Formed in a Fond du Lac high school way back around the turn of the century, the pop punk group Verona Grove self-released their first album in 2003. By then, the band had moved on to college at UW-Oshkosh, another step a journey that took an unexpected step a couple of year back Guitarist Tony Anders and bassist Charlie Wilhelm took a trip to Madison to record a single track at Smart Studios.
They soon found themselves moving to L.A. to take a full-time stab at being a rock band.
Smart engineer Justin Perkins shared this track with record labels, and by the spring of 2006, Verona Grove had signed with Pat's Record Company in West Hollywood. The trio subsequently moved west, and started recording with Jamie Arentzen of American Hi-Fi. They ended up creating the album The Story Though Over, which was released back at the end of August. The band is currently on tour supporting this release, and are swinging back through Madison this week.
I tracked down lead singer Tony Anders to get the lowdown on the band's recent success.
The Daily Page: So who the hell are you guys?
Anders: I'm Tony, and then there's Josh Helm on the drums and Charlie Wilhelm on bass and backup vocals. Charlie and I have been playing since high school, and we just filled our drummer spot with Josh. But it feels like the three of us have been together for a long time.
What the hell do you guys sound like?
We're pop rock. We want to take pop music as far as we can. The radio is cool with us -- we just want to get our music out there. You might compare us with the edgier stuff on the radio -- American Hi Fi back in the day, All American Rejects, bands like that.
You know, the hardest part about it is finding your own angle and doing your unique thing.
Tell me about this album you have out, The Story Thought Over
We recorded it out in L.A. with producer Jamie Arentzen from American Hi Fi. He engineered the whole process and someone else came in to mix it. I got my degree in recording at UW Oshkosh, but when it comes to my music, I'd rather have my hands off of it.
Talk about your Cinderella story. How'd you end up with that sweet deal?
Pat's Record Company brought us out there. We had recorded a tune at Smart Studios in Madison, and the engineer, Justin Perkins, asked if he could send it out. I followed up with Pat's about a month later, and the label people said they liked it and wanted to hear more. They came out to Oshkosh to watch a few shows, signed us, and sent us to L.A.
How did you like the West Coast?
It was cool. We were completely broke at the time, so what we could do was limited. But it was nice. It was what you'd expect. I think the Midwest is way cooler. I'd rather live in Chicago than L.A. People are more focused here. It's the Protestant work ethic and the weather, I think.
Would you consider that the highlight of your career thus far?
Probably, along with opening for the Plain White Tees and the Goo Goo Dolls. We also got to play two shows with Lifehouse. Now it's just a matter of making this a full time thing. We all still live with our parents, and we practice in my parents' basement.
Well, whatever works, I guess. Expecting a good show at the Loft?
It's hard getting a huge crowd in Madison -- there are too many places to play. But it should be outrageous. All Time Low is pretty famous, so they'll bring a lot of people in, too.
Verona Grove will be performing in Madison on Tuesday, November 6 when they take the stage at The Loft along with All Time Low, The Audition, and Valencia. The group will remain on the road through the rest of the year, going on a national tour with The Juliet Dagger and Shonen Knife in late November.