Ivoryline

Known for their soaring vocals and tasteful musicianship that has garnered the band comparisons to the now defunct Acceptance, Ivoryline are poised to make their voice heard in the music scene. This past July, these Texas natives released Vessels, the follow up to their debut album There Came A Lion. In celebration of its release, our in-house Brit Denis Simms caught up with frontman Jeremy Gray. Read the whole interview to see if he adds any unnecessary u’s and mixes up his z’s and s’s.

 

[email protected]: Tell us your name and what you do in Ivoryline.

Jeremy Gray:  What's up everybody. I'm Jeremy and I'm the singer and also play some guitar.

[email protected]: How did the band originally come together?

Jeremy Gray: Actually, we originally formed under a different name all the way back in 2003. Dusty [Kittle], Robert [Woodward], and I are all original members and we met through the local music scene in Tyler, TX. We changed our name to Ivoryline at the very end of 2005 and added Wes [Hart] our drummer. Us four have been together ever since.

[email protected]: Why did you decide to call the band Ivoryline?

Jeremy Gray: We really felt like the old name just wasn't working anymore and that had outgrown in. So we all started brainstorming about new band ideas and "Ivoryline" was one that I came up with, inspired from a Death Cab for Cutie song lyric. I thought it looked and sounded cool and was intriguing and catchy. I brought the idea to the guys and they all liked it as well so it stuck.

[email protected]: How did signing to Tooth & Nail Records come about?

Jeremy Gray: It was a long process with many variables that we probably don't even know about; but we always felt like Tooth & Nail Records was a great label for us and made it a goal to sign with them. We played with as many of their artists as we could and tried to make connections to the label through the bands and managers we had met. I think the most substantial piece of the puzzle was playing with Jonezetta in our hometown when they had just signed to T&N. Their manager at the time was at the show, and he ended up showing some people at the label our MySpace and Chad Johnson (who became our A&R) really liked the songs. We talked over email and phone for a few months and then Chad and Jimmy, his assistant at the time, came down to see our show. We hit it off with them instantly and signed shortly thereafter. It was definitely a dream come true and has been an awesome experience.

[email protected]: How much of a role does your faith play when writing music?

Jeremy Gray: Well, for me since I write the lyrics, it plays a huge role. There's nothing more important to me than my faith and my relationship with God, so naturally that is going to pour through into the lyrics. And that's exactly what happened on Vessels. I definitely think it plays a big role for all of us though. We pray for inspiration before every writing session, practice, and show and go our best to dedicate our band and our music to God.

[email protected]: You recently released your second full length, Vessels. Guide us through the writing process.

Jeremy Gray: We all just got together in a room (a very small one at that) and began jamming together. The first song that we wrote became "Walking Dead." Thankfully, we got to move into a bigger practice space where we wrote the rest of the album. We called the place The Lodge because the whole inside walls had wood panelling which gave it a ski lodge feel. Writing this time around was amazing because we had ample time to enjoy it and craft without being rushed. We really feed of each others parts and develop songs together while we're playing them, make changes as we go, and iron out the song. It was amazing process.

[email protected]: And the recording process?

Jeremy Gray: The recording process was literally one of the most amazing and joy-filled experiences of my life. We recorded with Aaron Sprinkle, who we all love. Even though we only see him a few times a year, we got extremely close to him this time around and I consider him a dear friend. So loving the people we were working with just made it for us. We also worked with Matt Carter from Emery who we clicked with super fast. He is such a funny guy so we'd always crack up at him, but he's so detail oriented and focused at the same time. It's pretty amazing.  We had a little bit more time than the first record so we spent most of that extra time in pre-production, really polishing the songs and changing parts here and there, and finishing certain vocal parts and lyrics. It felt like we gave the songs time to breathe and had time to reflect on what we really wanted them to be and accomplish. Needless to say, by the time the record was done, I wanted to keep going, keep recording, keep writing. We had so much fun, and we were were literally blown away by every song as we heard the completed versions. The songs were so new to us that we were able to detach and just freak out and love the songs, instead of just being like "yep, sounds good, next song."

[email protected]: After a successful debut album - one of the best-selling albums from a new band in the history of Tooth & Nail Records - did you feel any pressure when it came to write a follow-up?

Jeremy Gray: Yes, but oddly enough, it didn't come to the very end of writing as we were about to leave to go record. The label actually did put pressure on us to write singles, which sucked at the time because it just made us second-guess our selves for a bit. But we cast that pressure off and went on. We were always confident in the songs and that we were making the record we were meant to. That truth and feeling is only stronger for me now. I can't believe what God has graced us with on this album. What we accomplished blows me away, and I hope He receives the glory.

[email protected]: What's the significance of the album title 'Vessels'?

Jeremy Gray: My main prayer for the songs and the album as a whole was for God to literally fill them with Himself: his love, grace, conviction, holy spirit. One day as I was reading, the bible verse of my devotional for that day was "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." It struck me hard since vessels had been a theme in my prayers. And then the though came to me that it could be a sweet album title. I told the guys the idea and they came back to me a few days later and were like "Vessels… we love it. That should be the title."

[email protected]: What are you hoping fans take away from your music?

Jeremy Gray: Well, first and foremost, we hope they enjoy what we create. But I hope they take away something positive whether it's simply enjoying the feeling the songs give them, or whether it's something more profound, such as a certain lyric touching their heart. We definitely experienced both. Hopefully, their lives will simply be enriched in some way.

[email protected]: Your song, "The Healing" features Jason Vena of Acceptance. How did this collaboration come about?

Jeremy Gray: It came about so haphazardly. We were just talking with [Aaron] Sprinkle on a break discussing our favorite albums he'd recorded, favorite singers etc. And we got on the topic of Dave Bazan doing guest vocals for Jonezetta, and that lead to us discussing who we'd want. One of us mentioned Jason [Vena] and Aaron paused and said "I bet he'd do it." So later that night he text him and said "I have this song I want you to sing on…" and Jason [Vena] said yes. It's still crazy to me because I loved Phantoms and to hear his voice alongside mine in one of our songs just blows me away.

[email protected]: Do you think we can expect to see Jason [Vena] around the block more?

Jeremy Gray: Haha I have no idea. I don't even know the guy. Wish I did, but I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet. He had to sing after we had already left the studio.

[email protected]: Can you tell us a crazy tour story?

Jeremy Gray: One of the craziest thing that's ever happened to us was 2 years ago coming back from Cornerstone. We were planning on driving all night that night to get home, and we were taking some pretty country back roads. I was driving first and then Wes took over. I told him I'd been seeing a ton of deer next to the road, and sure enough, we were topping the crest of a hill going 65 and a deer literally jumped into the front of our van. Before Wes could even react, the deer was spinning in the air in front of the van and we hit it, it bounced forward several times, so we just kept hitting it. Wes claims he saw the legs of the deer flying off and hitting the top and sides of the van! Anyway, it was nuts. We actually made a little short film about it called "There Came a Deer." It's on our Youtube channel. Check it out if you haven't watched it.

[email protected]: What can we expect from the band in the next six months.

Jeremy Gray: You can expect the release of our music video for "Instincts", a new radio single soon, some solid U.S. touring, and who knows what else! Hopefully, something amazing will come up that we don't even know about yet. For now, come see us play. We want to meet you all.

 

Vessels can be purchased here, courtesy of Tooth and Nail Records. Be sure to catch the band on tour. 

Did You Know?

Batman
Batman says... "Taking Back Sunday composes their music first, then the lyrics."

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