Jan 4, 2012 09:06 AM WV Sound
Keeping a beat in the Mountain State
Logan Venderlic Reaches New Heights
Once described as “Tom Petty meets Appalachia,” 22-year-old Logan Venderlic doesn’t quite fit into musical categories. From the classic rock of his parents’ generation to the punk and emo he embodied as a defiant teenager to the folk and bluegrass of Appalachia, Logan creates his own style from disparate genres.
Logan’s music and lyrics hint at his far-reaching musical influence—developed during his upbringing near the Ohio River in the small, unincorporated town of Arvilla, West Virginia. Back then he felt the alienation and disaffection of growing up rural in an increasingly urban culture. His first single, “Jerkwater Town,” from his upcoming self-titled album, reflects his struggle with his West Virginia upbringing as well as his embrace of small-town roots. “Whenever I was younger, I kind of fought it. I really didn’t enjoy growing up in such a small area,” he says. “As I got older, I started realizing that small-town West Virginia was a lot cooler than I thought.”
Logan started his career in music early. Besides playing in the high school jazz band, he picked up his brother’s guitar, which became his instrument of choice. He didn’t begin singing until college. At first, his audience was limited to close friends and family.
His breakout moment came two years ago when JT Woodruff, lead singer of the gold-selling emo/punk band Hawthorne Heights, visited his hometown of St. Marys. JT planned to play some acoustic solo material while at home for the holidays, and Logan was recruited to open the show. It was his first show in front of such a crowd. “My mind was racing and I was so nervous,” he says. “I tried not to think of anything except remembering my lyrics. And I remembered ... most of them.”
JT was impressed and encouraged Logan to play more shows and record his material. Logan followed his advice, and one year later he was in the recording studio in Troy, Ohio, with JT and Hawthorne Heights guitarist Micah Carli. Within a day in a half, he had his first EP, Manic.
In 2011, Logan went on his first tour, traveling from Baltimore to Boston. He couch-surfed his way to each show. The tour generated quite a buzz and made him enough money to go back into the studio with Nick Vandenberg to record a full-length LP to be released in April 2012. The album will be available for purchase online at CDBaby.com and SuperD. “The EP was really stripped down, and this LP is a lot more ambitious,” Logan says. Whereas Manic featured him with his acoustic guitar, his new LP will have full accompaniment. Logan is also planning a summer 2012 tour to support the full-length album.
The quiet, introverted Logan brings a sense of earnestness into his singing. Onstage he cracks jokes with the crowd, in part coming from an anxious energy. It gives his voice a tremolo, giving an intimacy to his lyrics. His songs delve into personal experience, giving the listener a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality filled with angst. “I like to take nonfiction and blend it with fictional elements,” he says.
He says Manic was written following the breakup of a long-time girlfriend. His newest effort promises to be more encompassing, incorporating the frustration and hope with politics and American culture. “Once I got into college, as stereotypical as it may be, I grew up some,” he says. “A sense of cynicism crept in.”
That cynicism, though, is tempered by Logan’s storytelling way of singing. He tells the tale of a young man from a small town who ventures out into the world. He tells it well because he’s living it.
See Logan Venderlic live:
January TBA, Black Bear, Morgantown
February 10, Midtown Scholar, Harrisburg, PA
February 11, Lancaster Dispensing Co., Lancaster, PA
February 16, North Star Bar, Philadelphia, PA
February 18, Satellite Bar & Lounge, Wilmington, NC
February 19, The Purple Fiddle (w/ The Spring Standards), Thomas, WV
February 25, The White Hart, Lynchburg, VA
March 15, WDVX Blue Plate Special, Knoxville, TN
March 16, Curb Café at Belmont University, Nashville, TN
April 14, The Smiling Moose (w/ HOWLER), Pittsburgh, PA