The Starting Line takes new ‘Direction’Written by Anne Erickson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Not every band lands a hit single on the first try. Then again, not every band is like The Starting Line, a Pennsylvania-quartet with a knack for writing catchy, pop-punk vignettes, packed with lyrics about relationship woes and reprisal.
The group’s new single, “Island,” is an early alt-rock hit off the band’s just-released CD, “Direction.” As lead singer and bass player Kenny Vasoli describes, the song was written about his relationship with a former girlfriend.
“It was about us hitting a rocky period, after the honeymoon stage is all over and done with,” Vasoli said. “We were just trying to boil down our relationship to loving each other without letting everything else in life get in the way.”
The fact “Island” was written about heartbreak is no doubt one reason it’s become such an anthem.
“I hope people can relate to the song,” Vasoli said.
As for how Vasoli crafts hits like “Island,” he says songwriting sessions usually start pretty simple, with Vasoli just sitting down with a guitar and strumming along to some beats.
“I start by singing nonsense along with the chords,” Vasoli said. “Then I’ll sing a line, or a couple of words, that go along with what I’m feeling, and I try to use that to build from and write the rest of the song from there.
“That’s how we wrote ‘Direction,’” he said.
For musical inspiration on “Direction,” the guys took cues from pop-punk vets like Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day and Blink-182. It’s a sound that’s apparent on the album, which has a distinct, energetic pop feel, with splashes of hard rock and even metal, to keep things eclectic.
It’s a marked change from The Starting Line’s previous CDs, which were more straight-ahead pop-punk.
“We always make it a point to try to evolve as much as we can and take the next step, and all the bands I really respected could always pull that off,” Vasoli said. “They would just make individual albums that would have their own characteristics.”
“Direction” is The Starting Line’s first album on Virgin Records. The guys — including Vasoli, Matt Watts and Mike Golla on guitar and Tom Gryskewicz on drums — got together in 1999 and signed to Drive-Thru Records. After seeing some success with their 2005 album “Based on a True Story,” politics kicked in, and they were without a label. Virgin lapped them up, and the group landed a stint on this past summer’s Vans Warped Tour.
The Starting Line is set to tour with punk-rocker Paramore this fall.
“We met on Warped Tour, and I think they rock really hard, so I’m pumped for that tour,” Vasoli said.
And, no, the guys won’t take the opportunity to hit on Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams.
“We joked about that, but … she’s dating the guitarist in Paramore,” he said, “so we wouldn’t want to mess with that.”