Power and Glory: An Interview with Trevor Vaughan
As a teacher of multiple grade-levels, I see young people enter and pass through various developmental stages. When kids are young, they all dance, they all sing, they all draw. At some point, though, they start making comparisons, and with those comparisons comes self-doubt. Suddenly, they don’t dance, they can’t sing, or they can’t draw as well as their classmate. Trevor Vaughan either never entered that stage of self-consciousness, or he has managed to rekindle the child-like quality of putting his whole self into every project that catches his fancy. He can do it all, and the world of hardcore and powerviolence is better for it. His bands are reliably excellent, perfectly exemplifying but transcending their respective genres. Considering how many bands call him a member, and considering the experience he has under his belt, it would be easy for him to phone it in, yet he pours himself into existing projects and creates, perfects, and maintains new ones. He has a passion for the creative process, in all its forms, and it was inspiring to ask him some questions about his career thus far.
With The Rival Mob, Clear, Straight Razor, Wound Man, Wolf Whistle, and now Brother, you’ve played in some of the most reputable bands in Massachusetts hardcore and powerviolence history, and you’ve released music through very established labels like Triple-B, Painkiller, Practiced Hatred, Iron Lung, Revelation, React!, Six Feet Under, Lockin’ Out, and Atomic Action. When did you make the decision to start MA Glory, and what motivated that decision?
I started MA Glory sometime around 2015. Basically, just started using the label as a “brand” that I tag all my musical output and merch under. Just pulling everything under one umbrella. It’s not a record label really. I have released numerous tapes under the name but have yet to call a release MA Glory #001 officially.
Boston continues to be one of the most important hubs in America for heavy music, particularly hardcore, metalcore, and postmetal. MA Glory is proudly a New Bedford label. How would you describe the New Bedford scene? What role would you say MA Glory has in making that scene what it is?
Oh man, New Bedford does have a booming scene, but it has nothing to do with hardcore actually haha. It used to! I don’t know how or why these things happen but there are barely any hardcore gigs in New Bedford these days, besides the occasional one-off. I feel Providence, Rhode Island has taken the reigns as the local hardcore hub around here. Well, I tell all touring bands that are rolling through to book there anyway. Boston does great for bigger shows, but sometimes the smaller ones have the tendency to flop. Not all, it comes and goes in waves like every other scene. Ya know I say that, but there have been a bunch of great smaller gigs in Boston lately also, thanks to the true scene freaks such as Matt McCarthy and Doug what’s-his-name. Respect to those gentlemen.
As far as NB goes, its a super creative and artful city with a TON of interesting bands/musicians/artists, but hardcore in the classic sense hasn’t stuck for a while. There’s a bunch of great shows downtown all the time and my bands will hop on a whacky, fun mixed bill here and there. People always come out and have a good time regardless of genre. Whenever I say NBHC or New Bedford Straight Edge, I really just mean my projects lol.
Despite playing genre-defining and genre-defying hardcore and powerviolence, an exploration of your bandcamp shows the real breadth of your creative endeavors. You’re something of a musical renaissance man, playing folk, bluegrass, hip-hop, EDM, and classic rock-n-roll. How do you decide what genres to pursue? How do you balance your time between your projects?
Man, it’s a sickness. It keeps me up at night, sweating about how or what project I’ll do next. I like a lot of different styles of music, or production rather, so I either hear things I want to take influence from or just straight up mimic, or I get random “bright” ideas for some wacky project I want to pursue. Once I have it in my head, it must get completed as fast as possible. Songwriting, recording, artwork, mastering, printing a t-shirt, all at lightning speed or I get anxious. For me, long gone are the days of starting a band with 3-4 other people, practicing for months, writing songs together and perfecting them, scheduling recording dates, etc. That shit is for the birds. I look at releasing a recording the same as painting a picture. I put in all the work and the final product sounds exactly as I intend, whether that’s good or shit. I’m sure it’s more shit than not haha. That’s how I like it.
Wound Man and Wolf Whistle have won the adoration of powerviolence fans around the country. Brother is already solidifying an excellent reputation as a force in the genre, having recently opened the Have Heart reunion shows and having recently released an EP through Atomic Action, which also released the fantastic Wound Man/Regional Justice Center split earlier this year. What inspired the formation of Brother, and how is the writing and performing with Brother different from writing and performing with your other groups?
So, Brother started after years of my wife and I trying to start a project together. I finally dedicated the time to make it happen, and decided short fast songs would be best to test out the waters, as Heather had never sang in a band before. The first session we had, recording the song “manifest” on our demo, her vocals were so powerful and cool sounding that I was blown away. We didn’t think about playing shows or even practicing as a full band. It was just supposed to be a recording project. But after we finished that first recording, I knew it was gonna be the start of something good.
I’d say writing and performing-wise, it’s very similar compared to my other projects. I record the music and Heather records the vocals. We got two of our good friends, George and Evan, to flesh out the live act. I guess that’s part of the biggest difference, playing live in a band with Heather. It’s really fun for me to watch her do her thing.
What music have you found inspirational lately?
I been on a big goregrind kick. One-man drum machine in your bedroom lofi moron shit.
What non-musical things inspire you?
I’m a big fan of abstract art. I don’t study it, I don’t get caught up on what it “means” at all. I just visually connect with a lot of it. It’s the biggest motivator to me musically, outside of music. Like I mentioned earlier I feel like each release I do is like finishing a painting. You don’t have to “get it” or even care why I recorded it. You can like the sounds or not, doesn’t matter. Pull what you want from it and leave it at that.
How do you spend your time when you aren’t working on music?
I get fixated on random projects every now and again. I’ve made knives, bought expensive camera equipment and snapped a few shots, smashed a bunch of paint on canvas and thrown it away. I skate sometimes. Watch a ton of movies that I forget. Kill a bunch of time on YouTube.
Do you have any musical projects in the works that fans can look forward to?
I’m recording more songs for this punk band Bunch of Fives that I started last year. Wound Man is in the middle of writing a new LP for Iron Lung Records. My Fantasy-themed grind project, Warstone, is working on a discography tape with my good friend Dean’s label-Primitive Propaganda. And much more on the to-do list from Begat, Body Parts, and possibly a new Brother demo.