They may look like any other twenty-somethings, but their voices could very well be singing that song that’s been playing on repeat.
With three strong singers and a host of instrumental abilities, Vintage Talk works. They’re a casually cool band and their music can’t be pigeonholed into one genre.
“We literally just said a couple days ago, ‘I don’t think we have a sound,’” Ellen Atwood, the band’s keyboard player and a junior music education major, says.
The band consists of Atwood; Will Hardgrove, a junior computer science major; and Ryan Spitzel, a senior media arts and design major. It’s still new — it was formed last February.
Their formation wasn’t unconventional. The three met due to a mutual membership in The Overtones, a coed a cappella group on campus. It was less of a whirlwind and more of an organic meshing of three people and their love of music.
Hardgrove was born into music. Peter Gabriel and The Beatles filled his house and eventually he got his hands on the strings of a guitar. After moving back to the United States from England, Atwood’s mom got her piano lessons to silence her child’s banging of the keys. Spitzel couldn’t decide “what geek [he] wanted to be” in middle school but picked up the saxophone, and eventually the guitar.
“I distinctly remember jamming with them, like a trial sort of thing, and a week or so in they were like, ‘Hey do you want to be in a band?’” Atwood says.
Since then, they’ve released their self-titled EP on Spotify, which has gained thousands of listens from fans across the globe in countries such as France, Austria, Argentina and Brazil.
Their most popular song on Spotify, “Habits,” is a three-minute track with strong, yet subtle, instrumentals that play up Spitzel’s raspy voice before they segue into the trio’s smooth harmonies.
Hardgrove said “Katie’s Song,” a tune that Spitzel wrote for his fiancée, — Katie McVicar, a senior communication studies major — is his favorite to play.
“The first jam session that I ever had at his house was with ‘Katie’s Song,’” Hardgrove says. “I just remember being speechless.”
For Atwood, “Old Self” is “almost therapeutic to play” with harmonies that “fit like puzzle pieces.” With strong instrumentals, it’s a sobering adventure juxtaposing perfection and flaws. While playing a show in downtown Harrisonburg at Ruby’s, Vintage Talk experienced something that isn’t always accessible in large venues: show intimacy.
“There were people dancing and we were right there with them, and we could almost talk with them without even a mic,” Spitzel says. “I don’t know if I would ever give that up.”
That doesn’t mean the group doesn’t have aspirations for greater audiences and exposure. They’re already headed for more international coverage with a recent interview by an Australian music blog started by a vlogger by the name of Alex Rainbird.
Even close to home, Vintage Talk is making waves. While dining at a restaurant in Bridgewater, they encountered a fan who had no qualms about showing love for the group.
“We all walked in and she immediately [went], ‘Oh my god, it’s Vintage Talk!’” Atwood says.
A growing fan base fuels their progression. Summer 2017 is the planned release date for the band’s full-length album, which will consist of around 10 songs, as well as a few single track releases in the upcoming months.
“We really just hope to write a single that clicks with everyone so that they’ll venture in and listen to the rest of our music,” Spitzel says.
The musicians in Vintage Talk have also been hard at work, balancing performing with their busy class schedules. Between their demanding majors and performing in The Overtones, an a capella group, it can be hard to find time for rehearsal.
How do they balance it all?
According to Spitzel, they don’t. It’s a tightrope that the band has to walk regularly.
“It’s hard to prioritize your major when your heart is more so in your extracurriculars,” Atwood says.
It’s equally as difficult for Hardgrove, but, like the rest of the band, he doesn’t have plans to slow down.
“I’ve been focusing more on everything music because music is obviously our passion,” Hardgrove says. “Ideally it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
For Vintage Talk, it’s about the music and how they can evolve their sound to reflect their growing selves.
“The moment that we plateau,” Spitzel says, “then we’re old news.”
Photos by Maddy Williams
Want to hear Vintage Talk for yourself? Check out their latest cover of The Christmas song-