Interview: Vision Video
There’s a resurgence in music right now that sees bands twisting their own unique spin into an otherwise 1980’s influenced goth-rock style, including Athens, GA based Vision Video. They recently released their debut singles “In My Side” and “Inked In Blood,” and we had the chance to catch up with vocalist/guitarist Dusty Gannon and chat about the singles, working with Tom Ashton (March Violets), the influence of bands such as The Cure, his love of 80’s horror/slasher flicks, how his service in the US Army and current role as a paramedic/firefighter affects the music he writes, and much more!
1. We love The Cure and guessed that they’re a pretty big influence of yours when we listened to your music. What do The Cure mean to you?
I discovered the Cure when I was pretty young, probably around 13, and I remember thinking about their music, “There’s NOTHING that sounds like this.” As I’ve gotten older, they’re a band that have totally stayed with me throughout my years. They’ve been the soundtrack to many agonizing heartbreaks as well as incredibly joyous moments. I think that’s the power of their music: the exaltation of both the highs and the lows. Their effect on my own music making is undeniable, but I certainly hope that I’m providing flattery to them without total shameless derivation or weak facsimile.
2. You recently released your debut single. Tell us a little bit about the A-side track “In My Side.”
“In My Side” is a really exciting song for me. It was one of those moments when you write something and you think, “Woah, this is ACTUALLY good!”, which for me such occurrences are few and far between! I have a tendency to be hyper-critical of everything I create. This song is about being in love with someone or something despite the absolute knowledge that they are not right for you, maybe even unhealthy. I went through a period of time with relationships where I felt like I was constantly chasing or being chased myself by this very fleeting feeling of contentment or satisfaction with someone. Little did I know that much of the problem was totally my own self-sabotage. The song basically uses a narrative of being chased by a killer, but there’s this masochistic notion that maybe I was asking for it. I also used this narrative device as an homage to my love of horror, specifically cheesy 80’s slasher films!
3. We’re huge fans of old horror movies here at All Ages Zine and you’ve mentioned that the song pays homage to the 80’s slasher flicks. In what ways will listeners drawer parallels between the lyrics on “In My Side” with the plots of those flicks? And just out of our curiosity, what are some of your personal favorite flicks of that genre?
Outside of the obvious lyrical connotations that allude to this horrific notion of being chased by a killer, the song also has this sort of running cadence to it. The verses are a little smoother, gliding along a bit (maybe this is where we as listeners are running away without impedance from the killer) but the choruses are bombastic, dancey, dynamic and kinetic; this is the fight with the killer. Or in my case, the fight with my own lame inability to find stability and contentment in love!
My personal faves of 80’s horror are Return of the Living Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Suspiria, and Pet Sematary!
4. Flipping over to the B-side, “Inked In Red.” This song is a bit more transparently autobiographical. Tell us a bit about the subject matter of the song and where it came from for you personally.
“Inked in Red” is probably the most personal track for me on the whole upcoming debut LP. Long story short, in 2018, after not dealing with stress from my deployment to Afghanistan years prior and having had some difficult calls with the fire department, I had a total mental breakdown. I was an outright danger to myself for a while. I was very sincerely convinced that nothing would ever change and that I was always going to feel like that. The song explores that notion heavily. It’s dark, but I think my favorite thing about it is that there are still hopeful elements to it - The chorus in particular. I wasn’t, at the end of that hard time, ready to just lay down and die and I was just trying to find something that could carry me out of that hole. This music was a major aspect of it. More importantly were my bandmates, my friends and my family who recognized that I needed help and they surrounded me with ineffable love. I still have hard times, but all this makes me remember that I can and will get through.
5. First and foremost, we want to take a moment to thank you for your service in our US military. How did your military experiences most shape your life and ultimately lead you to wanting to create Vision Video?
The Army is such a dichotomy in my mind now. On one hand, you can view the negative aspects: I went to a warzone and was willing to kill and die for extremely vague reasons. I sort of “sold my soul to the devil” for a while. It brought out aspects of my inner psyche that are so virulent and ugly, and I’m still having to try to mend those broken aspects of who I am at times. I think Tim O’Brien once wrote something about how war is just the total, unabashed commitment to immorality and evil, and it’s totally true. You don’t walk away from the military without some creepy stuff in your closet. However, on the other hand, it also did a lot of good for me: It paid for my education. It allowed me to travel all over the world. It introduced me to people that will be my brothers and sisters until I die. And it instilled in me a powerful work ethic; the commitment to self to never quit. I take pieces of these little moments of time as inspiration for songs. Ultimately creative endeavors are unbelievably difficult. There is a lot of rejection, a lot of disappointment, and SO MUCH uncertainty. For all my myriad faults, I’m fortunate to have the character strength of discipline, which I definitely wouldn’t have had without the Army.
6. You’ve continued your public service role in your community as a paramedic and firefighter. How does being in this type of role day in and day out influence what you write about in your songs?
I think its biggest impact is just in my consistent exposure to and reminder of human mortality. We are regularly privy to some of the most gut wrenching visions: parents who pass away in the night, people saying goodbye to loved ones they know won’t survive ailments, children taken in accidents and the family members left to witness. It can be, to put it lightly, overwhelming. I take a lot of these emotions that I cannot experience on scene of emergencies and I sort of bottle them away. I open those bottles when writing music, or especially when on stage. I let myself fully feel those tragedies, those moments of gut-wrenching sadness, or the fear of being in a deadly structural fire. I exercise it from me. THE POWER OF MUSIC COMPELS ME! (If I can steal from the Exorcist to make a terrible dad-joke!)
7. Both tracks were recorded and mixed by Tom Ashton. In what ways did Tom completely understand your vision that made him the best possible candidate for this role, but also, what did he bring to the table to help shape the songs in ways you never would have otherwise thought of?
Tom was the founding guitarist of the March Violets, which I consider to be one of the most seminal goth-rock bands of the 80’s. He also played with other huge 80’s post-punk/goth acts like Clan of Xymox, so he really knew what sound we were looking for. I wanted the record to sound authentically 80’s without being this totally contrived thing that sounds like every other band. I wanted to pay homage, but to keep our identities in the sound. He was integral in our ability to do that. He also understood our strengths as a band in a way that I don’t think we would have from within. He brought out aspects of us during the recording and producing process that really emphasized the dynamic intensity of our sound. He set the stage for dark, brooding music that you can really dance to, and we are totally indebted to him.
8. For you personally, what do you value as the most important thing that someone gets out of your songs that they can carry into their own lives?
Personally, I just hope that people find meaningful commiseration through the art of our music. The purpose of art, in my mind, is to convey powerful and complex emotions that can’t be just flatly stated. They have to breathe, and spin, and dance, and destroy, and mend and live. I think that’s what music is best at: giving life to messages. I hope that people walk away from the experience of listening to our music, knowing that it’s okay to not be okay. We have to shake hands with the skeletons in our closets, and as scary as they may be, it’s important to know them in order to heal.
9. Now that we’ve heard “In My Side” and “Inked In Blood,” what’s next for Vision Video? You mentioned an LP earlier?
Oh, definitely! The full-length debut LP, entitled Inked in Red is already done. We recorded it with Tom at Sub Von Studio, and we’re so ridiculously excited to put it out. We’re in the initial stages of getting ready to do that, so you’ll definitely see it this year, sooner rather than later.
10. We’re all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their music today?
Starting out with music is such an intimidating affair. It can seem like some weird dark-magic that you have to master in order to become proficient or likable or whatever. But that’s so absolutely far from the truth. There are three simple, but arduous concepts you have to internalize:
1. Don’t give up: practice as much as you can. Watch tutorial videos. Challenge yourself constantly. If you need to step away from time to time, do it! Take a break and catch your breath. But just never quit.
2. Be genuine. Tell your story. Tell it real, and from the heart. Don’t worry about what it “should” sound like. If you bring it from a place of authenticity, people will know that it’s real without even knowing why.
3. Always, always stay strange!!
I wish you all the best and thanks for the opportunity to tell our story! Cheers- Dusty