The Vine Street Vibes have spent the last couple of years perfecting their space-funk sound and bursting their way into the Denver scene. With no signs of slowing down, it would be wise to keep an eye on these guys in the year to come. We caught up with them at their practice facility to get inside their heads.

How long have you been a band?

Dustin: About 2 years. We just had our two year anniversary on 12/12. That’s how we remember it—we played our first show together on 12/12/12.

How’d you guys get together?

Zack: It was a combination of things. A few of us were trying to get a band together, and some of us were already in a band that was playing, so we just kind of combined some ideas and sort of started over at that time. We’ve gone through some lineup changes, but for the most part it’s been the same dudes.

Dustin: It was kind of two projects that weren’t going anywhere fast and we combined into one project and were like, “Wow, this sounds way better.”

So you guys just put out “Iridescence” on the latest Mile High Sound Movement compilation, but what other projects projects have you guys been working on lately?

Carl: well “Iridescence” is part of an EP we’re working on. It’s sort of a tease. We’re trying for a 5 or 6 song EP sometime in 2015.

Dustin: Yeah, and we’re actually the first band to be involved with The Mile High Sound Movement; they’re a little bit more bass-heavy, more dubstep and stuff, but we’re the first band on their record label. And it’s really cool because we have gotten more activity off of that one track than any other track on our Soundcloud.

And was that your first studio release?

Zack: That was a first real studio track. We have an album of sorts on Spotify, but that was recorded live in the studio or live at a show, and then we multi-tracked it. But that was our first real layer-by-layer tracking each individual instrument and actually putting some post-production on it. So the next tracks should have a similar quality.

Dustin: That was our first studio time that we actually paid for. Our first studio sessions were free because I had an internship at a club that did high-quality recordings, and then one of the studios at my school that we were going to use completely collapsed and contracted out, so we scored some studio time out of that. And then our music changed like five days later, so it was kind of pointless.

Who are some of the most influential artists to you?

[Long Pause, everyone looking at each other] Dustin [laughing]: Who’s gonna say it?

Zack: I’ll say it! Sound Tribe Sector 9 is probably one of our biggest influences.

Dustin: Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus…

Zack: …We’re not really trying to emulate those bands, but that was the kind of stuff that I was listening to when I got into this scene.

Carl: Yeah those bands definitely taught us a lot about how to jam and how to get a more dancey sound.

Do you guys do a lot of jamming when you play live?

Carl: Yeah it’s mostly jamming.

And do improvise all of that?

Carl: Well it’s structured improv, so there are parts that we cue to.

Dustin: We’re comping on ideas and learning to stretch ideas out, so that they don’t get too boring. It’s all about finding a happy medium.

Zack: There are some improv parts to some songs, so when we get to those parts we know it’s time to start coming up with fresh ideas, and then we’ll eventually come back to where we were or just move on to another song.

Dustin: I always think of it like our songs have a skeleton that we know and stick to, but then the rest of the time we are filling in the blanks, so every show we play is different. We’ve never really played the same song the same way twice.

Carl: On that note, we always try to write new set lists every time, so we never play the same show twice.

What are your goals for the future?

Carl: Play bigger, better shows, man.

Dustin: Travel!

Dustin: For 2015, our biggest goal is to start hitting places around the state in a pretty broad circle—Albuquerque, Austin.

Zack: We’re trying to get a Cali tour going this summer.

Are you playing any festivals this summer?

Dylan: As of right now, we’re doing Beanstalk. That was just announced, but that’s the only official one so far.

Zack: But we’re also competing in “The Road to Summercamp” on March 5th. So we’re trying to win that and go perform at Summercamp. That’s our main goal right now.

Dylan: Summercamp would be fuckin’ awesome.

Dustin: For 2015, our biggest goal is to start hitting places around the state in a pretty broad circle—Albuquerque, Austin.

Zack: We’re trying to get a Cali tour going this summer.

Have you done much traveling so far?

Zack: We played in Laramie once, but that’s our only out of state show so far.

What is your favorite part about playing live?

Dylan: My favorite part is trying to come up with new and intriguing ways to change a song.

Carl [laughing] I like seeing the crowd get down. I mean, we’ve worked so hard on this music, and when you finally get to show it people and they love it—makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Zack: And our songs will kind of change based on the crowd’s reaction too. So we can practice something as much as we want, but we really don’t know what’s going to happen until we get in front of a crowd, and then seeing people either liking it or not liking it and us reacting to it—that is sort of a cool conversation. That’s probably my favorite part.

Dustin: For me, it’s really the only time when I have my brain completely shut off and there’s just silence. I just get in the zone—it’s like a time machine—and then 45 minutes later the show is done. I think too much, so that’s the only time that I don’t think.

Take me through your creative process…

Everyone [laughing]: Which one?

Carl: For some of my songs, I’ll write pretty much all of it out on Ableton and show it to everybody, and then they can elaborate on that. And then it kind of comes together into a song. Or another way that we do it is that we improv for a while at the beginning of every practice, and if we hear something that we like we’ll kind of turn that into a chorus that we’ll add verses to it, and then it becomes a song.

Zack: And then sometimes we’ll just bring one idea to the table and we’ll jam on that idea. Someone else will come up with something from that. We just move through the steps with everyone giving their own take on the idea because we all see things a little differently.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

Garrett: I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but we’re in constant communication with aliens [laughing]. Zack was abducted by aliens and they feed us some pretty good ideas.

Zack: I’m sort of a medium.

If you had to classify your music, what would you call it?

Carl: I’d say “Instrumental Dance Prog”

Dustin: I always like to call it Space funk

Zack: Psychedelic space jam funk. I don’t know if we’re too proggy, though.

Carl: But we’re also not overly funky.

Do you guys like to collaborate with other artists? If you could collaborate with anyone (dead alive) who would it be?

Carl: I’ve always thought it would be sweet to collaborate with Sunsquabi. They have sort of an edge that we don’t have, and we have a softer edge that they don’t have. I think that would be a well-rounded sound. And of course STS9 would be sweet.

Zack: I could see us collaborating with Lost Optical in the future too. We actually record in their studio and they have a more electronic edge that we don’t have. We’ve talked to Project Aspect about maybe doing a collaboration with him because he really has that hard-hitting electronic sound.

Dustin: We like to be open with who collaborate with. One of our last shows we had a violinist sit in with us. We’ve had hip-hop emcees that we’re friends with. We try to mix it up with every show. Halloween is kind of our big thing every year.

And tell me about that…

Dustin: Every year we do a big Halloween cover night. Our first year we did Sound Tribe, and last year we did Michael Jackson.

Zack: We’ll probably do something more complex this year—maybe another jam band or something. We don’t really see the issue with covering jam bands that are big now because we kind of feel like we’re that next generation of jam band. It’s really cool for us to cover the band that have been influences for us. It’s cool for us to have our take on their music and keeping the tradition of covering and jamming alive.

Do you ever find it difficult to stand out in the Denver music scene when there is so much great music happening?

Zack: We worry about it more than it actually happens. Like Halloween last year, we were up against so many big names, we thought our show would bomb, but it ended up being over capacity the whole night. There’s enough people in Denver who seek out live music.

Dustin: And I feel like there’s sort of shift going on where people are moving away from the nightclub DJs, and there’s more of a demand for instrumentation.

Zack: Actually I think we kind of stand out just for the fact that we aren’t using loops and laptop, and we’ve stood by that since we started.

 Photo Credit: Jim Mimna (J. Mimna Photography)