Veara Growing Up Is Killing Me (EPITAPH) Augusta, Georgia, may be better known for its golf tournaments than its pop-punk but all of that is about to change with the release of Veara's latest album Growing Up Is Killing Me. In fact the follow-up to 2010's What We Leave Behind isn't just a huge sonic step forward for this powerful pop-punk act but also once again showcases that beneath the ear-candy layer of power chords, the band have an urgent message about life, friendship and betrayal that they're expressing the only way they know how: Through their music.
In case you aren't familiar with Veara yet, guitarist/vocalist Patrick Bambrick, bassist/vocalist Bryan Kerr and drummer Brittany Harrell have been playing together for over a decade, however it wasn't until lead vocalist/guitarist Bradley Wyrosdick joined the band in 2008 that Veara as we know came into existence. The group instantly knew they had something special and so did A Day To Remember vocalist Jeremy McKinnon who co-produced the band's debut disc and helped propel them toward the stratosphere. That said, while the last album dealt largely with internal issues Growing Up Is Killing Me explores a broader scope that captures the feelings of entering adulthood and that story is supported by some of the most inspired pop-punk in recent memory.
Recorded over a two-month period with Dan Korneff (Pierce The Veil, My Chemical Romance, Paramore) at House Of Loud studio in New Jersey, Growing Up Is Killing Me is a comprehensive expression of Veara's creative vision that showcases how much the band have grown via playing together on the road and challenging themselves when it comes to songwriting. "Dan helped us out a lot with transitions and dynamics, which is something the new album has a lot more of," Bambrick explains. "One of the most enjoyable parts of making this album was the fact that we could see we were getting better at what we were doing and that kept inspiring us to create something that could really capture that sentiment."
This fact is evident listening to the album's title track, an instantly infectious anthem that sees the band confronting issues that are generally to existential for pop-punk. "A lot of people think of growing up as the process of going from a childhood to adulthood and then you're done but even if you're an adult you never stop growing," Bambrick says. "When we say 'Growing Up Is Killing Me' it relates to the fact that you don't have the same outlook on Christmas morning when you're 28 as you did when you were eight years old. We're not judging those feelings but sometimes it hurts to see those types of experiences change and watch time go by so quickly as you get older."
Another inevitability of the growing process is the fact that certain relationships tend to fall by the wayside and correspondingly "Between Friends And A Hard Place" centers around what its like to be caught in the middle of a feud between two important people in your life whereas "Fake Blood" (which features screamed vocals courtesy of Close To Home's Andrew Deneef) chronicles the all too familiar story of a friend who turned out to be a traitor. "Writing these songs was extremely cathartic because instead of physically attacking someone we can just write a song about the situation and once it starts to make sense to the person we wrote it about, we've already hit you harder than anything else could have," Bambrick explains.
However this sentiment wouldn't be nearly as powerful if it weren't for the equally hard-hitting aspect of Veara's music and their newfound mastery of dynamics is evidenced on the instantly infectious anthem "Next Stop...Everywhere" as well as the sweetly syncopated "Don't Call Me Lucky" which features Silverstein vocalist Shane Told. Then there's the album's title track which features a cameo from The Wonder Years' vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell. "We've known The Wonder Years for a while now and we felt like his personality was perfect for that song," Bambrick explains of the emotional rocker that doesn't pull any punches when Wyrosdick proclaims, "You won't get anywhere if you just stagger and stare, so come on!"
Speaking of not pulling punches, anyone who has witnessed Veara live is familiar with the band's performances which are more of a sonic celebration than a traditional concert experience. "When we get onstage we look at that as our chance to get our point across because you only have 30 minutes to say what you want to say and you want the crowd to feel like they are as much of a part of the experience as we are," Bambrick explains. "Instead of standing still playing energetic parts, we want the live show to make the entire experience more energetic so we are going to rock out and the crowd can feed off that energy and give it right back." Admittedly Veara have toured with and befriended some of the biggest acts in pop-punk today, the throughout these experiences the band have never felt like they fit neatly into any category--and over the years they've learned that instead of this fact being a detriment, this is another one of their collective strengths. "I would definitely consider us to be a pop-punk band but we're not a slave to the genre in the sense that those are the only types of bands we'll play with," Bambrick explains. "We're inspired by acts like No Doubt and Foo Fighters because they found their own sound by being who they were and without worrying about how their music was going to be labeled."
Despite the insanely catchy nature of the songs on Growing Up Is Killing Me, the album is a from of therapy as much as it is a celebration of life. "As a band we like to discuss things in life that a lot of bands don't deal with whether that's the way responsibilities start to weigh on you as the years go on or how difficult it is to lose a friend who you really cared about," Bambrick summarizes. "Our goal is that someone listening to these songs is going through something similar and this album helps him or her come to terms with some really universal struggles. If we help one person, it's worth it."