SPRINGFIELD, NJ - On a hot, hazy late-spring afternoon last week, The Vaughns were hard at work rehearsing in the basement studio they call their home base.
The group is made up of four Springfield residents; Front-woman Anna Lies provides lead vocals and guitar, David Cacciatore is on lead guitar, Tom Losito, plays the bass guitar as well as a 12-string and Ryan Kenter is on the drums. Additionally, Cacciatore, Losito and Kenter all provide backup vocals.
During the late-morning rehearsal session, the group sat down for an interview with TAPinto Springfield to talk about their career thus far.
Being Springfield residents for years, all the members knew of each other at the beginning, but it still took some time to connect.
"We all went to Jonathan Dayton together, and we all have different connections," Kenter said."Dave's family and my family have been friends for a really long time. His older brother Alphonso and I played football together, so that's how I met Dave."
Kenter said that he also hung out with Lies for a time before playing together and that Losito was the first bass player he ever jammed with.
"Besides those, everybody has a million other connections to each other," he added. "But we really didn't get together until some point through college, just through mutual friends."
Once Lies came on board, the group began to write music and play shows.
"_t's always been fun and it still is fun," Kenter continued. "But I think it went from casual jamming to 'we're going to be in a band once Anna really stepped in.'"
The very first EP, a self-titled five-track record was released in 2015. As Cacciatore noted, the band's first EP was made out of necessity, to show promoters material in order to get booked. The second EP, called Tomfoolery was seen by all the band members as a step forward.
"Tomfoolery really stepped it up," Cacciatore said. "We were like, 'alright, we want to go for a specific sound' and work with specific people."
He noted that the process of evolving musically has continued for the group on their newest project, a full-length album called "FOMO."
"As good as Tomfoolery sounded, we were like, 'alright we want to try a different sound,'" Cacciatore added.
As the band continued to play, Losito said that the group began to gain recognition from playing the Asbury Park and New Brunswick scenes, two major hotbeds of up-and-coming music in the Garden State. Their efforts netted them focus as a rising act in the Star-Ledger, and the process was underway.
As The Vaughns released single after single in preparation for their debut album, the feeling among the band members was that a full-time career in music was suddenly very viable. Lies explained one of the key reasons behind the mentality shift.
"When we were recording this record that's out now, FOMO, we started playing those shows live, just for practice," she said. "And around that point it just kind of got weird, where I felt like the attendance at shows just started going up a lot. We went from playing Asbury...20 people being there to now any time we play Asbury there's 100 at least.
"The newer material was just finally sound that we could get behind and other people seemed to enjoy it, Since then, it's really taken a little bit of turn."
With the aspirations toward greater success in music came the need to tour. Starting next month, The Vaughns will be doing just that, as Kenter explained.
"We're going to be going on the road again in July," Kenter said. "Hitting generally the same areas we did last time, with a couple new spots. We're so excited [because] we're actually going to be playing two shows up in Canada, which is cool. It's like we're an international band."
Another milestone for the group was being tabbed to perform an Audiotree Live set. The live session has pulled in several well-known indie rock bands, including The Arkells, and The Dodos to record, a list that now includes the Vaughns as well.
"For years we had been trying to find a producer who would let us record mostly live and it was really hard," Lies said. "A lot of producers won't mess with that. So with "FOMO" the way we tracked it, pretty much all the instruments...were recorded all in one room live."
For that, the band thanked their producer Erik Kase Romero. Romero is also a touring bassist for The Front Bottoms, a well-known alternative band, so the group agreed that he knew how to help the Vaughns reach their next level in the recording process.
However, there have been some hurdles and setbacks along the way. There was one show that was almost a complete disaster, as Lies explained,
"There was a moment where we played what I consider one of our worst shows ever," she said. The Vaughns were opening for friends last minute late on a Tuesday night in New York City. By the time the group went on, it was midnight. There were almost no spectators, and to make matters worse, the group borrowed a set of backline amps already in place.
"Their amps did not go with us," Lies continued. "It was not a good sound...so we played this show and there were [only] two people in the audience and it definitely got to our heads. All of our moods were off. We just finished the set and we all felt really sh*tty."
"And this was as we were starting to record the record," Lies continued. We were paying those songs so we didn't know if they were good if we were bad. The turning point really I think in our trajectory as a band was that we came into practice the next night and we really just started nitpicking ourselves."
After the ill-fated concert, The Vaughns doubled down and committed to releasing the record and getting their career back on track. And as Lies explained, the story has a happy ending.
"We played the same venue last week to a packed room," she added. "There was a lot of good stuff going on there, so it came full circle."
Cacciatore also chimed in with an example from a previous tour, showing how the group had come along in dealing with adverse conditions.
"When we were on tour actually," he said. "And we were supposed to play at 12:00 at this venue, and we didn't end up playing until 2:00, almost 3:00 in the morning. There were a handful of people there and we played our *sses off, and the people that stayed ended up loving us."
However, the Vaughns are hardly content to rest on their laurels. At the time of the interview, the band had been workshopping an entirely new track.
"I don't think we have anything planned," Losito said. "I just know for sure that we just have so many ideas and songs...we just have a ton of [new]stuff and we'll be working through it. But it's exciting to practice and try out new ideas, and it's really refreshing."
"I think this band for all of us is just a source of constant growth," Lies added. "There's just so much I've learned being friends with these people as long as I have to playing music with them.
"Ultimately, I think that we have a lot of fun together and at the end of the day to me, it's really about working hard and also enjoying this thing that we're so lucky to do."
As of press time, The Vaughns are scheduled to open later this summer for Brian Fallon, the lead singer of fellow New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem. Stream The Vaughns' catalog of songs on Spotify.