“It’s been a roller coaster” — Avion Roe talks Kellin Quinn, Epitaph Records and the future

photo by: Lindsey Byrnes

Avion Roe is a band that first burst on the scene in 2011 with their emotional and hot (literally, there’s a piano on fire) music video for “Who I Am.” Since their 2011 full-length, The Art Of Fiction, the quartet has released two music videos, one being the first-ever 3D music video created by an unsigned band, and an EP. Last month the band announced they signed to Epitaph Records, released a music video with Kellin Quinn from Sleeping With Sirens and put out their label debut, Into The Rest, last week.

We talked to Evan Couture, the lead singer of the Dallas, Texas, band, and asked about their new EP, working with Kellin Quinn and future plans.

How has your music grown since The Art Of Fiction?
EVAN COUTURE: The Art Of Fiction came out in 2011 and, for whatever reason, that time between then and now was just really formative years in all of our lives. The four of us grew from children into young adults. Our drummer [Josh Cutlip] had a baby and a lot of us came into the people we’re going to be for the rest of our lives and that has affected our music more than any touring could have ever done. Life changing in front of us and the formative years evolving is what really changed our music. Our view of the world has changed and I think it’s really prevalent in the music. I feel the response from the song we’ve put out so far, we put out “Into The Rest” in September, has been really amazing. Everybody, old fans and new fans, seem to really appreciate what we’re doing and support it. That’s the best thing you can hope for. I think that it’s matured. We’ve grown up a little bit and I think that’s what people wanted from us.

How has the success from “Who I Am” influenced Avion Roe?
To this day, it’s one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written. I can’t explain why it did so well. I think the video probably is what caught a lot of attention, maybe because I’m playing a piano on fire. We often joke, “All we had to do to get attention was to almost kill ourselves.” It influenced our direction entirely. When it came time to write all our new music, we never try to do the same thing twice. But we still wanted to hold onto “Who I Am” as a part of our band musically and keep that rooted in our new music. It’s influenced us an incredible amount. We try to write something fans of that would still love and we’re still fans of that. We’re still proud of what we did back in 2011. It’s definitely influenced who we are as a band too; that passionate performance that’s in that video, that’s always going to be with us forever. So it’s wildly influencing. At the root of all of it, even 10 years from now, I hope we’re still playing, we’re still going to be that band.

Is that why you guys decided to  create a 3D music video?
Yes and no. We did that because I wanted to be the kind of band that was always trying to do something new and push the world forward, even in the tech world. I’m really fascinated with technology and no bands had really done it. We were the first unsigned band in the world to shoot a 3D music video. We used the same cameras they shot The Hobbit and The Amazing Spider-Man with and it’s really complicated. It’s a lot of math and truthfully, it’s over my head.. We wanted people to experience our performance like they were at a concert, like they were there with us and 3D made the audience able to do that.

What was it like working with Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens?
I don’t need to go into how talented he is, but being around him there’s this energy. He’s so fun, but what people maybe don’t know is he’s genuinely one of the nicest people. I find myself wanting to be like him in the fact that he just always wants to make something new. He’s an idea guy and he wants to be a part of new things. We would not being having any of the success we’re having right now without him because he believed in us in a world where it felt like not a lot of people did.

What was it like to hear that he was a fan of your guys?
It’s kind of a funny story. We had written a lot of songs and had recorded them ourselves. My guitar player, Jordan [Modro], and myself had been producing it on our own. Our manager had sent the song out to a handful of record labels, the responses were not what I expected. It was all positive. Everybody said, “This is really good but we don’t want to sign it,” or, “Your singer is really good but we don’t think people will like it.” Stuff like that where you’re kind of like, “Which is it?” It was really weird. We were kind of destroyed. As a band we felt dismantled and I remember thinking, “I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen for us.” That wasn’t going to slow us down, we don’t know anything else. We were going to keep writing until we stopped breathing, but it did dismantle our hearts to put it lightly. I remember waking up one day and my bass player Sean [Humphrey] had texted me, “Did you see who tweeted at us?” And I was like, “No, I didn’t.” So I got on and it was kind of this feeling of, “This can’t really be Kellin Quinn. This is somebody whose name is similar to it. It wasn’t real.” And as we dove deeper, we realized, “Shit, this is Kellin Quinn and he likes us.”

How did he find out about Avion Roe?
We had tried to do this live concert for our fans and we could not get the technical side of things to work. We sold tickets to an online concert and we couldn’t get the audio to sync with the video. It was one problem after the other. We tried for two days straight and couldn’t figure it out. We felt sorry and some people had bought tickets, so we refunded everybody, but we wanted to do something to make it up to them. So we’re like, “Let’s go ahead and release a song.” Our manager got it on [a website] and that’s how Kellin found it. It feels so natural that all these suits, all these record labels had heard us didn’t get it and then here comes an artist, someone who’s in it for the love of music, hears it and gets it right away. He only had to hear one song. He said, “I love you guys. I want to talk more, let’s do it.” That’s just how it happened for us and it’s been a roller coaster.

Do you feel that Epitaph Records is the right home for Avion Roe?
I feel with every ounce of my being that it’s the right home for us, from the minute that I first talked to Brett [Gurewitz]. We’ve been sitting on this deal for a long time. He called me at the end of December, right before he was about to leave for their holiday break, and he said, “I love your band. I love The Art Of Fiction and I’m floored by the new stuff. I want you to be an Epitaph recording artist.” And from there it’s been a year of traveling across the country and recording it the right way. We had done it all ourselves and we definitely cut some corners doing that. He just helped us find the right way. They didn’t change our songs at all, they’re the same exact songs we had recorded. He helped us do it the right way. Then shooting the video and getting a vision down for that. It was actually me who get Kellin on board. I just asked him before we even had a record deal and he was going to do it either way. There’s no doubt in my heart that Epitaph’s the right home for us. I remember the first time I walked into their building [we were] treated like family and the same time treated like you’re the biggest artist there. That comes from them treating everybody like they’re the biggest artist there. That really steams from them being a good company. That’s who you want to do business with, that’s who you want to work with and that’s who you want to believe in you. We have all of that and it’s unreal.

Is there a story behind the title of the EP, Into The Rest?
It’s about the connection between people and putting your fear aside and bad habits and giving that to the people that don’t matter in your world and giving your attention, focus, love and passion to the people who do matter. It’s way bigger to me than a boy/girl story. It’s to everyone important in your life, to your parents, friends or whoever the hell believes in you. It’s those people you need to be focused on and pushing all that negativity into the rest of the world and save your love for the people who are deserving of it. “Into The Rest” is a way for me to remind yourself to show the people you love that you care about them.

Why did you guys decide to release another EP before another full-length?
It kind of goes back to the timing of things being weird. I was kind of afraid if we released a full-length right now that we would not have time to tour on it long enough to support it before we had to do another record. I want this record we put out, when it is time for the full-length, to be heard by as many people as possible and that comes from touring on it as long as we can. That’s not saying I’m excited for the record after that, because I’m the type of person that’s always thinking forward. I have songs written for records two years from now, but I want to get this music into as many ears as possible. It made sense to put out an EP now and put out more music next year and kind of keep it going that way.