The stories surrounding the formation of this folk-infused chamber-pop band are almost as incredible as the music they produce. Just how exactly an upright cello-bass, mandolin, guitar, violin, and a host of other instruments ever came together to produce this acoustic indie-pop hybrid, we may never know. It seems some things are simply fated.
In the end, vee device eludes all comparisons in their mission to bring good music to the masses. Having played to every imaginable crowd-type, from hipster to country, goth-industrial to punk, they have always managed to carve their own niche. Winning over and gaining warm acceptance from even the most unlikely fans, vee device has that special something. Staying power, charisma, knack – call it what you will, their music leaves a lasting impression on all who chance to witness it.
vee -- Vocals, Guitar
G-Man -- Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals
&roid -- Upright Bass, Accordion, Banjo, Cello, Organ, Vocals
M.C. "The Cannone" -- Violin
Love Will Tear Us To Shreds: Act III - Eradication Of The Russian Olive (Oct 2007)
Love Will Tear Us To Shreds: Act II - The Genre Of Silence -- (Oct 2007)
Love Will Tear Us To Shreds: Act I - And Quiet Flows The Dawn -- (Oct 2006)
The Wilted Heart Of Lloyd P. Behringer -- Digital EP (2006)
Autobiography Of A Dying Band -- 20 Track LP (2005) -- multiple tracks with radio airplay
Out Of The Darkness -- 18 Track LP (2004) -- multiple tracks with radio airplay
Calling All The Local Volunteers -- Limited Edition EP (2003)
vee device -- From Darkness to Dying
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Forty-five minutes north of Denver and 100 miles away from mundane there's a band called vee device....Forty-five minutes north of Denver and 100 miles away from mundane there's a band called vee device. This Fort Collins, CO, collective escapes easy classification by creating simple, elegant music.
Traditional acoustic construction is supplemented by everything from autoharps to penny whistles. Imagine folk-inspired pop with hints of bluegrass, highly competent instrumentation, and literary lyrics complemented by rich storytelling and ripened metaphors.
"We're endeavoring to become international superstars," lead singer Sam Ernst grinned. "After all, who doesn't want to be one of those?"
Recording for their own label in the aptly-named Basement Studios, vee device released their first LP Out Of The Darkness, which explored a world without light, using the 2003 New York City blackout. It was a bold attempt to capture a story that fascinated millions. In their second, Autobiography Of A Dying Band, each song plays like a scene in a movie. The mature style continues the band's declaration to become international superstars.
Through their three-year history, much time has been spent shrouding the three core personalities behind vee device. Instead, attention is focused on the music. Could this be what they mean by the "vee Revolution?"
July/August 2005 By Matt Gunn
vee device -- Current Winners Of The Best Kept Seceret Award
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Autobiography Of A Dying Band Rating: 4.5/5 Released: June 21, 2005 vee device, a three-piece...Autobiography Of A Dying Band
Released: June 21, 2005
vee device, a three-piece based out of Colorado, has long been considered among the most exciting ‘underground’ bands in America, and with their latest release, Autobiography of A Dying Band, it’s easy to see what the hype is about. Autobiography of A Dying Band is a marathon of a record, clocking in at seventy-three minutes, and featuring twenty songs, vocal and instrumental, somber and uplifting, pessimistic and hopeful.
vee device is perhaps best described as acoustic alternative folk, and in keeping with the genre, the intellectual, charmingly grassroots storytelling and songwriting of the self-described ‘wayfarers’ is wonderful. For especially strong instrumentation, check out the Celtic influence of fiddle and mandolin on Sweepin’ the Chimney, the beautiful ambience of Culpability, and the jazz-folk of Wind Over Yokohama Bay, with its war commentary lyrics. Other lyrical gems include “The ghosts are in the field; the ghosts are in the glass. My pen lives wherever there’s space, and space will bring me past” (Ghosts In the Glass), and “Laura Lee, you can’t help everyone, you can’t help anyone you regret / You’ve swept aside, you’ve been abductalized by every single dream you’ve never met” (Abductalized). Sings Sam Ernst: “So much for a life’s work; the years go in, reduced to a paragraph.” But you know, this record is too big to contort into a single paragraph; it has to speak for itself. Packed with highlights, and with just enough surprises to keep you guessing no matter how often you hear it, Autobiography of a Dying Band is one of the most enjoyable and fascinating records to come along in years.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
By David Coats
vee device -- Autobiography Of A Dying Band
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If bluegrass and indie rock we're two people, they wouldn't be the first on each other's speed dial....If bluegrass and indie rock we're two people, they wouldn't be the first on each other's speed dial. In one corner, bluegrass puts its emphasis on technical prowess and tradition, while indie rock invites a more unlearned aesthetic and globs of postmodern irony. But if there were a town where the two could get along, it would be Fort Collins. Locals vee device put the mix to good use on their latest, Autobiography Of A Dying Band. Like most generalizations, calling the band's sound indie grass (or something like it) would be too simple. But, listening to their sprawling, twenty-song release, you do get a feeling that this group is taking the afternoon of banjos, guitars, violins, and mandolins that we know and warping it, making it strangely new.
Thematically, Dying Band seems to revolve around the difficulties of creating art in our saturated information age, or keeping people together, or a hedgehog infiltration. The musicality is impressive: harmonies and brightly picked strings fly around lead vocalist vee's semi-twang; pop melodies arise that tend to grow on you with each spin. What makes the album robust, however, is the band's will to be weird. Field recordings and outtake mumbles spice up interludes, and the lyrics carry oddities and surprise -- a song that sounds like a hootenanny crashed by a brass section is actually about alien abduction. Other tunes carry fresh insight: "To Help You Read My Mind," begins with the lines, "I'm shooting mind bullets; 'zoom' is the sound that they make."
The album art which features fictional music reviewers like David Goliath calling the record "astounding" and the band "revolutionary," feels like attention grubbing gone awry, but as the music stands, Dying Band is an inspired release: exciting in its technically turned, twisted, and pulled.
Thursday, August 4 2005 By Elliott Johnston
vee device -- Out Of The Darkness Review
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Thousands of people were caught in it, and surely everyone in the country heard about the Northeast'...Thousands of people were caught in it, and surely everyone in the country heard about the Northeast's massive blackout in the summer of 2003. I remember strongly the uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty that raced through me as I drove through tremendous traffic home, listening to the radio announcers basically say nothing over and over again (except for reiterating the rules of traffic lights that went dark, which most people ignored). No one knew what caused the blackout, but in the post-9/11 days of terrorism, everyone feared the worst, and even the final semi-resolution did little to comfort those fears.
The musicians in Vee Device surely weren't caught in the blackout, as it didn't effect their hometown of Fort Collins, CO. But the feeling of discomfort, uncertainty, and longing for daylight is a common one. Out of the Darkness is something of a concept album focused on that particular event, and in between songs, snippets recordings of broadcasts from that day reinforce the theme. But the songs themselves deal with the more tenuous themes of finding hope in despair and searching for light and meaning. These themes are accompanied by singer xxxx's unique, drawling voice and a blend of bluegrass, country, and folk that incorporates fiddle, cello, violin, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and more.
The opening track is a delightful country instrumental, riding mandolin and soft strings, a little quirky but nicely flowing into the next track, a melancholy song about disillusionment, with soft strumming backing the singer's drawling voice. "As the Lights Go, So too Do We" has a much more traditional bluegrass feel, with fiddle and banjo backing the singer's more moody voice. On the very pretty "Tuesday Morning Drive," the unique vocals are layered nicely over some lovely cello. This is probably my favorite track.
"The Dream (1987)" has beautiful guitar on a soft and gentle instrumental that's probably one of the brightest spots (no pun intended) on the album. On "Winston Churchill," multiple vocalists make this track stand out, taking some of the focus off Sam Ernst's voice. The guitar shines here too, sounding almost classical in nature. "The Hours, They Seem an Eternity" is extremely pleasant and poppy, with light guitars, light vocals, and nice use of bongos, but by its end it turns into a Phish-like jam, and the annoying scat-like vocal approach gets old quick. "Lullaby's Lost" starts off feeling more traditional, maybe a religious track, but it quickly turns into a more upbeat folk-influenced pop song. And the closing track is very playful and upbeat bluegrass-inspired, and it leads nicely into the startlingly well-done instrumental that closes the album.
Bluegrass, country, and folk may not be styles of music the average DOA reader embraces, but Vee Device approach the music with a rich blending of styles that results in something closer to indie rock than traditional bluegrass or country. The reliance on beautifully played strings and soft strumming of guitar and mandolin, as well as xxx's unique vocals, ensures that. The result is simultaneously lovely and engaging. While the band's moodier numbers resonate with me more deeply, even the lively tracks are catchy in a way that makes me fondly remember Colorado's musical blending of styles. And the themes of Out of the Darkness are universal. In short, I'm impressed by this album that requires repeat listens.
vee device -- Out of the Darkness
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I put this CD in on a rainy day at work and fell in love. This Fort Collins band, unlike most bands ...I put this CD in on a rainy day at work and fell in love. This Fort Collins band, unlike most bands I get to review, sounds like an imitation of no one. Vee's voice sounds vaguely like Axl Rose when he slows down and goes low, but it is paired with acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo and poetic lyrics.
I could say that their musical skill is excellent, their lyrics lovely, but mostly what I like about this band is that willingness to experiment. You hear the picking of banjo and mandolin and want to call them bluegrass but they aren't. Lyrics about the Beastie Boys are layered instead over the timeless music.
I spent some time while listening to this wondering where they would play live, and what their fans would look like. I could picture sitting back on a couch, letting the music wash over me, surrounded by hippies, rockers, goths, young and old. Rather than sticking to a scene or a trend, vee device have come up with their own sound, and it's one worth listening to.
-Sarah Jaffe, August 20, 2004
vee device -- Out of the Darkness (veedee Records)
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"Out of the Darkness" is one of a kind -- an acoustic-folk concept album about the power-grid failur..."Out of the Darkness" is one of a kind -- an acoustic-folk concept album about the power-grid failure in the Northeast last year. (Why on earth a group from Fort Collins would feel compelled to tackle such a topic is a bigger mystery than the blackout itself.) In the end, the four players in vee -- Sam Ernst, G-Man (Grant Gordy), Deej (Daniel Johnson) and Dre (Andrea Vitullo) -- aren't quite able to turn their idiosyncratic notion into a cogent narrative, but they score marks for sheer oversized ambition.
The playing is first-rate throughout, and instrumental cuts such as "The Hours, They Seem an Eternity" and a disorderly collage dubbed "As the Lights Go, So Too Do We" radiate atmosphere. The lyrics of several tracks intrigue as well, including "The Dream," a fantasia that incorporates Alanis Morissette and Bell Biv DeVoe, and a song that's called "Winston Churchill" for reasons too complicated to relate. Other cuts, like "Sing Me to Sleep," are more straightforward -- and less interesting as a result.
There's no telling what all of this means, but the sparks provided by vee device occasionally light up the "Darkness."
From 'Out Of The Darkness' comes light, listenable tunes
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By Anna Maria Basquez -- "Out Of The Darkness" by vee device – Not bad for two wandering travel... By Anna Maria Basquez -- "Out Of The Darkness" by vee device – Not bad for two wandering travelers, a guitarist from a lonely street corner and a cello teacher who was working in the Chicago projects when band members discovered him.
Theirs is an interesting story. This folk-infused chamber-pop band is based in Fort Collins.
"Out Of The Darkness" mixes instrumental and vocal tracks.
The cello is mesmerizing in "Misbegotten Fame." I particularly liked "Tuesday Morning Drive." It has that traveling feel. It also boasts guitar work similar to Shawn Mullins’ ballad style. I like the way the song "Red Planet Rising" comes together.
Sam Ernst’s voice has an element of Don McLean ("American Pie"), with his conversational style, and has a musical presence as distinct as that of Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies.
Out of the Darkness -- vee device comes into the light.
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By Josh Johnson -- Fort Collins-based vee device is unexpected. The five-piece, self-described... By Josh Johnson -- Fort Collins-based vee device is unexpected. The five-piece, self-described "folk-infused chamber-pop" band features a mandolin, banjo -- and a cello. Sam Ernst booked the band on KRFC's "Live@Lunch" before he even had a band, and they performed on-air with only two rehersals under their collective belt. And their debut album, produced on Cool Edit in Ernst's bedroom and released May 11, is a concept album.
Concept albums are a risky endeavor for any band, even for accomplished musicians. When they work, they are good. And when they fail, they are embarrassing.
Out Of The Darkness does not fail, perhaps because it follows a very broad theme: darkness. Ernst began writing songs about darkness while observing streetlights outside the window where he was staying in Scotland. When he returned to the U.S., the blackout of 2003 shut the lights off along the East Coast, and the fear that followed fleshed out the metaphors he had been working on.
"[Darkness] is a universal theme that can be applied to any metaphor: good versus evil," he says.
For Ernst, the darkness is a symbol for loss of comfort and feeling of safety, something he sees permeating society. "We're still in a state of blackout, essentially."
While darkness permeates the album lyrically -- the word recurs throughout -- musically the darkness is more subtle. Despite what one might think a banjo and mandolin might sound like together, the music is not bluegrass. While the cello keeps a steady stroke, the mandolin breaks it up, and Ernst's almost monotone baritone has a heroin-folk feel. The melodies found within the instrumentation, and the overall sound of the eclectic combo of instruments, add a light contrast to Ernst's somber tone.
With the album done, vee device -- including Andrea Vitullo, who holds a master's degree in cello, multi-instrumentalist Grant Gordy, Erica Izard on banjo and bassist Daniel Johnson -- are focusing on their live show. An area in which the band lacks a lot of experience. Ernst says that since their inception last October, they've had trouble drawing an audience to their shows. But at a concert at Java Lounge in Loveland, at the end of April, a group showed up who knew the lyrics, presumably from a copy of the CD that had been circulating.
"I think we're on a good upward climb," Ernst says.
Perhaps they are; on May 11 they had an audition with MCA Universal, an opportunity that just fell into their laps. Ernst wants vee device -- named after an army award -- to inspire a musical revolution.
"There's a lot of soul lacking from music today," he says. "We're going to change that."
While that remains to be seen, Out Of The Darkness shows an ambitious band with some new ideas.
vee device plays eclectic acoustic rock. Every show is different, and the crowd is always kept on its toes -- never quite knowing what to expect from these characters. With a unfathomably deep repertoire, they have at times been known to play marathon 3+ hour sets.
The Villainy Of Morning
An Unholy Dawn
Voices From The Sky
The Maginot Line
Dreams On The Floor
The Doughboy & The Spike
Ghosts In The Glass
The Ballad Of Abdul Sharif
Sweepin' The Chimney
3 Chord Magic
Canon In C#
Dakness, Deliver Me
Ringing In My Ears
Add A Notch
The Dream (1987)
Red Planet Rising
Swords On Strings
Through The Night
The Trials Of Being Photogenic
Sing Me To Sleep
I Second That Emotion
King Of Pain
I Can't Dance
Don't You Forget About Me
All My Little Words
King Of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1
There are no upcoming dates at this time.