Vinyl Thief: Defying Definition
- Article by: Jamie McCormick, Photos by: Jamie McCormick
- Posted: 01/29/2011
A troop of cheering girls crowded the front rows of Mercy Lounge as Vinyl Thief, five young and attractive guys, two with giant black X's on their hands, took the stage.
Launching into a series of statically charged electro-rock anthems, the group showcased a fully formulated sound and mature, multi-dimensional writing.
Grayson Proctor, on vocals and synth, led the charge through soaring, textured melodies with a striking falsetto and overwhelming energy. Logan Purdom on guitar and Alec Carpenter on bass seemed to lose themselves inside the music – an easy thing to do, considering their labyrinthian sound.
Keymaster Sam English kept himself busy in the back with multiple instruments while Andrew Broadway kept the beat on track. Their powers combined, a superhero sound rocked the room.
The prototype of Vinyl Thief, containing three of the current members, formed during high school in Columbia, Tenn. Simply an instrumental endeavor, they played for the practice. “We started a band before we knew how to play,” Purdom says. But the group developed quickly, finding a niche between genres to expand their talents. “It was a progression. We all learned together,” Broadway tells me.
Proctor joined the group a year or so later, changing their sound by merging rock into the mix and opening a space for lyrics that pull you into the music. “A big turning point for this band was the day I bought a synthesizer,” he says. “I used to play guitar, and I was always buying more and more pedals, because I wanted … to sound like it was a synthesizer, but I didn't know that at the time.”
Once they had formed their foundation, Vinyl Thief had only to begin writing. The addition of Proctor changed not only the sound but the way they wrote, and the band had to adapt quickly. “A long time ago, we used to make the mistake of trying to sound like people,” Purdom explains. “I think it was a way of learning how to write songs, and learning how to develop our sound and be unique.” But imitation was short-lived.
Now, after four years of intricate, detailed work, Vinyl Thief has figured out their own sound, and they will continue to adapt and evolve that sound until it’s perfect. “We have an unspoken philosophy that there's no compromise,” Purdom says. Proctor continues, “It's kind of a band motto. If you're not happy with something, just say it ... because usually, what happens is the other band members will say, 'Let's try something else,’ and something better comes, and all five of us like it.”
Though the group dynamics clicked and their sound grew organically, not every patch of the pathway has been so smooth. Not long ago, as they were writing their wonderfully complex and full-bodied EP Control (available on iTunes), Vinyl Thief ran full speed into one of those rough patches.
“There was a time period we called our ‘Dark Times,’” Proctor recalls. “We didn't have a place to practice, and we didn't have a bass player. We didn't know what was going to happen.” But the young men struggled through, displaying maturity beyond their years and refusing to abandon what they had worked so long and hard to create.
What Vinyl Thief has created is an energetic romp of a stage show and an engaging EP that both defy definition at every angle. Electro-rock comes close, but cannot quite touch what these young talents have unearthed.
Broadway's one piece of advice to his younger self would have been this: “Be unique. Don't try to blend in.” And through his band, he has found a way to do just that. Purdom, speaking on genre, explains, “If you can describe it with three words, I think that means it's already been done.”
I do not need three words to describe Vinyl Thief. I need only one – fabulous.
To view more photography by Jamie McCormick, visit seriesofstills.com.