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It could have gone so horribly wrong. Indeed, for several long tense minutes, the interview with I Am The Avalanche’s frontman, Vinnie Caruana, was imploding before it had hardly begun. Without either of us at first realizing it, Caruana is talking about one band, and this interview is for a different one. After a few awkward sentences nothing is making sense anymore. We’re both wondering what the hell one another is talking about and what the hell is going on. Then we figure it out.
“I thought the interview was for the Movielife,” Caruana says of his first band, which has been playing shows all year. No! This interview is for I Am The Avalanche, the band he formed after the Movielife (sort of) called it quits in 2003, and the massively anticipated (it sold out six weeks ago) reunion show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on January 23. Massively anticipated, that is, by IATA’s fans, because all of the original members will be onstage for the first time in around two years.
“This year, what with being in two bands and also my solo stuff, music is keeping me very busy,” Caruana says. “That’s exactly how I like it to be, but it can get to be like a circus act in my brain. It can get a little crazy keeping all this stuff straight.”
Now, we are both on the same page as far as the I Am The Avalanche’s “reunion” show is concerned, and Caruana couldn’t be more psyched for the gig. “I thought it was ambitious booking a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I didn’t think we could fill a room that size. We are blown away that it’s sold out. It lets us know we’re doing the right thing now that the band is whole again,” he says from his home in Brooklyn.
It wasn’t like the hardcore quintet, which includes drummer Brett “The Ratt” Romnes (who also labors as a producer and helmed IATA’s albums), guitarists Brandon Swanson and Mike Ireland, bassist Kellen Robson, actually officially called it quits, or even used words like hiatus, at least not that Caruana can recall. The problems weren’t personal either: it’s just that not every musician wants grueling tour schedules to dominate their lives. “After all the touring for Wolverines,” he says of the band’s third album, which was released in 2014, “we lost some members. They wanted to have time for other life stuff; I understand it,” he says.
As Caruana returned to the Movielife, I Am The Avalanche’s future was left hanging in the air, and most presumed the band was done. As the members went about pursuing other interests (Ireland, for one, is a partner in two Bushwick bars: the Three Diamond Door and Pearl’s), initially it looked like only Caruana and Romnes were the interested parties in continuing any kind of musical relationship together. “The Ratt and I had a conversation and wondered what we should do. It was like, do we get new musicians in? What do we want to do? We didn’t like the idea of making a new record and touring with all new guys,” recalls Caruana of their initial thoughts.
Instead, they decided to let it sit. Caruana got on with the Movielife and worked with Romnes on his solo album, which he says will be released this year. Then, just as naturally as it stopped, after all the band members sat down over a beer, IATA started again. “We talked it out and listened to each other, and decided that we’re not going to go back to doing intense touring. We’re all really happy with that decision. We want to do fun shows at our own pace and be selective with what we do.”
With this show easing the band members back into their former roles, Caruana says it’s too early to say if a new album is on the cards. “I’d say we’ll definitely release some music . I don’t know what form it will be in. I mean, we never broke up officially, but it’s not business as usual; we’re not a full-time band again. But I’d be very disappointed if we didn’t make new music: We’re a band, it’s what bands do.
“It’s not like we said, ‘Hey, we’re breaking up,'” he continues. “And it’s not like I Am The Avalanche was the kind of band that put out a lot of records — we only made three full-lengths in ten years. We’ll all be onstage together as it should be. People around the world might not get to see us as much and maybe the decision is selfish, but for us to be together, to be a unit, it has to be a fun thing. If we’re together and playing a show here and there, then it’s a victory.”
The only thing he’s worried about right now is the impending winter storm that’s being hyped up by the media. “I grew up here, it’s always this way, especially with the first storm of the winter,” he says of ratings boosting hysteria. “But you never know. If there’s a serious storm, who knows how it will affect the show. I’m heading to rehearsal right after this interview; as far as we’re concerned, it’s all systems go.”
I Am The Avalanche play the Music Hall of Williamsburg on January 23. The show has sold out, but check secondary markets for tickets.