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An Interview with Ohio Natives – Playing to Vapors

Playing to Vapors

Playing to Vapors bring a big, ambient, sound that has all the feels. Their new record Shredding the Master Design is filled with skilled songwriting behind a tapestry of sound that is as catchy as it is rock n roll. Slickster recently say down with lead singer Lucas Harris to talk about the new record, the album artwork, and what is next for the band.


What was it like coming up in Columbus, OH and how that location influenced your overall sound?

  • Columbus was (and probably still is) an up-and-coming music city when we were getting started. I’ve seen interviews with local celebrities trying to place what the overall ‘sound’ of our city is, and it’s just not possible. It’s a melting pot of a variety of different scenes, and I think allowed Playing to Vapors to not worry about genre or style as much. We were able to try and make something different.

Shred the Master Design is a big and enigmatic record, what was the writing and recording process like for the record?

  • Each song on the record has its own story of how it was written. A few weren’t even finished when we went in to record them. The whole process was an effort to break away from our comfort zones. In the past we’d done everything ourselves, with no deadlines, and unlimited takes/overdubs. The goal was to do something live and filled with energy.

Playing to Vapors

How did you approach this record differently than past recordings?

  • As I said before we recorded most of it live. In addition to that, we went for the vintage tape sound. This record was the first one we did with a producer (Josh Antonuccio). He helped with some of the writing, tones, mic techniques, and did the mixing.

Shred the Master Design is full of ambient sounds with a great use of space, was that conscious during the writing process?

  • Some of it was very conscious, but some of it was off the cuff. “Twin Flame”, “Flash Camera”, “Lydia”, and “Shred The Master Design” (the title track) were all vastly changed during the recording process. This forced us to create whatever textures we wanted pretty much on the spot. Overall, we’re a pretty methodical band. Most of what you hear was a conscious decision.

How did the band approach a common theme and inspiration when writing lyrics for the record?

  • The lyrics for the album are reflective of what I believe the band was going through at the time. Not only as members of Playing to Vapors, but as humans living in Columbus, OH. Our songs are sort of like a snapshot of where we were when we created them. Many are tied by common themes, but I wouldn’t say Shred The Master Design is a full on concept album or anything like that.

I ask several bands this question to gauge reactions. Playing to Vapors is currently independant of a label. Do you find that to be liberating, or are you actively pursuing a label, not that you need to, you are doing just fine without…

  • Haha, I’m glad to hear you say that. We are pursuing a label, but we are fully aware of the horror stories that come with signing a record contract. Any offers we receive, we are very careful to vet. There is no rush for us to obtain label support, but it’s certainly something we’re interested in.

What do you want fans of the band to take away from a Playing to Vapors live experience?

  • For me, the goal of late has been to elicit some kind of emotional reaction. I’m usually up there in my own world with my eyes closed trying to feel the songs, and transfer that feeling to the audience. Lately I’ve been trying to interact more with the audience, and raise the energy of our performance.

Love the artwork for Shred the Master Design how did you come up with the idea?

  • That’s my niece on the cover! The cover came from a video shoot that my brother (R. Stevens Harris) did. He is a filmmaker in Hollywood, and he felt inspired by the Shred The Master Design title track. Since then his ideas have grown exponentially, and last I checked he’s making a full-length feature. Whether or not it is still even remotely related to Shred The Master Design, I am not entirely sure. The cover came from that initial photo shoot though.
  • I want to also point out, that we’re currently in the final stages of making a music video for the title track of the record. My brother is directing it, and it looks incredible. We can’t wait to show it to the world.

Who is “Lydia”, that song is really powerful?

  • Lydia is a person who outgrows you. Whether that means outgrows you emotionally, professionally, etc. The whole song is just the feeling of being stuck, and watching other people (seemingly) succeed all around you. It is one that the band has been kicking around for a while, but was greatly altered during the recording process. The ending of that song was entirely different up until the weekend we tracked it.

Who are your musical heroes that inspired you to want to be full time musicians?

  • We all draw our inspiration from different artists, but some that we all share would be: Radiohead, Incubus, Grizzly Bear, My Morning Jacket, and most recently King Gizzard The Lizard Wizard. I think the one that truly inspires us to live the musician life would be MMJ (My Morning Jacket). Their music tells the traveling musician story so well. Particularly their album It Still Moves.

What’s next for Playing to Vapors?

  • As I said about the music video. We want to utilize the internet more, and try to connect with our audience better. I like the idea of starting a conversation with our fans, and letting people into our lives. We will also be playing more shows regionally, and trying to push our music on a grass-roots level.

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