Vince Vrbancic -  Chatsworth, CA

Vince Vrbancic -  Chatsworth, CAVince Vrbancic - Progressive Fusion
by Pat Ferris

I found out about Vince about three months ago by the large number of referrals his 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 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 out.

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 viewers. 

<HotBands> Hey

<Vince> Hi!  I guess this thing works!

<HotBands> I listened to all of your samples at 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.
Vince Vrbancic -  Chatsworth, CA

<HotBands> Has the internet changed your approach to music? If so, how would you describe this? I know that has created an incredible resource for artists to literally produce their own music and world-wide distribution arm. 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 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 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 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 major listeners.

<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.
Return to Avalon

<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 she passed.

<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 whatever.

<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 out?

<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, 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?"
Age of Contact

<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 songs now.

<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 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 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 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. 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 that will allow admin areas for bands to go in and create their own pages much like At that time, I'll have to make the linking process even more brainless than it already is! know, musician's and all! How did you find us?

Vince Vrbancic's newest project<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 DavisReindel, Goocher, and last but not least, my buds from England, No connection.   There are so many more artists on 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!