10 Years' Brian Vodinh: "We're a Little Darker at Times"

This weekend, on the heels of the release of their fifth full-length album, Minus the Machine, 10 Years visits Houston (...well, The Woodlands) for Buzzfest XXIX, performing alongside Silversun Pickups, Three Days Grace, The Toadies, Dead Sara, Hollywood Undead, Lit and our city's very own thelastplaceyoulook.

Rocks Off recently spoke with the band's drummer and guitarist Brian Vodinh, who can now add the title of "producer" to his resume. After recently cutting ties with their former label, the band recorded their new album Minus the Machine at Vodinh's own home studio, and the band is elated with the finished product.

Two weeks into their six-week tour, these Tennessee natives are happy to be back in warmer climates and excited for Saturday's festival. Bible belt, stand up.

"This is very much another level of 10 Years," Vodinh says of the new record. "We're a little older now and are beginning to really create mature orchestration."

Instead of spending a lump of both cash and time traveling to a well-respected studio and receiving input they weren't interested in anyway, the band took to the comfort of Vodinh's home, where they worked at their own pace without anyone peering over their shoulders or pointing to the clock.

"There are a lot of sounds that just wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had the freedom to work any time I was inspired," Vodinh says. "If it was 2 o'clock in the morning, I might get out of bed and put a string part behind a chorus. I would just sit in there experimenting for days on end, and it made a big difference. If it took 15 tries before I found something that worked, I had the ability to do that."

Beyond being at ease, the band was able to go in any direction they chose, unhindered by pressure to make another radio hit like "Wasteland" or "Fix Me." While this album's debut single "Backlash" is unmistakably 10 Years, it possesses a considerably different feel than much of the band's recent catalog.

"The music that we want to write is a little left of center, compared to a lot of the stuff on most rock radio," Vodinh says of the band's decision to leave Universal Music Group and release Machine on their own label, Palehorse Records. "We're a little darker at times, and some of our arrangements are a bit unconventional.

"We thrive on being interesting and trying to push ourselves creatively, and the major labels are so concerned with the bottom line that they want every band on their roster to stick to a formula," he adds.

Vodinh doesn't regret his time with Universal, though. It served its purpose, and the band stands behind the music that its made, both then and now.

"It was great to have a major label to get established, to get our foot in the door," he says. "But it came to a point where, if we were going to really get gratification from writing a record and if we wanted, we had to do this on our own. That was the only way we were going to create something that we really believed in. Our band always kind of knew that."

10 Years' life on the road isn't what it used to be, though. Vodinh and vocalist Jesse Hasek both have daughters, who are always at the forefront of their minds. Bassist Lewis Cosby isn't even currently on tour with 10 Years and is instead at home with his pregnant wife.

"Being away is definitely difficult, and it's really tough once you have kids than it is now," Vodinh says. "When we were 22, being away was so much different. Now, there's just so much more to think about now and a lot more to miss."

"We love being out here and doing what we do, but getting home is very, very special," Vodinh adds. "When you're a band bitch, when you're living with 10 other guys on a bus, and you're out together, every day, for months at a time... that lifestyle gets you worn out and fed up, which can affect your performance.

"And if people are going to pay their hard-earned money for a ticket to see you play, you want to be able to give them 100 percent," he continues. "Staying out for months at a time and killing yourself on the road is kind of counterproductive to a point."

For now, the band is rested and ready for the weekend, when Vodinh and the rest of 10 Years plan to give fans their money's worth.

Buzzfest XXIX is Saturday, October 6 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands. Gates open at noon.

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