Echo is the brand-new release from Wichita-based band Vehicles. The group’s songwriter and co-founder, Cody Cloud, says that this album, like its predecessor, 2014’s This Bluebird Wants Me Dead, has thematic connections in its lyrics that listeners might not first expect.
“These are my sad diary songs,” Cloud says. “Love songs for the end of the world. The title Echo? It’s like you’re standing there, yelling into the abyss and nothing’s coming back. I think the songs are more about feeling alienated, feeling alone, wanting human connection and it’s not really easy to find these days.”
Cloud points to the song “Agora Phoebe” as a piece that specifically speaks to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“It’s about trying not to be overwhelmed by everything that can happen,” he says, “you just need to put one foot in front of the other. It’s just normal emotions that everyone has from time to time. I think there’s a lot of anxiety about thinking that everybody’s got this big life going on. Everybody’s their own press agent on social media. You kind of judge yourself against what you see other people doing. ‘This guy’s doing this and I’m not, so I’m not worth as much as him.’ That’s really not true.”
Keyboardist and vocalist Heather Woolridge joined in 2015 and points out that becoming a member was more than she had initially hoped for.
“I was really excited for the opportunity to join because I had loved going to watch them play,” she says. “I loved the band before I was in the band.”
With the current lineup, a solidified Vehicles took the studio over with recording engineer Andrew Bair adding suggestions about the material along the way.
“We’d do what we wanted, and then he’d say, ‘OK, now you need to do this.’ He’d change a few chords and put his spin on it,” Cloud says. “In the end, I think it was a good experience. It pushed us in some places that, normally, we might not have gone. I think the band was 80 percent happy at the end of it, which is a success, I think. Nobody was screaming at each other. Everybody lost a little, so everybody wins.
Cloud says that the group’s music has provided him an important outlet in his life and says seeing one’s art through can be empowering.
“When I was younger, I thought there was this magic age where I would have to quit being an artist,” he says. “I felt like only young people have the pulse. I feel like there’s room for everybody, the older I get. If art is important to you, I think it’s important that you do that for yourself. If you hang it on a wall and somebody tells you it sucks, who cares? You were the one who knew what you were doing when you made it, and I think that’s important to chase those things. Stay with it, regardless.”
Heather Wooldridge echoes Cloud’s sentiments, saying that in the end there’s a great deal to appreciate about the art of creativity itself, no matter the results.
“I have a lot of love for anybody that can get out there and be vulnerable and show their art to other people,” she says. “I think that’s what make it’s beautiful. Even if you don’t enjoy what they’re doing, just seeing the passion that they have.”
Echo concludes with the song “Curious,” which Cloud says was inspired by his relationship with his daughter.
“I’m getting to be older,” he says, “and my daughter is growing up to become her own individual. It’s curious when you love someone, and you want the best for them, but then you have to leave enough space for them to become who they need to be.”
Vehicles celebrates the release of Echo Saturday evening at Barleycorn’s.
Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.
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