How does a band from a little town outside of Leeds end up going by the name Your Vegas? “It was one of our first songs,” says the band’s singer Coyle Girelli. “Your Vegas seemed to sum us up. It’s about escaping to a different place, wherever that is.”
Escape, along with brotherhood, is at the core of Your Vegas. Four of the five band members grew up in a small suburb of Leeds called Otley. Forming a band came naturally; according to Girelli. “There aren’t many people in Otley. You find three other people near the same age into music, you’re probably going to meet up and form a band.”
At first, the concept of escape simply meant finding a sound. The group started out as a grungy, Nirvana-influenced group, but that slowly changed. A keyboardist was added; the music opened up. “Making a racket turned into thinking about songs,” says guitarist Mat Steel, who offers up U2 and Depeche Mode as influences (as for contemporaries, he mentions Coldplay and The Killers).
With its sound taking shape, “escape” now meant hitting the road. The band released a few indie singles and started touring the UK in a tiny van. “Up and down the motorway, doing what we call the toilet tours,” says Coyle, referencing the bars, universities and small clubs that dot the countryside. “We’d hit islands off of Scotland, and then go all the way down to Plymouth. We even hit up the Scottish highlands--there were these small towns that no one ever plays, where the town’s ancestors had settled thousands of years ago, and their families never left. It was good fun.”
Fun or not, the band found themselves wanting to take the next step. Once a proposed major label deal fell through, a bold new plan took shape--Girelli would leave the country and move to New York. “At first, I came over to play some acoustic shows and see some friends,” says the singer. “But it was really apparent that New York had so much to offer.”
Oddly enough, even with his support crew back home, Your Vegas was starting to find its niche. Crowds grew bigger. Major labels started coming around. The rest of the band came over for a few weeks, and after noticing the buzz, promptly flew back home, “sold everything” (according to guitarist Steel) and relocated permanently to the States, shacking up together in Hell’s Kitchen.
“That wasn’t a hard decision,” says Steel. “We stick together – it’s like brothers from another mother, that kind of thing. And we all wanted to do the same thing—write great, uplifting tunes and play for as many people as we can, and hopefully make people happy. We finally found the opportunity to do that by moving to the States.”
With a label deal in hand, Your Vegas started recording their album with David Bendeth (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Paramore) last April. “When we started talking musical influences and how we wanted a big sound, he just got it,” says Steel. The band, meanwhile, continued to slave over new material. Girelli would write the skeleton of each track on an acoustic guitar, and then bring in what he had to the band, which would tinker with it in the group’s rehearsal room. “It has to work live,” says Steel. “And even then, there’s a lot of back and forth. We spend a lot of time on each song.”
The epic sound on “A Town and Two Cities,” and its attention to detail, is readily apparent in the final mixes. “It Makes My Heart Break” is simply an epic ballad, while “In My Head” features both a wall of guitar noise and some gorgeous pop harmony. Although the songs on the record are unabashedly anthems, the meaning behind them is far more insular for Coyle. “The lyrics, they’re personal to me in many ways, even if I’m writing from another person’s point of view,” he says, pointing to the song “Birds of Paradise.” Says the singer: “That’s about two life-long friends, and one who goes to war and dies while being far, far away. Even though it’s a song about war and death, there are aspects of it that are autobiographical.”
As for the album title, it directly reflects the band’s past and present. “We grew up in a small town, and then spent a lot of time in Leeds – which is an amazing city for musicians,” says Coyle. "Then we came here to the States, and that was our last inspiration before recording the album. So I guess it’s about our journey, in a town and two cities".
Viva Your Vegas