Adam Kelly: For those who don’t know, can you introduce yourself and your role in Varials?
Travis Tabron: I am Travis Tabron AKA strawberryTrav when it comes to the internet, [laughs] and I am the Vocalist/Songwriter for Varials.
AK: Your split with Vicious Embrace, Absolution, came out a few days ago. How does it feel to have this split out and what about it are you most proud of?
TT: It feels great to have released this split with a band that I knew would be able to hold their own. Personally, I like their side of the split more [laughs]! But, I am still extremely proud of what we accomplished for this because it was sort of a last minute idea to do a demo, let alone do a split EP, but i think overall my biggest pride in this EP was us finally taking that first step into really feeling out sound and finding what we want from ourselves as a band.
AK: It’s obvious that there’s a dime-a-dozen metalcore, hardcore, beatdown, you-name-it heavy bands popping up now. I think two of the things that set you guys apart are the attention to detail in songwriting and solid musicianship. There’s no cookie-cutter formula that you guys follow, and we even get to hear a bit of a different side of the band in the split’s opener, “Iota.” Can you tell us a about your songwriting and recording process?
TT: Well, our songwriting process is kind of different from most bands (or actually it might be the same now that I think about the times we're in). Before I joined Varials, Sean our drummer and Shane our guitarist handled all of the instrumentation, but now it's typically myself or Shane that will write the music for the band. Our other guitarist James runs a recording studio in his home that we use to record ourselves anyway, so we'll just hang at his house and work on a thousand different song demos until we think we've got enough good stuff in our hands to drop a release. It's actually kind of cool, because every time we get ready for another release, there is always 10-20 Varials songs in the Dropbox that will never see the light of day ;)
AK: Another thing that I think that attributes to people connecting with your music are the lyrics. They’re introspective and personal, but still memorable and easy to relate to. A common theme (at least in my opinion) throughout the material from Failure//Control and Absolution is no matter what bullshit that comes up in life or whatever person or thing is dragging you down, always find a way to come out on top. One of my favorite lines from the split is “Do your worst until the light inside goes out.” What’s it like to see kids screaming your lyrics back at you, and if there’s one thing you want people to take away from your lyrics, what would it be?
TT: Ever since I first found my love for music I had always had that dream of being the frontman for a sick band and I've always wanted that feeling of just being able to stick my microphone out to the crowd and have them shout out the lyrics in unison. Every aspiring musician does. And not to toot my own horn, but the fact that now almost everywhere we go I always have kids screaming my lyrics back in my face is the most rewarding part of being a vocalist. At points, it really is surreal because no one ever really knows if their band is going to catch momentum and make it to that level. But, if there is one thing i want people to take away from my lyrics is that the world around you doesn't define you, and this world is and always has been yours.
AK: What’s the best experience and worst experience you’ve had out on tour so far?
TT: [Laughs] Well I can definitely tell you the worst experience so far. We had just finished Eat Your Heart Out Tour and were about a week into our tour with Adaliah & Knocked Loose and our tour manager JB got me waaaaaay too banged up at the bar, so I threw up in the van later that night and again when I woke up the next day. We had a show that night in Orlando and let's just say my voice literally didn't work.
From having thrown up twice in 8 hours and the acid burning my throat straight to hell AND having screamed for 55 days/two consecutive tours, the next night's show in Orlando was absolutely terrible. When I say my voice didn't work, I mean it didn't work. I would scream and nothing would come out, and whatever did come out sounded terrible. so that was definitely the worst night of tour so far and probably my life but hey, [laughs] they understood and after two days of resting, my voice was back in business.
BEST Memory is tough because we're a party band and love to have fun wherever we go so I'm going to have to make this a tie between the first time we ever played Cloud Springs Deli and partied with all of our homies from GA/TN, and BLEEKWEEK in Florida. Bleek Week was sick because our homies from NY happened to be in FL when we were there and after the show we just got crazy wild. The videos on my phone truly are insane. [Laughs]
AK: How do you keep the monotony from getting to you while out on the road? I’ve always known you to be a funny dude and James is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, so I’m assuming some roasting goes down.
TT: Touring is hard, and the monotony definitely gets to everyone. I remember our last day of EYHO we couldn't get home fast enough and then as soon as we got home we couldn't wait to be back out. The road itself really isn't that bad when you're in a van with your best friends because you always find something to talk about or laugh about. And yes, there is a huuuuuge amount of roasting that goes down. It's almost second nature at this point. I'm going to give a shout out real quick to something that's been dubbed the "Oklahoma City X** Incident" because that was one of those legendary moments in roast culture where you just knew that the roast-game was gonna be top 10 quality. And trust me, it was.
AK: You’re also a big hip-hop fan. Who are some of your favorites, and can we expect any Big L samples in future Varials songs?
YES! I am a huge hip-hop fan. Last year I actually got "in loving memory of hip-hop" tattooed across my wrist. And it's actually hysterical you mention the Big L sample because I swear I was this close to getting us to use this badass sample but it fell through. And sheesh, my favorites are J Dilla, Common, Kanye West, Big L, Freddie Gibbs, Andre 3000, uhhhh and Drake. Oh and 50 Cent. I shout out 50 cent's album "Get Rich or Die Trying" at soundchecks allll the time. [Laughs]
AK: I remember when James sent me a rough mix to what would become Ether, I thought you guys were sitting on something that impressed me way more than what I heard from pretty much any other local band playing heavy music. Failure//Control didn’t disappoint, and things have snowballed from there. When you joined the band, did you ever expect to tour and gain fans from all over the country (not to mention having a music video premiering on Alternative Press)?
TT: Honestly, I always believed that music was part of my destiny. It always felt right and felt like it was what I was supposed to do with my life. I knew that once I had found a band just as dedicated as I was towards being the best we can be that it was just a matter of time until we became the next wave and honestly you just have to visualize the dream for it to happen. However, the Alt-Press thing was fucking sick. I figured we would have been underground champs, but now that we're breaking on to a more mainstream outlet of heavy hardcore, all of the perks of gaining fame really don't seem real. Like, the Acacia Strain sharing our post and telling people to go check out or new split was one of those moments for me that really emphasized the gravity of the situation.
AK: Do you have any advice for anyone trying to start a band?
TT: If you're really looking to start a serious band you really only need a few things. Dedicated members, relatively decent equipment, and your own flair. There's too many bands I see on tour that are carbon copies of every other band in the world, so if you really want to stand out just don't follow any trends. Take them, and make them better so that you're the next wave.
AK: What can we expect from Varials in 2016?
TT: 2016 really is going to be the year that makes or breaks it for us in my opinion. We should do like 2-3 headlining tours and hopefully get the chance to open up some even bigger tours with bigger acts. Not making any promises either but hopefully there will be a new Varials release the end of this year/early next. But if all goes according to plan, 2016 should mark the official start of Varials season baby.
AK: That’s it from me, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Trav. Anything else you’d like to say?
TT: I just want to say thank you to my local music scene, tri-state tribe, and of course the Fam 100 Squad, because they put us on harder than any music scene possibly could. Shout outs Vicious Embrace as well. Northeast on top.
Thanks again to Travis for the interview. You can stream and buy Varials' side of Absolution here: https://varials.bandcamp.com/album/absolution-split
Enjoy your Varials season.
*Photo credits go to (in order of appearance): Errick Easterday, Nick Spaloss, Ethan Bielik.*
Travis Tabron of Varials, 3/23/13
Adam Kelly: For those who don’t know, can you introduce yourself and your role in Varials?