Vrbancic - Progressive Fusion
by Pat Ferris
I found out about Vince
about three months ago by the large number of referrals his MP3.com
website was sending to us. I checked out his music, wrote
a review and have since been such a big fan that I'll find myself visiting his site on
my off-hours just to hear more of his music!
As I've followed his rapid growth and popularity, I've also
seen his earnings from MP3.com go from $70 to over a thousand, and since the payback isn't
that huge, it means that a heck of a lot of people are listening to what Vince is putting
His MP3 "Charlie Chan" has been the most
played MP3 on my computer for the last month, so I figured it was time to pay homage to
the master of progressive guitar, and the return of the guitar hero. I tracked Vince
down and got him hooked up on ICQ so we could have a "live" chat for the
<Vince> Hi! I guess this thing works!
<HotBands> I listened to all of your samples at MP3.com last nite. Are these all of
your songs, or just a few cuts from your CD's?
<Vince> They're most of my songs from my CD's.
<HotBands> I think it's amazing what you can create with sound. The first track
"Age of Contact" is an experience in and of itself. Have you played in any
bands of notoriety, or do you have previous solo projects?
<Vince> Thank you. I guess I got my "calling" when I was 12 years
old when watching a friend play guitar. Eventually, I started writing my own music
around late 70's. I haven't played in any bands of notoriety, but I've been in countless
bands in the last 20 years or so. I seriously started writing & performing my
own progressive instrumental projects in the early 90's. Before that, I played in
all kinds of bands ranging from rock, jazz, metal & folk
<HotBands> What do you think the main reason the bands that you were in over the
last 20 years didn't make it? It seems suddenly that you are gaining recognition as a
composer and tremendous musician.
<Vince> Good question. Well you've got the obvious problems that go along with
bands like drugs, fights, flakes, etc. Also, I played a lot of "filler" kinda
guitar in bands for way too long & decided that I wasn't really showcasing what I was
capable of, so I started writing my own music. Progressive isn't really that widely
accepted in my area, so it makes it even harder to reach the right audience.
<HotBands> Has the internet changed your approach to music? If so, how would you
describe this? I know that MP3.com has created an incredible resource for artists to
literally produce their own music and world-wide distribution arm. HotBands.com is
working toward supplying a similar service as well as other services geared at helping
artists get from "I have a song" to being heard internationally. You seem very
excited about the internet! How much would you say that the internet has contributed to
your new-found following?
<Vince> The internet has opened up all sorts of doors for me as far as exposure goes
& getting my stuff heard. 20 years ago, if someone told me that I'd have my music
being heard on the net, I would have laughed! I've been on MP3.com for a little over
a year & have had the privilige of hearing all sorts of killer bands that I normally
wouldn't hear on the radio. I've also had the mind blowing experience of sharing MY
music with people around the world! That blows me away! A year ago, the only thing I
knew about computers was how much they cost!
<HotBands> Have you considered having a front person/vocalist for your band or are
you going to see how far you can take it instrumentally? I'm sure that as you get
more and more notoriety, you'll have solicitations from all kinds of vocalists!
<Vince> Front person? Well, lets face it Pat, singers get all of the chicks, and
guitarists have to settle for leftovers! (just kidding) I actually love vocals, but I was
always blown away by how musicians could make their instruments sing, so I leaned over to
that side subconsciously I guess. Not to say that I'll never work with a singer in the
future. I have had offers from singers. My bassist, Michael Moje, (also at mp3.com)
sings on his solo stuff (which I play on as well). When the time is right, I'll
probably eventually feature some vocals on my future stuff. I'm actually a descent
singer...in the shower. But fitting a shower stall into a live gig can be tricky.
Too many city codes & stuff to deal with. (smiles) I just know that I'll NEVER
go back to playing standard music formulas behind a vocalist.
<HotBands> Does your band play any live performances, or are you exclusively a
studio project? Do you plan on working through local distribution of CD's or are you going
to focus on DAM CD's and going for the world-wide audience?
<Vince> I've played live tons, but not so much these days. When we do, we do it
because we love to play live...definitely not for the money! In the LA scene, you
have to pay at a lot of clubs to be heard, then there is the issues of bringing a drinking
crowd etc... If I played the average stuff that you hear in clubs in California, I'd
probably be a lot more successful now, but I write fairly lengthy progressive
instrumentals & you don't hear many of those in clubs or on the radio out here.
Sometimes I feel like a salmon swimming upstream. The internet exposes my music to
countries that still appreciate the kind of stuff that I do. Europe & Japan have been
<HotBands> There's a lot of good music everywhere in the world. The UK and Australia
have been creating some pretty progressive projects. As far as what has been
"hip" in America for the last 10 years... I'm getting pretty burned out on
"alternative" and the lack of truly excellent musicianship. Bands like YES, RUSH, Jethro Tull and
Geniuses seem to be in scarce supply these days, or at least not pushed by the big labels.
<Vince> Yeah the UK is another big area that appreciates progressive &
instrumentals. It's the same old story with great progressive bands being neglected while
other types of bands are being placed at the very top. Progressive music is
definitely something that you have to think about while listening to it & most people
don't want to take the time to absorb what it is, so unfortunately, they just dismiss it.
I DO like some of the alternative bands though, and even though they don't dazzle my
musical senses like prog does, there are some great alternative songs with a lot of soul.
<HotBands> I'm listening to your music right now. I would think that the
commercial-driven radio industry wouldn't be supportive of your songs because of the
length of the songs, but I would be the banner-ad driven internet-radio driven industry
would eat your stuff up! It's definitely has a narcotic affect! To me, one of the
defining features of a great production over a good production, are the subtleties. I'm
listening to the Last Great Mystery, and the chimes or bells on top-of the chords at just
the right point add that ultra-professional touch.
<Vince> Wow thanks Pat! The Last Great Mystery was a tribute to my late mother
Mary, her exhausting battle with cancer & all of the emotions that I went through when
<HotBands> It's a beautiful song and the arrangement and engineering is awesome! I
think the thing about music that makes me decide whether or not I like it is how it moves
me. Whether it stirs me because of the arrangement, sound of the guitar, poetry or
<Vince> Record companies & the radio stations play a huge role in influencing
& spoon feeding musical "products" to the listener. The music unfortunately
becomes second nature at that point. The late great Frank Zappa once said that music
became meaningless after a certain point. Looking around at what the norm has to
offer musically, he was right on the money...No pun intended.
<HotBands> As far as the music industry spoon-feeding the public... boy do I have an
earful for you! For the last 50 years, the record industry has created a supply-driven
market. They decide what will sell, they hype it, sell it, make their money and you don't
hear of the musicians again. The internet on the other hand, creates a demand-driven
market. Where artists can be heard for free, and if a listener likes the music, they will
continue to come back for more. The situation with the RIAA suing Napster and the Judge
ordering the shut down of the company is absolutely incredible! If I were any company
outside of the US, I would create a similar program and grab that market that the industry
is losing control over. Someone will be the last straw that breaks the back and opens the
road to free-trade online
<Vince> By the way, you're asking some great questions!
<HotBands> I do this a lot!
<Vince> Cool! You really have me thinking!
<HotBands> How long to produce your last two CD's and how long till the next one is
<Vince> Return To Avalon took almost a year to complete between writing &
recording. The production is pretty massive. Age Of Contact took about eight months to
complete. On that CD I wanted to achieve a more raw sound with less production, giving it
more of a live feel. The keyboards were replaced with guitar synth. I recently uploaded a
third CD entitled "Outakes'92". It's a three song demo. Actually, it's my first
serious attempt at writing progressive instrumentals. I ran the songs past two incredible
writers/guitarist's & very good friends of mine that I met on mp3.com, Jim Reindel
& Goocher. I have a lot of respect for them so I tested the early tunes out on them.
They told me that I should've uploaded the '92 songs long ago. The three songs from '92
will also be on the next CD, but redone with my current band (Michael Moje on bass &
keys & Bob Craft on drums & percussion). I'm trying to write some shorter tunes
for it so its not just a bunch of epics. Epics seem to turn people off sometimes. It goes
back to the whole listening thing I guess. Even in clubs, I've had people approach me with
"Do you have any shorter tunes?"
<HotBands> That's too funny! I hope you took it okay!
<Vince> Yeah I took it ok, I actually try to sit down & write a short tune but
somehow it ends up being alot longer. It's a real challenge for me to write short
<HotBands> You could try writing the beginning and the end and leaving the middle
out! Personally, your type of music is something that I would listen to while skiing or
mountain-biking or just cruising down the highway. I guess it's not exactly your
American-Bandstand type music, but then again, neither was Joe Satriani! So your next CD
is like a re-release with new stuff?
<Vince> I love extreme sports & I'm an avid Mt. Biker. Some of the tunes on my
CD's were in fact written with movement & adrenaline in mind. The CD will be a
re-release, but it will sound current & fresh since my writing style has matured since
then. Plus, Mike & Bob are just amazing players, and they're the easiest guys to work
with... we've NEVER had fights or any of the crud that goes along with a band. Smooth
sailing all the way!
<HotBands> Great! It's so hard to find mature musician's that can get along.
<Vince> That's funny you mentioned American Bandstand. I saw the Dregs do
"Crank It Up" on that show once. I nearly snapped!!! When Dick Clark asked Steve
Morse about their financial profits, he said that the Dregs were in it more for the
exposure...not the profit. I gained even more respect for them at that point.
<HotBands> How would you say MP3.com is for a beginning artist to get online? I see
you have a lot of images and such on your site, yet I don't get the impression that you
are a computer geek.
<Vince> Getting yourself on mp3.com? Actually I had a raging party about a year
& a half ago & a childhood friend/guitarist Kirk Davis from the band Interlude,
turned me on to mp3.com. He's always been a major support to my playing & he created a
page for me. I bought a used PC & started learning HTML & stuff. I love art, so I
started going nuts with the cool banners & graphics. MP3.com became fairly easy to use
& I met a lot of cool people on the site that were really supportive as well.
<HotBands> That's great! So you have a friend that helps you maintain your site, or
do you do it yourself totally now?
<Vince> I pretty much do it myself now, I guess its like riding a bike. Although, I
still bug Kirk once in a while for help on stuff.
<HotBands> I found you because of the amount of traffic you drove to our site, and
I've had so many bands not figure out how to link with us. I am planning a complete
make-over on HotBands.com that will allow admin areas for bands to go in and create their
own pages much like MP3.com. At that time, I'll have to make the linking process even more
brainless than it already is! ...you know, musician's and all! How did you find us?
<Vince> Actually Pat, Kirk
had a HotBands banner on his page. I checked out the site, it looked pretty cool & I
LOVED the animated banner that you had, so on it went!
<HotBands> I've had so many people complain about that banner! It does make you look
and it did coin a phrase "Got Music?" with us, but I think I'll get something a
little cooler when we do our make-over. Similar idea but better colors.
<Vince> I love the got music banner! To each his own I guess!
<HotBands> Well, I'd like to wrap up the interview, so if you'd like to say any
final wishes to the readers in cyber-space, what would you suggest? Keep in mind that a
good portion of the readers of our site are musicians that are looking at you as an
example of someone creating the path for artists to make it via the internet world.
<Vince> I first want to thank James Davis, if it wasn't for Jim & his wife's Dee's gracious
hospitality & support, I wouldn't have any CD's. He recorded Age Of Contact for
next to nothing & has always been a real support of my music. The same goes for Kirk Davis, Reindel, Goocher, and last but not least, my
buds from England, No connection.
There are so many more artists on mp3.com that have been so cool & supportive,
there's just way too many to list.
Finally, to any artists reading this..Just keep doing what you do because of the reasons
why you originally started doing it. Music for me is & always has been a real gift
from God. It has such a powerful quality about it in so many ways. All artists are
touched by this gift I think. So just keep your integrity & have fun with it.
Expose yourself to as much of it as you can. All artists are like a sacred
brotherhood & sisterhood to me. Not everyone receives a gift like this. There
will always be obstacles in the way, but don't sweat it. If music starts to become not fun
anymore (which In my case, I don't see in the near future), I'll probably become an
accountant or something.
<HotBands> Well, thanks man for the interview! I have to say that the interview with
you was one that I've looked forward to doing for some time.
<Vince> Hey thanks so much for YOUR support too Pat AND for the interview!