Tossed for a whirlwind after the massive success of their remarkable cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” on Youtube in December of 2014, Michigan-bred metalcore band, I Prevail, are a group of passionately dedicated rockers that truly play from their heart and have kept in mind the bigger picture right from the start. In celebration of I Prevail’s debut studio album, ‘Lifelines’, the guys were recently on the road with Sleepwave, Hotel Books, and Bad Seed Rising. I caught up with vocalist, Eric Vanlerberghe, to discuss growing up in Michigan, life experiences, touring the world, tattoos, and more.
You guys were recently on your ‘Rebels Without A Clause’ 2016 tour with Sleepwave, Hotel Books and Bad Seed Rising. Tell us what your experience was like.
We had such incredible turnouts throughout the tour. We had a few sold out shows and the bands that we have been touring with have been incredible thus far. I mean, we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout. It was so cold outside and kids were literally standing out in line, it was so crazy.
Yeah, and it’s great that you acknowledge that. Did you know the other bands prior to the tour?
We toured with Bad Seed Rising over the summer. The vocalist of Hotel Books is a really good friend of mine and we had to have them out with us. I’ve listened to Sleepwave before and a couple of the guys have heard of them, but we also know the vocalist of the band, Spencer, who is also the vocalist of Underoath. Sleepwave has a really cool rock sound and we really liked their album so we thought we should bring them out as well.
Congrats on the recent release of your debut studio album,’Lifelines’. A lot of the lyrics throughout the album are charged with emotion. What life experiences led you that style of songwriting?
First, thank you very much. When we look back at the EP before this album, we didn’t have a time frame and we kind of came and went as we pleased, and it took eight months to one year to write seven songs. And with this album, we didn’t have as much time as we wanted and we were in the middle of touring. The biggest thing that we went through collectively as a band was the change of lifestyle. We were working our 9-5 jobs and working 40-60 hours per week which suddenly changed to touring and being on the road. The first year that we toured, we were on the road for 130 shows so we were basically gone for a third of the year which doesn’t include traveling to vocal lessons, or to meet our label or this or that. We went from never traveling to traveling around the country and Canada for half of the year. The struggle of missing out on family time, events, weddings, funerals, losing close ties, losing friendships, losing girlfriends; as cliche as it sounds, that whole life experience was so life-changing.
Wow. And it sounds like it was so abrupt…
It was. After we released our music back in December of 2014, we were touring heavily within three months. So, the whole concept of ‘Lifelines’ and the lyrics are pertaining to all of these life changes and how our lives went in different directions abruptly. There was a lot of emotions and a lot of things that we were just learning; it seemed like the perfect topic to write about.
How old were you when you first picked up the mic and what led you to doing so?
There is a photo of me picking up the mic when I was four years old. Other than that, I started playing in bands when I was seventeen years old. I used to write short stories and poems here and there when I was younger through high school and college while I was dealing with depression pretty bad. That was my therapy; to write about anything. I found that music was an outlet when I had my low moments. There are certain albums or certain songs that I would connect to that would change my perception on things, and I wanted to do the same. So, I was playing in bands that had two or three kids coming out to our shows. I knew that was what I wanted to do and I busted ass playing in bands until I found the right one where everyone in the band had the same mentality that I had.
How has growing up in Southfield/Detroit, MI influenced your artistry as a musician?
Well, we all grew up around Metro Detroit. I am from Mt. Clemens and the other guys are from Rochester, Royal Oak. Even so, that whole Metro Detroit area is very middle-class, lower middle-class, and when I was seventeen, the economy was not very good and the housing market was terrible in Detroit and in Michigan.
Can’t forget everything about Kwame as well….
Yes. He is locked up and I hope that he stays locked up. He robbed the city blind. But, there was all of this corruption and depression throughout the state and there needed to be an uprise of positivity and a positive movement. And it seemed like every band that I was playing with was all about playing negative stuff. I’m a strong believer that a positive mental attitude in your life will make both your life and the lives of those around you better. There is a place for negativity and being upset, and that’s perfectly fine, but it seemed like the local music was all just negative. And there needed to be a positive voice and message out there, and I think that is what shaped I Prevail and the positive message backing our music.
That’s inspiring. On a positive note for Detroit, I’m sure that you’re aware of the new Little Caesars arena being built for The Red Wings and The Detroit Pistons? It seems like Detroit is on the uprise and cultivating an entirely new culture away from the negative stigma…how bias of me.
Absolutely. I have mixed feelings being a Red Wings fan because I am kind of sad to see the Joe go. Actually, I am really sad to see the Joe go. The name that they have for the new arena, I get it, but I would like to see it changed to the Gordie Howe Arena or something. Aside from that, it’s awesome to see that they’re putting money into the city and things that will bring art and industry and business into the city that used to thrive on it. We are about to have four major sports team within walking distance down there. I think that it will do wonders for the city. It’s going to be lively, and that’s what the city needs the most; the heartbeat. We need the heartbeat back.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the artists that brought them to life.
I have this geometric owl on my forearm that I just got done a couple months ago in Clarksville, Tennessee. I love the piece. It’s the second biggest piece that I have and I love it. Black and grey.
Is the owl representative of wisdom?
Yes! It’s wisdom but I have seen in a lot of theology that owls are either positive or a bad omen for death and negativity. I like that unique yin/yang idea, like I mentioned earlier, there is a place for negativity and being mad and upset, but you cannot live your life like that.
What do fans of I Prevail have to look forward to in 2017?
I want the see the world. We will be in Australia in March. Nothing set in stone, but we can’t wait to finally get to Europe soon and South America one day. 2017 is the year that I Prevail finally leaves America and gets overseas to meet some of these fans that we have been dying to meet since the beginning.
Sounds like it will be a movie brought to life. It seems as though you already have the passion built up for this experience; I’m sure it’ll be an incredible experience.
I’m hoping for the best. We have been blessed and lucky enough to have sold out shows and play in front of thousands of kids and I couldn’t ask for it to be a better way.
Last but certainly not least, do you have any closing messages for your fans?
From day one, whether day one was two years ago when we started or day one was yesterday or day one was today when you just found out about us from this interview, thank you for listening to anything that we have ever said, written or posted from the bottom of our hearts. We wouldn’t be anywhere without our fans; they are the lifeline of this band.