If there is only one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that the perfect job is one where you absolutely love what you do; where you have the freedom to create and to develop your own style and you get to do it all with your best mates.
Mike Davenport, former bassist for The Ataris, now founding member of Versus the World seems to have that perfect job; and boy, does this man have a million and one stories to tell about it all.
Versus the World was created in the back room of Davenport’s record store in Santa Barbara. “We started jamming out and writing songs together in the down time from The Ataris, and pretty soon The Vandals’ label, Kung Fu Records, heard some songs and they were like, ‘hey you should put out a record’ so we kind of rushed it out,” begins Davenport.
“We did it in a month, wrote the songs, put it all out and then started getting tour offers” Davenport explained. “The Ataris were having problems, we weren’t getting along, so I just jumped in with Versus”
That was seven years ago. Versus the World toured in the success of their debut self titled album for two years. However, in about 2007 Davenport walked away from the band. “I took off the time because I had been touring for like twelve years with The Ataris. I was just over it,” reasons the former bassist.
“I needed a break and I didn’t feel like I was being creative anymore, I wasn’t passionate and it felt just like a ‘job’. I wanted to feel passionate about music again and I didn’t know if it would ever come back – to be honest I thought that maybe I’d never play in a band again,” says Davenport.
After not picking up a guitar for two years, Davenport started playing in a party band with Chris Flippin from Lagwagon, and the “music bug” – in his own words – crept back to Davenport. Versus the World finally decided to get back together, with the addition of Flippin.
“To be honest with you, the break was the best thing that ever happened to me because I came back ready for this album. We were writing the best songs we’ve ever written” Davenport described. “We wanted to rush an EP out right away, and we started recording like two-and-a-half years ago.”
“But we thought,” continues Davenport, “these songs are turning out good and people have waited so long – people had waited like five years since we wrote the last record – so we thought we could rush something out, or, we could really take out time – what’s two more years, right? So we worked really hard on it and we made a really awesome record. I’m really glad that it’s finally getting out there”
The resulting album, Drink, Sing, Live, Love is for the most part about lead singer Donald Spence’s life running his bar Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara. “Its about a 500 capacity rock club and all the bands that come though on tour play there: Strung Out, Lagwagon, No Use For a Name – everybody plays at his club,” Davenport described.
“So everybody stays the night at his house – he’s got this awesome studio and everyone goes and drinks all night and plays the acoustic guitar and sings and talks. So basically the album comes out of that, out of this life of the last three years of running the rock club and singing and playing with all these great musicians.” Hands up who wants to party at Spence’s house…
“There is one thing that is the big difference for our new album, and that is Chris Flippin” says Davenport enthusiastically, “he is one of the greatest guitarists in rock and it shows in the record. I mean, I think the first Versus record is awesome but it was lacking.”
“[How] I describe us now, is like having two lead singers. Chris sings guitar melodies and they match Donald’s vocal melodies. It’s so awesome to have that kind of dimension and that’s what was the difference and what was missing from us before. I think that’s what takes out band to the next level,” reckons Davenport.
There are two other other obvious elements that makes this band what it is, the first is the fact that each of the members of the band has a famed past with a well-known skate punk band, making them a veritable punk supergroup.
“You know I think that’s funny,” Davenport laughs a the suggestion, “I like it, and I’ve been hearing it a lot. I mean, that’s cool if you wanna call us that, but you know, its more just like four bros from Santa Barbara just all hanging out together and we just all happened to play in big bands before.”
The second element is timing; as if the punk music gods had finally awoken themselves up after their decade-odd long bender, stumbled around hungover for a few more years, then decided that they needed something decent to listen to again.
“I think it’s cool right now,” Davenport agrees, “ten years ago punk rock was very big and it kind of went into a lull over the last five years. At the height of everything was, you know, Blink 182 and Good Charlotte and everything, went a little bit over the top, then it kind of went under,” he mentions, somewhat diplomatically . “Now you see a resurgence of all these bands, everyone seems to have taken time off and kind of re-energised themselves. It’s really an exciting time in our style of music”
“We just played a big festival in Belgium and all these [skate punk] bands got back together for this show, and now they are all making albums and touring. Like Good Riddance [and] Refused got back together for that show, there was so many bands that you hadn’t seen in years, then all of a sudden they are playing again and they’re remembering the old times and now they’re writing music so its really an exciting time right now.” You can feel the energy buzzing from Davenport.
“I feel great to be right in the middle of that – I don’t think any of us consciously went out for that. I mean, we needed a break, it just kind of all happened together and now it’s all coming back,” remarks the Versus The World co-founder.
Davneport also confirms that an Australian tour is definitely on the cards for Versus the World, “we got a couple of things in the works. For sure we’ll be out there for Soundwave, we are heading out there in summer time so you guys can come check us out” Davenport mused.
Awesome news, another skate punk band is coming out to Australia for the old kids to reminisce, and for the new kids to begin to love, as well as adding to that already beautiful looking Soundwave lineup.