In Anniston, Alabama as a genre bender is “Think Sanity”. This alternative rock band is formed by five members–Andie Johnson, Trent Johnson, Jack Vermuth, Christopher Collins and Will Halverson. The blend of precise drums with heartfelt vocals along with a few twirls on eclectic guitar makes them unique enough. The band was established by the couple, Trent and Andie in 2017 before going on a break but returned two years later armed with new enthusiasm. There were two turning points in their musical development when drummer Christopher Collins and guitarist Will Halverson joined the group.
The release of their 2018, “Think Safely,”reflects the band’s ability to create a unique sound. Lead guitarist Jack Vermuth sheds light on the band’s work, influences and how they create as a team. Life struggles are the source of Think Sanity’s inspiration and even if they tend to be emotionally laden, there is always a positive perception when listening to their effort.
And as they thrive in the ever-changing music world, Think Sanity binds together its spirit of cooperation rather than competition to instill unity among musicians around them. Do not miss this opportunity to participate in a close interview with these talented artists who think that working together is essential for making the musical world colorful and diverse.
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What is your stage name
Jack here! Usually it’s just Jack and then there’s Andie, Trent, Chris and Will. I think Will is probably the only one who kind of has a stage name, whom we occasionally refer to as “Heavy Edge” because he plays a seven string guitar.
Is there a story behind your stage name?
Trent: We’ve never really had personal stage names, but as for the band name a good friend of ours jokingly suggested “artificial think sanity” which happened to be a lyric in a song that we wrote a few years before. We ended up dropping the artificial and just stuck with ThinkSanity, and the moniker has kind of fit us ever since.
Jack: for as long as I can remember, I’ve been called many different nicknames “Jack be nimble, Jackwagon, Jack-“ well, you get it, so usually it’s just Jack. It’s kind of a way of taking back my name.
Where do you find inspiration?
The band tends to find inspiration in daily life and the trials of maintaining a positive mental state through whatever life throws at us
Andie: I listen to music all the time and I am constantly on the hunt for new and interesting sounds. My songs spring from my emotions. I feel music very deeply and it helps keep me grounded, or alternatively discover new worlds.
Chris: I find inspiration from my peers and predecessors. Those around me that supported me from the beginning and that work every day beside me. I try and take each day as an opportunity to prove myself worthy of such a great environment.
Will: I find inspiration from those bands and musicians out there that make me feel like I need to practice. Polyphia, animals as leaders, and their dogs were astronauts are the bands I can think of that are really pushing what the guitar can do.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
For me, Jack, music served as a release and escape from moving around while I was growing up. Friends came and went, but music stayed. When I got to be old enough to play, I never looked back.
Trent: I lucked out and got to go to a lot of small concerts with my dad when I was little and it really gave me an appreciation for music and performing in just the atmosphere that all that can bring. To the point you know where I did the classic thing of poisoning my family’s computer with limewire to download every random song I could think of wanting to emulate the songs I was listening to
Chris: My family definitely played a role in my musical journey. My grandparents were the fronts for a regional rock and roll group and later in their life formed a touring southern gospel with my parents. My Father was a drummer/bassist and my Mother a singer.
Will: I hated school and band class was the one hour of escape I got from it. My middle school band director Luke Manning was very good about showing us new music that was different from what I was used to so I developed an appreciation for music from then on.
Andie: I have been singing on stage since the age of two and i started playing piano around 6 or 7
I grew up on mostly Christian music, but I had found a sense of spirituality in and of the music itself for as long as I can remember. I have always been very sensitive to the way music moves me
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
Trent: personally no, I think the closest thing I have is an uncle who does gospel music. But growing up music was never really a big thing in my family other than listening to it. So trying to learn it on my own was quite challenging at times.
Will: definitely not. Most of my family are people people or numbers people. I’m the only one who ever really developed a love for music.
Andie: My mother sings and plays guitar and my dad drums. My dad was even in a touring Christian rock band in his early twenties.
Jack: more like musical adjacent. They’ve played at differing levels. My great grandmother had a doctorate of music from what I remember.
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
I think the desire to write and release our music is the main factor. But all of us truly love being musicians.
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
Trent: well, I’ve always liked writing so I’ve always scribbled down lyrical ideas ever since I was a teenager. As for playing, I lied and said that I could play bass to impress a girl (my now wife and the band’s singer) and lucked out and had good enough friends that actually helped me learn how to play.
Chris: Many different ways, by rote in my childhood and then classical training from high school and college.
Will: When it comes to guitar, I taught myself and watched a lot of YouTube (shout out Marty Schwartz) to learn how to play songs. From there it was a matter of applying what I learned in my studies of music theory and various techniques, also mostly from YouTube.
Andie: I learned to play classical piano at first then around 11 or 12 I had a youth minister begin teaching me chord structures and how to string melodies together with chord forms to create more full sounding intricate pieces. I’ve basically been learning/playing by ear since then. I’ve never had any sort of formal vocal training.
Jack: for the longest, I used other songs as guides for how to play the guitar or bass itself, but once I knew I wanted to take it seriously, I took lessons on guitar and bass in college. I’ve written lyrics throughout my life, and I’ve been honing that craft for a long time as well.
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
Trent: I believe it was a concert called Winter jam It was a lot of bands there but the main one I remembered seeing they really left an impact on me was Audio Adrenaline
Chris: the first concert i attended was of the Crabb Family revival, but the first Big/real concert I went to was Hell Yeah opening for Godsmack
Andie: If I remember correctly, I think it was Rebecca St. James
How could you describe your music?
Emotionally driven lyrics with some booming bass, funky guitar, powerful drums, and some snazzy rhythms holding it together
Describe your creative process.
A Lot of the time we each write songs and all get together on coming up with riffs and ideas that will help them develop into full tracks.
What is your main inspiration?
Honestly? The main inspiration that keeps us going is the thought that somewhere someone benefitted from the lessons and stories we’ve shared. Even if it only helped just a little bit.
What musician do you admire most and why?
Trent: The Classic Crime, Beartooth, Anberlin, Taking Back Sunday, recently I’ve also found a lot of inspiration listening to Hot Mulligan as well
Chris: Its a tie between Jacob Collier’s amazing mind and Benny Greb’s bottomless pocket.
Andie: I have a lot of appreciation for different artists, but the more recent ones I can definitively point to are Icon For Hire, Citizen Soldier, Melanie Martinez, Lo Spirit, and Imogen Heap just to name a few. Specifically for the way they string together their lyrical content but also for the interesting melodic concepts
Has your style evolved since the beginning of your career?
100%, Think Sanity is a constantly evolving storm of sound. We make a point to challenge ourselves with each outing and song.
Who do you see as your main competitor?
As a group, we try to maintain minimal competition with our peers. We believe that the “grind” should really be focused on lifting each other up and having a great time. When one group succeeds, we all succeed.
What are your interests outside of music?
Trent: comics are a big part of my life, Godzilla obviously, but outside of music I enjoy writing and occasionally drawing.
Chris: I like trading card games and MMORPG’s and other adventure focused games.
Will: I really enjoy watching basketball, playing Rocket League (often with Jack) and trying to stay active and in the gym.
Andie: I’m a casual gamer but I actually really just love being with friends, generally conversing and hanging out
If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
Trent: I would like to say something cool, like writing books or owning a comic shop but I would probably just be working my job and hanging out with my friends (Andie: same)
Chris: I would either be a pharmaceutical chemist or an electrician.
Will: I don’t really have any other profitable skills. If I had done what I wanted to do before music, I’d be an archeologist
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Andie and Trent: Learning how to communicate with each other well, as well as, learning to set aside ego and personal issues and approach things from a fresh point of view.
Chris: Coming from humble beginnings having the financial ability to support personal enrichment, gear, and travel to capitalize on opportunities.
Will: self doubt, working as part of a team, and learning to admit when I’m wrong.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
Personally, I think if there was a way to eliminate some of the gatekeeping music has
If it were possible for the industry to focus on the art and not the ROI I feel as though we would have a better musical landscape but it is called an industry for a reason.
Will: I’ve seen it in certain scenes, but I’d get rid of all the cliqueness and unnecessary competition. When it comes to local scenes, a win for one should be a win for the homies as well.
Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
Well Sad kaiju, is named partially for Trents love of Godzilla and partly in reference to his struggles with major depressive disorder.
Trent: At the time of writing it, I had just gone through a pretty nasty breakup with the band that I had played with for a few years. I was kind of being destructive with my own friendships so I named it after the rampaging monster I saw myself as in an attempt to force myself to move forward and try to do better.
What are your plans for the coming months?
We hope to be playing out to promote Sad Kaiju’s release as well as some more possible releases in the near future.
Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
We have a few things in the works that hopefully you’ll see in the near future!
What message would you like to give to your fans?
Breathe, turn on some music, and do the next thing.
Will: I’m very glad that you exist. As a fan and just as a person. You are seen. You are heard. You are felt. You are important.