December 3, 2018 Interview – Kevin Iavaroni of Old Wounds
Old wounds. We all have them lurking beneath our perfectly polished surfaces, but only some of us can learn to truly embrace them. Enter a Hardcore band out of New Jersey who are doing just that and, surprise, they are called Old Wounds. Beginning their good fight in 2013 with their incendiary debut From Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest, the boys would go on to establish themselves in the Tri-State Hardcore scene. Then, 2015’s The Suffering Spirit continued to cement their good name while the band shared stages with everyone from E. Town Concrete and Madball to Eighteen Visions and Motionless In White, to Every Time I Die and Beartooth, and beyond.
With the release of their third full-length, Glow, Old Wounds delve into their most personal record to date. Exploring a myriad of musical influences while being fully open and honest, lyrically, the collection sees these Jersey devils at their brightest hour. To learn more about this phenomenal record, Vocalist Kevin Iavaroni recently sat down to talk influences, inspirations and songwriting, guest vocalists, touring, as well as all things Glow.
Cryptic Rock – Old Wounds has been a band for over five years now, and you’ve already had some major highs and lows. Through it all, what is the motivating factor for you to keep this band alive?
Kevin Iavaroni – Writing music with my friends and being able to express myself through songs. Music has been one of the most therapeutic releases for me in life. It’s the only way I get to truly be myself; bare, naked, right to the bone.
Cryptic Rock – Speaking of therapeutic releases, let’s talk Glow, which arrived on November 9th. How has the reaction been, thus far?
Kevin Iavaroni – It’s been incredible. People who have never liked us or paid any attention are now talking about us, and people who have had our backs since day one are continuing to support us. I’m very lucky that people have any interest left at all.
Cryptic Rock – That’s wonderful that new people are taking notice of the band. Now, the first question is pretty obvious: Why call the album “Glow”?
Kevin Iavaroni – This has been the first time I’ve been asked this. I remember right before my surgery when they were prepping me, putting me to sleep, it seemed like everything went dark, but I remember the “glow” of all the hospital lights, and all the lights of the machinery that I was hooked up to. I held onto that and it was brought up in certain themes of different songs. A few variations of the album name came up for debate, but we simplified it and ended up just calling it “Glow.”
Cryptic Rock – It works perfectly, and it has a somewhat ambiguous feel to it. Obviously, throughout Glow, there are so many moments with such eclectic influences – everything from Nirvana to Deftones, Eighteen Visions to AFI. Clearly, you are a fan of very diverse music. Who are some of your musical influences and inspirations?
Kevin Iavaroni – All compliments and all bands I’ve looked up to. We went into this process with the intentions of writing songs – so being mentioned alongside actual songwriters is especially nice to hear. As far as personal influences, I would say at the top of the list is Morrissey. I don’t have to go into detail about him, but his songs, his lyrics, his way of life, instilled something in me.
Cryptic Rock – Morrissey has had an immense influence on an eclectic array of musicians, for sure. Back to Glow, lyrically, you tackle everything from religion to politics, to personal struggles with your health. What inspires you when you sit down to draft a new album, lyrically but also musically?
Kevin Iavaroni – Movies, television, comics, people and how they act towards one another all have helped inspire my writing. Glow was different. It was like the shedding of skin, standing in front of everyone with nothing to hide. I’ve never spoken so close to home before, about something that has been in my life since childhood. It wasn’t until rock bottom that I was able to write about it.
Cryptic Rock – That actually segues perfectly into the next question, which involves your illness. You’ve always been fairly transparent about suffering from Crohn’s disease and, as previously stated, much of the new album is deeply personal. Many artists would be hesitant to speak so openly, is there ever a moment’s hesitation for you when writing lyrics?
Kevin Iavaroni – I leave my lyrics up for interpretation, but if I’m not speaking about things that are important to me, or about topics that have personally affected me, this whole band thing would seem pointless. I’ve spoken about Crohn’s, sure, but I’ve never written about its hardships on my life before this album.
Cryptic Rock – Your willingness to be so honest and open on the new album is definitely an important factor in the collection’s weight and sincerity – but you also took chances. “Beauty Mark” is a favorite and it has a sensuality to its delivery, yet this is a song about your health and undergoing surgery. Was that extreme dichotomy intentional, and is there any chance that this will be a single?
Kevin Iavaroni – Thank you, it’s definitely one of my favorites of the album. I romanticize the whole ordeal – metaphorically speaking, but also literally, I was on my death bed. Releasing this as a single was a thought, because it is one of the weirder tracks on the album and I wanted to throw people for a loop. We may still, who knows.
Cryptic Rock – It was definitely a risk, but it paid off big-time and would make for a killer single. Similarly, “No One Listens When You Fall Apart” hits especially hard, despite this being a world where everyone is broadcasting every moment of their lives online but so few people have any empathy left for anyone else. Clearly, the song is deeply personal, and you even give your birthdate in the lyrics – do you think people are listening now? And, if so, what do you want them to take away from the album?
Kevin Iavaroni – If they weren’t listening then, I don’t know what will make them! (Laughs) The world just doesn’t listen. If anything is to be taken from the album, it’s the hope that someone can relate, and this can help them cope in a way. People have come to me and have told me that these songs were important to them because they too suffer from chronic illness; that bond and connection is hard to describe. I feel for them.
Cryptic Rock – With these songs, you are a voice for the voiceless, in a sense. Do you have a favorite lyric on the collection?
Kevin Iavaroni – “Always the wrong one, never the right words” was the first to come to mind, from the last track.
Cryptic Rock – Great choice. Now, you have two guest vocalists on the album – Lee-Acosta Lewis and Chris Motionless. How did Lee and Chris become involved with Glow, and how did you choose which song to have each of them appear on?
Kevin Iavaroni – “Give A Name” is definitely one of the darkest on the album. Lee is a personal friend who also suffers the same ways I do – it made perfect sense for him to sing on that one. He sounds straight menacing. As far as Chris singing on the album goes, he’s always shown an interest in our band. When he was asked, he was stoked on the idea. Definitely want to play that one live and have him rage with us.
Cryptic Rock – To abandon the music for a minute, in the past, there has been a lot of fanfare about your outward, somewhat flamboyant appearance, but you have recently made it very clear in the media that you hope to move away from that and place the focus back onto the band’s music – where it rightfully belongs. That said, because there are so many who identify with the makeup and the flashier clothing, is there anything you would like to say to fans who might be a little hesitant about this visual shift in the band?
Kevin Iavaroni – Androgyny was and will always be important to me. For a long time, it helped me feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m not throwing those ideals away but merely reinventing myself, as Bowie would. If people are that bummed, perhaps they are listening to the music for the wrong reasons!
Cryptic Rock – Well put. Now you are currently on the road with SeeYouSpaceCowboy and Chamber. How are the shows going and, once this tour wraps up in late November, what’s next?
Kevin Iavaroni – This has been the coolest tour I’ve personally been a part of! Everyone, every single person involved is so sweet and kind; I’m very lucky to be surrounded by both incredible bands. The shows are going great! Brooklyn, Chicago, Vegas, and L.A. are all contenders for the best show. Once this wraps up, we want to keep touring – definitely planning out next year close to the chest with this. The plan is to be on the road for as long as possible, and to head to Europe for the first time also.
Cryptic Rock – European fans will love that! To kind of follow that up with something similar, what would the “dream” tour for Old Wounds?
Kevin Iavaroni – This is a hard one to answer, because I love so many different genres: Depeche Mode, The Cult, The Smashing Pumpkins. I can’t lay down an exact tour, but I would love to play with those bands.
Cryptic Rock – All three are phenomenal bands. Last question. Cryptic Rock covers music as well as movies, particularly Horror and Science Fiction. Are you a fan of either of these genres and, if so, do you have any favorite Horror or Sci-Fi films?
Kevin Iavaroni – I love Horror movies! My favorite Horror movie is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), partially for the weird, sensual leather-daddy parts. I think that’s also when Fred comes to his own and starts in with the one-liners. Huge fan of that one!