10-16 Vindicated Album Cover.JPG

If he had to pick one track off the Vindicated's debut EP to represent the sound of the band, bassist Aaron Kitchen said he would pick “Season of the Witch.”

“The one that I'm most proud of the result is Season of the Witch,” he said, adding that it was the most “exciting” to work on.

The tune is a classic hard rock song. The kind of thing that 14-year-old boys with long hair and Black Sabbath t-shirts aspired to while plugging into an amp for the first time in the summer of 1984.

Ok. Maybe I'm projecting a bit. But the band definitely has a sound that is informed by a certain genre and era on this first EP. That genre is hard rock circa early 80s. Not quite glam. Not quite yet heavy metal, but on its way there. Think KISS, with a smattering of the guitar gravel and allegorical lyrics of Dio or Iron Maiden. Nick Kitchen's voice was made for the songs of this era. He has good range, and this song is possibly the best showcase of his abilities. His vocals on this are crisp, clear, and pitch perfect.

It was his cousin's vocal work on the early stages of another song, though, that Aaron Kitchen said sowed the seeds for the band. Kitchen and guitarist Brad Napier had been playing with another band, but that project split up.

“Brad and I had played together previously,” Kitchen said when asked about the songwriting process. “We still felt like we wanted to go forward. We still had some gas in the tank.”

They started with some small starts – a chorus and some verses, or a short riff – and built the song from there.

Nick was in visiting when they took some of those parts and started putting together “Good Times” at Brad's kitchen table.

“The first time that was all put together was at Brad's table,” Kitchen said. “Without any drums.”

From there they worked together to record and shared them with Nick, who was still living in Nashville at the time, over a file-sharing app on their phones.

The song they put together there at the dinner table, “Good Times,” starts out with the guitar energy of an 80s summer road trip radio hit, before moving into a chorus that borrows as much from the new wave and pop synths of that decade as it does from the hard rock that informs the band's sound on other tracks.

They began writing in earnest for the project in the fall of 2017 and finished and recorded the album over the rest of 2018, coming out of John Howard's studio, at Oakwood Recording in Nicholasville, with the finished product in the early months of 2019.

Kitchen explained that they wanted to get out of the immediate area “for focus.”

Howard not only “had a great personality and demeanor,” Kitchen said, but also, as they discovered over the course of recording, had a voice that blended well with Aaron and Brad in backing vocals.

While “Good Times” may have been the song to launch the project and “Season of the Witch” the one that best defines their style, Kitchen said the title track, “Volume,” was the most rewarding for him. It was a song that he'd brought to another band, and it had been passed over.

“The most rewarding track, for me, is probably the title track,” he said. He explained that he had brought the idea for the song to his previous band, but, “it didn't work.”

“I really believed in that idea,” he said, and it meant a lot for him to bring the song to life.

“Volume” is a classic “turn the stereo up” song, in the same vein as “I Love It Loud,” or “Come On Feel the Noise.” Musically, it has the same driving intensity of those songs.

It's hard not to think of the 80s when you listen to the songs on the EP. I think that, in part, has to do with Nick Kitchen's vocal work. Over the years vocal work on hard rock has gone more gravelly, less soaring. Rap has moved from quick, crisp enunciation to the aptly-named mumble rap. Metal, meanwhile, has traded the operatic runs of King Diamond for the growls of death metal. This isn't a judgment statement. They all have their place. But Nick's vocals, especially, hearken back to that era. A time when the Camaro was king. Hair was long. Sunglasses were mirrored. And rock music was fun.

The Vindicated play their first hometown show in Grayson Oct. 25 as part of the Final Friday festivities at the Grayson Gallery & Art Center. The free show starts at 6 p.m. and will also include a costume contest, giveaways, and “a gift for everybody that shows up,” Kitchen said. CDs will be available for purchase at the show, or can be found online at thevindicated.net.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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