songs end up changing. You know even though now I may have an idea that’s this it might get morphed into an idea that’s completely different. I would say right now mental health is something that we’re big on. We all deal with it personally in our lives as far as friends and significant others and things like that. And it’s a big part of our world and people have reacted a lot to it, so yeah I definitely say there’s going to be more songs that are empowering and, you know, promote thought provoking ideas or things, that’s definitely what we’re about. So if we can help, you know, continue the conversation as a lot of people put it, you know, “end the stigma” that it’s, yeah it’s a real thing and we all deal with it. You know we go the doctor for our physical ailments all the time and, but really want to remove the taboo of going to the doctor for your mental ailments too.
Tara: The band also tackles a lot of political issues, songs like “Let Em Burn” and “Christ Copyright” off your self-titled album. To me you guys aren’t really a political band, because you tackle the issues without being in your face with them. What are some issues that are important to you personally and in the band.
Mark: You’re right, we aren’t a very political band. We do want to promote thought provoking elements and ideas, whether it be politically, spiritually or religiously and keep it there and not really say, this is what we choose, because at the end of the day, who are we to tell somebody that their truth is wrong, whether it be political or religious. They can come to that decision on their own. If we help them get to a truth or anything that they’re stoked on really we just want to start the thoughts. That’s really important to us. Plenty of artists and songs in the past have definitely helped us in that way.
Mark: Can you repeat the question?
Tara: Are there were any issues that are important to you personally or the band or anything that you are passionate about?
Mark: I’m passionate about good beer. Good music.
Tara: As the album cycle’s winding down do you think you guys are going to take a break before you start writing again and recording, or do you have anything written yet?
Mark: We all took the summer off, which was awesome. It’s the most amount of time I’ve had with my wife, ever, in our entire relationship. So that’s been epic and really great for us. I know it was great for Jonny and Dan and Ben as well. We’ve all kind of started collaborating ideas and starting that initial process to get demos rolling. So yeah, I think we’ll take just a week off or so you know for Halloween, when we get home, and then that following Monday gear up and get the recording train rolling. See what ideas come along those lines.
Tara: Do you guys write together or do you have separate ideas and bring them together to work out? Does it depend on the song?
Mark: It’s a little of both. Most of the time it’s separate ideas kind of brought in and then we all end up changing kind of everything, basically saying this is good, this isn’t good. Let’s, see what happens, you know, but we aren’t committed to one type of process, we’re open to all. Yeah, just whatever happens, happens.
Tara: Is there anybody that you would like to write with on this album or produce it?
Mark: It’s hard to be specific. I’m sure we’ll collaborate with several people. It’s hard to say we’re like reaching for the stars like, well it would be cool to collaborate with Trent Reznor, you know with Dustin from Thrice with Alanis Morissette, with Ben Folds, with Paul McCartney, if we’re going there. I have no idea what will happen. But we’re big advocates of learning and growing and getting an insight to other people’s process to how they create songs and seeing what happens in the synergy of two people coming together.
Tara: How did you hook up with Aristides Guitars? Their guitars are very unique and they sound absolutely huge for you on stage and in your recordings? I also saw the recently got an 8-string from them… How awesome is that guitar?
Mark: It’s awesome. It’s great. I’m a big fan of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. And when it comes to writing. Because a lot of the times limitation breeds creativity, and it’s really cool. I’ve never played an eight string before… I take that back I’ve dabbled a little bit but I’ve never written anything. I already have some song ideas in the treasure chest, right now, which are pretty cool. They’re a great company as well. You know there’s no wood in the guitars, they’re all carbon fiber and an assortment of things. They’re just cool guys doing something different; a smaller company, and I’m happy to be on the team with them.
Tara: I know that you run the band’s social media content. You generally post a lot of inspirational quotes either from your band or from someone else. How did you decide to use the your social platforms in that way?
Mark: Really in this day and age you know everybody’s posting, everybody’s doing stuff and everybody’s most of the time saying buy this, buy that, come see me here, buy tickets. Yes, it is a business and yeah that makes sense and advertisement is king in our country. So really, just like anything else we kind of wanted to put positivity out there too and into things that help stimulate new thoughts or emotions or whatever, and when we pair those quotes that have been special to us. We love to brand with other artists and so it’s promoting art as well. It’s a cool thing to be able to do that, to kind of have a platform, and not just say buy my stuff, you know, do this, do that but actually kind of promote others as well on the way because we’re all in this together and good art is good art.
Tara: Is there anything that you would like your fans to know, anything else that you want to talk about?
Mark: Yeah, actually, an acoustic version of “Fadein/Fadeout” will be out very, very soon I think in the next few days. We got to do it at Abbey Road. It was a dream in itself to go in there and you know feel the energy and the vibes where greatness has been recorded, you know. So that was neat. I’m really proud of the song and the version we did. So, yeah. excited about that and stay tuned.