“Vault of Light” is the new album from indie rock veterans Berry.
Formed in the early 2000s on Martha’s Vineyard, the band have released a series of critically acclaimed recordings since 2003. All this despite members living in different parts of the country and pursuing a variety of professional interests outside of music. .
Co-founder Joey Lemon, for example, established himself as an English teacher, working at the Independent School in Wichita.
Lemon recently spoke with KMUW about the creation of “Vault of Light” and provided information on balancing his life in education and life in a group.
You’ve recorded all of Berry’s records yourself in the past, this time you worked with engineer Paul Klimson. And you did it in a safe.
His wife was working there at the time, as a sort of advertising company. But one of the things they have that they weren’t sure what to do with in their office was this empty bank safe with the big… door closing behind you. And before we got there, Paul convinced them, “Hey, that should be like a space that you can turn into a photo, video, and recording studio. So he did a bunch of paint and put in the lights and rented all the stuff for a record. We were the pilot project and… what would come to be known as The Vault. But yes, it was a pretty fun place; [we] We literally closed the front door behind us so they couldn’t hear us in the office as we checked in. So it was pretty fun.
You saved in a safe. It must be a completely different sensory experience than what you know, working in a regular recording studio.
The most notable things were that it was really dark, as if time was gone after that door was closed. Who knows where we were, when we were; it was just a perfect opportunity to disappear into our art together. We brought a projection screen and sometimes exhibited the artwork, visual artwork of other friends. And that, I think, made us feel a little more like we weren’t in jail. [Laughs.] But yeah, I mean, it was just this dark, really big, cavernous space that absolutely feels like we’ve been locked in for a while and able to create. It was fun.
Berry has been a band for about 20 years. I’m just curious if you see a difference between the fans who have been there, basically from the start, and the people who have come to the party later.
I think the fun thing about people who are new to the Berry game is that they’re like, “What is this?” Why don’t people know Berry? You’ve been playing great music regularly for 20 years. The people who have spent time with us for 20 years have sort of the same mindset: “How is there this really big secret that only me and literally 20 other people know? “
You’ve taught high school and college, and at some point your students realize that you are part of a group. What does this conversation look like?
There are always a handful of curious students doing their research, so to speak, and will look for me. Children love to distract their teachers by trying to get personal information out of them. They’ll say, “So what is it? What group do you play in? or “What kind of music do you make?” Then, of course, they take out their phones in class. They’re literally going to pull something out while you’re still in class, which is fun.
The college community seemed much less interested in what I was doing creatively. High school students, I think, in general, are much more interested. So it’s fun to chat with them a bit about what I do outside of my professional life. Teachers shouldn’t promote themselves much in the classroom, but I think it’s really important to let students know that teachers do things creatively and differently outside of the classroom. I think they need that context, and I think it’s good for them.