An Interview With the Alternative Country Group, VOTH!
If you didn’t know, Oklahoma–and specifically the city of Tulsa–is having a musical explosion of late. Artists are fleeing the rising high cost of living music hubs like Austin and Nashville and heading into the thriving Tulsa neighborhoods. Not the case for the alternative country four-piece group of siblings,VOTH; they were raised there…it’s where their roots are planted and where they polished their soaring harmonies for the first wave of singles released in 2018.
VOTH—Caleb Voth (guitar/vocals), Hannah Voth (vocals),Cody Voth (vocals), Jacob Voth (drums)–just released their latest single, “Sweetest Regret,” which showcases the group’s finely-etched harmonies and detailed songwriting. The song comes on the heels of three additional singles they put out this year; “I Choose Us,” their most popular single with over 71,000 Spotify streams since it’s August release, “American Rebels” and “Boot Stomp.”
The quartet of siblings developed the group in an organic turn of events. “I have been writing songs for about six years now,” says VOTH’s primary writer, Caleb. “It sounds so typical, but it all started in my college dorm room. I decided to share some of the songs with the family. It was pretty soon after that that we all thought, ‘this stuff would sound pretty good on a recording.’ With our parents being pastors, we grew up singing songs in the church as early as we can remember. Singing together has always just been second nature for us.” In the songs, you can hear inspiration being utilized from their love of Little Big Town, and most recently, Midland’s nostalgic honkytonk sound.
With the stylistic diversity in the country music genre today, VOTH aimed to stretch out their musical pallet with their first four singles. “I knew that we could have some artistic freedom to play around under that large umbrella to create a sound for ourselves,” says Caleb. On “American Rebels,” which has over 53,000 Spotify streams, the group highlights an adept ability to write anthemic, stadium-sized tunes. “It’s funny how ‘American Rebels’ came about, notes Caleb. “I was at the Rodeo Houston with my brother and some friends. The moment we walked into the stadium, the lights came on and I had an epiphany that we would be playing there someday. I sat down in the stands among all the noise and chaos, pulled out my phone, turned on the recorder and wrote the chorus for ‘American Rebels’ – purposely for a stadium feel.” A couple hours later, Caleb got back to his buddy’s trailer (who was in the rodeo that night), picked up a guitar and finished the song.
The slow-tempoed numbers, like “Sweetest Regret” and “I Choose Us,” seem to flow out of Caleb’s muse more easily than the barn-burner uptempo songs. With ballads, “the human heart is so tied up in emotion, so it feels natural to write songs about life, love and heartache,” advises Caleb. “Sometimes I have to put a little more effort into the fast ones.”
Family is everything for the Voths and when it comes to overcoming life’s hurdles, it’s something they know a bit too well. Jacob used to have a heroin addiction and was told he would never be able to play drums again due to an overdose years ago. “He flatlined and was told that he would never be the same,” underscores Caleb. “Now he is sober, married and is an ultra-marathon runner. He just completed a 50-mile race. Playing music for him is a daily reminder of where he was and where he is now. If he can do it, anyone can.”
VOTH is excited to keep writing, recording and releasing music. It’s brought these Okie-proud kin closer together than they’ve ever been as they explore new elements of life through melody and harmony. The group is currently in the studio recording in their Tulsa hometown when not out on the road performing and say their growing fan base can expect more music to come in 2019.
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Learn more about VOTH in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
– Well we actually are rehearsing for a TV segment we have that will air on “Good Day Tulsa” the day after Thanksgiving. This will be our first TV debut so we are really excited and if you tune in, we have a big announcement about an upcoming show after the segment.
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
– This year has been full of all “ups” for us. We released four consecutive singles in June, July, August and September. Each doing a little bit better with one of ours, “I Choose Us,” topping over 80,000 streams on Spotify. This is huge for us being an independent band. Our goal was just to get our music out and let it marinate then plan to release a full EP in 2019. We reached our 2018 goals and are right on track to release our self-titled EP in 2019.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
– I remember the moment exactly. I came home from college in 2015 and had a handful of songs that I thought were pretty good, which all of them we ended up recording. But after I played them for my siblings, we started seeking out how to actually do this thing. The music industry is so vast and there’s many aspects that a lot of young artists don’t consider. Things like studio costs, engineering costs, mastering costs, distribution, publicity, etc. We learned as much as we could before we made a decision to step into the studio. Our first time in the studio was a round of work tapes we did at Oceanway in Nashville. Once we saw the process, we felt confident to take it to Tulsa and create a sound that was unique to us. The name came natural – it is our last name.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
– It has honestly influenced everything. We are from Tulsa and want to do everything we can to pour back into this growing industry. Everyone is fleeing to Nashville and L.A., thinking that is the key to success. And for some, it is. But we knew that we wanted to root down in Tulsa and work on creating an industry right here so that we wouldn’t have to pay tons of money running back and forth to record and produce. Everything we do is now with Tulsa in mind and it is exciting to be a part of.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
– We all love different music. Everything from blues, rock, country, folk and even gospel. It may sound odd, but when putting a song together – we try to look at the harmonies like gospel, the hooks like country, the vibe like rock, the songwriting like folk and the instrumentation like blues.
Let’s talk about your latest single “Sweetest Regret.” What was the inspiration for this song? How would you say it compares to your previous tracks, “I Choose Us,” “American Rebels” and “Boot Stomp”?
– Sweetest Regret was written out of a relationship I had that didn’t end up going anywhere. There was definitely heart break involved, but I had such sweet memories from the experience that I wanted to write a song about the relationships that don’t end in slamming doors and throwing fists. It was our second most popular song to “I Choose Us.” We discovered that people like upbeat songs when they are with their friends, but most of the time – you’re alone. And when you’re alone, you want the feels. “Sweetest Regret” and “I Choose Us” let people feel and that has shaped the direction of our EP releasing in 2019.
Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
– I write all of the songs mostly by myself and bring them to the group about 90% complete. Then everyone pitches in and helps to finish it. Most of the time I write by myself with no guitar or music. I don’t like to jump ahead and create melodies too soon. I like to get the lyrics down, create the story, then see what the sound should be. Rarely is it ever the opposite.
When do you hope to release more new music and a full album of new songs?
– We will release our first full EP in 2019. We are super proud of these first four songs, but we are more excited about these next round of songs.
What would you say is the best and most challenging part about being in a group with your siblings?
– Honestly, it’s not challenging at all. If anything, it’s easier. We have grown up doing music together so we have got to a point where we know how each other functions and how to accommodate to each other’s needs. It’s a really beautiful thing.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
– Easily when we are all on stage playing together. There is nothing like looking out into the audience and seeing hundreds of people singing the songs that you have labored on for so long. It truly is the cherry on top.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
– I enjoy hearing for people who listen and relate to our music. We aren’t at a point yet to where it’s overwhelming and honestly, I hope it never gets that way. We make music so that people can put themselves into your songs – so it’s truly oxygen to our lungs when people reach out to us and say that they have connected with a song or lyric. Our favorite platform is probably Instagram. They have made it so easy for people to share music directly to their followers. You can share Spotify songs, playlists or profiles right to your story with just a click of a button. Sharing music has never been so easy and it’s so much fun to be right in the middle.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
– Music has always been a way for people to escape what’s going on around them and what’s happening in the world. Not only is it a way of escape – but it’s a way to bring people together from all different beliefs and backgrounds. Good music is good music. When you put out good art regardless of what you believe, people will connect with it. So how do we fight the craziness in this world? Defy culture with good art.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
– This is so hard because the artists I pull from the most are not even in our genre. Haha. I would love to work with Kings of Leon, mainly because I love their music – but also because of their Oklahoma ties. John Mayer has changed the way I see songs and lyrics, so I would relish the opportunity to even be in the same room as him. But Day 1 artists have been some of the rock solid oldies like John Denver, Johnny Cash, and groups like Pure Prairie League. Our parents raised us on some pretty legendary music so our appreciation is mainly credited to them.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
– The message we want to convey: HOPE. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Music is always a way for people to relate and find out that they are not the only ones going through a situation or an experience. We hope that people will hear our music and think, “Well if they got through it – I can too.” There’s always a way out and a way up. We hope to provide an avenue for people to escape for a bit and find that relief they are looking for.