By Brian Disagree
The Movielife are one of those rare bands that know how to make you continually smile on and off record. Their live show proves they have an incredible amount of energy and an interest in the crowd, which many bands do not. The lead singer Vinnie Caruana has a lot of boyish charm and enthusiasm that could make any heart wilt. It was a pleasure to speak with Vinnie and this was the outcome.
Your CD EP ďHas A Gambling ProblemĒ came out last year on Drive Thru. Have you been recording for a new record and when can we expect to see it out?
Vinnie: We havenít recorded yet. We are going to record in August and September, this year and hopefully have it out in early 2003. We have a lot of the record written already but since weíre on tour and weíre gonna continue to be on tour for a while, weíre not going to be able to get into the studio for a little while. The record is coming along great. The writing process is definitely better then itís ever been. So weíre excited about it.
What kind of mindset do you have to be in when you are writing songs? Do you have to be aloneÖ or, do you kind of just write about something happening that day? About that week?
Vinnie: Itís usually something Iím thinking about and then Iíll try and think of a way I want to say what I want to say that is kind of unique.† I say something the way I really want to say it in a few lines and then Iíll kind of build the song around that. A lot of the times Iíll hear a song and Iíll get like an idea. The mood that the song gives me, words will put into my head sometimes.
You like to sing about girls a lotÖ
Sometimes. What kind of topics do you like to speak about in your music?
Vinnie: Lately I have been talking about a lot of life lessons that I have learned out here, a lot of things I have learned about on the road and stuff. Trust issues. Some stuff about girls, stuff about family. Stuff like that; thatís the kind of things I have been writing lately
Any more topics you can get in to more specifically?
Vinnie: UhmÖ Letís see. Well, we just wrote a song that weíve been playing out. Itís about my girlfriend that I spent three years with and now I am not with her anymore so I wrote a song about the past three years. So thatís an interesting song to be performing out since itís all really new. Its definitely good therapy to sing it.
And, what is that song called?
Vinnie: Itís called the ďKelly SongĒ
Okay. Did you guys break up onÖ Are you still friends?
Vinnie: Yeah, we talk all the time.
Vinnie: Thatís the first time Iíve ever done that.
Vinnie: Yeah, itís the only ex-girlfriend that I ever talk to.
Yeah. Thatís a good thing though.
Vinnie: Yeah, itís important, I think.
The Movielife have had some record label problems in the past and now you guys are on Drive-Thru Records, which is financed by a major label. Because of the amount of money behind the label do you think this could be Movielife's final resting spot?
Vinnie: Right now weíre signed for a bunch more full lengths. Basically weíre on Drive-Thru and they are doing a really good job for us. There is definitely a lot of money being put towards recording and to our support and stuff like that, stuff we are not used to having. Basically, I mean itís run by MCA Records, itís funded by that label. The only next logical step would be to be on MCA but thatís not really a goal of the band or whatever. If it happens, it happens. But right now our home is going to be on Drive-Thru for a while. Itís going really well and itís a good place to be stuck.
Yeah, for sure.
Vinnie: If you were to be stuck somewhereÖ
Yeah, especially the kind of music you play. It has a good sound, it kind of fits in with the label.
Vinnie: Yeah, Iíd say the last EP kind of does and the new stuff definitely doesnít. So weíll see how that goes. Iím sure itíll be awesome. Lately Drive-Thruís been having bands that have been changing it up a little bit. Our record will definitely change it up for Drive-Thru. Itís definitely going to be a stretch from what Drive-Thru has released in the past. Weíre excited about that. Weíre excited to turn the page. Weíre all pretty much really focused on the record and focused on turning some heads with it.
What kind of sound are you going into on the next record? I guess, you have more of a kind of just a rocky, indie rock, kind of punk sound.
Vinnie: We still have a total indie rock kind of rock and punk sound or whatever you want to call it.†
Yeah, a whole bunch of stuff put together.
Vinnie: But I think the latest songs we have written have been a little bit darker then what we are used to. Things just seem to go that way right now so thatís the direction itís going. Weíre not going to try and stop it. When things come out, they come out and thatís what is kind of coming out. Itís a little darker. The same energy that weíve always had. Thatís what we are really excited about. Iím really excited. Itís going to be more of an angry type of record then a fun loving type of record.
A few members of the Movielife have tattoos. What is your thought on tattoos, Are they art? Or, are they something rebellious connected to alternative cultures like punk rock? Or do they have another meaning I am missing?
Vinnie: For me Iím not a rebellious person. I donít have a lot of punk ethics and all that bullshit. Iím out here having fun. I grew up on hardcore music; I grew up on punk music. For me a tattoo is expression for me. One, I like the way they look. Two, Most of my tattoos mean something to me or if they donít mean something to me they are a representation for other people to know about me. Iím also a collector; I collect a whole bunch of tattoos from different tattoo artists. I just like to fill in all the spaces. Whenever we have time I get tattooed on tour and stuff like that. Itís just a fun thing for me and, the other guys in the band donít have as many as I do. So a lot of times Iíll just get tattoos more like a collector. Iíll get something funny or something like that. But the other guys have meaningful tattoos. They each have a few so they all mean something a lot to them. But for me I have a lot of meaningful ones but also a lot of ones just to get cause itís funny.
Have you ever had a tattoo that you wish you didnít have?
Vinnie: I had an older brother that steered me in the right direction. So I didnít end up getting bad tattoos to begin with. So I donít have any bad ones as far as Iím concerned. I was lucky to have someone to guide me in the right direction. I donít regret any of the tattoos I have gotten.
How many tattoos do you have? And, what kind of reasons make you get a tattoo? Your interests in life and you tattoo them on your body and that kind of thing?
Vinnie: Sometimes, yeah. Pretty much Iíll get tattoos representing a period of my life that already was or a period of my life that I am in right now. Friendship and family tattoos and all stuff like that. Things I am about. How many do I have? Letís seeÖ [pause] I probably have.. I have a complete full sleeve on my left arm, which is probably like twenty different tattoos but not including that I probably have fifteen or sixteen. I probably have over thirty if you count the full sleeve.
Do you find it addicting at all?
Vinnie: I find it more like Iím a collector. Someone collects comics or someone collects baseball cards or collects toys or whatever. Every time there is a tattoo shop I see if there is a good artist there. If thereís a good artist there Iíll get a little something from him. Thatís kind of been my thing lately. I used to get a lot of big pieces and I still do but I save that for when I am home. But when Iím on tour I just get little things. I guess itís addicting in the sense where I always want to get more. Itís really fun for me, waking up the next morning with another new one and then a week later getting another new one and this or that. I like getting little ones lately, thatís been my thing. Just little tattoos. But when I get home I have a huge piece on my chest that I have to get finished. For now Iím just collecting little ones but when I get home itís back to the real deal.
How far would you go with your tattooing? Some people have body casts, or chests totally done and arms totally done. Would you cover your whole body even your head? Do you have a certain point of where youíd go with them?
Vinnie: Right now I donít know what the limit is. I donít want like a full back piece right now but ten years from now I might want one. Right now I have my entire chest tattooed, my entire left arm, a quarter of my right arm. Stomach, legsÖ Some on my back. My toesÖ Inside my lip, everything. I have them scattered everywhere but right now the only thing that is covered is my chest and my left arm but then there is scattered ones everywhere else. The goal isnít to get covered, the goal is just to keep collecting and wherever I end up, I end up.
Do you have a favourite artist that youíve gotten done to your body and have you done more then one tattoo by him or her?
Vinnie: I had one artist; his name is Danny McNeil heís out of Brooklyn, New York. He tattooed my entire left arm. Heís an amazing artist, really talented. Heís a good friend of mine so me and him get together a lot and talk about tattoos and really come up with some cool ideas of stuff. Heís done great work on me. Heís the only whose going to be finishing my chest when I get home too.
Do you have a kind of style you are going for with your body art?
Vinnie: My left sleeve is kind of new school traditional style. My chest is more traditional style, like old school traditional. Probably a mix between new school traditional and traditional. The new school traditional would be more colourful and more cartoon-ish style of traditional.
And, when you are getting a tattoo do you just sometimes look at other peopleís tattoos or do you read different tattoo magazines? How do you get inspiration with what you like?
Vinnie: I usually have a list in my brain of shit that I want to get. So when Iím on tour and I want little tattoos. Iím like, ďIíll get that hereÖ Iíll get that here.Ē When I think, ďWell, I really want a family tattoo, I really want a tattoo for my mother or my brothers or my friends or I want a tattoo about gambling or I want a tattoo about whatever.Ē Iíll brainstorm and think, ďWhat would be the coolest way to portray how I feel about that?Ē A lot of times itís a collaboration with the artist. Whatever I come up with in my brain, he puts on to paper and it looks like ten times better then what I thought it would be. So itís always a collaboration with the artist, as far as his take on my idea. But Iíve always been lucky to be around good artists that definitely portray whatís in my brain really well.
As everyone knows the Movielife have a gambling problem. Who created this problem in the band and did each of you bring a slice of addiction with you when the band first started?
Vinnie: When we first started the band weíd go on tour and go to Vegas and stuff like that. My gambling career started way earlier than that. When I was in junior high school and in high school weíd play dice in the bathrooms at school. It was crazy, at one point my school was completely run by gambling. There used to be crazy fights, and crazyÖ It was crazy. Picture a high school and kids not even caring about the school work theyíd just be up in the bathroom, itíd be straight up casino style. It was crazy then the principals cracked down on it but I remember rolling dice like crazy in high school. Definitely it was a really funny time but then once I got on tour and I have an older brother that looks just like me so I had his old ID I would take. When we started touring I was seventeen so I was illegally gambling for three years in casinos and stuff. Once I got a taste of the casinos I definitely sensed there was going to be a problem. For now Iíve wised up a little bit and I havenít really gambled in a while. I donít really make a lot of money to be throwing it awayÖ
Vinnie: So the money I do make, I like to save it. So Iím all about collecting money and collecting tattoos right now.
So what kind of things do you hope to buy with that money in the future? Do you want to buy a house or a car or something?
Vinnie: Right now Iím just thinking about moving into a new place so Iím saving up money for that. Because it is tough to pay rent when youíre not home all the time. You feel like you are paying for something youíre not even using. Right now Iím just saving up any money we do come across. Iím going to move into the beach on Long Island and Iím going to get a dog. Those are the things I am looking for now. As far as a house is concerned, no way, because I just make peanuts.
What kind of dog are you interested in getting?
Vinnie: I want to get a Chest Peak Pay Retriever and a Pug and a German Shepherd and a yellow Lab. Ultimately when Iím older I want to have a house where I can have a bunch of dogs. No cats allowed. Thatís the goal to have my own house so I make the rules. And just have a shit load of dogs and all types of fun stuff. Thatíd be nice to have a house, you know, but Iím twenty-two right now so Iím not even thinking about any of that serious stuff right now
What is your interest in having a pet? What kind of reason do you think you want to have a pet for?† Is it another friendship/ relationship you can build with another species?
Vinnie: Yeah, definitely Iím a tremendous dog lover. I become a different person when a dog is around. I become like a grandmother when their newborn grandson is around. I love dogs. Iíve always had good relationships with dogs my whole life. I just love that companionship that I get from dogs. I had my own dog and it died a while back so I think Iím ready to have another one by now, that was probably six years ago or something.
Iíve known some people that over look the relationship and the friendship that a pet can bring. They think the pet is there just to serve them. What do you think about people like that who just donít respect the animalís life?
Vinnie: They should definitely not have a pet. I donít understand the people that get a dog and chain it up in the back yard for twenty hours a day or lock it in a room because itís going to tear up their furniture. If they donít want a dog and itís a nuisance on their life they should give it to a humane society or something that is gonna find a home for it. There are a lot of people out there like me. I know that when I have a place to have a dog Iím going to have a lot of them. If I ever go to a shelter or something like that Iím going to end up walking out there with six dogs because thatís how much I care about them having a place. So if thereís other people like me out there Iím sure thereís a place for those people that donít want their dogs to just give them to a humane place thatís going to take care of them and keep them till they find a home. Thatís crazy to take any sort of relationship for granted, people included.
What are your thoughts on Gambling and Society? When you walk in a casino you donít see a bunch of businessmen with Rolexís and Gold Jewellery operating the slot machines. Does gambling mainly have a relationship with the working class?
Vinnie: I think definitely. [laugh] Thereís definitely some high roller types, businessmen that want to go blow a few thousand dollars in a casino. A lot of it definitely is working class people or people that became working class because they gambled too much. Just a lot of old people that are spending their security checks. Kids like us donít feel like we belong in those casinos where all those people are. We have a good time and try not to lose a lot of money; we go in there and have a good time together. Some people have a few drinks and we just kind of hang out. But yeah itís kind of funny the element a casino brings. In Las Vegas thereís younger crowd casinos where itís kind of more young professionals and stuff like that. I think itís all retarded; we just go and have fun together. But luckily I havenít been going as much lately or Iíll just go and hang out and just go for the cheap food.
What kind of things do you like about gambling? Is it the addiction? The rush? The possibility of winning a lot of money or that kind of thing? Is that what draws you into a casino?
Vinnie: Definitely the rush, definitely the possibility of winning. I think some of itís the camaraderie like we all just go in and weíll all play together and root for each other and have a good time, chips flying everywhere. Itís definitely like a cool rush and for me losing twenty dollars isnít the end of the world because I donít care in the first place. Itís fun to put that on the line. Iíve always had a lot of guts; Iím always one thatís making outrageous bets. But yeah itís definitely like a rush, itís not fun if where Iím by myself but if a bunch of friends go in there and have fun together, itís a good time.
Have you ever came into the chance you were gambling too much and you possibility could lose way too much money and you could go broke or bankrupt? Have you ever been in that position?
Vinnie: Iíve never been in that position because Iíll bring a certain amount of money into a casino and wonít go past that limit and I donít have an ATM card. So whatever cash I bring into the casino is what I bring into the casino and thatís it. Iíve actually had really good luck; Iíve won a considerable amount of money a bunch of times. Lately Iíve lost a bunch of times though. But, no Iíve never got into trouble like that, I have self-control. I definitely have respect for my job as far as saving some of the money I make.
A minute ago we were talking about your interest of relationships with other animals. What are your thoughts on friendships with other human beings and the relationship between two of them. What is the glue that holds one together?
Vinnie: A lot of it has to do with experience with each other. A lot of it has to do with forming the trust. I find it way harder to trust the opposite sex then to trust a male. I make a lot of good friends, acquaintances are people you havenít necessarily given your trust to but people you consider friends. People I consider friends are people Iíd trust my life with. Unfortunately when emotions and stuff are involved with females itís kind of hard to trust somebody with your emotions. If I was gay then I wouldnít be able to trust guys but whoever it is who you are giving your heart to itís really hard to get that trust. But it is an amazing feeling once you get that. I think a lot of people sometimes take friendships for granted, Iíve never done that before and Iíve been really lucky. Iím kind of more selective of who I surround myself with.† Iíve had the same friends, my whole life, I grew up with. I have a really strong base with my friends and thatís really important. Especially being out on the road, life is so hot and cold out here, as far as you donít know whatís going to happen the next day. Lifeís just crazy out here. Itís good to have something at home like a good group of friends or a good girlfriend or a good family. Those things are really important because like out here itís a fantasy life, touring, playing shows, having fun and going crazy and being a kid your whole life. I think itís really important to have those relationships and Iíve made a lot of those type of relationships out here on the road. Midtown is some of our best friends. Weíre touring with them two months in the U.S. and then weíre flying over to Europe with them, weíre touring with them again. Bands like Midtown and Thursday, Thrice, Dashboard Confessional, bands like that. Really good friends of ours and the type of people you see our side of the touring thing and people you keep in touch with. Thereís a lot of good people out here and itís cool cause we all obviously share a lot of the same interests because weíre all out here on tour together. And, we have a lot of mutual respect for each other. Itís interesting the type of friendships you make. Definitely glad I had the opportunity to make friends all over the world, and all over the country. Itís definitely interesting to have a friend in pretty much every state of this country, to have friends in Europe that Iím going to see when I go over there next week. Itís really cool. Itís really interesting.
When you come into interest of building a closer relationship with a friend or girlfriend or whatever. What kind of interests do they have to have or what kind of personality traits do they have to have?
Vinnie: For a girl, for me she needs not be a dramatic person because Iím very much not into fighting and arguing and all that stuff. I remember when I was young I used to be in relationships like that and it burnt me out on that type of stuff. So now Iím way more hesitant to get into a relationship with a girl. Sometimes you meet people and you talk to them and you get a sense of like, ďWow, this person thinks a lot like me.Ē And, thatís really important. For me if a girl is a lot like me if she thinks like me then there's going to be a lot less discrepancies in a lot of situations. [laugh] A lot less arguments and this or that. . Itís also really important to me if someone who I dated was really outgoing and friendly towards people. Because unfortunately I dated some girls who I didnít like the way they acted toward my friends or acted towards other people so I had to let them go.
I read the dedication on the Has A Gambling Problem CD sleeve regarding the tragedies that happened in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. How have the people of New York been dealing with what happened?
Vinnie: The second it happened, it kind of seemed like everybody in our area was a team. The day it happened everyone kind of realized you know what everyone is being affected by this. We all know somebody who lost somebody or we all lostÖ Everybody
knows someone who lost somebody. Everybody kind of put everybody on the same level, it kind of put everyone in the same boat as far as getting through a tragedy. For me it was really impact full for me. Luckily I didnít lose anyone close to me. I used to work in New York City, in Downtown and I used to be in the World Trade Center every single day. I used to make deliveries and install fax machines and things like that. I used to be in the World Trade Center everyday up on like the hundredth and third floor. Those people arenít alive anymore. The entire company that I used to deliver to is dead, every single person that was there. Certain people saw that on TV and said, ďWow, this is crazy.Ē I saw that on TV and said, ďHoly shit. I better go call my brother.
Because I know heís down there right now. I know heís a few blocks away.Ē This is like close to home stuff, this is real life. For a lot of people it was more of a headline and stuff, but for usÖ I spent the entire day on the phone making sure everything was okay. Unfortunately a really good friend of mine lost his brother, we found out that night that he was missing. He was a fire fighter that went up in the building before it came down. A lot of our friends kind of came together and did what we could in support of our friend. Itís really tough. He wasnít found for a long time and luckily a day before there was going to be a memorial service for him, his body was found. The family was really happy to put that to rest. It was really important to the family and friends that he was found. It was a horrible thing and it was really close to home and Iím really glad that I was able to take a positive thing out of that. If you can take a positive thing out of something as negative as that, itís really important and you can learn a lot of things. Unfortunately there was a lot of people that were a little bit ignorant to the fact about what really happened and how impact full it really was. I think those people are ignorant in the sense it wasnít close to them so they didnít have to care. But I also understand itís really hard to wrap your mind around something like that. But for me I am really glad that I was able to take a positive thing out of that and learn. Itís great to feel horrible about it and itís great to have a lot of support for the whole thing. But to take something from it is really important and I know me and a lot of my friends and people like that definitely got a lot out of it. It definitely was a life lesson for me.