The Vaughns take us track-by-track through their sophomore album ‘Egg Everything,’ an impassioned, inventive, and achingly emotive record that asserts their place as one of the most original pop bands of their time.
for fans of Alvvays, Glass Animals, Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy
Stream: “Turn Around” – The Vaughns
Us little humans really put up a fight – just take a look at the dinosaurs, they didn’t stand a chance and they were triple our size…
The Vaughns candidly refer to their sophomore album as a sampler, but don’t let that description fool you.
Whereas most samplers offer a taste-test or a light tease, Egg Everything is the full meal: A dynamic showcase of all that there is to love about this Tri-State area band, delivered in twelve distinct yet cohesive courses that leave listeners satisfied beyond belief. Dreamy indie pop and driving indie rock come coalesce on Egg Everything, an impassioned and achingly emotive record that asserts The Vaughns’ place as one of the most inventive and original pop bands of their time.
Let’s take some time off
Enjoy this life for all it is
Been chasing diamonds
Now that you have got ‘em you don’t want them
Ain’t it funny how we live?
You don’t have to dim your light if you shine…
Let loose you and all your friends making moves
No one left to tell you what to do
Go on book a hotel with a view (what a view)
Got a hundred million people all looking at you act cool
– “Bop Star,” The Vaughns
Released September 29, 2023 via Equal Vision Records, Egg Everything is at once stunning and soul-stirring. The follow-up to 2019’s debut F.O.M.O. intentionally highlights the highs and lows, ebbs and flows that the band – both as individuals, and as a collective – have gone through over these past four very long, very turbulent years.
“Egg Everything is our take on a sampler – an ode to the classic label samplers that would be handed out at music festivals like Warped Tour, Bamboozle, etc.,” The Vaughns tell Atwood Magazine. “The album is a collection of songs all created in different ways, with different combinations of contributors, different music genres, lyrical meanings, instruments and tools, except they are all Vaughns songs. This is our “throw something (egg?) at the wall and see what sticks”-record. It was the hardest thing that we’ve ever done, but we are all so incredibly proud even after the thousandth listen.”
“Our vision didn’t really change necessarily but adapted and evolved with all of the curveballs that came our way. We weren’t able to finish the record with our scheduled studio time at Headroom, so we had to self-record much of the vocals and keyboards and worked with our friends at Diner Studios to record piano and strings and at Dimm Studios to record the entirety of ‘Day by Day.’ We were re-writing and re-recording up until the last song was submitted for mixing.”
Currently comprised of Anna Lies and Ryan Kenter together with guitarist Jordan Smith and bassist (and band photographer) Brian Hughes, The Vaughns have been delivering a charismatic mix of indie pop and indie rock charm for the better part of the past decade. Based in New Jersey and New York City, their songs never fail to enchant hearts and minds alike – as we wrote in a track premiere for their song, “Coffee Sundae.” five years ago, “Vocalist Anna Lies has a powerfully light voice that melts over our ears in sweet, harrowing emotions.”
“You have to pay attention, listen closer than usual, and really force yourself into the moment to fully appreciate what The Vaughns are doing, and when you get there, the reward is truly worth it.”
Egg Everything brings more of that magic spark to the fore as The Vaughns explore everything from a looming sense of doom and humanity’s extinction (“Survive”), to allowing yourself the space to celebrate achievements and success (“Bop Star”), to pandemic-induced loss, longing, and isolation (“Mancala”), to supporting a loved one through their chemotherapy and radiation treatments (“Day by Day”). The four songs described here – some of the best on this new record – also highlight the band members’ strengths as evocative lyricists, arrangers, and melody-makers: Not only is the music on this album incredibly catchy, but it’s cathartic as well, driven by an unabating sense of raw humanity and unfiltered honesty.
For the band, who have been together in varying forms for nearly ten years now, Egg Everything is the definitive “The Vaughns” record – a comprehensive expression of their many sides.
“This record puts everything that we’ve done and things that we haven’t done together on a plate for the first time,” they share. “Songs like “Excuses” and “60s” sound like the rock songs from our early history. “Day by Day” and “Mancala” are both iterations of love songs like “Raina” from our 2021 EP rom-coms + take-out. “Dimes,” “Turn Around,” and “Gizzards” are tracks that take influence from pop, indie rock, or psych rock. “Survive” is a concept song that is lyrically-focused about today’s world issues. “Closer,” “Bop Star,” and “Dumb Sound” are the furthest experimentation that we’ve done thus far in terms of production, programming, utilizing obscure sounds, and pushing our boundaries outside anything we’ve tried thus far.”
“We tried everything on this record, learned how to use multiple audio softwares, explored new songs, and drove ourselves to insanity, but couldn’t be more grateful of the result.”
Well what the hell are you yelling for?
Us little humans really put up a fight
Come on just take a look at the dinosaurs
They didn’t stand a chance and they were triple our size
So when they’re flying out this evening
Some billie rocket’s gonna light up the sky
I know I’m watching from the cheap seats
Hailing St. Mary praying we don’t die
On this cold night
If God can’t hear me
If Superman’s not so tough Bottoms up
Let’s pray the aliens come save us
– “Survive,” The Vaughns
The album’s title, “Egg Everything,” evokes a sense of splat! – and deliciousness.
“We considered naming the record Sampler or something like that, but felt that it wasn’t catchy enough,” the band explains. “However, the word “everything” accomplishes the same thing; we were trying to do everything on this record. “Egg” was added for a bunch of different reasons:
- Egg Everything is a fantastic NJ bagel
- Egg Everything could be an action, like throwing eggs at everything as a form of protest
- So many things come from eggs — there are so many forms. I’m sure there could be a bunch of other meanings that we didn’t even think of.”
From the instantly ear-catching melodies and intoxicating grooves of opening tracks “Dimes” and “Turn Around,” to the intimate vulnerability of “Mancala” and “Day by Day,” Egg Everything is a rollercoaster of seductive sound and compelling emotion.
“Day by Day,” which premiered on Atwood Magazine earlier this past August, is an especially powerful standout: A gut-wrenching, soul-stirring reckoning with cancer, the song is beautifully raw and brutally honest – a no-holds-barred reflection on what it feels like to be bear witness to this awful disease as it takes from us the one we love:
How many times
Can they promise the end
While we sit by and wish for the best
It’s way too easy to get stuck on the odds
So what a time to trust in a god
I’m a talker, I make jokes
Sometimes they work right now they don’t
I don’t doubt that we’ll make it through
‘Cause I’d do anything for you; I’d do anything for you
I’ll rub your back and get all the knots
I’ll make you dinner and I’ll scrub the pots
I’ll clean the litter and I’ll fold all the socks
It’s true I’d do anything for you
I’d do anything for you
– “Day by Day,” The Vaughns
“Are two sad songs too many for a record, or just enough? My wife’s mom was sick with cancer for two years and she passed away just three weeks before our wedding,” Ryan Kenter tells Atwood Magazine. “There was not a day that Britt could be happy while feeling helpless to make her mom better. I spent each one of those days looking for any little thing that I could do to bring Britt just a single fleeting moment of happiness. The sad truth is that there is nothing that anyone can do besides being there.”
“This one is special,” vocalist Anna Lies adds. “Teared up a few times when tracking it. We really caught some magic on it. It felt a lot like when we made [our song] “Raina.” It was a really intimate song to help with lyrics on. As a friend, I just wanted to help Ryan tell this story as best as we could. Down to the wire we really weren’t sure how it was going to come together. When we brought Jordan and Brian into it, pieces fell into place. It’s a tough one to listen to on repeat, but we definitely captured the meaning and feeling. Great songwriting. Great honesty.”
“Day by Day” is just one of several highlights on an album that holds our attention from start to finish. While the band declined to highlight any favorite songs – “every single song on this record is a highlight to us,” they confess – Ryan Kenter is quick to point out that “Survive” has “the best lyrics Anna has written for this project. I’m such a fan of this work.”
Leaning more into the pop side of the band’s sonic identity, “Survive” is yet another undeniable standout on this album – a dreamy and buoyant upheaval brought on by the turbulence we feel from the world’s intrusion into our lives, and the thoughts that wind up consuming our days and nights:
Wake up, news is on some bullshit today
Yeah tough luck, California’s on fire again
I read they’re flying out this evening
Some billionaire’s rocket is gonna light up the
sky I know I’m watching from the cheap seats
Just as I have now for most of my life
If God can’t hear me
If Superman’s not so tough Bottoms up
Let’s pray the aliens come save us
On this cold night Who decides
Which of us survive?
– “Survive,” The Vaughns
“I had just gone to a Bright Eyes show with Lucy Dacus opening,” Anna Lies recalls. “I had also just watched the I Am Greta documentary. I was super frustrated with climate change and also thinking a lot about how impactful lyrics can be. Bright Eyes and Lucy are both incredibly great lyrical artists. From the crowd’s perspective you could tell it was the lyrics that brought everyone there – so I was really just focused on the lyrics at first. When we showed Joe our acoustic demo, he thought it was a bit too coffee shop. Very fair. We pulled out some guitars and were passing ideas around and eventually I plopped out that bass line. Joe was hype on that so we leaned into it. First Vaughns song I’ve tracked bass for! Took half a day. There were many rewrites (a theme of this record) and one full version that Ryan rejected before I landed on the final direction.”
“Joe absolutely crushed the production and turned it into something really unique with pop sensibilities. The 10 seconds before the guitars kick in at the end, is my favorite part of the whole record. One day I got really obsessive over whether to say “die” at the end or not, and annoyingly debated it with the whole band for 30 minutes as Ryan was coming down with a flu!” she laughs.
The beauty of Egg Everything lies in how much passion, how much emotion, how much thought and painstaking care went into every moment of its thirty-six minute production.
“Egg Everything means so much to us, both artistically and personally. To our fans, friends, family, and everybody: Thank you for the support throughout the years,” The Vaughns share. “We have grown so much in the 2+ years creating this record, and so many things have changed. This is a time stamp of our artistic progress and of things that we were feeling. If nothing else, Egg Everything is a really cool snapshot of our lives from 2020-2023. Give the record a full listen — we hope that there is a song on there for everyone.”
Well I found your wood mancala
There it was dusty on your shelf
Gram we use to play together
Now I can’t remember how
Yeah I found Dad’s Mattel baseball
Oh God how it’s bringing me back
To chocolate milk bowls with straws
Your Cap’n Crunch on CD-ROM
But it’s not just the stuff you left behind
It’s the memories when we were five
Holidays and Sunday nights
2020 has not been right
Without you here…
– “Mancala,” The Vaughns
Again, in this writer’s opinion, the term “sampler” doesn’t do justice to the depth and quality of work at hand, but we’ll let you be the judge. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Vaughns’ Egg Everything with Atwood Magazine as Ryan Kenter and Anna Lies take us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their captivating sophomore album!
Stream: ‘Egg Everything’ – The Vaughns
:: Inside Egg Everything ::
Ryan: I have a tendency to overplay a part that I come up with and beat it into the ground. One of the hardest parts of this song was figuring out how often the marimba hook comes in. Thanks to Joe’s expert ear, we think we found the right amount. Since we’ve started playing together as The Vaughns, I’ve been trying to find the balance between writing drum parts that are interesting and also best fit the song. I think this was one of my best attempts to date. Anna wrote a really great defending melody that happens after the verses – we decided to support it by laying the part with the vibes sounds built into my drum pad. When we were just about to finish the album I learned that my friend was a vibes player and we were able to substitute the artificial sounds with real vibes. Thanks Joe!
Anna: “Dimes” was the first song we recorded for the album and the first of many songs on this record to kick my butt. It took me a long time to piece together the vocals. Lyrically I re-wrote everything from earlier versions, because it was important to me to say something about long-term relationships; something about pushing through after the honeymoon. Being in a band is hard on relationships. When I sing “Dimes” now, I think of Raina and Ryan’s wife Britt, and how patient they’ve been with both of us.
Side note, we really love the bass in this song. Brian and Joe locked in on the fine details, we love all the choices they made.
Ryan: Anna wrote a killer song. Insane hooks and a smooth but driving bass melody. I wanted to let the bass carry the song so I kept the drums in the pocket. One thing I was cognizant of was how to only use cymbal crashes when they are absolutely necessary.
Since the rom-coms EP last year, we’ve been experimenting with synths more (both real ones and MIDI synths in Logic). I had so much fun adding parts to this song. I’m especially proud of the supporting synth melody on the choruses and the Dr. Dre inspired riff that happens on the final chorus.
Anna: This was a fun one. “Turn Around” is all about fear; about how it can take over and dictate our lives. A friend told me a story about her grandmother, Loretta, and how they both don’t drive. It got me thinking about how we pass on certain fears within families. I was struggling with a mean fear of subways and I thought “oh gosh – I’m going to pass this on”. So although lighthearted, singing this song has been a bit healing for me to poke fun at my own fears. The synth lines are hot. When Ryan started sending me those I felt like we made a monster.
Ryan: I think we rewrote this song 10 times, or at least 8. Anna wouldn’t give up and I think we landed on the right balance between pop and indie, real drums and programmed ones. Ryan 8 years ago would never have imagined that he would be programming drums on a record, but screw that guy. This rocks.
Anna: It’s a bit corny, but so am I. I really explored my voice on this song and I love it for that. I attempted the vocals 10 times before I ended up re-doing them all after moving to a new apartment last June. Raina was showing our landlord our apartment and they walked in on me with wires all spread out in my office closet tracking vocals. Ryan was really helpful in helping me land on directions. The intro and outro riff was written on this Harmony guitar my brother found in the garbage. I felt it was important to have something like that to grind against the lushness of the synths and vocals. Ryan and I thought a lot about the drums and mixing real and programmed drums. There was a really fun demo session exploring that – Ryan got creative using a live kit to replicate what would typically be programmed sounds. You can hear a touch of that in the outro.
Ryan: This is the first song that I ever wrote for this band and also the first song that I wrote that is getting released. It’s a little scary to open up your feelings to the world, but it’s also really exciting.
2020 was a bad year – for most people I think. 2020 was the start of the pandemic and a sad and uncomfortable time for most people in many ways. This song is not a COVID song, it’s actually about losing someone close to you. Right before the world shut down my grandma died – someone who had been around my entire life and the closest and only family death that I had experienced at that point. Not only do you have to learn to cope with the death of a loved one, but then you have to deal with their stuff; their house, belongings, money etc. You sort through the stuff that was so important to them and decide whether someone will keep it or throw it away. What a difficult thing to do while grieving! I had a realization while going through my grandmother’s things that it’s not the stuff you leave behind but the people at your side that matter. Not just in life, but at death. It’s the people who care about you, who remember you and who share those memories. There is always light with darkness.
Anna: This was one of the first songs we focused on for the record. I remember being blown away when Ryan showed it to me. He just sang it acoustically in his kitchen. Still gives me chills when I listen to the bridge. We made 5 different versions and debated the tempo a lot. I’m really happy with how it all came out, and I think it will forever be a special song for our band. Watching Ryan’s reactions to Nicole (strings) and Pat (piano) track their parts was a beautiful moment.
Ryan: I remember when we were getting closer to recording we were discussing sounds that were part of our repertoire that weren’t being represented on the album. Anna came to my place with an acoustic guitar and played 3 song ideas that she was working on and this was one of them and I loved it. I don’t remember if it was that night but we got super stoned and jammed on this song and added super weird sounds like fake timpani and random percussion instruments and made the perfect demo. All we wanted to do in the studio was to recreate this demo but clean it up. I think we nailed it. It could be fun to release the original demo down the road, who knows!
Anna: “Sixties” is a blast to play live. I was out to dinner one day and was really vibing with the 60s rock that was playing at the restaurant. Groovy, happy music. But then I realized all the groups that were playing were white dudes. I thought it’d be fun to take that vibe and put my own, or a more modern spin on that. It started as a semi-joke that I would sing to myself. For a while I didn’t think it would be more than that, but the band really liked it. “This world’s made of fiction” has become a bit of a motto for me for sure. Something I catch myself singing in my head often.
Ryan: So I have a Facebook marketplace gear buying addiction. So what! I came home with a red SG and wrote the guitar parts for the verse and chorus that night, as well as all of the drum parts and most of the structure. This one was stuck for a while, but Brian really helped iron out the right structure for the song.
Anna: I didn’t want to overthink this song lyrically and let it flow naturally. The overall idea is to go ahead and be whoever/whatever you want to be. When we wrote this song we were listening to a lot of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. We figured why not be direct and just name the song after them? It’s fun to guess what artists were inspired by when they wrote a song. Sorry if we took the fun out of guessing!
Ryan: The old Vaughns are still here! Maybe a little older and hopefully matured. This is for the OG fans.
Anna: After rom-coms, I was excited to write rock songs again. I felt pressure to write some riffs to prove we could still do that. So came “Excuses”. The lyrics are kinda nonsensical and partly thrown together in the studio while trying to make sense of the story. We had a super fun session adding the band’s backing vocals.
Ryan: All I want to say is that this is my favorite and I think the best set of lyrics that Anna has ever written.
Anna: I had just gone to a Bright Eyes show with Lucy Dacus opening. I had also just watched the I Am Greta documentary. I was super frustrated with climate change and also thinking a lot about how impactful lyrics can be. Bright Eyes & Lucy are both incredibly great lyrical artists. From the crowd’s perspective you could tell it was the lyrics that brought everyone there – so I was really just focused on the lyrics at first. When we showed Joe our acoustic demo, he thought it was a bit too coffee shop. V fair. We pulled out some guitars and were passing ideas around and eventually I plopped out that bass line. Joe was hype on that so we leaned into it. First Vaughns song I’ve tracked bass for! Took half a day. There were many rewrites (a theme of this record) and one full version that Ryan rejected before I landed on the final direction. Joe absolutely crushed the production and turned it into something really unique with pop sensibilities. The 10 seconds before the guitars kick in at the end, is my favorite part of the whole record. One day I got really obsessive over whether to say “die” at the end or not, and annoyingly debated it with the whole band for 30 minutes as Ryan was coming down with a flu lmao. Sorry Ry.
Day by Day
Ryan: Are two sad songs too many for a record or just enough? My wife’s mom was sick with cancer for two years and she passed away just three weeks before our wedding. There was not a day that Britt could be happy while feeling helpless to make her mom better. I spent each one of those days looking for any little thing that I could do to bring Britt just a single fleeting moment of happiness. The sad truth is that there is nothing that anyone can do besides being there.
Anna: This one is special. Teared up when tracking it. We really caught some magic on it. It felt a lot like when we made “Raina.” It was a really intimate song to help with lyrics on. As a friend I just wanted to help Ryan tell this story as best as we could. Down to the wire we really weren’t sure how it was going to come together. When we brought Jordan and Brian into it, pieces fell into place. It’s a tough one to listen on repeat, but we definitely captured the meaning and feeling. Great songwriting. Great honesty.
Thank you to Mike at DIMM Studios for recording this song and helping us to make great last second arrangement tweaks.
Ryan: I love this song. Such a great collaboration between the two of us. The first half of the song is pretty hypnotic and the second half is just weird. One little fun fact – not so fun at the time when we made the decision – is that the drums are from the original demo recorded in my basement. We ran out of studio time and had to use the demo drums. They sound unique – at least for us..
My friend Kevin said the synth line at the end of this song sounds like my high school band. I think it’s more Vessel by twenty one pilots. We knew this was the album closer the second that we wrote it. We want to make a special shout out to Nicole for making the MIDI string part I wrote into a beautiful layered string orchestra. We have an instagram reel of my face when Nicole recorded strings at the end of this song. That’s a perfect representation of her performance. Another shout out to Pat who listened to the song while hanging in the studio after he recorded the piano on “Sixties” and said, “oh, I get it,” and recorded bass on the spot.
Anna: One of my favorites. It’s a trip, and weird. A moment of escapism. Started with Ryan and I with an acoustic guitar and playing with synths. I think we have the most fun when we are just goofing around like that. One of the more collaborative songs on the record. We didn’t push it too much, it stayed super true to the demo. The drums and synths are from the original demo, recorded in Ryan’s basement on shitty microphones. Nicole (strings) and Pat (bass) took ‘Closer’ to another level.
While on a family vacation I had my family sing the end vocals. One of my favorite memories from this record. My brother’s girlfriend, Tula, annihilated the harmonies. We knew it was the album’s last song from day one. I named it “closer” early on and we committed to the bit to make it the album’s closer.
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© Brian Hughes
:: Stream The Vaughns ::