Set to close out a decade-long run later this year, the Grand Rapids rock band fired up Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted music by Cordero, Veeze, The Armed, Desmond Jones and more.
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After taking years to create and finally release their new studio album, The Fabulous Vans will have a short-lived celebration and tour behind the long-awaited recording.
Lead singer and ukelele player Sierra Van Antwerp, 21, plans to join the U.S. Navy in October, giving the four-piece Grand Rapids rock band about three months to revel in what she calls “the end of an era of sorts.”
Van Antwerp, who started performing as a duo with her father, Timmy, at age 11, said she hopes time away from the band in the Navy will further re-energize her passion for music.
Until then, The Fabulous Vans have “a pretty jam-packed” schedule of upcoming shows, including a Tuesday (July 18) appearance at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, opening for Shanghai-based punk band Round Eye, and performances for the Beaver Island Music Festival in northern Michigan July 19 and 20.
“I’ve never enjoyed playing shows more and I definitely can say we have never sounded better,” guitarist Timmy Van Antwerp said of the current lineup that also features drummer Mark Armijo and bassist Adam Stein.
“Mark and Adam brought a whole new dynamic to the band’s sound and we definitely all leveled up. … We call it a family band still, and it feels just like that.”
Released in early June, “Have You Heard?” boasts what Van Antwerp describes as “eclecticism” in its approach, with songs leaning on a variety of different influences – ranging from classic rock to grunge to punk and more.
“I feel like each individual track has its own identity,” he said, noting that his songwriting often leans toward putting “your viewpoint out there” in its lyrics. “I think we have influences all over the place.”
Sierra Van Antwerp, meanwhile, said she strives to dynamically “embody the character” within each musical story as she sings.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, the band spotlighted the musical stories in the tracks “Thanks for Stoppin’ By” and “Salvo School,” which appear on the new album. Watch a music video of “Thanks for Stoppin’ By” being performed live here, and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast and interview.
VIDEO: The Fabulous Vans, “Thanks for Stoppin’ By”
SUPPORTING ‘ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS PROGRESSING TOGETHER’
The Fabulous Vans also have become ardent supporters of Artists and Musicians Progressing Together (AMPT), an informal West Michigan group that’s dedicated to raising awareness of abuse in the music and arts community.
It recently released the first issue of a Zine tackling the “difficult and complex topic,” offering information about resources for those who may witness or become victims of various abuse – emotional, psychological, financial, sexual.
Timmy Van Antwerp, a social worker, insisted abuse is “a real problem” in the music scene and said he’s “super impressed” by the efforts of AMPT to draw attention to the issue. The AMPT Zine is available at places such as The DAAC, Turnstiles and RIT Music.
The Fabulous Vans’ wind-down this summer will include shows at Mulligan’s, Turnstiles, White’s Bar in Saginaw and the Tie Dye Festival in Howard City, as well as a still-to-be-finalized album-release show in August. Their final performance takes place Oct. 8 at the Red Flannel Festival in Cedar Springs.
“That is most likely going to be the end of the band as it is,” Timmy Van Antwerp conceded.
“Mark, Adam and I love playing together, so we may continue with the band in some form. Not sure if we would keep doing the same tunes or write all new ones.”
Listen to more tracks from the new Fabulous Vans album at bandcamp.com.
Beyond showcasing new music from The Fabulous Vans, the July 14 episode of Local Spins on WYCE — which focuses on music by Michigan artists at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org — also featured fresh tracks from Cordero, Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions, Veeze, The Armed, Desmond Jones, Scott Baker and Diego Mor, as well as music by The Hacky Turtles and Lighting Matches (this week’s musicians’ pick by The Fabulous Vans). Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (7/14/23)
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