Musicscan: You are known to be a touring and busy artist: how do you make sure to stay mentally and physically in balance to be able to continue? Touring and writing songs can be pretty tough...
Vinnie Caruana: I like to stay in good physical shape and eat healthy food. I stopped smoking all things smokeable as well. A lot of water and good sleep goes a long way on tour. As far as my mental shape, I find writing music to be very therapeutic. It helps to keep me mentally healthy.
Musicscan: Sometimes in the past I had the impression that you were willing to play more semi-acoustic versions of your songs instead of having them with full instrumentation and volume. Is there any truth to this? How to you choose between both options when it comes to your shows and the recordings in the studio? And why is the semiacoustic vibe the better one for Survivor’s Guilt instead of having the songs be full acoustic?
Vinnie Caruana: I wanted Survivor's Guilt to sound more full than my last EP. I didn't want to hold anything back. Listening now, I feel like I did all of the songs justice. There are no rules when it comes to recording a solo record. As far as touring for the record, I will try to have a band with me whenever possible, but it won't always be possible.
Musicscan: From the outside it appears that you have kept on following your DIY roots and ethics while the circumstances of your career have become more professional and commercially-oriented: is it hard to stay true to where you come from and to find a comfortable co-existence with your own ethics and that of the more commercially-focused music industry? What lessons have you learned from being involved with hardcore/punk/emo for so many years now?
Vinnie Caruana: I don't really feel like I'm part of the music industry. I feel like I'm a songwriter who plays shows. I'd say I'm more part of the touring industry. I'm not really exposed to the ugly side of the industry because I work with indie labels and with friends. Growing up a hardcore kid instills a sense of community in me. There is no competition with other artists, only brotherhood. As far as my supporters go, I want them to be happy. I want to always do the right thing by them. But yes professionalism is a key to continue doing this.
Musicscan: How do you deal with expectations? Is it easier or harder to come up with new songs nowadays knowing that there are fans waiting for new tracks, and people showing interest in what you are doing regardless of whether it's with your bands or you performing solo?
Vinnie Caruana: Writing music does take time and can't be rushed. I don't take this for granted. I scrutinize my music heavily. I write and rewrite. I spend a lot of time until I think the song is perfect and the integrity is at a high level.
Musicscan: When you started the work for Survivor’s Guilt – did you know you would create something completely different than you did in your former bands and projects? Or was it your decision to just let creativity flow? How did you go about writing the record?
Vinnie Caruana: I had a feeling this would be different. I would write 5 days a week and really take it seriously. And as it began to take shape I knew I could have something special if I kept working hard on it. I did not fight anything that sounded different than what I usually write. I embraced the progression. All the while making sure it's still true to me and my sound.
Musicscan: On this new album you are playing pretty emotional songs with personal lyrics: but is there the necessity to create a certain distance between you and the songs and lyrics in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality when it comes to writing them?
Vinnie Caruana: I find it hard to not be personal. But I do know what's best for the song. So balancing those things is something you learn . Making demos and listening back help you to know what must be changed before you actually record the LP.
Musicscan: Are there specific themes on Survivor’s Guilt that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have a more personal meaning to you that you would like to share with us? Is there an underlying theme behind the album that you feel represents the record as a whole?
Vinnie Caruana: Love and death are two major themes for me on this record. Coming to grips with growing up, dealing with death and trying to comprehend it. Love is the only thing that heals us.
Musicscan: Lyrically and musically your music has a certain kind of “emotional intelligence” that is missing in most current music. Do you as an artist ever think about your lyrics and music in this particular way?
Vinnie Caruana: Thank you very much. I put a lot of my heart into this and I'm proud of the result. I'm glad you feel I'm supplying something that is missing. I hope the record is important to people.
Musicscan: Do you sometimes feel the urge to write an actual pop song but then dismiss that idea because you think it does not fit the singer/songwriter aesthetic?
Vinnie Caruana: There is a pop sensibility to a lot of my music. It's all the way you present it. I'm sure if Taylor Swift covered a few of my songs you'd say" oh that is a pop song". But I am not interested in sounding like Taylor Swift.
Musicscan: Lastly, if you had to say what the philosophy behind Survivor’s Guilt is all about, what would that description be?
Vinnie Caruana: Life isn't always good, but it's all we have. Those that have gone before us don't have the chance we have. I want to create, and live, and love as much as possible. Because I'm lucky enough to still have breath. We must live.