Interview: Of Virtue
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I wanted to be a professional soccer player most of my life, it was my favorite sport. However, I tore my ACL going into my sophomore year of high school and needed to occupy my time while I was recovering so I picked up singing with my friends and then later joined my first band. The team continued to the state finals during my junior year, but at that point, I knew that I had found my passion and that was music.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Video games! I am a huge gamer with PUBG, NBA 2K, FIFA, Rocket League, NHL, Red Dead Redemption, The Last of Us, Spiderman, Let's Go Pikachu, Pokémon GO, etc! So much that you might find me on tour with a mobile PS4 rig at the merch table.
How long has your band been around?
Of Virtue has been around for 10 years this year.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of Lansing. Lansing has had a healthy music scene including bands such as For the Fallen Dreams (Rise) and growing up playing music with them has been awesome! They have definitely influenced us in some way or another throughout the years!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
It was something Damon and Mike thought of. When we hear Of Virtue, we think of holding ourselves accountable and having high morals of how we lead our own lives. That's what the name means to us. It's more than just a band name, its a lifestyle for us because every decision and word said is associated with Of Virtue so we all try our best day in day out to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Best shows have definitely been in Europe! They're a different breed of over there as they don't care who you are, they just want to have a good time. Our shows in Helsinki, Finland & Poznan, Poland this year were the two most memorable shows of the last tour and I can confidently say they were some of our best shows we've ever had. These audiences welcomed us with open arms, sang our lyrics back to us and gave us the show a band would hope for at home - let alone thousands of miles away!
The worst show? I honestly can't name anything because, at the end of the day, the show is only as good as you make it. No matter the crowd, no matter the venue, no matter the sound, we are lucky and grateful to have the platform we do to be able to perform in front of people. A dream that myself and the rest of the guys are living every single day and we don't take it for granted.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
My favorite venue would have to be Durer Kurt in Budapest, Hungary. I don't know what it is about that venue but it's just so cool. Backstage in Munich is definitely a close second! Here in the States our hometown venue The Loft in Lansing, Michigan is a favorite. The Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan in our home state would be awesome. There's a ton of awesome venues to list!
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
While She Sleeps, Don Broco, Architects, We Came As Romans, Breaking Benjamin, Story Of The Year - that would be my ideal show!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Be honest with yourself and who you want to be as a musician. Don't let anyone else tell you what kind of artist you should be. If you stay true to yourself, you will be so much happier in the long run. Also, put everything you have into your music. Don't half-ass anything because if you do, you will get lost in the pack, you will get discouraged and you will eventually lose the passion that you once had.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Let things be how they are and stop trying to control things that you cannot. Be patient, it'll all eventually work out.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
"Torn Apart" and "Pictures Of You" are two songs that mean the world to me. Both are of personal experiences and both have a deeper meaning to me than just my experiences. "Torn Apart" because it is about suicide awareness and mental health and they are both something that needs to be talked about more. I wrote it to let everyone out there know that you are not alone in your struggles and that it's ok to not be ok. That's the beauty and burden of being human. With "Pictures Of You", that one is about my sister that passed away when I was just very young. I wrote it to help my parents and family cope with the fact that while I know it's never going to get any easier, maybe it is going to get better when we have a memory of her that won't fade, thanks to the song. I also wrote it to let everyone out there know that we have dealt with loss too and if you have lost anyone in your life, I hope you can listen to the song and it reminds you of someone that you've lost in your life.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
"Suffer" and "Thanks For Nothing" are definitely two of my favorites to play live. "Suffer" is our most energetic song and I hear people love that, and "Thanks For Nothing" is our most requested song because - one people love to participate in and join us as the lyrics to the chorus are quite self-explanatory!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Damon usually sends us some things he's working on, gets our opinion about it and then I will start writing lyrics when we have a good idea of what the song is going to sound like. I usually am almost always writing lyrics, but it's a lot easier to write when I know the song structure is going to go a certain way. The creative process is really fun because it gives us a chance to sit on things for a bit and then re-visit them later once we have a good amount of songs.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
We like to spread honesty and try our best to be positive when we write our songs but some experiences in life are not positive and that's where honesty in our songs come in because we are human and we have feelings too so when we write the songs, we write how we are feeling at the time or how the experiences were and that's the vibe that comes out when we write about those. We love being transparent with our lyrics and hope people enjoy them and can relate to some of them!
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Of course! If we didn't we wouldn't be a band, but we are all respectful of each other and give our opinions, but ultimately the general consensus is that we all have to make decisions that are in the best interest for the band so we never actually get upset with one another when a decision is ultimately made. It allows us to be ourselves and it truly is never a personal thing. We look at all angles when making a decision so it's all for the better of the band!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We just announced that we're heading to Asia in July for a few weeks. It will be our first time and we are excited to go! We have a bit more coming - but we can't say much yet!