Making Music: Vows on recording ‘Winter’s Grave’

We use music. It’s a tool. Music plays to keep the day moving. To keep us focused and in the proper mood. Recently the album ‘Winter’s Grave’ by Vows has been steadily playing on my stereo in the office. I need the sound to keep my head in its proper place.

I would tell you what the band sounds like, but that’s difficult. There’s a popular quote concerning the impossibility when you attempt to write about music, and I’ll leave it at that.  Music needs to be heard. That’s its job. That’s its thing.

These days music is readily available to be heard to save you from having to read long diatribes about someone’s new favorite band. Rather than listen to me babble, go on and check out ‘Winter’s Grave’ on Bandcamp. You can stream it or download it for any price you wish, even free, but come on – give a few bucks. It’s worth it. I promise.


Vows’ music has the warm fuzz of something homemade. It’s comfort music. A grandmother’s blanket. Your father’s worn in winter coat. It just feels right. It’s indoor music.

The album was recorded by James Hencken and Jeff Pupa, Jeff handling the vocals and the duo tackling everything else. Jeff’s voice is rich and dynamic and some friends of mine use the all to at the ready Radiohead comparison, but his Thom Yorke-like voice comes off as natural and easy, unlike other Yorkeian mimics who strain to sing in clumsy and trite affectations. Jeff deserves a pat on the back for that alone.

I bought ‘Winter’s Grave’ on CD. I saw that the packaging was a homemade affair and I was sold. I wrote the band to tell them how much I dug the music and asked if they’d be up for a little Q&A. They were! I corresponded with James of Vows.

I really dig how the album was recorded as a two man project. I think something special happens when musicians get together and just create, not worrying about how it will be played in a live environment. Did you record as a duo knowing at some point you would need to perform the songs live or was that never a plan you guys had?

Winter’s Grave was a big departure for us, just kind of an experiment in challenging ourselves with recording really. So we had no intention of doing the songs live until we finished it and our friends/band mates really dug it so it clicked.

‘Winter’s Grave’ has a very rich and unified sound, how concerned were you guys with staying true to the recorded material? Like, did you rehearse with the full band trying to duplicate the record exactly or did you let the new members make changes to fit their styles?

We all pretty much made sure to capture it. It was another challenge we were all up for. But at the same time the live performance is constantly evolving and morphing. It has a lot more energy. It gets really powerful and its something that it seems a lot of people who come to see us, who know the album, aren’t expecting.


I want to thank the kind gentlemen of Vows for answering my few questions and for making an album as awesome as Winter’s Grave. Want to check it out? Hell yeah you do – check out Vows at Vows Music Dot Com.

Hey gentlemen of Vows! Yeah, you. Want to do a longer interview? I’m up for it. Seriously. Shoot me a message at – – Let’s do this! And if not, that’s cool. Happy Halloween!

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