Meet Michigan’s rising melodic-metal band, Of Virtue! This group recently released a new album called What Defines You with SharpTone Records.
Since the dawn of mankind, humans have sought a way to make their legacies known—to make a mark that transcends time. There are countless ways to make a mark on the world; through action, influence, and of course, language—or, in the case of Michigan metal band Of Virtue, music. With a jaw-dropping dynamic defined by heart-wrenching, heavy-hitting breakdowns juxtaposed against uplifting and anthemic hard-rock moments, the band use an intelligent and intense rejuvenation of the heavy-soft style of metal and its subgenres to create inspiring and meaningful music that is simultaneously creative and catchy—crushing at times but overwhelmingly dynamic and engaging, friendly to fans of any type of rock, metal, and more.
Of Virtue quickly gained a diehard local following amongst the Michigan metal community with the release of their breakout EP To Breathe Again and debut full-length record Heartsounds. The band proved they had a penchant for combining relentless, aggressive metalcore with driving, powerful lyricism and flashes of ambient, catchy post-hardcore and alternative rock. The band continued to grow and refine their sound, emerging once more in 2015 with Salvation, a critically acclaimed record that would serve as the backbone of their live performance. Salvation—and the follow-up single “Ghost Town”—would earn Of Virtue tours throughout the continental United States, much of Europe and the United Kingdom and more, with shows just as intense back home in Michigan as they are in Manchester.
Of Virtue’s incessant touring and dedication to bringing their music to as many sets of ears as possible would land them a spot on SharpTone Records’ impressive roster in late 2018, with a highly anticipated full-length album in toe, set to showcase the band’s further maturation and exploration with the infusion of alternative and hard rock into their metalcore foundation. By combining a positive message with a penchant for touring, punishing aggression and passionate songwriting, Of Virtue are the next in a long lineage of Michigan based metal acts to “make it big,” with an explosive start to 2019 and only brighter things to follow.
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Learn more about Of Virtue in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Thank you for having me. Getting a few things ready for our Asian tour starting in two weeks and then off to the gym to get a nice workout in.
Now that we are into the 6th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
2019 has been a fantastic year so far for us. We put out our new record “What Defines You” this past May via Sharptone Records and just came off one of the bigger tours we have done to date with The Word Alive across Europe so we are all smiles. As the year is progressing, we are checking off a lot of personal goals as well. Traveling to different places all over the world is a dream come true for all of us and we dont intend on slowing that down anytime soon.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
The name just kind of came to me one day and I told the idea to Mike (guitar). He agreed it sounded great and we rolled with it from there haha. There was never ONE moment that made me realize that this was my calling but a collection of points throughout my life that have lead me to where we are at now. I was on a very dark path for an extended period where I felt lost and could have hurt myself or hurt others continuously. Music as a whole and specifically Of Virtue provided me the outlet to change my life for the better. The only thing that may have come as a surprise is that throughout all of the years, are the fans and supporters that we have had the honor of connecting with and befriending. Trends come and go, people grow up, move onto different phases of their lives but the ones that have grown WITH us and accepted us as a part of their growing process is something I would have never expected or will we take for granted.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
Growing up as a band, we had a very strong locals scene with a diverse set of bands and sounds. The thing that influenced us the most from that was being ourselves and not doing what other bands in our state were doing at the time. We were set on forging our own path for better or for worse and that attitude still reigns true today.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
We do! We will go out to eat together, catch a sporting event, go the movies or go see a concert together. For us, it is important to still have our friendship alongside of the music.
What was it like recently putting out your newest album, “What Defines You” with SharpTone Records? How did you celebrate the release of it? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of putting this collection together? How long did it take?
Putting out our new record has been a whirlwind experience. We never imagined the reactions that we have gotten from it so we are grateful everyone has enjoyed it, shared and connected with different aspects from it. This record took us around 3 1/2 years to formulate simply because we were going through line up changes with a singer and drummer. There was a point where we thought about continuing on with the style of our old records but it felt disingenuous to force ourselves into that box. We demoed, experimented, drove countless hours to the studio and had many sleepless nights to carefully craft the songs that made the record. For the release of the record as well, we hosted our very first VIP Listening party which was one of the crowning achievements for us. It was a chance to get to know our fans more up close and personal while they had the opportunity to hear the record from front to back before it was released.
While it’s difficult to choose, can you pick out a few of your favorite songs on this album and talk about how they got to be on this collection and their inspiration?
A couple songs that are my favorites and mean a lot to me are “Alone” and “I Won’t Break”. “Alone” was the last written for the album and happened purely on the spot. We had a few days to write one more song and myself, our producer Josh and Tyler sat down and just collaborated on the spot and made one of the most unique and special songs we have to date. “I Won’t Break” was inspired by an event I was involved with first hand in my life. I was at the gym one day and saw a guy being videotaped by a couple regulars while was trying to do his workout. The person being taped was newer and still trying to get his bearings under him while being there and the other gentlemen were going out of their way to be assholes. I knew one of them so I decided to go over and tell them to stop what they are doing and leave the guy alone. They were irritated with me doing that but then relented and went away. The feeling that I had when that happened inspired me to write that song.The standpoint of the song is to let people live their lives how they want and not to infringe on that right. If you see someone being bullied, taken advantage of or mistreated and have the power to stop it, then it is our responsibility as human beings to stand up to that intolerance
Generally, how do you go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
We employ both strategies. I write a lot of songs/lyrics on my own time and present them to the band as more finished demos so they can all see the vision of where I am heading. There are other points where we will get into a studio space/practice room and do it old school and improv riffs/ideas on the spot.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
For myself, I love all aspects of being in a band from recording to playing the songs live in front of awesome crowds. On different days, each one of them could be a favorite. In the studio, you can be creative as a collective and its like solving a puzzle piece. Any number of things could trigger a great idea and that spontaneity is key in crafting great songs. In a live setting, we can feel the energy of the crowd and put ourselves fully into performing and leaving everything on the line for that 30-40 min to develop/strengthen the bond we have with people watching us.
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes for an ideal show for this group? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past?
We are gearing up for our first headlining run of Asia starting in mid July! We will be performing in countries like Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines for the first time so we are super excited. Once we get back, we start an extensive support tour with Upon A Burning Body, and right before that we will be doing some shows with King 810 leading into that tour. We will be playing a LOT of US shows. If you are in the area, check the dates and we hope so see some of you there!
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans?
Social media and the internet as a whole has drastically helped us throughout the years. The first time we went overseas in 2017, we had no idea what to expect but because we had a presence online, there were people that were waiting a long time to see us that we had the fortune of meeting and performing for. Having that reach and being visible is one of the most beneficial factors for all bands now. Everyone wants to know what you are doing on a daily basis or what their favorite musicians are doing in their personal lives to help strengthen that connection to their music.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
The band and music provide the balance to some of the more negative aspects of the world that we live in. Music is simultaneously an escape from reality at points but also a canvas to paint what is going on and some of the solutions we can have to fix our social issues. Without the discord, there might not be a utility for our style and that why it is so important to us.
What musicians have really been inspiring you since you first started making music?
Howard Jones, Lajon Witherspoon, Linkin Park as a whole, Corey Taylor, Dallas Green, Dustin Kensrue/Teppei Teranishi, Ryan/Branden Morgan the list is a long one of musicians and bands that had a great impact on me during my growth.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
It is honest, passionate, selfless, emotional and sincere. It takes personal growth on our behalf to continue making the music that we do so we would want people to take away the fact that we are striving to become the best versions of ourselves at all times. We want to connect with people on a genuine human level. The stories we talk about in our songs are from our personal experiences/world view are ones that most of us at some point will go through and we just want people to know that we are the same as you and in some way shape or form, we will do our best to be a light in your life so you can pass it on in yours. Our favorite artists did that for us and we want to carry that tradition as long as we possibly can.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Check out our new record “What Defines You” across all digital platforms and social medias and come check us out at a show! Thank you for having me and I look forward to talking with everyone of you soon!