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Interview: VersaEmerge

The last time VersaEmerge graced the stage was in September 2011 as part of Fueled By Ramen's 15th Anniversary shows at Terminal 5 in New York City. Since then, the band has been hard at work writing their sophomore album.

Alter The Press spoke to vocalist Sierra Kusterbeck, about what fans can expect from album number two, being off the road for over three months, what's to come from VersaEmerge in 2012 and more.

Alter The Press: You last played as a band, at the Fueled By Ramen, 15th Anniversary show. How does it feel to be off the road for over four months?
Sierra Kusterbeck (vocals): It feels really odd, especially after touring for so long, and so hard, non-stop. Now, it's just being at home, adjusting to home life and writing. We started two months ago, and the songs we demoed then are completely different to the songs we are writing now, because we're home and experiencing something new.

ATP: How is album number two coming along?
Sierra: I'd like to say it's coming along...nicely. Right now, it's like a big broken puzzle; we have all the pieces, we just need to put them together to fit and make it right. All the songs are babies so far. We love them all. We're really just lucky to have had this much time. I don't know how it came about, but I think with the time we've taken to delve into what we want to do, the lyrics, experimenting etc., it's all coming along awesomely.

ATP: How would you compare the new music to "Fixed At Zero"?
Sierra: To us, every album is just a step up the ladder, and "Fixed At Zero" is very organic, more Earthy, I think. Now, we have traveled, and this record is very worldly in a way, not so organic but still Versa. It has old Versa sounds, new Versa sounds, future Versa sounds. It's not going to be something you listen to and be like, "This is totally different!" but it's not "Fixed At Zero". Who wants the same album twice?

ATP: Has there been any particular inspiration for any of the new songs? Like a specific moment in your life, certain music you've been listening to etc.
Sierra: I’ve definitely been taking inspiration from personal things that you go through in life. I want to write about what I'm feeling at the time, and certain things that have happened to me in the past year, it's been great to finally get them off my chest.

We've been listening to a lot of different music, me and Blake [Harnage, guitar] together. We've been really getting into old movies and different kinds of styles from different eras, kind of retro. We watch The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space and The Outer Limits all the time for new inspiration to gather this feel. Everyone is into this kind of futuristic thing, like space and the future, so we like the idea of what people thought the future was like in the old days, in the 1930's and what their vision of the future was.

ATP: How many songs do you have written for the new album?
Sierra: We have about 40, and we've never written that many songs. A lot of them are instrumentals/interludes and things like that, that we'll probably use for the live show and not necessarily the album.

We're really having fun. On the older albums we were caught on every single detail, everything had to be perfect, and with this record, we're kind of laid back a little bit, let our shoulders un-tense and just jam on stuff. That's what the difference is and why we can create a lot more music.

ATP: Have you narrowed it down, to how many tracks will be on the new album?
Sierra: Not yet, but hopefully more than the last record.

ATP: Have you picked a producer yet?
Sierra: Not exactly, but we're trying to confirm that. I can't give away secrets or anything because we like the element of surprise. We do have a really great producer in mind who is really passionate about what we're doing, and is dying to work with us, and that's what we need, someone who can help us amplify the sound we're looking for. Hopefully that gets confirms.

ATP: Do you know when you're going to start recording?
Sierra: Very soon; within the next couple of months. Hopefully February, but we're going to Australia to do the Soundwave Festival so we would be going back and forth for a little bit.

ATP: Do you have any guest appearances lined-up for the record?
Sierra: We don't have any, but we were just talking about this the other day. One of the songs would be great for another artist, who we really like, and we're going to try and reach out, but we're not keen on it because it is our record. It's not like we're against collaborations but we just really want to establish our sound; but if we can get who we want, we probably will do it.

ATP: When do you think the album will see the light of day?
Sierra: 2012. At some point this year. Hopefully we don't over anticipate, but we want to make something amazing to give everybody.

ATP: VersaEmerge is now yourself and Blake. Do you have any plans to introduce any new members into the line-up?
Sierra: Being in a band is very much like a family, it's very hard to just bring someone in permanently and we've experienced that. We're just going to be hiring musicians on the road and we've already got some great ones in place.

ATP: You're off to Australia next for Soundwave. Do you have any other touring plans?
Sierra: Yes. Whenever we're out of the studio, and we'll probably be touring before the record comes out. We'll definitely be doing dates around the US, we're going to go back to Europe and hopefully do a bunch of festivals over there.

ATP: What is planned for VersaEmerge in 2012?
Sierra: Hopefully a big ball of inspiration can explode. We definitely want to gain more listeners, older and younger. We want to move forward, and always have goals; like playing as many shows as we can, be as successful as possible, but we just want to do what makes us happy. In 2012, you will see Versa.

- Jon Ableson