Tucson, Arizona’s Versus The Mirror are not just another powerful, heartfelt rock band with a gritty yet melodic edge.
Despite their age (they’re in their early twenties) and vigorous music, Versus The Mirror, who’ve been together in this incarnation for 2 years and self-financed a 5-song EP before linking up with Equal Vision Records, are like a bunch of old souls trapped in young bodies. The quintet has effectively and ironically created a fresh sound by using old, unfashionable recording techniques on their EVR debut, Home. They’re making it new by revisiting the old. Versus The Mirror, who’ve toured with My American Heart, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, A Change Of Pace, and The Fall Of Troy, are focused and centered, and they know what they want to convey to their listeners. And that’s a sense of urgency, immediacy, and honesty.
On the intense yet listenable Home, Versus The Mirror dared to go against the grain and the trend that’s dominating popular music. They said to hell with high tech equipment and elected not to use Pro-Tools. They didn’t want their record to sound polished to perfection, and therefore, sterile. In this e-day and e-age, recording sans computer software is rare but Home was recorded from analog to 2” tape and tracked with vintage gear.
Versus The Mirror, who practice 6 times a week, deliberately decided to capture their live intensity and translate that to tape rather than to a hard drive. They recruited producer Bob Hoag (The Bled, The Format, Record) and spent November and December 2005 recording Home at Flying Blanket Recording. Hoag, who’s like 1940’s throwback in that he wears clothes, drives cars, and uses equipment from this particular era, was able to help Versus The Mirror achieve the sound they wanted. Guitarist Gabe Borquez, who tracked his guitars cleanly without distortion, says, “I’ve been looking at records that have been made the past few years. They’re all professional sounding, and computerized. I used to think, ‘When we record, I want to go for something raw and edgy.’ I wanted to use equipment that no one these days uses, like older amps and guitars. I wanted to separate us right away. What you hear on record is what you are going to get live.”
That’s what makes Home such a jolting and jarring record. It shakes you in ways you do not see coming, and hits you like a clap of thunder. It’s immediate, and while each song packs an emotional punch, Versus The Mirror inject their songs with a memorable, deeply melodic sensibility. The songs have catchy melodies that stay with you long after you’ve shut the record off. “You can feel the emotion in our songs, especially because of the way we recorded,” Borquez reiterates. “Our sound is contingent on emotion and the human drive.” Emotions aren’t delivered in neat, tidy packages. They’re loud, they’re unedited, and they’re in your face. They hit you in the gut. As does Home.
Indeed, emotion is a key component of Home. “In my lyrics, I’m very personal,” says singer/lyricist Davey Seibold, who joined the band after they had toiled through nearly 40 auditions. “Instead of picking up an album, it’s like picking up a friend. Or even a book. You can read into this record.” Continuing on that train of thought, Seibold says, “Each song is about human nature. I wanted [the songs] to be like a conversation. I want to learn as much as I can. I want people who listen to the record to learn from it.” On Home, Seibold braves some complex topics. “Birth By Architecture” is “about addiction in some form or another,” while “Great White Zombie” takes inspiration from Aldous Huxley’s Doors Of Perception. There are layers upon layers of meaning in each song, and the listener is invited to dig deeply.
With Versus The Mirror, what you see is what you get. Their live show sounds like their record, and their record sounds like their live show. In a scene where everyone pays lips service to keeping it real and about the music, Versus The Mirror shut up and put up. Home is that rare, exciting record that takes chances, pleases your ear, kicks your ass, and speaks to your heart all at once.
Versus The Mirror disbanded in January of 2007.