There can be, at times, an ethereal quality to Playing to Vapor's music.
There can be, at times, an ethereal quality to Playing to Vapors' music.
On A Glitch in a Void, a six-song EP the art-rocking five-piece released in 2015, singer and songwriter Lucas Harris' vocals tend to dip and dive, gliding over songs like "You Never Seem Sorry When You're Gone" with all the grace of a hawk held aloft in a jet stream. The frontman's oft-coded words can be similarly difficult to grasp hold of - "The dead'll rise from the blood in the sink," he offers cryptically on "Just Fine With Me," a tune that shares at least some musical DNA with Radiohead's "Dollars and Cents" - and song titles frequently reference concepts that exist in the abstract rather than the concrete: "Giant Conspiracy," "Ghost Hunter," "Whisper."
Regardless, the band members selected their name not in reference to these vaguer, more mysterious qualities, but as a reminder to remain hungry and humble, regardless of any experienced success.
"Our guitarist's dad played in a band, and [Playing to Vapors] was something he would say about a show if they played and there was nobody there, like, 'We were playing to vapors that night,'" said Harris (keyboard, guitar), who's joined in the group by Zack Cramp (bass), Josiah DePaso (drums), Daron DiSabato (guitar) and Mike Stokes (guitar). "We thought it would keep us humble, and remind us not to get arrogant or pompous about who we are."
Though the quintet has just a pair of EPs to its name, the members have a musical history that stretches back a decade, when Harris, DePaso, DiSabato and Stokes first started jamming together after meeting as students at Worthington Kilbourne High School. The years since have been filled with odd musical turns and failed experimentations - "We'd have a jam band song or some random ballad, and we all loved Tool and Porcupine Tree, so we'd get into progressive stuff now and again," Harris said - a search for a musical identity that finally culminated in the release of the band's 2012 debut EP, titled, aptly, Identity.
"I feel like we all have a purpose and we all know what direction we're going in now," Harris said. "Over the years we've become better at listening to one another. It's become more of a team effort. Rather than everyone writing the best part they think they can play, it's become more about writing the best part for the song."
This communal spirit should be further evidenced on Playing to Vapors' full-length debut, for which the band has now recorded a dozen songs with an eye on a 2016 release. After that, maybe the musicians can invest time weighing potential sponsorship details.
"We have a band Gmail account, and I don't know how vaping places get our email address, but we get so much spam from vape companies," Harris said, laughing. "We joke about having sponsorship from some vaping company down the line, but maybe they're really just trying to get us to vape with them or something."