Today’s Feature, October 4th & 5th: Verona Grove

October 4, 2007 at 9:34 am (Today's Feature)

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Verona Grove is another one of those bands you’ll want to get on your feet and root for – just not for the obvious reasons. They certainly don’t have any sort of handicap, and I wouldn’t call them an underdog or anything, but they do make music for reasons we can all support and applaud. They make their music to inspire others to work towards doing what Verona Grove has done – achieve their dreams.

These guys weren’t born into the limelight of Hollywood – they come from nights spent in the basements of friends in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By the time they made it to Los Angeles, the scene truly had an affect on them. They’ll tell you that “really getting away from everything in our element in Wisconsin and getting out of the normal heavily influenced our writing on the record.” Perhaps this is part of the reason why Verona Grove has a different message than the millions of other pop-punk-alternative bands out there – they take in and understand their experiences, something other acts may fail to accomplish.

Their debut record, “The Story Thought Over,” stands out as a collection that the band hopes “does more than just remind us that the fulfillment of our dreams is possible – that it inspires us to achieve them.” It’s an album of melodies capable of persuading your thoughts and steps, capable of turning around a crushing day, capable of shifting your perception.

Lead singer Tony Anders stated “I see people around that have so much more potential than they use…There are hard times and there are easy times, but you really have to work for what you want. And if there is something you want you can make it happen.” This is the attitude that Verona Grove wants you walk away with after listening to this album – therefore this should be the next album on your list. And check out a show – Anders puts it best, “we will be touring for the next 79 years of our lives, or until Charlie (Wilhelm) outgrows his pants.” Read on for the answers to their XXQ’s.

XXQs: Verona Grove (Charlie Wilhelm)

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did Verona Grove first form as a band?

Charlie Wilhelm (CW): The first version of Verona Grove started out in 2001 under a different name. I was playing in a different band when Tony confronted me in the halls of our high school to play a couple songs with his band him. It later evolved into more than just playing a couple songs with them but actually trying to book shows and rehearse on a regular basis.

PEV: Growing up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, what kind of music were you listening to?

CW: We are actually from Fond du Lac Wisconsin. We went to college in Oshkosh. When I first really started getting into music other than my mom playing Journey or Michael Bolton I was into more alternative rock. I remember buying my first two CDs. The Offspring’s Smash and Live’s Throwing Copper. I mainly my parents not enjoying the more colorful language than on their Chicago records! HA. It went straight from that to trying to get every Green Day album released on Lookout Records because everyone only knew about their album Dookie and I wanted to “one up” them!

PEV: You currently live in LA, what is your take on the LA music scene?

CW: Tony and I actually moved out of LA back in March to play South by Southwest and come home because the record was all recorded. My take on the music scene there is big. There are a million bands doing the same thing trying to get the same shows, promoting the same way. It’s really difficult to get recognized there I think. However, It’s still better than sitting in you basement in small town USA.

PEV: Was there a certain time or event that you said to yourselves, that music was going to be a career?

CW: There isn’t any like big event or anything of the sorts that I can think of; I kind of just always new that this is what I wanted to do. Then when we got our record deal it was soooo nice to know that it came true.

PEV: Where and when was Verona Grove’s first live performance? What was that like?

CW: The first official Verona Grove show was when we changed our band name to that. It was in an old hockey rink turned into Rec. Center. We were opening for a super popular local cover band. We weren’t even 21 yet, but still had a blast!

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio as a band?

CW: Recording studio as in not a friends basement? HAHA. I guess I felt overwhelmed as in not really sure what to expect what was going to happen. None of us really did, but we were already friends with the guy who was the engineer so it was mostly painless.

PEV: What can people expect from your debut album, The Story Thought Over?

CW: I think people can expect a good amount of diversity from the record. I’m very happy with how it turned out. I feel like there is a song on the record for every mood. Most of all, I think you can expect being able to put it in and listen to it straight through, which is rare these days.

PEV: How is The Story Thought Over different from other music out there today?

CW: I think the fact that we used a tasteful amount of strings, synthesizers, piano and electronic drums sets it apart from most bands in our genre today. They seem to be taking the stripped down approach whereas we thought it added great flavor.

PEV: On your MySpace page, you talk about how “…dreams helps fuel you”. Are you living your dream now?

CW: Absolutely. I personally wake up and do music related things most of the day when we aren’t on tour. We don’t have much responsibility, no mortgage, no car loan, no wedding to plan, etc. We get to travel heavily which is the most fun thing ever!

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

CW: We haven’t had an extensive amount of success yet to make a huge impact. I know my friends like to joke about it and make fun of me mostly because they have to get up in the morning and go to work whereas I just have to send emails. My family isn’t fazed by it in the least really. The first time I got a laugh out of it was just the other week when my brother called me from college and we were on our way home from Iowa. He called because he was at a party and a girl knew of Verona Grove and recognized my brother so she begged him to call me so she could talk to me. That put a smile on my face. Other than that, we are the same old people with the same friends back at home and in LA.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourselves in?

CW: We don’t necessarily go out of our way to be any kind of atmosphere. When something catchy hits you, you have to put it down somehow or you forget it. Whether you build a song from that right away or go to it years later to fill a gap in something. It’s mostly spur of the moment.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the guys in Verona Grove?

CW: Hahaha…Tony and I went to pre-school together and I had a speech impediment, which I got over, but he still pokes fun at it to this day. Again, all in good fun.

PEV: When you aren’t performing or traveling, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

CW: Hanging out with friends and family and the band as a whole. We practice a good amount when we are home. We go to the bar regularly since its Wisconsin! I recently got my mom into watching the show The Hills, and my dad and I always watch Wife Swap. Mainly we go down to the local music bar and have a couple pints and talk about life.

PEV: How has road life been for the band? What are the best and worst parts?

CW: The best parts are meeting new people and seeing new cities. Finding things in cities is always fun when you are just aimlessly driving. Worst would be cleanliness of bathrooms and lack of refrigerated food.

PEV: In all the places you’ve performed, which do you think offers the best place for live music? Why?

CW: That’s a very difficult question. Every place is unique. I really enjoyed playing First Avenue in Minneapolis. That’s also because that is where Purple Rain was filmed.

PEV: Is there one artist out today that you have not had a chance to collaborate with that you would like to?

CW: Right now? I love Haley from Paramore’s Voice. She’s got real energy or something in her, I love it. I’m also really into Gym Class Heroes. Travis is a great rapper so I think that’d be really cool. I think it’d be amazing to collaborate ultimately with either Robert Smith from The Cure or Michael Jackson in 1983.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Verona Grove show?

CW: Energy. We keep it fast paced and raw.

PEV: What has been the most exciting part of your career so far?

CW: Either meeting and signing with Pat, working with Jamie Arentzen of American Hi Fi, working with Jason Sutter, or just the enjoyment of the open road. It’s a toss up.

PEV: In one word, describe Verona Grove.

CW: FUN

PEV: So, what is next for Verona Grove?

CW: Tour, meeting everyone we possibly can, and eventually working on another record. We just mainly plan on playing every show we possibly can from here on out. Tony said it best when he said “we will be touring for the next 79 years of our lives, or until Charlie outgrows his pants.” Quite fitting.

For more information on Verona Grove go to http://www.veronagrove.com

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