No Vacancy full of heart

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First Posted: 4/22/2013

Call it “cross-genre encouragement,” if you will. When Wilkes-Barre Americana/roots rock band No Vacancy releases their proper debut album, “Hop in the Front Seat of Life,” on April 27, know that the impetus came from an unlikely source – NEPA ghoul rock masters The Curse of Sorrow’s guitarist, Jay Bones.

“Jay was an old friend of mine from grade school,” explains No Vacancy guitarist/vocalist Jim Kindler. “Jay had heard our stuff, and he liked it. One song in particular on this record, ‘Let’s Get High,’ Jay composed some great lead guitar for it.”

Being familiar with No Vacancy’s material ranging from the band’s three-piece infancy, some six years ago when they released an EP, to their newer material – fleshed out for a four-man outfit, heavily relying on vocal harmonies and melodically intricate song structure – Bones offered, “You guys would be selling yourselves short to not make a full album.”

“’Hop in the Front Seat of Life’ is actually a hook line from the song ‘Let’s Get High,’” says Kindler. “That’s how it became the title of our album.”

No Vacancy, consisting of Jim Kindler on guitar and vocals, Tony Olean on bass/vocals, John Hindmarsh on drums, and Kevin Biniek on acoustic rhythm guitar, offers full-tilt, road-worthy tunes. While containing the best elements of a throwdown country music beer bash, the band’s music also has the emotional depth of artists like Bruce Springsteen along with the rock ‘n roll outlaw heart of bands like The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band.

The addition of Biniek was key to the band finally “clicking.” “There was just something missing,” Kindler says until they added the Biniek’s “acoustic rhythm section.” It should be also noted that the band’s original drummer, Jim’s brother Chuck, laid down a majority of the new album’s drum tracks, but has since left amicably to pursue other interests.

“It’s a very unique blend,” says Kindler of No Vacancy’s sound. “When we originally started writing years ago,” offers Olean, “we discovered we weren’t really hitting it as hard as we could – like more of a Green Day-type sound. We noticed we were starting to write more in the style of what we do now – music that lends itself to more of a rhythm section, slowing it down a little bit, harmonies, and really focused on the vocals.”

It seemed like magic was made in the studio, further helping to define No Vacancy’s signature sound. The guys heaped some high praise upon the audio gurus as Wyoming’s JL Studios, where “Hop in the Front Seat of Life” was recorded. “They offer so much to the music,” says Kindler of JL’s Joe Loftus and Jay Preston. “They’re so talented, they take pride in their work, and they understand every genre.”

If Olean has his way, the band won’t hesitate in using the studio again.

“We’re in a tough spot, that we want to say nice things about Joe and JL Studios, but we don’t want them to get so busy that they won’t have time for us,” he laughs.

“Yeah, the experience was so good that we finished this album and Tony and I started writing songs for the next album,” chimes Jim Kindler with a laugh.

All joking aside, the studio time allowed for an expansion of the band’s songwriting, and time to analyze what really works for them musically. The addition of a guest spot by local singer/songwriter Jeanne Zano, in particular, augmented the final product. It would be remiss not to mention that No Vacancy will play an album release show on Saturday, April 27 with Zano at The Chicken Coop in Wilkes-Barre.

“We invited Jeanne to do some background vocals,” Kindler says. “She also ended up doing a duet with me on a song I had written a while back that I had nowhere to go with, so we turned it into a duet. We also have local legend StingRay Delpriore doing slide guitar. Then – you talked about the harmonies – you throw a Jeanne Zano into the mix with Jay Preston, and now we’ve got some three-part harmonies, and things really take off.”

Kindler and Olean are both anxious to take the album to the live stage, where they have been playing to favorable crowds.

“For the most part, it’s been great,” says Kindler of the band’s shows. “As the years go by, it gets better.” Olean adds that as the group grows into its sound even more, the shows, in turn, benefit.

“It seems like lately, people are really catching onto our music,” Olean adds. “We don’t even have the material out yet, and people are singing along with us – they’re actually requesting our songs.”

With the type of material No Vacancy plays, there’s no room for an idle foot at their shows – every seat, at some point, will see the butt rocked out of it.

“I’ve been told by people that come to see us, that you feel like you’re at a party at a friends’ house,” says Olean. “They can see there are four guys on stage having lots of fun.”

“We genuinely like being around each other,” adds Kindler. “That translates to people when we put the music out to them. Even on a break, they’ll see us laughing and joking around.

There’s lots of positive energy – we pour it on.”

Those fans that pick up the new album, what will they take away from their listening experience?

“Just enjoy it,” answers Jim Kindler. “Forget about all that’s been going on lately; get sucked into it. A lot of the songs on the album are about just that – kicking back, forgetting about reality for a little while.”

“From a writer’s perspective,” adds Olean, “there are stories painted with lyrics. We don’t try too hard to sound current.”

“We play from the heart; that’s what it’s all about for us.”