Prior to the internet, it’s hard to imagine a band being able to break up or go on hiatus for a decade and return with massive fanfare. Fortunately for bands in this day and age, the internet exists and has led to younger generations being able to dig into the depth of many long-established acts catalogs and find something hidden away that absolutely astonishes them. After getting the chance to talk with Keith Barney of Eighteen Visions about their reunion and new album, XVIII (out today!), it’s clear the itch never fully left and that the internet has lended a helping hand in their reunion.
We like to start things off on a lighter note, can you tell us what you’ve been doing in the lead up to the album release?
Keith Barney: I’m super busy. I’m married with children. 2 kids. Henry just turned 2 and Evelyn is 8mo. I’m a creative director for a software company doing UI/UX and some development as
well. On top of that I’m doing all kinds of stuff for 18V. We’ve been practicing a ton and trying to dial in our live show. It’s been 10 years so we wanna come out really strong.
Focusing into the reunion, why reunite now? What has changed between your last show and now that made you want to come back.
Around 2012, I had gotten the itch to write 18V style music. So, I sat down and wrote a handful of songs. I showed them to James and then he recorded vocals on 1 of them. That song ended up being “The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time” (2nd song on the new record). I played the demos for the other guys in the band and they were all super receptive. Ken was the only one a little hesitant about dipping his toe back into 18V world. He hadn’t played guitar in a long time and was doing some DJ type stuff. He also didn’t think he had the time to commit because he was tour managing bands full time and would be out of town a lot.
Then, fairly shortly after that, Mick passed away. So once that happened we just put everything on the shelf and the discussion completely dropped. Then in Sep 2016 I was getting that itch again. My life was busy, but I felt like I was finally in a flow as a father and with my career. I could pick my head up again and pour my heart into music. So, again, I reached out to James and he was ready to dive in as well.
I’ve always felt that 18V had a bit of our own lane musically. Our crossover of metal / hardcore with dirty rock riffs is actually kinda unique. There aren’t many bands out there doing heavy music with Alice in Chains type vox on top. For example, bands like A7X do the rock thing, but they do Maiden type stuff and our music is a bit simpler, dirtier and way less melodic metal. So it really was just missing what we created together and feeling like we could still have a unique voice. It’s really kind of a perfect storm that a ton of underground murmurs were going around about 18V. We started hearing about how all these younger kids were getting into us and trying to buy old 18V shirts on eBay and stuff. Timing ended up kinda perfect really.
Your self-titled album celebrated its 10 year anniversary last year. Why did the band prefer to come back and just go straight to releasing new music instead of doing an album anniversary tour like so many returning bands have done?
In my opinion, that’s boring and easy. And as a band, for better or worse, we’ve never been interested in easy. We love music and we love to create. We did have opportunities to come and play a few festivals where we were asked to play a few of our old albums but that just feels cheesy to me. I always prefer to look forward. There’s always something new that can be created. That said we will be playing a ton of old stuff. As I look back at our records, with a few exceptions, I still love all of our material. It’s possible that maybe one day we setup a show and play all of Until the Ink Runs out or something like that. That could be really fun. But I def want it to come later so that fans don’t think we’re just interested in going backwards. Want them to know that most importantly we are about creating and moving forward.
Has the current metal soundscape inspire the writing process or was there always plans to just pick up where you left off?
Honestly, not at all. The strategy for this record was looking at everything we’ve done, and then pulling out the pieces we felt we were best at. Listening to our records, I think there’s a lot of stuff that still stands up, and then there are some things that I cringe to hear hahaha. So we basically tried to decide what our strengths were and use that as a unifying thread. I think what we’ve learned is that we are really good at a few things. Being very heavy, a bit chaotic, and a bit melodic.
Instead of continuing on Epic Records, you are set to release the album through your new home, Rise Records. How did that signing come to fruition and what made you sign with that specific release?
The record was almost complete when we got into discussions with Rise. As I mentioned before, we had heard that there was some buzz about 18V going around for some reason but we didn’t know why. Just new kids checking out our old shit I guess (which is rad). Initially, we figured we could just release it ourselves and let the buzz take care of getting it out there. Sure enough, the very first teaser post with new music on Instagram went crazy. All the news sites picked it up and it was confirmation that people would be interested in whatever we were doing. Our manager works with some bands on Rise and had told us that they were an incredible label to work with. He reached out to them about possibly doing something and they were instantly in. The deal went VERY fast. They flew down and we hung out and it was a great fit. There are a lot of old Eighteen Visions fans at Rise so that made the decision for both of us super easy.
The album is only 36 minutes, a departure from the almost hour-long runtime of its predecessor. Were there any songs cut off or was it planned to be a more focused and shorter release for the band?
Originally we were going to do a few songs. Then it was an EP. Then we just kept going and landed on a full length and feeling it would have a heavier weight to it as a release. 2 Of the songs are about 2 minutes. That was on purpose. I wanted to make a few songs that were short, brutal and sweet like some of our old material. The other songs are longer, but I think we just wanted these songs to be to the point and leave out the fluff. No jamming. No weird experimental stuff etc. Let’s be direct, do what we do best and rip heads off.
Last month, the band released “Oath” as the album’s lead single. With the album featuring different facets to your sound, what made you want to release that song first? The album is infused with various samples from movies like They Live and Gangs of New York. How did these movies influence the songs that feature them?
We wanted to come out guns fucking blazing. Oath was chaos, and breakdowns, and sing alongs and just everything we wanted out of a classic 18V song (but written as we are older and better song writers). I love that song so much. Lyrics are super straight edge which is something that’s been a part of us as people since the band started. The movie samples was something that, as we looked back at our old records, we really missed. I dunno why that stopped along the way. I think because labels were giving us heat about copyright stuff. We love movies so much and you can really set the tone for a song with a good clip. They don’t have to connect with the lyrics 100%, it’s more of a mood and a feeling. The Gangs of New York clip just made Spit THAT much angrier. They Live was part brutal and part hilarious which really captures our personalities perfectly I think. We’ve always taken our music seriously, but fucked around on and off stage. A bit tongue and cheek here and there.
Was recording with Mick Kenney something that was planned from the start or was there any other producer in mind?
He actually kicked off making the record. We were starting to demo and Mick was living with Trevor at the time. The 2 of them were driving around one day and one of our demos came on. Mick asked what it was and Trevor said it was an old demo we had made years ago (The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time). He loved the song and asked US if he could record it. So that really got us into the studio. Mick is so fucking rad. He never pressured us about time. He just wanted to make something great and we are so happy with what he has done for us. We love how the record came out. As far as being a producer, honestly I don’t think we need one anymore. We def need help making a great sounding record sonically, but we know who we are and how to write Eighteen Visions songs. We’re confident on our own and although it was fun working with producers when we were younger, we don’t really need one anymore. Mick helped us make the record we wanted to make it and he made it sound amazing. Basically, this record is completely self produced.
Can you tell us what you have planned for not only the record release show at
The Observatory, but for future touring plans
We are working on all of that now. We will def be getting out there and playing. We have a bunch of things in the works. James, Trevor and I all have full time careers that we have no interest in throwing away. So the plan is take advantage of spaces in our schedule and fly out to do a run of shows and then a few weeks later fly out somewhere else. To be clear, we are back together and want to play shows like any other band, but we are also realistic about our responsibilities to our careers and more importantly our families.
Before we end this, is there anything else you’d like to share? This is your platform to tell the world whatever is on your mind.
Here’s some new(ish) music I’ve been into lately. Mind Power, Seizures, No Devotion, BoneSplitter, Incendiary, Dear Boy, Royal Blood, Sister Rust.