SANTA MONICA, California — Vendetta Red have Chang's Mongolian Grill to thank for their breakthrough single, "Shatterday."
No, not because of a commercial, a sponsorship deal or anything like that — rather, singer Zach Davidson wrote the lyrics to the song while working at the restaurant.
Chang's is located in the heart of Seattle's trendy Capital Hill District, where Cameron Crowe filmed "Singles." It's known as a mecca for musicians and artists, "a parade of fashion sense," according to Davidson. However, after observing the area from his job each day, he came to find it empty, "a very vain perception of white people."
"['Shatterday'] is just criticizing us, like, is that all we stand for as musicians and as people involved in music and in the scene?" the singer explained. "Is that all we stand for is just going to a bar and getting wasted? My band, we've been trying to do a lot of things for Seattle, especially since we were homeless at one time and so starving we had to go to the food bank. So it's just sort of a challenge before the end comes to just be something more than just vanity."
If the message behind the song, which has a musical formula similar to "Smells Like Teen Spirit," seems familiar, there's a reason.
"Nirvana's definitely a big influence on us, especially the way they were able to put melody to what I feel is a very satisfying distorted sound," Davidson said. "I get the feeling when I listen to their records that there's a part of me that I couldn't scratch that they could scratch, and I love that about them."
"Shatterday" has propelled Vendetta Red, landing them on the Vans Warped Tour, where the song has become the summer anthem of 2003, but the motivation behind the song was more genuine than just trying to get on the radio. Davidson and his cohorts — guitarist Justin Cronk, guitarist/keyboardist Erik Chapman, bassist Michael Vermillion and drummer Joseph Lee Childres — take the challenge in it seriously.
Vendetta Red support several charities, such as Food Not Bombs and Human Rights Watch, and use the songs on their recently released major-label debut, Between the Never and the Now, to address serious issues they have struggled with.
"Stay Home," for instance, reflects on Davidson's experience growing up a victim of child abuse.
"[It's about] conquering it, not letting it make a loser out of you, not perpetuating those genes," he explained. "I don't believe that human beings are inherently prone to beating kids or getting wasted every night and beating kids or beating their wives, I think that it's what happens to your insides, and you get bitter as you get older if you let yourself. ... I left when I was 14 and I never looked back, and I feel like I'm a self-made man, and I want to be that kind of an example for kids."
Musically, Between the Never and the Now, blends styles from Seattle's grunge scene of a decade ago and the emo movement led by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate. Some of the songs were updated from past self-released albums, including "There Only Is," which Vendetta Red wrote at their second practice in 1998.
Known for relentless touring, the band spent two weeks on Warped Tour last summer but are having a more enjoyable experience this time around.
"It's great to go out onstage and there's like hundreds of kids waiting for you to play," Davidson said, still in awe. "I remember [last year] I'd see all these kids waiting for the Casualties or whatever, staring at an empty stage and I was like, 'Is it more fun to stare at an empty stage or to come over here and watch bands play?' So I went over there with my microphone cord to lasso a couple kids and bring them over."
Vendetta Red tour dates (with Dashboard Confessional), according to Epic Records:
- 9/3 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
- 9/6 - Lowell, MA @ Paul E. Tsongas Arena
- 9/7 - Washington, DC @ Bender Arena
- 9/9 - Raleigh, NC @ Disco Rodeo
- 9/10 - North Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
- 9/11 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
- 9/12 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues
- 9/14 - Pompano Beach, FL @ Pompano Beach Amphitheatre
- 9/16 - Houston, TX @ Verizon Wireless Theater
- 9/17 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's Barbeque
- 9/18 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Next Stage at Grand Prairie
- 9/20 - Peoria, AZ @ Peoria Sports Complex
- 9/23 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
- 9/25 - Universal City, CA @ Universal Amphitheatre
- 9/26 - San Francisco, CA @ San Francisco Design Center
- 9/27 - Salem, OR @ Salem Armory
- 9/28 - Seattle, WA @ Seahawks Exhibition Center
- 9/30 - Salt Lake City, UT @ SaltAir Pavilion
- 10/1 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
- 10/3 - Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
- 10/4 - Detroit, MI @ State Theatre
- 10/7 - St. Paul, MN @ Roy Wilkins Auditorium