In the first two years of their existence, Vinyl Theatre went from being influenced by Twenty One Pilots to being their labelmates and opening for them. That’s a pretty steep career ascent by any yardstick, but not surprising given the band’s determination from the very start.
Vocalist/guitarist Keegan Calmes and keyboardist Chris Senner met at a track meet when both were Milwaukee high school students and bonded over a mutual love of music by the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins and Young the Giant. For college, Senner remained in Wisconsin when Calmes relocated to Colorado, but the duo’s collaboration survived as they continued to write and record via Skype and email. Senner sent some tracks to old high school friend Nick Cesarz asking if he’d be interested in recording some drum ideas for them, and Calmes dropped out of school to return to Wisconsin and pursue music full time. The trio became a quartet with the addition of another of Senner’s school chums, bassist Josh Pothier. Originally dubbed Alchemy, the band realized the name was common and shifted to Vinyl Theatre, which was intended to suggest the passion of music collecting and the dramatics of live performance.
Early on, Vinyl Theatre released a series of songs on its Soundcloud page, the first being “Breaking Up My Bones,” which went viral. The label Fueled By Ramen took note of the buzz and flew reps to Milwaukee to watch the band perform in its practice space, which also happened to be Cesarz’s basement. Within weeks they announced their signing to the label, the release of their 2014 debut full-length, Electrogram, and an opening gig for Twenty One Pilots.
Vinyl Theatre toured relentlessly for the next two years, which wound up taking a toll on Pothier; he eventually left the band due to nagging health problems. The remaining trio began work on a sophomore album while continuing to play support gigs and headlining shows, including a hometown performance early last year where the new album was played in its entirety. Origami was released last spring but marked the end of the band’s relationship with Fueled By Ramen. The band has since released two new singles, “Me, Myself, and I” and, just last month, “Feel It All.”