Gig Seeker Pro


Manhattan, Kansas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Manhattan, Kansas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Rock Indie




"Heartland Album Review"

The band Vineyard comprised of Ryan O'Neill, Tanner Bott, Jeremy Cline, Hunter Owen and Jake Trease recently released their second EP entitled Heartland. They play rock music that has a mainstream appeal and that contains solid songwriting but they also play it safe. The structure, production and just about everything else about the album feels like a culmination of various bands you have heard playing in the background of a Volvo or an Apple commercial. You can hear fragments of bands like Phoenix and The Killers. They stick to a formula of soft verse and loud, glorious choruses but also display a couple of inspired moments.

The opener “Van Gogh” gets down to business quickly. The instrumental parts are simple but effective for the most part. It’s obvious that the band is mostly concerned with serving you a fully trimmed song with no extra fat. There is nothing wrong with the song. It’s catchy and the production is solid but at the same time it sounds like pre-packaged U2 song. Some people like songs delivered that way but I usually prefer a bit of slop.

As the EP progresses all the songs are delivered in the same manner. They are extremely thought out and sticking to a sound that feels ready to hit the airwaves of an FM station. Suffice it to say if you like one song you will like them all. Some of the band’s strongest moments are on the song “Look In The Mirror” which contains dance worthy delayed guitar and funky bass.

Lyrically, the songs are straightforward and lacking any ambiguous poetry or puns. On “Move On” the vocalist sings, “years have passed and I'm still here waiting for the air to clear, one way streets won't lead to where I want to go” and “It’s Ok and it’s alright I know I’ll be just fine It’s been a long road full of sorrow but it’s time to move on”. So the lyrics don’t have the depth you would expect from Thom Yorke or Colin Meloy but they fit in just about perfect if want a ubiquitous single that you would consider playing during your town’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

The members of Vineyard seem to know exactly what type of music they want to play. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel or blend reggae with swing. Heartland contains contemporary rock songs that seamlessly merge with the mainstream. - The Equal Ground

"On The Road with Vineyard"

Suddenly, the music stops. It is six hours after Vineyard’s journey to Wichita began, and just 30 seconds into the band’s first song, but frontman Ryan O’Neill can’t hear his own voice.

“Check. Check. Check. Can we turn the monitor up? Check. Check. Check. Check-check-check-checkcheck- check-check. Check —” O’Neill flashes a glance offstage.

“Is this thing even on?” he asks.

A man looks up from the soundboard and mumbles something in reply. A brief negotiation ensues.

Then, two long minutes after the last beat of the kick drum, a decision is made: O’Neill may not be able to hear himself sing, but at least the audience can. The show goes on.

Such is life on the road for countless fledgling bands crisscrossing the country to play in sports bars, coffee shops, clubs and restaurants. There are no roadies to load gear and tune guitars, no green rooms or groupies. Mostly it’s just drive-thru windows, two lane roads and gas station bathrooms.

And in the age of digital options like YouTube and Spotify, it’s also a life spent earning the attention of consumers accustomed to music at the swipe of a finger — for free.

So five days per week, the five members of Vineyard, a Manhattan- based alt-rock band, do things that are necessary in life. They do homework and study for exams. They work at Manhattan Middle School and Arrow Coffee Co. Basically, they wait for their weekends — those are for music.

Jeremy Cline, who plays guitar, kicks off the road trip to Wichita at 4 p.m. on a Friday by attaching a U-Haul trailer to the back of a 1997 Ford Econoline van.

Cline looks more like a musician than the band's other members. He has lanky arms and, while playing, his bushy head of hair swings across his forehead like a palm tree in a hurricane. But if it’s possible for a 22-year-old guitarist to be a serious man, he is one.

Cline studies business at Kansas State University and brings an accountant’s eye to Vineyard. Gassing up before leaving Manhattan, he frets the 20-gallon limit on Hy-Vee Fuel Saver cards. After purchasing several assorted McDonald’s sandwiches, he tucks away the receipt because the band needs to keep track of expenses.

“When you tell people you’re in a band they’re like ‘Aww, that’s cute,’” he said. “But to us, it’s serious. We want to make this work.”

About an hour after picking up the trailer, three-fifths of Vineyard heads south. Bass player Jake Trease and guitarist Tanner Bott are already in Wichita, the consequence of which is twofold: First, there were fewer people to help load the seemingly endless assorted cases, guitars and amplifiers into the trailer. Second, if the van’s long-illuminated “check engine” light turns into a breakdown, there are two fewer people available to huddle for warmth on the cold February night.

“Good thing for AAA,” O’Neill said.

Warning lights aside, the van has the feel of a second home. The white exterior has strips of rust and the interior blinds don’t always work, but the band keeps it clean. Fast food wrappers get thrown into gas station garbage cans, and water bottles stay in the cooler nestled between two seats.

During the 130-mile journey, discussion bounces back and forth between various topics, but music is the lone constant. Everyone concurs that The Killers are great, but the band can’t agree on Fall Out Boy. Nickelback, a laughingstock for many, actually puts on a great show. Beyonce’ wasn’t anything special in Destiny’s Child, but look at her now.

“Her voice just grew as she got older. I hope that happens to me,” said O'Neill.

O’Neill, 21, was attending Manhattan Christian College when Vineyard formed in 2013, but now he works as an audio engineer at Chapman Recording and Mastering in a suburb of Kansas City. He smokes, but doesn’t drink before shows because it’s bad for his voice. He can't drink afterward because he has driving duty on the way home. He’ll crash on a couch for a few hours in Manhattan before driving back to Kansas City the next day.

In the van, O’Neill plays samples of various songs he helped produce, and jumps into the conversation whenever it turns to the technical side of music.

What they all talk about is the music industry, including the work it takes to maintain their website. Posting to Facebook and Twitter are mandatory. Vineyard also uploads its music to Spotify, iTunes and You-Tube. Websites such as SoundCloud, Bandcamp and ReverbNation all cater to musicians and their fans, but each site represents just a small segment of the market. Venues expect bands to help with promotion, and sometimes, owners squeeze in last-second demands like forcing the band provide to its own door staff.

It’s a struggle that has long been a part of the music scene, but changes to the industry have altered the playing field.

“Our generation is so used to getting everything for free,” said drummer Hunter Owen. “It’s tough.”

It’s also tough to turn Internet fans into people who actually show up for concerts. The band tries to visit a city no more than once every two months because any more frequently, and fans will keep thinking they can just catch “the next show.” Of course, on the Internet, fans can listen to Vineyard play whenever they want.

Owen, 21, and studying social sciences at K-State, says another problem is that publicity is largely driven by singles. People don’t buy albums much these days, and a hit single is the surest path to stardom.

Another path is the one taken by Vineyard, which involves playing as many shows as possible, and frequently sharing the spotlight with other bands. If three acts have three separate fan bases and they all play the same venue in the same night, then some of those fans will cross-pollinate — at least that’s what the band hopes happens.

At 7:30 p.m., the van is rolling into Wichita, and Owen, Cline and O’Neill make plans to meet Trease and Bott at a local sandwich shop. A Kesha song plays over the speakers, and Owen can’t help himself — his fingers dance on the edge of the table, which turns into a temporary drum set as a couple band mates hum along to the catchy tune.

As the waitress takes their orders, she’s impressed to see five young men so unabashedly enjoying pop music: “Wow, you guys are really enjoying the song, huh? That’s awesome.”

“Hey, we should start a band,” Owen quips.

But just as the food arrives, the music stops. A man walks to the end of the restaurant and plugs his guitar into an amplifier. As he begins to play, Vineyard is rendered rapt. Owen and Cline focus their attention on the man in a way that seems involuntary — they can’t help but judge, appreciate and perhaps even reminisce about what it’s like to play music for a dozen people who are just there to eat sandwiches.

“Thanks for all the support,” the guitarist said, as he finished his first song to a smattering of applause. “I wasn’t expecting to play in front of this many people.”

Three songs later, food has been eaten, and the band mates are back to their smartphones. Their own show begins in less than two hours, and it’s almost time to drive to the venue — there are still tweets to type, Facebook statuses to update and Instagram photos to snap.

The concert is at Kirby’s Beer Store. It’s about the size of a two-car garage and sits next to a laundromat with bars on the windows. Kirby’s isn’t actually a beer store so much as a dive bar. Inside, the walls, windows and ceiling are plastered with stickers, evidence of the thousands of bands that have played at the bar since it opened in 1972.

Kirby, if there ever was one, isn’t around anymore. Paul, who takes frequent cigarette breaks, is tending bar and wrangling tonight’s three musical acts.

“Do you guys have a website? I couldn’t find your website,” he said. It turns out there is another band called “The Vineyard Band,” from Georgia. It’s kind of a sore subject.

At 9p.m., Vineyard — from Manhattan, Kansas — unloads the trailer. As the band sets up on a stage the size of an area rug, Miley Cyrus warbles on TV, and a couple drunks at the bar decide to head home. Kirby’s is about to get loud.

By 9:45 p.m., a small audience is packed into the tiny venue. Most of the tables and chairs have been moved outside to accommodate the 40 or so people inside, about half of which are friends and family of the band. A silver-haired man wearing pressed slacks sidles up to the bar and orders a glass of red wine. It costs $3.50.

Just outside the front door, Vineyard huddles together for a pep talk. It’s almost show time.

At 10:04 p.m., after the false start, Vineyard begins to play — for real this time. The bass notes and percussion beats are loud enough to feel, but not enough to hurt. Music that would sound tinny on cheap earbuds bursts through the dark room with a warmth and texture that’s impossible to experience outside of live music. Heads bob. Shoulders sway. This crowd isn’t the type to dance, but there’s a palpable energy coursing through the audience as the band picks through six tight songs, including a cover of The Killers’ “When You Were Young.”

And 26 minutes later, it’s over. The stage needs to be cleared by 10:45 p.m. so the next act can start at 11 p.m. After that, another act is on at midnight.

Vineyard needs to stay for the other two sets because it’s the right thing to do, but also because networking is so important. There’s merchandise to sell, fans to mingle with and social media accounts that need updating.

Freezing rain turns the two-hour drive home into three. Overall, that’s six hours of work followed by 30 minutes of stage time, book-ended by another six hours of work before heads hit pillows back in Manhattan.

And for what?

On this night the take was $180, plus free beer. The money pays for the trailer, gas and food. What's left is divided by five. Some shows earn more, and are closer to home. Others earn even less.

But the band takes it in stride. “We’d play for free, if it’s the right crowd,” O’Neill said.

Already, Vineyard has come a long way. The band has played in front of thousands, opening for YouTube star Lindsey Stirling and country music artist Brett Eldredge.

Building an audience also takes time, and Manhattan isn’t exactly fertile musical ground. This year, Vineyard has booked shows in nearby Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma. Playing two, even three shows per weekend is especially tough to balance with work and classes, so the band has talked about moving to Kansas City when everyone graduates.

But for now, Vineyard will spend its weekends on the road, talking and thinking and dreaming about music as the van cuts through endless stretches of Midwestern prairie. Every now and then, they’ll catch a break — catch enough breaks, and even venues like Kirby’s could become a distant memory.

And that “check engine” light?

“We drove so long it turned off,” said O’Neill, on the drive back to Manhattan. “Must have fixed itself.”

That, or the bulb burned out. Either way, Vineyard will be on the road, coming soon to a town near you. - Manhattan Mercury


Heartland - 2015

Shoreline (Single) - 2014

Other Girls - 2013



We are Faintheart.

We make music that we hope impacts others as much as music has impacted our lives.

Band Members