Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Knoxville. I lived in New York City for a year in 2005. Things weren’t working out very well here, so my sister called me from Manhattan with a job working for a theater lighting company. I eventually got fired and New York wasn’t worth staying for. Knoxville is where Nathan Moses is. I want to continue playing music with him. As long as he’s here, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.
When did you start playing the drums?
At age 12. I actually wanted to play the guitar. I would go to this one music shop every week looking at a specific guitar. When my birthday rolled around we went in to buy it, but it had been sold. I couldn’t imagine playing any other guitar, so I settled on the drums. I took lessons, but didn’t actually like playing them for a good while. My first set had like seven toms or something. It was quite overwhelming. My teacher told me all that was unnecessary and to strip it down. I didn’t start enjoying the drums until I joined a band with my friend Alex. That was where I really learned. We were called the Malignmen. I’d call it “horror punk.” The singer would bash his head open on stage. The mosh pits were insane and very violent. I’m glad I was safe behind my drum set. It’s definitely not something I would want to relive.
You used to be in The Bitter Pills with Nathan and Matt, now the three of you are in the Vaygues. How exactly did all that happen?
The Bitter Pills ended in late 2008 because one drummer ran away to Memphis and the other lost interest and moved to Asheville. Nathan, Matt, and myself enjoyed playing music together so we formed the Vaygues with Izzy on bass in November 2009. And no, I won’t tell you where our name came from. If I told you the specifics, it wouldn’t be vague anymore.
Where does your style influence come from?
I used to want to dress like a cartoon character. I liked how it was so easy for people like Inspector Gadget to just wear the same thing every day. I wanted to give it a try, so for a while you would mainly see me in a white V-neck T-shirt, black Chucks, and plain blue jeans. It got really boring. Now I am very influenced by the ’60s mod look. Slim-fitting suits, skinny ties, knitted polos with funky patterns, and cardigans. I also dig the Ivy League look—a dark blazer, white pants, and V-neck sweater. I think it’s okay to dress that way as long as you don’t act like a character from Animal House. The worst look on men has to be that Jersey Shore look—Ed Hardy shirts, baggy shorts that could almost be pants, and fake tans. Those guys look like oompa loompas!
What do you love and hate about Knoxville?
I wish there was more stuff to do at night. There are not enough people out on weeknights because of this. I’d like to see more people into the oldies. People are too into the new stuff, bands with laptops. The transit system is pretty lousy, too. I used to live on Cumberland and take the trolley. One day I waited and waited for it. I called up KAT and they said that it only ran during the school year, and I thought “I never see college kids on the trolley.” I do love riding the bus though. Everyone seems mentally deranged. One day I saw a normal guy and thought, “What are you doing here?” Then I noticed he had on a KAT uniform and was just going home.
I love how the people here are very cool. In NYC people seemed so boring. I think it’s because there people take for granted all the great stuff they can do at any time. You can also get away with a lot here. For example, when we had the Big Ears fest, a couple of guys in town put together the Kno Ears fest. They set up guerilla shows all over—alleyways, parking garages. You probably couldn’t get away with that in other cities.
Shirt: Hot Horse, one month ago, $10
Jeans: Levi 511 slim-fit trouser jeans in the color “sidewalk,” Amazon.com, $34
Cool boots: eBay, earlier this year, $30