Vertical Horizon is working on new music and is targeting a release for their new album, the first in nearly six years, for spring 2009. In a recent interview with Alternative Addiction, lead singer Matt Scannell explained why the band has been out of the spotlight for so long.
"There was a time when I wasn't really sure if we would be moving forward as a band. I don't feel the band was ever gone, but I do feel we took a big step back," Scannell said of the band's hiatus. "After our RCA deal went south, we sort of needed to take a step back and assess everything that we do. If we were going to move forward with it we wanted it to be on our terms."
Scannell says he started working on the album over a year and a half ago, but not after taking a very long path back to writing music for Vertical Horizon."I think music is such an elusive thing, if you are not feeling it, if it's not coming from an honest place, I think it shows," explained Scannell.
After the band's breakthrough success of Everything You Want in 1999, Vertical Horizon began work on their next album, Go. While recording the album, RCA Records went through a major restructuring with Clive Davis taking over, and the band struggled to get support from their label. "From the day it was released it was so clear it was never going to work," said Scannell. "We had actually asked to be released, but they wouldn't let us out. Without the label behind us, it just floundered and sort of withered on the vine, which is just a heartbreaker."
Following the disappointment of Go, Scannell said his musical passion began to diminish."For me, for awhile, music just didn't feel like fun. Around the release of Go, it felt an awful lot like a job," said Scannell. "What winds up happening is the creative spark starts to get a little lessened and your enthusiasm tends to slow down."
After putting the band on hiatus, Scannell started working on other projects, including writing music with other artists. The idea of writing with someone else was something he was a bit opposed to at first.
"I had always viewed my creative juices as a finite source, and that if I collaborated with others I would dilute or diminish the creative energy that I had, which was a really limiting way to look at creativity," said Scannell. "Somewhere along the way, I started co-writing with other writers. I thought I would be really bad at it, but I just developed as a collaborator."
Scannell has also taken a crack at producing. His most recent work was with Universal recording artist Tyrone Wells, producing two songs for him. Scannell has also played a number of shows and released an acoustic album with singer/songwriter Richard Marx."He and I would just go out and do 2 or 3 shows in different towns that we like to visit, and just have fun."
Finally, in 2007, Scannell began to feel like it was time to revisit Vertical Horizon, and began working on a new album."I think it just felt right to put out another record. I felt like our work here was never done," said Scannell. "We just realized there was more to do."
The album, Burning the Days, was approached differently than any record the band had worked on previously, due in large part to their independent status."When you make a record for a major label there is a definite time table and budget, and when you are out of money, the record is done. With this record we did it totally differently," said Scannell.
The band chose to record the album at Scannell's home studio, giving them the liberty to work at their own pace and not feel undue pressures. While the change was welcomed by the band, Scannell said they needed to be cautious. "You have the freedom to be a little creative when you're not working against the clock, but at the same time you can be a little too lenient, and spending an awful lot of time."
Scannell couldn't say just how far away the album was to being complete, but it was clear from his comments that he had a fire burning inside again to release another Vertical Horizon album.
"I write songs ultimately to heal. It's a very introspective process," said Scannell. "To think people relate to that which is inside of me and they derive pleasure or excitement when listening to those songs, it's an incredible honor, and I don't want to abuse that honor."
After the release of the album, Scannell says the band has plans to tour throughout much of 2009, not just inside the US, but worldwide. "We need to get to Asia, I really want to go to Australia, [and] we have to go back to Europe this year," explained Scannell. "I'm hoping we can put something together that makes sense for us to do that. Bottom line is, people have waiting a long time for this and I am so grateful, and I want to say thank you for that."
Listen To Alternative Addiction's Interview with Matt Scannell