Song Premiere: Vanishing Shores, “Road Less Traveled”

As a lifelong seeker of truth, Kevin Bianchi has spent his entire musical career embracing and wrestling with the mystery of life and love in song. This has been exemplified by his time as the lead singer/songwriter for the indie rock band The Chestertones. Having achieved regional success with the single “Coast Road” and dynamic performances opening for artist such as James McCartney, he now begins a new journey with the formation of Vanishing Shores. 

Vanishing Shores strive to deliver passionate, well-crafted rock and roll in each and every performance.  The band continues to develop each song points to a future that is filled with limitless potential founded on the power of music and the community it creates.

Today, Vanishing Shores share their latest single “Road Less Traveled”. The track comes off the band’s upcoming album, due out next month.

We recently caught up with Bianchi to talk more about the band, his influences, and more.

What can you recall was the moment that performing music was going to be your calling?

That is a very interesting question. I think that for me there was never a moment without music in my life. From my earliest memories, music has been such an integral part of who I am. I cannot separate myself from it and be my true self. I consider this to be such an extravagant gift in my life, to be able to draw life and meaning from music. There is no pretense or subterfuge with music for me, it is literally who I am. I hope that the music I create can also be a moment of beauty and comfort in another person’s life. I want to have the privilege of being a soundtrack and companion for another’s journey as well as my own.  

There is a ‘never quit’ attitude that I feel comes out of Cleveland.  Living there, would you say that is accurate?

Cleveland is an interesting place to live and make music. There is definitely a certain ‘defiant joy’ that comes through the music scene. I think a part of this is tied directly to the ups and downs of the community and the perpetual underdog mentality that is often uniquely Cleveland in its ethos. Any music that matters must be tied to a community in order to have any hope of meaning and impact, so I’m grateful for the way that Cleveland musicians and artists are connected and persevere. The days ahead are uncertain in the extreme for many artists and venues and so it is even more critical that we support and encourage each other. We can’t let fear overshadow or diminish the pursuit of beauty and love in what we create and perform.

When writing you explore the mystery of love and life.  What do you think drives towards wanting to venture into such?

I’m not a storyteller type songwriter. I don’t write slogan or agenda songs. I think the best protest song is always a song about unconditional love. To be able to love another person, regardless of their beliefs or life choices is the most powerful thing of all. So for me, I want to work through this strange and infinitely challenging concept of love and wrestle with it on a daily basis. I want to learn how to love another person, regardless of the cost. So my songwriting is always starting from a place of genuine emotion and feeling. I write how I experience the world on an emotional level and not with a reporting style. I think we have overvalued inventiveness or originality in the arts. For me the most important thing is connection with the listener. What we experience in the moment, whether someone else has experienced it before or not, is what is most important in my approach to songwriting. The only time something becomes a cliché is when we don’t believe it or we are using it for purely commercial reasons. If love is a cliché, we have completely lost the plot for not only what makes a good song but for how we can change the world for the better with the way we live our lives.

How did meet your bandmates?

Vanishing Shores started out as an idea for me, apart from the other band I am in, to release more music but not be reliant on one particular musical lineup. I envisioned it as a musical community, where people could come and go in their participation, but still feel more connected than a strictly solo project. For me, the best music is always created in community. While I still hold to the initial vision for Vanishing Shores, over the last year of performing there has developed a core group of individuals that has consistently brought this music to life. Like any musical collaboration, trust is the essential characteristic and I have complete trust and respect for each of the musicians on this album. This trust has also given me complete freedom to create something that I am passionate about without any kind of hesitation or inhibition. All of the collaborators also have their own bands and projects and so they bring a lot of creativity and professionalism along the way as well.  I am deeply grateful to Brian Bianchi, Katie Egan, Eric Van Horn, Justin Rice, Justin Hartman, and Jerry Popiel for all of their passion and contribution to these songs and the whole idea of Vanishing Shores as a creative outlet.

The band is still pretty young, in terms of being together.  Is there a feeling that you are still working on discovering each other’s strengths?

The first EP was written and recorded without any ‘band’ in mind and so the biggest difference for these songs is that there was already a vision of how to integrate more fully the frequent collaborators in the creation of the songs. I think that every time you go into a studio with the goal of creating something of beauty that you make new discoveries about who you are as an artist. One of the true gifts of working with these musicians is that there are really no limitations to their ability to pursue a musical idea. Their sensitivity to the song always inspires me and pushes me to not settle for the easy or obvious choices. Also, the new songs are much more personal to me and they have provided me the freedom to follow my own journey with the songs without any restrictions. If and when we are able to begin playing these songs live, I know they will evolve in beautiful and surprising ways as well. So for me, I see a future for these songs and this musical idea as something that will continue to develop in new and meaningful ways.

I discovered that you essentially sold all of your instruments in order to fully fund the band’s first EP.  How difficult was it for you to make that decision?

At the time I made the decision, it didn’t seem hard at all. My main focus and drive was on completing the EP and I didn’t want to create any financial burden on anyone else but myself. As time has gone on, I have missed some of my guitars and equipment, but I try to remain positive. I believe in the music and I believe in our community of supporters. The main thing is to be able to continue to create and hopefully bring some joy and comfort into the lives of those who listen.

The band ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for efforts to put the new album to life.  What were some of the takeaways from it?

Trying to fund an album through Kickstarter was a totally new experience for me. I know a lot of other bands and artists have had a lot of success with it, but for me, it was like some kind of undiscovered country. The first impression for me from the entire process is total gratitude for those willing to partner with us to make a collection of songs of beauty and hopefully lasting significance. The other takeaway for me is that it is often very difficult to meet original deadlines. As you dig more directly into the creative process you become more acutely aware that creativity and inspiration rarely keep predictable hours. So with that, I have also been so encouraged and inspired by the patience of the contributors to wait for something they believe will be special. It goes against the ‘instant gratification’ of much of the music business. So from my perspective, I think Kickstarter is a genuinely meaningful way to partner with people who are willing to establish a community of support around your music and vision. It also re-affirms how important each listener is to your music and that they can never be taken for granted. So I have drawn a great deal of encouragement from this process and hope to live up to the investment made by our supporters.  

How long did the recording process for the new album take?

Well, to be honest, the album is still in the process of being completed. We are releasing our latest single, “Road Less Traveled”, but we are still putting the finish touches on the album. The recording process has had a lot of stops and starts, but this has allowed us to really get the results we desire to achieve with this album. Our original release date was to be in May of this year, but due to the current situation and social distancing, we are unsure of the final release date. However, this has been the most rewarding set of songs in my career and I am extremely proud of the results. I know these are the songs I need right now in my life and I believe they will also encourage and inspire other listeners as well. I haven’t given up on my confidence and belief in the power of a good rock song.

Was the album self-produced?

Due to the personal nature of the songs on this upcoming album, I decided that I wanted to step back into the role of producer and work to get all of the divergent sounds in my head accurately translated into the recording. It has probably been about 15 years since I have been the ‘producer’ on a project. The last Vanishing Shores album was produced by Dave Douglas (Relient K) and most of my other band’s records have been produced by my brother, Brian Bianchi. But for this project, I really needed to craft these songs in the way that I was hearing them in my head. I have been living with these very personal songs for months and it was very important to me to be able to record them in a way that matched as closely as possible to what I had originally envisioned them to be. I am very grateful to all of the musicians for giving me the freedom to be able to pursue this vision and especially to my brother for his endless hours of engineering and creative input.

Let’s step away from music-I’m a lifelong Browns fan.  What’s the pulse of the fans?  We feeling optimistic still?!

I think fans of the Cleveland Browns are the most optimistic fans in the history of sports. That optimism continues unabated.