The Vanity
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The Vanity

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Indie


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Vanity -- Real Talk with Frontman Alex Dugan"

Meet The Vanity, a band that recently broke into Austin's competitive music scene and is tearing it up with their raw talent. The band performed at this year's Free Press Summer Fest, toured with the Cold War Kids at SXSW, and are gearing up to perform at this year's Float Fest in August, an annual music festival in San Marcos, TX. With their unmistakable flair, The Vanity blends in seamlessly with the lineup, which includes popular acts such as Ghostland Observatory and Phantogram.

The Austin-based band -- comprised of vocalist Alex Dugan, guitarists Mic Vrendenburg and Matt Sledge, bassist Augie Gmitter, and drummer David Grayson -- released their debut indie EP 'Strangers' on March 3rd of this year.

So what's the secret behind their success? According to Dugan, "...a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of destructive behavior." Perhaps later we can discuss what exactly that destructive behavior entailed... But, moving on.

Dugan's powerful vocals are evident in every song, be it "River," "Cowboy Killer," or "Black & Blue." While often peppered with youthful exuberance, The Vanity's songs have, paradoxically, an exceptional amount of raw, gritty depth. Add in some indie rock attitude and a splash of punk, and the band's brewed a perfect concoction for success.

As Dugan discusses "River," he says, "Lyrically, I was inspired by a relatively dark moment in my life. I guess you can credit addiction, narcissism, and a girl that doesn't need to be named for that." Ah, the sweet nostalgia of life.

Read on as I indulge in some "real talk" with Alex Dugan about the band's crazy success, devoted fans, and what it is these days he dreads the most.

Name a time in your life where you felt like you've finally "made it."

We were playing a song of ours called "Kitty" at Stubbs in Austin. We were opening for the Cold War Kids and the show sold out before we had even arrived there (which is the first time we've ever been involved in anything like that). As we played the song, I looked out over the three thousand-plus people and all of a sudden it just kind of clicked. The entire reason I was upset/inspired/frustrated/motivated to write this song... it didn't matter anymore. None of it was relevant. It made me think... as long as this band is around and kicking, "I'm going to be ok." I wasn't thinking, "Wow, how cool! Rock and roll!" Just, "I'm going to be ok"... That was a lot for me.

Who or what influences your music the most?

I really end up latching onto whatever music is grabbing me at a particular moment. I have my all time favorites (the Stones, U2, Beatles, etc.), but I go through phases with bands, new and old. It really just depends on when I reach them. I had a month or two about a year ago where I was super into Pink Floyd and about three or four months where I was obsessed with the Doors. It wasn't because it was the "new hot single" or anything like that. The music just finally made sense to me -- I had finally reached the maturity to understand it. At the same time, of course, I'm always trying to find some young new band out there. I want to find bands that make me feel less confident, make me want to be better.

Being successful is what everyone sets out to achieve. But no matter what you do, there are always drawbacks. So what is it that you dread doing these days?

Waiting. That's the one thing they don't tell you about this business. There's a lot of waiting. Waiting to hear back from management, waiting to hear back from agents, waiting in the van before getting to the next city. I dread driving. I absolutely hate being stuck in a car for hours on end waiting to get somewhere. It's the worst kind of waiting because it's the least comfortable. Basically, you sit around for about 22-23 hours a day, waiting for that one hour-plus of pure adrenaline.

What kind of fun things have devoted fans done that make you smile?

One girl that saw us at the House of Blues in Dallas created the hash tag: #littlehotties on Instagram... We still joke about it.

Everyone has a memorable experience in their life where they look back and still get those little butterflies. What is that moment for you?

Honestly, yesterday at Free Press Summer Fest definitely ranks up there. I was mid-song during "River," as we opened the show. I turned around to look at Dave, and behind him was this huge f--king screen with me on it, and the first thing I thought was, "Woah! I better turn around!"

When talking about the music industry, what are your biggest insecurities? How have you been able to overcome them? Or have you overcome them?

Self-consciousness and wanting to please others. It's easy to fall into the trap, especially in songwriting. It's really hard not to fall into the trap of writing songs for the sake of the crowd or for the sake of a "show." When playing shows, I really had to learn to let go of whatever people think. Oddly enough, the more you let go, the more positively people respond.

What's something you're really looking forward to this year, and why?

People hearing us... We've been writing and developing this sound for almost a year now and it's time people heard us. We're ready for all the praise, all the hatred, and all the BS that comes along with being public figures. This is our time to make a name for ourselves, but we have to get out there and take it. We can't just expect it to happen on its own.

How have you seen yourself progress since your early stages of performing?

Oh Jesus... let me put it this way... We used to be an Americana band. I wanted to be in the Stones and write rock and roll blues songs. I think during that time we all matured and grew. The more you progress, the easier it becomes to let go of older songs. Originally, you think that one of those earlier songs may be good enough to make you famous, but eventually you have to listen to other people and not just your own ego. Not every song you write is going to be a hit, and not every self-proclaimed "hit" is going to be well-liked.

I always ask this question because I find everyone's answers to be so interesting. So. You get to kick back and have a beer with anyone in the world. Who is it and why?

That's weirdly a really hard question for me to have an answer to... I would say it changes from day to day, but despite all the sh-t people give him, I'd have to say Bono. In a world gone to sh-t, he's managed to be a rock star, stay monogamous, not lose sight of his own religious beliefs, and actually manage to do some good in this world. I think that's the ultimate goal... to learn from the process of becoming famous, but not letting it compromise your overall self.

When you think about everything you are grateful for, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

The band. There is no "The Vanity" without all of them. We're not just a singer and his backup band. We're not just a guitar player and his backup band, etc. Each person individually is instrumental to what's going on out there. It's hard not to get entrapped in your own ego or each other's egos and lose sight of that, but I believe we will be able to keep it together for a very long time.

Final question: Why the name 'Strangers' for your debut EP? Explain the meaning behind that.

We've been writing and developing this sound for almost a year now, but it's time people heard us. I think on a subconscious level that's why we named the EP 'Strangers,' because at the end of the day, we're all a bunch of f--king strangers, and we'd love for you to hear our music and no longer be strangers.

Well, count this girl as one less stranger -- I'm already hooked and I'm certain The Vanity won't be a secret to "strangers" for much longer.

Thank you so much for your time, Alex!

Special thanks to The Vanity, Aaron Feterl, and Free Press Summer Fest. - Huffington Post


First up was Austin's the Vanity, who showed off a driving, highly polished rock sound that called to mind Rick Springfield jamming with Sunny Day Real Estate. Their tunes were tight and professionally crafted, warming up the crowd nicely with their pleasant kineticism. - Houston Press

"Cold War Kids Concert Review and Photos"

Cold War Kids stopped on March 7 in Austin, TX to play Stubb’s on the last night of their U.S. tour. More photos from the show can be seen here.

Austin locals The Vanity opened the show with a rocking punch. Vocalist Alex Dugan was a crowd entertainer, passionately yelling and jumping around. Between their alternative rock sound and their entertaining performance, it was clear that these guys have the potential to go far. - Pop Punk Please


Based in Austin, Texas, the Vanity — comprised of vocalist Alex Dugan, guitarists Mic Vrendenburg and Matt Sledge, bassist Augie Gmitter and drummer David Grayson — are gearing up for the debut of their first official release, Strangers, tomorrow, March 3. We’ve had the honor of listening to the new EP and are beyond excited to share it with you a day ahead of its release. You can stream Strangers in its entirety in the audio below.
“Strangers is really the culmination of a lot of work, a lot of hours and a lot of destructive behavior,” Dugan tells us. That hard work sounds like it’s paid off as the EP is full of memorable, guitar-driven melodies laced with the frontman’s powerful vocals.

Read More: The Vanity, 'Strangers' EP - Exclusive Premiere |

“We’ve been writing and developing this sound for almost a year now, but it’s time people heard us,” the lead singer explains. “I think on a subconscious level that’s why we named the EP Strangers, because at the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of f—ing strangers, and we’d love for you to hear our music … and no longer be strangers.”
While all the songs will likely have something you gravitate toward, Dugan says his favorite “child” is “River.” Though, he admits, “It’s weirdly interesting that everyone in the band would probably have a different favorite as well.”
In addition to the new EP, the Vanity’s 2015 is shaping up to be an unforgettable year for the quintet, thanks in part to their appearance at the Free Press Summer Festival. “Personally, I’ve been going almost every year since the festival started, so it’s very exciting to be able to finally get up there onstage,” Dugan humbly tells us. “It’ll be that classic Houston summer heat and it’ll be great to return to my hometown.”
You can get details on this year’s Free Press Summer Festival — as well as the Vanity’s current tour itinerary, including a few dates opening for Cold War Kids — at their official website here.

Read More: The Vanity, 'Strangers' EP - Exclusive Premiere | - Diffuser

"Interview with The Vanity"

Emerging Austin-based five-piece band THE VANITY come fully loaded—with hooks, depth and attitude—on their debut indie EP STRANGERS. Featuring such songs as “River,” “Cowboy Killer” and “Black & Blue,” the EP is “…full of memorable, guitar-driven melodies laced with the frontman’s powerful vocals,” according to DIFFUSER which premiered the EP in early March 2015. The band–Alex Dugan (vocals), Mic Vredenburgh (guitar), Matt Sledge (guitar), Augie Gmitter (bass) and David Grayson (drums)–has a strong year ahead of them including opening for Cold War Kids on a number dates, performing dates during SXSW and hitting festival stages this summer.

You guys have just released your new EP, “Strangers”. So, is there a story behind the title?

We’ve been writing and developing this sound for almost a year now, but it’s time people heard us. I think on a subconscious level that’s why we named the EP Strangers, because at the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of f—ing strangers, and we’d love for you to hear our music … and no longer be strangers.

Speaking of stories, I hear there is an interesting one behind the song “River”.

The song came from a time back when I was wrapped in my own narcissism and addiction, which nobody wants to be around. You find yourself ignoring others and focusing on the addiction.

the-vanity_strangersWhere does the inspiration come for your songs?

The songs really come from all over the place. At this point, we live to play with each other and I think that’s all the inspiration and drive we need. Every song that we write usually evokes some kind of emotion in me… whatever that emotion becomes is what the lyrics eventually become.

You’ve been out on tour with Cold War Kids. What are some of the highlights you’ve experienced so far?

Every night was a highlight. A little surreal honestly. Their crowds come out early and scream loud… louder than I think we’ve ever heard before. The Cold War guys were super nice and supportive of us. We’re forever grateful for the opportunity.

Everyone has “those” stories from the road. Can you tell us your best “those” stories?

Hahah… each of “those” stories would probably get us into “that” kind of trouble for repeating them.

Which do you like better – working in the studio or being on the road?

Playing live honestly, we love shows, we love people. Outside of recording, playing live shows is kind of the whole point for us, ya know?

Do you have families, and – if so – how do they handle you being away from home while on tour? Do they come with you?

Not really families. Girlfriends, parents and pets, but we haven’t really been out long enough for it to be an issue just yet…

After the Cold War Kids tour, are you going to be on the road later this year again?

Working on it… fingers crossed…

If we were to jump in your car and take out the CD in your player, who would we find you listening to?

We all listen to widely different things on our own time, so I’ll break it down by person.

Alex: “Varies constantly, but right now, Father John Misty, Depeche Mode, Drake, and probably U2/Stones at some point.”

David: “(early) Kings of Leon, the 1975 and Charlie XCX (for sure)”

Matt: “Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson”

Mic: “The Rolling Stones and Radiohead”

Augie: “The Who and Portugal the Man”

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have one food, what would it be? (i.e. pizza, pb&j, etc.)


What’s next on the horizon for The Vanity?

SXSW, working up to something big in the summer, and continuing to write more new songs (I don’t think that process ever stops).

For more, visit

Fans can purchase The Vanity’s debut EP, Strangers, on iTunes.
Listen to “River,” the EPs lead track, here: - Music News Nashville


This new set of Tour Tips was written by the rock band, The Vanity. You can check out their tips for being on the road, after the break.

1.) Bring beer to the venue. Not all riders include alcohol and you don’t want to get stuck paying $13 a beer at your own show. Sub tip: hide beer in your backpack when you get to the venue.

2.) Wake up the bass player. He likes to sleep, but you can’t expect all five guys to remember to set an alarm every night. People forget.

3.) Netflix/Unlimited Data. Make sure to get a Netflix account and have a smartphone with unlimited data. You’re going to get unbelievably bored. Also, make sure to bring noise cancelling headphones. Sub tip: Make sure the driver doesn’t play One Direction too loud.

4.) 3–Strike Asshole Policy. High stress brings out the worst in people and it’s best to usually keep your cool. Tours and shows have a lot of people involved that are integral to the overall show, but some people just can’t be nice. Before you go off on them like Ari Gold in an episode of Entourage, implement a 3-strike policy with aggressive behavior from people outside your camp. Be the bigger man and take the high road, but don’t let people abuse you.

5.) ELE. Everybody love everybody. Jackie Moon had it right. The band is a family and you can’t lose sight of that. - Digital Tour Bus

"Texas Tech alumnus pursues his passion for music in Austin"

After graduating from Texas Tech in 2011, Matt Sledge felt that a normal career was not for him. So after a couple years of an office job, he decided to take a risk.

“After I graduated I moved back to Midland and worked in the oil and gas business,” Matt Sledge, guitarist for the band The Vanity, and Tech alumnus from Midland, said. “I decided it was time to get out of West Texas.”

Sledge’s interest in music began as a child, he said. Through his parent’s influence he took notice of what he liked, and made the sound his own.

“It was when we were driving to school and I was listening to people like Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson,” Sledge said. “It was that music that caught my ear.”

When the thought of moving to Austin crossed his mind, it wasn’t a difficult choice, he said.

“It was only five hours away,” he said, “And we have a ranch in between there.”

After moving to Austin, Sledge met up with a few friends and the idea of starting a band was born. Through friends he was able to contact the right people to get a great group started, he said.

“We have five guys in the group, with two that are no longer members,” he said. “The group took us about eight months to get together.”

With a fully formed group in 2014, the band was ready to get its feet wet. After a year of evolving its sound, the band released its first EP album with three of their best songs.

“It’s really hard to choose just three songs,” Sledge said. “You hope that all of the hours you put into are well received, because it’s the first time anyone is going to hear you.”

When the band’s album “Stranger” was released, the band debuted songs such as “River,” “Cowboy Killers,” and “Black and Blue” according to the band’s biography. All three songs were released in early March of this year.

“We were just hoping that it would come out well,” Sledge said. “We had no idea what people would think.”

Opening up for a different group called the Cold War Kids, the group presented a live audience with its new material at South by Southwest, an Austin music festival, he said. The audience’s reaction was exactly what the band wanted.

“After the show people came up and talked to us about our songs,” he said. “That’s ultimately what you want, it’s reassuring.”

The group considers itself an alternative rock group with a young and still-evolving sound. This makes the recording and songwriting process unique for them, he said.

“Someone usually comes in with musical parts and we make the lyrics after the music, or the music after the lyrics,” Sledge said. “It just varies from song to song.”

This still-evolving sound and the way of recording makes the band stand out among other groups in the industry, he said.

“You can also hear some faster paced punk rock styles coming through a couple of our songs,” David Grayson, drummer for The Vanity said. “That’s from our earlier days as kids when punk was everything.”

The band’s next line of performances will be during June of this year when it will be playing for Summer Festival 2015 in Houston, according to a press release. Until then the members will be in the studio working on more material, Sledge said.

“More than anything figure out what you want to do and why,” Sledge said. “Then what you have to do is put that process in motion, and always have a game plan.” - Daily Toreador

"Tech graduate Sledge plays guitar with Vanity at SxSW (PlayBill blog)"

Texas Tech graduate Matt Sledge is playing guitar with The Vanity, an Austin-based, five-piece blues-rock band being showcased this week at SxSW.

Also in the band: Alex Dugan, vocals; Mic Vredenburgh, guitar; Augie Gmitter, bass; and David Grayson, drums.

The Vanity's first guitar-driven melodies are on debut EP "Strangers," already on iTunes.

No Lubbock dates announced for The Vanity, as yet, but the press has been good.

For example, Nathan Press writes for Houston Press, "First up was Austin's The Vanity, who showed off a driving, highly polished rock sound that called to mind Rick Springfield jamming with Sunny Day Real Estate. Their tunes were tight and professionally crafted, warming up the crowd nicely with their pleasant kineticism." - Lubbock Online


Still working on that hot first release.



Emerging Austin-based four-piece band THE VANITY continue exploring new musical ground—retaining their brand of trademark hooks, depth and attitude—on their sophomore four-song indie EP ARE YOU GOING ALONE?. The EP, produced by Kevin Killen (U2, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel)and recorded in Orb Studios in Austin, TX, highlights new musical landscapes for the band, particularly in the uptempo guitar-driven single “Stay” which highlights their ability to continue crafting anthemic melodies. On the opposite side of the musical spectrum is the EP’s “Every Time I Fall” which notes is “featuring a quiet guitar and singer Alex Dugan’s delicate vocals, the song is powered by raw emotion…”

ARE YOU GOING ALONE? (10/17/2015) arrives as a follow up to THE VANITY’s debut STRANGERS EP which was “…full of memorable, guitar-driven melodies laced with the frontman’s powerful vocals,” according to DIFFUSERThe band–Alex Dugan (vocals), Mic Vredenburgh (guitar), Augie Gmitter (bass) and David Grayson (drums)–continue out their strong 2015 year which included opening for Cold War Kids on a number of dates, performing shows during SXSW and hitting festival stages throughout the summer and moving forward into 2016, fans can expect to see THE VANITY on the road with BØRNS.

Collectively, THE VANITY’s musical inspirations are drawn from different styles, merged with the band’s indie rock attitude. “You can also hear some faster paced punk rock styles coming through a couple of our songs, and that’s from our earlier days as kids when punk was everything,” explains drummer David Grayson.

THE VANITY were formed in 2014, digging their heels into Austin’s competitive music scene and show no signs of slowing down. “We’ve been tirelessly working on developing and writing completely uninhibited,” says Dugan. “We’re lucky to have that kind of situation and I think the end result is one hell of a final product that we’re all extremely proud to release.”

Band Members