Over the last year, touring musicians have had to answer one simple question: who are you if you’re not on the road? Dallas-Fort Worth six-piece Vandoliers confront their struggle for identity with a new song called “Every Saturday Night,” produced by Eric Delegard (Bowling for Soup, Brave Combo). “I took for granted every Saturday night, with my rowdy friends and the love of my life,” sings frontman Joshua Fleming.
Seven months ago, Fleming sat down in his music room and began reflecting on how drastically different the year had gone compared to the previous summer. In August 2019, the band was busy “promoting an album, touring across the country as an act signed to my favorite label, and, generally, living my dream,” he recalls. A year later, the “complete opposite” was true.
“I was stuck at home. Our summer tours in Europe were cancelled, and the hopes of shows in the fall were being dashed by the pandemic. It felt like I had lost my career, or worse my sense of identity,” Fleming tells American Songwriter. “I started thinking of my favorite clubs I had played the year before, and five minutes later I had a complete song. I’m grateful I was the one who got to write this song. It’s so simple; someone was bound to write it at some point.”
“Every Saturday Night” was tracked and recorded in January with Delegard at Reeltime Audio in Denton, Texas. An “unassuming stand-alone building” gave birth to a song that perfectly captures the deep ache for live shows and the rush of emotions and memories that come with it. “Truly a hidden gem in our area,” recording with Delegard was “nothing short of magical. The band had not rehearsed because of COVID-19 precautions, but we instantly found the vibe ─ and we had the final arrangement in a couple of takes. Working with Eric is a fantastic experience. He is kind, professional, patient, and his recordings sound really, really good.”
“We should have danced when they turned out the lights / I took for granted every Saturday night,” Fleming lets every ounce of emotion hit against a wall of guitars, a classic Vandoliers move. A vocal urgency plays comfortably with a gale-force of drums and guitars, and it’s as if you’re witnessing a concert in real time.
“I hope you remember your favorite show at your favorite club or theater, watching your favorite band with your favorite people,” adds Fleming. “I hope they remember late nights with friends, falling in love and the feeling of connection we have all been missing. I miss those moments so much.”
In the writing process, the chorus appropriately arrived first. “I have never started a song with a chorus before,” the songwriter offers. “It was too strong to wait for. In my imagination, I hear everyone singing along together in a big music hall, the crowd echoing the words in it’s cathartic repetition.”
For long-standing Vandoliers fans, through three studio records to-date, the initial influences to come to mind are obvious: Turnpike Troubadours and Old 97’s. When Fleming powers through the new song, though, he finds himself feeling a bit like John Cougar Mellencamp (on the second verse) and Bruce Springsteen (the third). An anthemic rock-punk sensibility has served the group quite well in their careers, and “Every Saturday Night” is another notch in their belts.
Photo by Rico DeLeon