VersaEmerge, with their dynamic brand of rock music, has already been named by Alternative Press as “A Band You Need To Know”, released a critically acclaimed EP on Fueled By Ramen and, finally, have toured the world alongside everyone from Boys Like Girls, Taking Back Sunday, We The Kings, and Cobra Starship. However what makes all of this even more impressive is the fact that the Port St. Lucie-based band—lead vocalist Sierra Kusterbeck, guitarist/vocalist Blake Harnage and bassist Devin Ingelido—pulled all of this off without the benefit having a proper full-length to their name… but all of that’s about to change with the release of Fixed At Zero.
Produced by Dave Bassett (Mayday Parade, Orianthi, Shinedown) at his studio in Malibu, California, the band’s debut full-length sees them stretching out musically in order to illustrate their current identity. “A band’s first full-length is so crucial and the last thing we wanted to do was try to rush something out,” explains Kusterbeck when asked why the band decided to cut their teeth on the road instead of instantly jumping into the studio. “We had so many great tour offers when we started out and were building such a strong fanbase with our EPs so we wanted to make the most out of those experiences,” she adds. “Looking back, I think we made the right decision because it blows us all away to see how many people are excited to hear this record.”
Fixed At Zero is a testament to all of the hard work that the band have put into their music the past three years, a fact that is evident in everything from skyward reaching anthems such as “Fire (Aim Your Arrows High)” to cinematic-sounding ballads like “Lost Tree.” Moreover the album is evidence of the enormous growth the band have experienced as both musicians and human beings since 2009’s breakthrough EP VersaEmerge—and correspondingly it’s packed with more than a few sonic surprises. “There was no formula on this album, we just did what sounded right to all three of us,” Harnage explains. “With the EPs we didn’t have much control over trying to create a complete mood, so we were excited to make this album a real journey that shows all of the different sides of our personalities.”
This deeper glimpse into the band’s psyche is at the forefront of the expertly arranged and instrumentally varied track “You’ll Never Know,” which sees Kusterbeck baring her soul as her signature vocals stretch toward the heavens. “’You’ll Never Know’ is probably the most vulnerable song I’ve ever written,” she admits. “In the past I would hide things in my own little code inside my lyrics and say it in I way that only I would understand because I don’t like to put myself out there.” However over the course of the year that VersaEmerge spent writing Fixed At Zero, Harnage encouraged the band’s singer to transcend her own insecurities and the resulting material is something everybody can relate to. “Our listeners may not have gone through the same things we have, but it’s the feelings themselves that are universal and that’s what we tried to capture,” says Kusterbeck.
That extended range is also present in Kusterbeck’s vocals, which range from sultry to soaring—and often within the context of the same song. “Ever since I’ve been singing it’s been about power vocals and this time around I threw that out the window, so it’s more about how the vocals meld with the song and they compliment each other,” Kusterbeck explains when asked how she feels her singing style has shifted with Fixed At Zero. “That said, I hit some notes on this album that I didn’t even know that I could sing; it’s all about pushing limits and you’ve got to try some new things instead of being safe all the time.” Harnage concurs, adding that “Sierra amazes us, she’s incredibly talented and now that she’s been learning how to use her voice it’s helped our band sound stronger than ever.”
Additionally being on the road for the past three years playing with larger acts like Boys Like Girls and We The Kings has helped teach VersaEmerge grow closer as a unit, a fact that contributes directly to Fixed At Zero’s unique sound. “The last few years have really been a growing process where we were learning our chemistry together onstage and that all plays out in the studio,” Kusterbeck explains. “Blake and I are so close right now that we can literally read each other’s minds when we’re writing and I think that really helped us accomplish what we did with this album,” she continues, adding that everyone from Björk to Britney Spears helped inspire the songs on Fixed At Zero.
Ultimately as excited as the band are to have a full-length out, they’re even more thrilled to finally be armed with a cohesive collection of songs that fully represents who they are as a band. “I think the songs on Fixed At Zero are definitely the closest we’ve gotten in terms of capturing the sound in our heads,” Harnage summarizes. “We love these songs, we love each other and we’re living our dream. What more could we ask for?”
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