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[AltWire Interview] Versus The World: “Punk Rock is Everything To Me”

Versus The World are a post-hardcore/pop punk band hailing out of Santa Barbara, CA comprised of Chris Flippin (Lagwagon), Mike Davenport (The Ataris), Bryan Charleson and Donald Spence (Crooks and Liars). Signed to Viking Funeral Records, the band was formed in the back of The Ataris old record store (“Down On Haley”) in 2005; originally going by the name Pencapchew, before vocalist Donald Spence decided on the band’s current name Versus The World.

Their latest release “Drink. Sing. Live. Love” was released on July 31st, 2012 and is the band’s first recorded material in nearly 7 years. The band just finished a tour in Southern California, and is currently in China touring to finish out the year. Recently one of our guest contributors and followers Jenni Distler caught up with the band’s lead vocalist Don to ask him a few questions for us, and below is what he had to say. Thanks Jenni!

AW [Jenni]: How would you describe Versus The World to people hearing you for the first time?

Don: I guess I would immediately say we’re a punk rock band.  We’re more on the rock side of things like the alkaline trio or jawbreaker but we come from punk backgrounds and from that scene.  It’s what we identify most with.

AW: How did you come up with the name of your band?

Don: I bought an Armchair Martian/bad astronaut split record called war of the worlds.  Got me thinking.  I liked the way it sounded.

AW: You just recently released your album “Drink. Sing. Live. Love”. The album seems to follow a concept lyrically, was there a deliberate storyline or concept behind it?

Don: It’s not really a concept record but there is a theme through out that just really speaks to being human… really taking advantage of the time we have.  Life is gonna happen, it’s going to be hard, and fun, and sad, and beautiful… So just try to drink it all in.  We had the title worked out before i finished the lyrics, so I knew where I wanted to go, I just had to find different ways to get the songs there.

AW: There was a long delay between your last record and the new record. Any special reasons for this?

Don: We all had to tend to other parts of our lives.  Mike had just come out of the Ataris and hadn’t taken a real break from touring in 10 years.  He had a baby, we both got married.  You know, just life happened.

AW: You said earlier that you’re a punk band, but what does punk rock mean to you?

Don: Punk rock is everything to me.  It the genre that I identify with.  The music I love.  The people I spend time with.  The second I found punk rock my life was never the same.

AW: You were on Tour in Germany, USA, and now China…what was your favorite show so far and why?

Don: Japan was my favorite place to play.  It’s just such a different world, it’s like no place I’d ever seen before.  Europe is always good to us though, Germany and Italy seem to like us the best.  But my favorite show?  That’s hard…  I guess maybe Groezrock,  it was a milestone for our band.  It was our first show on the main-stage of a festival that big.

AW: It seems like you guys have a lot of fun during shows. What was the funniest thing and what was worst thing that happened to you during a show?

Don: We have a blast.  We love playing music together so it isn’t that had to have a good time.  But Mike had a problem with hitting me with his bass for a while there.  He’s like the big dog that doesn’t know how big he is.  So he’d be doing his thing and fucking bonk!  Just hit me with his bass!  I’d get so pissed!  The funniest thing?  We were playing in Australia with the Wonder Years and we through a party for their guitarist Matt’s birthday,  we got him a cake and set up a bar in the backstage and just raged.  When we brought the cake out the kids were just fucking screaming for the cake… So Mike, just threw it into the crowd.  There was cake on everything!  Guitars, mics, people!  It was brutal.

AW: Do you have any special rituals before the show?

Don: We all do our normal warm up that we need to do, vocal warm ups and stretching, but other than that we all like to have a drink together before we start playing.  Not for any reason other that to kind of remember that we’re all buds.  It helps to enjoy the moment together.

AW: What do you guys do for fun, when you’re not on tour?

Don: Mike has a little girl that he adores so he’s mostly a family man.  I like to golf and cook and hang with my wife.  I try to play music everyday so that I keep myself writing.  Chris is always touring somewhere.  Tony is a worker bee, and I have no clue what the hell Bryan is up to when were home.  I always see him but never really sure what he’s up to.  He’s mysterious. Ha ha.

AW: With the holidays coming up, do you or the band have any special plans?

Don: We’re gonna be flying home from China the 23rd… So I guess I hope we don’t miss any flights and we actually get back before Christmas!

 AW: What can we expect from the band in the year ahead?

Don: We’re home until the first week of March, so we’re just gonna work on our new record.  I’d like to be done with it before we leave in the spring so we can record it when we get home in April.

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