Double Trouble; An interview with Allan and Barb Vest of doubleVee

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doubleVee launched in 2012 when it became clear how Allan Vest and Barb [Hendrickson] Vest’s musical backgrounds complemented each other and how well the two worked together in the studio. The pair married in October of 2015. Allan was the primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist for indie/orchestral pop band Starlight Mints, having produced and released four albums between 2000 and 2009, with legendary producer Dave Sardy co-producing the critically acclaimed debut album, The Dream that Stuff was Made Of. The Mints toured and played multiple shows with bands and artists including The White Stripes, Violent Femmes, Grandaddy, Chainsaw Kittens, Polyphonic Spree, Liz Phair, Flaming Lips and Blake Babies.

Barb’s diverse background includes sixteen years in public radio where her achievements included writing, hosting, and producing Filmscapes, a nationally syndicated film music program. Filmscapes gave her the opportunity to interview some of her favorite renowned artists including Danny Elfman and Philip Glass. She edited a music webzine for several years and marketed and produced eight Rock ‘n Roll Garage Sale and Shows featuring local Oklahoma bands and merchants.

While Barb’s vocal music history includes appearing in shows produced by the Mix Tape Club and providing backing vocals on recordings for bands including El Paso Hot Button and Stellar Chromatic, her love of music began with her family, with her grandmother regularly putting a tape recorder on her piano bench and singing along to her original compositions, before she passed away in 1986 after a sudden heart attack at the age of 57.

doubleVee’s debut album The Moonlit Fables of Jack the Rider was released in earlier this year.

When did you first begin writing the material for The Moonlit Fables of Jack Rider?

Allan Vest: A lot of the initial music and melody ideas had been around for a few years scattered on various hard drives. We picked out a few we wanted to flesh out into full songs and finished the early mixes for our first three pieces in 2013, then took our time creating the rest of the material. Jack the Rider was the first song we wrote together and I have fond memories of us bouncing ideas back and forth. We had finished the basic construction of our home studio the year before and after working on a few scoring gigs, the timing was perfect.

Is this a concept record? Who is Jack The Rider? 

Barb Vest: We didn’t start out with the intention of making a concept album, but after we finished the first three songs and the others started coming together, we saw some common threads and how they could fit together and started to piece together a storyline from there. Jack is a traveler taking a journey through a disjointed and surreal world, who begins the story being distracted by an alluring siren along a dark forest road.

I’m guessing the band name is culled from Vest and Vest, doubleVee. What was the inspiration behind capitalizing the V?

AV: You’re right! We initially came up with it when we were thinking about names for our production company. I’ve always wondered why the letter “W” was pronounced “double-you” and not “double-vee.” Capitalizing the “V” was a stylistic choice in the beginning, but it’s ended up helping set us apart from other musical groups with similar names to ours.

For those that are unaware, you two are married. What are the best and worst things about being in a band with your spouse?

AV: It’s been a natural fit to work with Barb…she has tremendous chops in writing lyrics, melodies and harmonies. Like any couple or any pair of bandmates we have our differences of opinion, but we work together quite well and I’m super excited to see what we come up with in the future.

BV: The best thing is how we’re constantly playing off of each other and coming up with new ideas, often improvising songs in random places. I love how our life together has filtered into our music. The worst may have been when he surreptitiously recorded me having an extended hiccup attack in the studio, but the end result was pretty funny!

What new artists are you listening to these days?

AV: I’m always like four years behind or just out of touch with modern music. I’ve been following Micachu’s [Mica Levi’s] projects since 2010. She’s starting to get more exposure after composing the score for Jackie last year. Also, I like where the Lemon Twigs are heading. The song and video for “As Long as We’re Together” is a good starting point. I hope they stay weird.

BV: I have to admit I’m pretty out of the loop, too. We’ve been so focused on developing doubleVee over the past few years, I’ve been more likely to listen to old favorites than seek out something new. I’m always happy to listen to anything by bands like The Legendary Pink Dots, Stereolab or Violent Femmes.

What’s next for doubleVee? Perhaps a tour?

BV: We would love to launch a theatrical tour someday and have daydreamed quite a bit about how we would present it, but for now we’re focusing on producing videos for our album and plan to start working on new material soon.

(Visit doubleVee here:

http://doubleVee.net

https://doubleVee.bandcamp.com/releases)