Interview with Davey Muise of Vanna on how music saved his life
We got to sit down with Davey Muise of Vanna on Tour with Beartooth, Sirens and Sailors, Sylar and Alive Like Me.
“MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE.”
I’m Davey Muise, Music Saved my Life and I play in Vanna.
The reason we wanted to interview you was to help getting your story out about your passion, struggles, and everything in between to those who can possibly relate, what is your story exactly?
In my early 20’s I began struggling with depression and feeling super alone. I was playing in bands through a lot of my high school with the 2 different circumstances- kinda falling in different directions had made me stop playing music for a very long time. I’ve got very low, and pretty suicidal, and I had friend reached out to me. He was kinda bummed with the fact I was not playing in bands anymore and he knew that was the thing that made me happy. I began doing a lot of drugs, and drinking, and I knew I had to dig myself out of the grave I was already in. Music was that thing so I began working very hard. I joined a band at home and I played locally a ton, I started booking ourselves on tour and getting us out there. Eventually, I became close with the Vanna guys, Real awesome dudes, and it helped since we were similar ages, and then when they needed a new singer, my band was on tour with them and they came to me on that tour and told me that they wanted me to join. I joined them over 6 years ago. It took me realizing that point in my life- I hated, needed a change and it took someone just telling me that music was the thing I should be doing, y’kno? I realized that music is my shovel in my life, and I found a way to dig myself out, and through that I wanted to help others dig their self out. I’m no savior, or hero- I just try to dig other people out so they can find their shovel and they can just continue? Y’kno what I mean? The thing is the world has stopped believing each other a long time ago, and If I can help a kid realize that like his guitar is what he needs to do, or like y’kno singing is what he needs to do or like anything! It doesn’t matter, go to college or get in a trade, if that’s whats going to help them be happy, that’s something they need to do and if I can help them realize that through music, then that’s why I am here, That’s why I was put on this Earth.
What are some of the hardest demons you had to face when you were younger or even now?
For me, I think it’s that people leaving me. I was abandoned as a baby and I was adopted. Then my adopted father left my family then a girlfriend I had for a while- she got pregnant and we thought the baby was mine and it wasn’t and she cheated on me so she just left me. It spiraled and I kept getting abandoned by everyone around me and that was something that started having me sunk into depression. Then I started a band, giving them myself, giving it all and the people around me.Those were some of my biggest skeletons in closet, I just dealt with so much abandonment, I always thought people were going to leave and didn’t care about me. It took me a very long time, I mean it took the music scene to let me know that people are here and they’re not going to leave. It’s not everyone in the whole world.
Void has been a hit so well among so many fans, especially the song “Digging” (Hell, during Connecticut and Wantagh Warped Tour, 3 of my best friends and I ended up balling our eyes out). It was amazing this summer seeing the fans react so emotionally to the song and speech. What was the writing process for “Digging” and what’s the response like to it from fans all over the country who feel so strongly about the lyrics?
It literally justifies me sleeping in a van, me making no money. I’ve been with this band for 6 years and I still sleep on a pull out futon. (Laughs) It’s a really nice one, but y’kno it makes all the personal sacrifices worth it to see that these words and music gets out to kids and that they can relate. This is why we’re doing it. We’re not doing it for anything else. There is nothing else to do it for. We don’t make money, um we all go home and there is no popularity, just friends and they’re just our friends, we’re not like celebrities. So the only reason we do it for is so kids can relate and let them know they’re not alone with anything that may be- suicide, parents, or struggles with faith and god. Whatever those struggles may be, we only do it so kids so we can help out. If you for some reason look up to us, and think what we’re doing is awesome, well we dealt with the same problems so we’re no different. You can do exactly what we’re doing in whatever field you love to do, y’kno what I mean? So when kids come up to me and tell me that y’kno what ever song spoke to them? That’s literally the only reason why I write music. That’s it. It’s just a validation for us to keep moving, and I think Void has hit a lot kids really, really hard. I was finally on “Void” ready to talk about all the shit I dealt with. I held back on a lot of previous records, like all the other records I was honest completely, but I just wasn’t ready to talk about a lot of things in my life. I’ve been in a really good place in my life now, and I was finally ready to let things go. I can share with kids and help them out. It’s literally my moral obligation to do that. Thats why I am here, That’s why I feel I’ve been put on this earth, among a few other reasons to just, moral obligation to share what I’ve gone through. I can’t see another kid come to a show and a couple months later, his friend comes and tells us he took his own life. I can’t see that anymore, I can’t have that anymore. I don’t want to lose another person, whether I know them personally or not, somebody knows them. They’re somebody’s family members, somebody’s friends and I can’t- so it would be so selfish of me to hold back what I’ve gone through because that might help save a fucking kid’s life, y’know? And that’s super important to me. Sometimes that sadness spreads. I had a friend who had committed suicide 3 years ago, and then right after that- 3 more friends did the same thing because of him and the thing is I can’t have that anymore. I can’t see that in groups of friends, and mothers crying, I can’t see that. We had a mother that comes to our shows. Her son unfortunately took his own life two weeks before “Void” came out. His mother goes to shows of all of his favorite bands, his note- he left a big list of bands to his mother to thank all of these bands wasn’t enough and this fucking killed me. His mom comes to shows and tries to spread the message that we all go through this and it’s okay. I can’t have it anymore. That’s why I’ve been speaking at high schools, and middle schools, because I can’t reach everyone through shows so I’m just trying to reach through to as many people as I can. Most of the high schools I go to, most people don’t fucking know who I am or who my band is (laughs). That’s not even the point. If you think I’m cool, that’s great but I’ve dealt with depression, pour yourself out of that, don’t give into that shit. If I can even help out one kid, that’s my whole life. I owe it to music, because it saved my life. I owe it to music to help others.
How does Void relate to your story (if it does at all?)
There’s a song on there called “Pornocopia" that was just about being broken up really, really hard (with the girl I was telling you about with the pregnancy.) I kinda just treated women as an object for a couple of years of my life. I know I hurt a lot of people. I would sleep with girls that had boyfriends, I didn’t care about anything. I was shit. I’ve hurt a lot of people’s feelings, and as much as I can, I’ve gone back trying to apologize, tried to mend bridges. Sometimes I can’t, sometimes those bridges are burned forever and I really messed up people’s lives because of it. That’s something that I’d have to live with forever but it was because someone else fucked with me so hard.
There’s another song that’s really short called “Humaphobia”. It’s how I’m so scared for state of human beings and how we treat each other in the world, how it’s seemingly crumbling around us. It stretches everywhere from how police treat people to how we treat people of different races. The world is not going to change. Especially if we don’t make a change. So for me, I have tried to be a less judgmental person, more open minded, not giving a shit about like what jeans someone’s wearing or tee shirt. That shit doesn’t fucking matter. I try to lead by example. It’s honestly the state of the world scares me. Police brutality cases are just a small side of it and judging people and this is something that scares the shit out of me man. Nothing’s going to happen if we don’t make a change. There’s no reset button. It’s not going to get better but just worse. It’s something on my mind, I’m always thinking about it. It freaks me out. Here’s the deal. We are the generation (laughs) I mean I’m older than you guys but we are part of the generation where everyone looks at and goes “Oh you guys are fuck ups”, “You guys are below it” We are part of a generation of owning more businesses, being in more touch of the earth, like we are a generation literally are kind of and can even more change the world. I am pretty proud of the generation we are in. Everyone needs to keep going. We need to keep pushing and going, and teach your future generations on what you did and about the shitty generations before us. You can write our wrongs, it’s not too far gone, it never is. This is another reason why I tell kids to change shit. Stop being so fucking judgmental in your high school, stop being a bully, be friends with people. Make people feel welcome. That’s something that’s always on my mind, especially going to high schools I’m like “Holy Fuck”. I talk to so many kids, and they say “I get bullied in high school because I wear black tee shirts and stuff” and it’s sometimes you can’t do anything about it. Like dude, put your head down and finish school, and when you get out man, who listen to my band, and go to shows, “You’re cool here man”, this is the place to be! These are constantly things on my mind man. This scene has so much acceptance. No one is cool here, You’re here because you are not cool. We are the other people. There’s no judgement here, y’kno?
“Personal Cross” was something on the softer side of Void but definitely on the emotional side. Let’s talk about that.
“Personal Cross” is about being your own savior in situations, so often that people wallow in problems, and wait for other people, religion- and this is not me knocking on religion or god. Someone asked me the other day about how “Personal Cross” is an anti god song and it’s not, not at all but kids wait and sit around for someone else to pull them out of their problems. They are your problems and you have to be your own personal savior. You got to find strength in yourself to dig yourself out of your grave. NO one is coming to save you except for you. You assume people will come save you. It’s not simple as that.
What feelings run through your head when you have fans approach you after, or before sets about their own struggles, relating to your speeches/lyrics, and lyrics tattooed on themselves?
When people get tattoos of like Vanna stuff man, it makes us feel insane. That is unreal. You are willing to put something I said, some symbol we drew or some design we made, on your body. Forever. That means the world. They’re LIFERS man. They’re with us for life and that means the world- and if kids have to tattoo their skin to express themselves, and have their emotions. Cover yourself in whatever you want. Do whatever the fuck you want. I love it when it happens, whenever I see a Vanna tattoo, I take a picture of it every fucking time. (laughs) Even if I see it twice, I’ll take a picture of it again.
What got you into this genre of music?
I don’t know. I just like Nirvana and all of that shit. My middle school was across the street from the high school i went to and some kids, these cool older looking dudes with Pixies and Pearl Jam Shirts. I would go to local record stores and buy these records without even knowing what these bands sounded like. That’s how I got into this alternative music. In my early teens, I had a cousin who was into Hardcore and she was like “You should come to a show with me!” and so I went and my step father was also a drummer and had a lot of fans in this music scene so he’s already into punk rock like NOFX. It was literally alternative to punk rock and I skateboarded so that went in hand in hand with punk rock, then I went into hardcore, and everything else lead from their. It was a natural progression.
Did you play any instruments?
I played drums for years. I started when I was 12 years old. I still play drums in a band at home. It wasn’t hard adjusting to vocals at all. If you ask my mom, she’ll say I was born for the spotlight (laughs) it wasn’t hard.
Who were Influences/bands/people as a child/teenager, perhaps some that have found you comfort that Vanna does to a lot of fans.
We grew up in the Boston Hardcore scene. So um, like Converge is a really big and they’re still fucking big. They’re the best heavy band ever. Obviously like Deftones and a lot of 90’s rock like Nirvana. They’re my favorite band of all time. (Laughs) I used to stand in front of the mirror and air guitar and wanna be Kurt Cobain. But yeah, 90’s rock, Boston music was huge, and accepting. The scene changes, it’s a little less violent which is cool too. It’s still Boston. There’s several little scenes within the big scene. It’s cool, everyone’s really cool, it’s more like New England, the entire stretch of New England. I mean there’s Have Heart, their shows used to be insane and huge.
What advice do you have to fans that are struggling with depression, anxiety, self harm, etc?
Everything I’ve said literally is all I can say. Be your own fucking shovel, dig yourself out. Find your thing that can be your shovel. Your shovel can be music, your shovel can be art, it can be construction, going to college. Whatever you love, dig yourself out of your hole. Once you’re good and you feel like you’re in a really good spot in your life, look around you and dig other people out. It’s the only way any of us are going to be able to grieve.
If you could give your past self advice, what advice would you give to yourself?
[long pause and silence] I don’t know. I had to go through what I had go through to become the person I am today. I wouldn’t give myself any advice. I’m really glad everything went on the way it did, everything happens for a reason and I’m here as living proof that you have to go through life. There’s no miracle pill, or answer to life’s problems. It builds character. Here’s an analogy for you- There’s a guy his name is Yvon- he founded Patagonia hiking company. So him and his friends in the 70’s took a bunch of things they had and began fixing stuff, they made a bunch of money and they wanted to climb mountains in Patagonia, Chile/Argentina and they could’ve rented a helicopter, flown over there, go to the top of the mountain, take a picture at the top of the mountain and could have flown down but they flew over, bought a van, traveled through the village of Patagonia, and learned the people’s cultures, learned everything about them, got to the base of the mountain, did a 2 week hike to the top of the mountain, and experienced one of the coolest things ever. They got to the top, and the end result was still the same and went back down, that was it. But Yvon has the best quote ever, and I live by this quote. It’s not about the end zone, it’s about the climb because you have to respect the process. “You have to respect the process, the process and anything you might go through, problematic, if you don’t respect the process- you’re an asshole when you started, and you’re an asshole when you finished. If you don’t learn anything from your journey, you just stayed the same. That’s what it’s all about. It’s learning, making mistakes, it’s failing but failing forward. If you fail, and say ‘Ok that didn’t work, fail, I’m done, it’s over”’ Fail forward. Fail, okay? Cool. Keep going. Fail, but keep going. Just fail forward constantly and respect the process the whole time you’re there. Take in the surroundings”. It’s my favorite quote and he’s now like a 70 year old guy, it’s my favorite. Always respect the process. When you get the chance, watch “180 Degrees South” on Netflix. It’s about him and the other guy who wanted to re-create the trip, and how they meet Yvon and the two other guys who created Patagonia and even Northface. They both sold the companies and now Yvon and his 2 friends are now in Chile, working on sustainable energy. It’s life changing.
We think one of the most important things about this scene is giving back, like how you said you give back.
Absolutely, Music saved my life, thats how and why I’m here.
We think that’s one of the most important things, like another band in Hardcore is Stick To Your Guns, who give back as well or get back.
That band. We need more bands like Stick to your Guns. We need more bands like STYG. They’re making rad music, and they’re amazing people. Their message, I love it so much. Their sets is literally half of Jesse talking and half music. He just preaches and I fucking love it. We need more Stick to your Guns in the world for sure (laughs).
How has it been working with PureNoise?
Smashing, it’s awesome. Best record label out there. Look at all the bands they have out there. They have so many genres. It’s awesome. No bad words, Jake is the man!