Interview & Words by Stephanie Smith
Colin Rigsby and Josh Dun’s matching tattoos were two years in the making. Rigsby first met the Twenty One Pilots drummer at a Columbus, Ohio Guitar Center where Dun worked. In 2010, Dun, a fan of the fellow drummer’s band, House of Heroes, filled in for Rigsby for several months while he focused on time with family.
The two drummers, however, have more in common than their go-to instrument (and now, a drum tattoo on their sleeves).
House of Heroes and Twenty One Pilots are prime examples of Christian-associated acts, treading the expectations–and boxes–of a faith-infused music scene they never asked to be a part of.
Vesperteen is Colin Rigsby’s assault on boxes. House of Heroes, the band he’s known for and still drums for, secured a spot in the Christian rock subculture thanks to the release of their sophomore self-titled album on Gotee Records in 2005. Think Dove Award noms and a tour with Relient K.
According to Rigsby, the band felt held back after being lumped into the scene so early. From there, he said, the Christian music scene was impossible to break out of out.
“We never felt like we fit in there at all,” he said. “Our friends worked at a Christian record label. We were like, ‘Yeah, sure, you’ll pay for us to make a record? We’ll do that.’”
The bandmate and now, solo artist, doesn’t want to segregate music. He doesn’t want to label his Vesperteen material.
“People love to label things,” Rigsby said. “Especially Christians.”
He doesn’t know what genre to define his budding project. One would be hard-pressed to after listening to his debut eponymous EP, and Rigsby recognizes that his first independent release makes his search for Vesperteen’s sound transparent.
However, there are a couple motifs already evident in the experimental effort: sad songs and auto-tune. The latter is incorporated purposefully, of course, à la fellow electro-experimental artists such as Bon Iver or LIGHTS. Rigsby has also mentioned he’d like to collaborate with Justin Vernon.
“It’s like touching up a photo,” he said. “Obviously it’s manipulated, but the stylizing makes it look unique.”
In early March, Rigsby announced he was now in the beginning stages of writing a full-length album. “I’m terrified but mostly excited,” reads the caption beneath a shot of Rigsby’s hand, featuring chipped white nail polish, at a keyboard.
Besides a friend who books shows and touring instrumentalists, Vesperteen is completely independent. No label expectations, in every sense of the words.
What Rigsby does have is a following and it’s growing steadily. With anticipation comes pressure. He writes every part of every song, making minute decision after minute decision, revisiting memory after memory.
“Writing is weird because you have to go to these places emotionally,” Rigsby said. “It’s weird to go and deliberately try to make yourself feel things or enter into a headspace.”
He compares it to bungee jumping. It’s a necessary evil for the standard he holds his craft to. By embracing his fears in his music, Rigsby hopes those who listen to it will, too.
“I want the music to encourage people to be more honest with themselves and with others, and be more vulnerable, and be less afraid to do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing–less afraid to mess up, less afraid to just exist,” he said. “I just want people to feel accepted for who they are.”
As Rigsby knows, freedom is essential to growth.
“Accept who you are right now, but also accept that you’re going to change. Acknowledge that you can change, for the better.”
Catch Vesperteen on tour:
Mar 31 Cicero’s – St. Louis, MO
Apr 07 SquareCat Vinyl – Indianapolis, IN
Apr 08 Slayter Hill Amphitheater – West Lafayette, IN
Apr 27 Township – Chicago, IL
Apr 28 The Loving Touch – Ferndale, MI
Apr 29 Musica – Akron, OH
Apr 30 Iron Works – Buffalo, NY
May 06 Shakespeare’s – Kalamazoo, MI
May 11 Kulturcafe Lichtung – Koln, Germany
May 12 B45 – London, United Kingdom
May 13 B45 – London, United Kingdom
May 27 Madison Live – Covington, KY
Jun 26 Jack Rabbits – Jacksonville, FL
Jul 03 The Voltage Lounge – Philadelphia, PA
Jul 05 Knitting Factory – Brooklyn, NY
Jul 07 The Red Room – Boston, MA
Jul 27 Jack’s Bar – San Antonio, TX
Aug 05 Skullys Music Diner – Columbus, OH
Aug 14 The Vera Project – Seattle, WA
Aug 17 Brick and Mortar Music Hall – San Francisco, CA