|Out Of The Blue
Publications Association, LLC
Summerland Tour 2013
Sponge vocalist Vinnie Dombroski on new album and rock & roll environment struggles
Rock bands of the 90s that have maintained long-lasting active radio rotation will take over Columbus, Ohio this Friday
night at The LC Pavilion as part of the second annual Summerland Tour. Organized by Art Alexakis and headlined by
his band Everclear, this year’s tour will reintroduce fans and introduce new fans to songs including Sponge’s
“Plowed,” Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” Live’s “Lightning Crashes,” and Everclear’s “Santa Monica.”
Although such early hit songs bring most nostalgia, the bands of this year’s tour lineup remain musically active. Live
reformed last year with new vocalist Chris Shinn and the other bands have recently released new albums: Everclear’s
Invisible Stars (2012), Filter’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight (2013) and Sponge’s Stop The Bleeding (2013).
Before the tour’s only Ohio stop, Sponge vocalist Vinnie Dombroski talked to Out Of The Blue about Summerland, the
band's new album and the struggles he's faced in the rock & roll business.
OOTB: How did Sponge become part of this year’s Summerland Tour lineup?
Everything kind of came together at a perfect time with our new record. We really hadn’t planned on having a new
record, we thought toward the end of last year that we had enough songs to put something together. We thought,
“what the heck, let’s give it another whack.” We weren’t big fans of the idea of making a new record anymore, given
the fact that people don’t buy records much anymore. If anything they buy songs, not records, so for us to make a
whole record seemed kind of crazy. Aside from making a record and ramping up a new website, this tour came along
and we’re like, “well, this is perfect timing” and I guess it came together for a reason. So, here we are on the
OOTB: How did everything come together to release the new album Stop The Bleeding this year?
We had an EP called Destroy The Boy in 2010. With it having a couple songs on there, we figured at some point we’d
finish up a whole record. But, then again in 2013 man, mom and pop record stores a closing up left and right. We had
two that were here for many, many years in Detroit that shut down. Car City Records and Record Time. Those were
really the only two real record stores in the area, we never thought they’d shut down. With those stores gone and Best
Buy cutting back on the number of CDs they sell and some of the larger retail stores doing the same thing, we’re just
like, “putting together a record, what’s the point?” It’s a song-buying world.
OOTB: With it being a “song-buying world,” in what ways do you think the definition of a successful rock song single
has changed since Sponge formed?
I gotta tell ya. Looking at a song like “Plowed,” there was really nothing on the radio at the time that was similar to
that tempo. Not too many songs out there had that tempo. For me to tell you that it was going to be a huge hit and that
song’s going to be on radio twenty years from now, I would have never thought that in a million years. We wanted to
write strong songs, but as far as what we thought was a radio tune or even today what we think is a radio tune is far
removed for me to understand. How they hit people kind of determines if it’ll be something that lasts, something
that’s going to be embraced by radio and something that goes on further and becomes a hit.
OOTB: After listening to the album, I noticed a few songs have a more modern electronic and darker sound, but other
songs carry the familiar Sponge punch.
I’m not a particular stranger to that kind of element. My band Crud released two albums out and that was probably one
reason why I said, “you know what, this is kinda fun, this particular approach is fun for Sponge.” And the other reason
is, we’ve done a lot in the way of licensing songs for TV and movies these days. Part of why some of these songs are
on this record is because those are songs that were initially from some song we initially wanted to pitch for a particular
project that didn’t quite make it and we had these great songs and said, “let’s put it together, let’s make it a Sponge
record and get moving on some stuff.” In particular the song “Dance Floor” is something some people will be like,
“that’s not quite how I remember Sponge.” The band translates well in that format as something that kind of bridges
the gap from the old, you know in ’94, to 2013.
OOTB: What’s a new song on the album that really stands out to you personally?
It’s funny, I typically say a song like “Life’s Bitter Pills” means a lot to me. People always steer to other tunes though.
“Coming From The Floor” is great, “Dance Floor” is great. But kind of an overlooked song like “Life’s Bitter Pills”
means a lot to me. There’s been so much tragedy in this world and tragedy within each and every one of us on
different levels, but tragedy nonetheless throughout our lives. Like the first line of the song, “The cure that kills is
dangerous.” Well, what that speaks of is that simply everybody is going to have suffering in life. The circumstances
are all different, but certainly suffering comes to us and the only way to get out of the human experience is pretty much
death. That’s what that song talks about. It’s funny how people don’t really gravitate toward that song, but I think that’s
kind of an important song.
"Maybe I'm looking more outward these days than inward. Maybe that's what age brings you."
OOTB: How has your writing process changed from the 90s to today? Have you approached songs differently as far
as style or the song writing process?
Things seemed to be really introspective back in the day. At times you almost feel like you’re writing for yourself, but
even with that said some people seem to relate to some lyric or some experience in those tunes. Maybe I’m looking
more outward these days than inward. Maybe that’s what age brings you.
"Regarding substance abuse, obviously being in the rock & roll business you're a kid in a candy store."
OOTB: What are some of the roadblocks that you’ve encountered personally throughout your music career?
One of the biggest roadblocks is probably the dangerous environment of being in a rock band. Certainly there’s
a number of things outside of the band. Business and technology are always a challenge, but I think it’s just the
environment we’re in that is number one. Regarding substance abuse, obviously being in the rock & roll business
you’re a kid in a candy store. You kind of play things by your own rules, you do what you want and there’s a lot of
opportunity to lose focus regarding your career. For number one that has presented itself to be a roadblock in the past.
On top of that, the business challenges with the whole environment changing, the model changing. It’s become more
of an independent type of operation. Early on we were very much proactive and independent in our thinking and that
has helped us get past the roadblocks of the major labels crumbling. The other thing is technology. The digital world
kind of resurrected a lot of labels. Our independent spirit and how we’ve operated to this day has helped us keep
making records, keep making it to the gigs and keep our whole enthusiasm about the whole thing.
OOTB: How did you overcome some of those roadblocks, like the mentioned substance abuse?
You get to a point where you finally wake up and say, “what do you want to do?” Is the grip of your addiction greater
than you desire to have a decent life and career? I ask that first and foremost and then decide to keep moving on.
I think the group understands that. Instead of going out and spending tons of money on things that had nothing to do
with making records, with huge budgets. Hotel rooms in New York, staying there for weeks and weeks probably cost
more to house everybody than make the record. How to tour correctly without spending a lot of money. All of
these things have helped us navigate and keep our enthusiasm. It’s waking up and being a littler smarter than
we were years ago.
"...you struggle with it every stinkin' day."
OOTB: Do you still battle any of the addictions or is that something you’ve locked in the past?
Anybody that has any history with that particular struggle, struggles with it every day. Maybe sometimes less, maybe
a little more, but you struggle with it every stinkin’ day.
OOTB: How have you worked to overcome that struggle?
I think years ago, it was much more selfish, I thought too much about myself. So, I would do things for myself. Now
I look around me and realize what all I’ve got to be thankful for and I think that keeps me on the beam a lot more as
opposed to going over the edge. Maybe that’s part of the writing process too, I’m looking around as opposed to in.
"...the biggest points in the band's career haven't been seen yet."
OOTB: What have been some of the most memorable moments for Sponge?
There’s many touchstone moments of the past. Some of our tours like Lollapalooza, Rage Against The Machine,
The Ramones. Sharing stages with The Melvins for the entire tour, being on the road with Iggy Pop back
in ’97 was a big highlight of ours. Playing with KISS, playing with Alice In Chains and doing gigs with Guns ‘N Roses.
All these things, you know, the record going gold, that’s a big deal. I still think there’s plenty of life in the band and
thinking about a couple of these new tracks on the record put me on a whole new career outlook for the band and
a whole new group of people being exposed to the band, so the biggest points in the band’s career haven’t been
OOTB: Having a new career outlook for the band, what are some of the new goals?
I’d certainly love to see the band to have an opportunity to be exposed to radio like we were many years ago with
some of these new tunes. The same type of radio we got back in ’95, ’96 and ’97. I’d love to see the group have that
kind of exposure today.
OOTB: Is there anyone you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet?
I would certainly like to sit down with Sean Kinney again and Mike Inez, Chris DeGarmo, we put together an EP under
Spys4Darwin and I’d certainly like to get back with those guys and make a full-length record. I’d love to sit down with
Cantrell and knock out a couple tunes. That could be really a lot of fun. I would love to sit down with country artist
Jamey Johnson. I think he’s doing it at a higher level than anybody I’ve seen. I’d like to sit down with the people in Die
Antwoord and knock out a track. There’s all kinds of shit I’d love to get involved in. Remixing and writing and having a
OOTB: What’s next for Sponge after Summerland?
We are trying to hammer out our own tour for September. We’re booking gigs now and trying to connect the dots.
OOTB: What can fans expect to hear on Friday here in Columbus?
It’s looking like the hits, “Wax Ecstatic,” “Molly,” “Plowed,” “Have You Seen Mary?,” “Fade From View,” those are
definitely in our set. I’d also like to make mention that we love to see people sign up for our website: spongetheband.
com We do have the new record out with us, we have advanced copies that can only be bought at the shows. They’re
not on the Internet yet, they’re not on iTunes. So come out and see the show, come out and get a record. As far as a
release date, we’re in negotiations right now, but it’s probably looking like late August for an official release.
Summerland stops tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Columbus at The LC Pavilion. Pit tickets are $30 and lawn is $15.
Summerland Tour Website
Sponge on Facebook
Sponge on Twitter
Sponge will take the stage on Friday at the only Ohio stop of the 2013 Summerland Tour.
Sponge is selling advanced copies of the Detroit-based
band's new album Stop The Bleeding throughout the
29-city Summerland Tour that concludes July 28.
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