Though they have been out of the music scene for almost 10 years, the members of LIFEBOAT! have a few tricks up their sleeves. Formed by members of the once popular metalcore band STRENGTH FROM DISTRESS, the band includes vocalist/guitarist Thomas Richardson, drummer Adam Bixler, guitarist Cory Dozier, and bassist Dave Bannon. Influenced by surf and skate punk, the band has recreated songs in tribute to the bands of their youth and hope it will give new life to a stale music scene in Virginia Beach. We spoke with Richardson about how his new band came to be, their debut album Resolute, and reflect on how the scene has changed over the past 10 years.

First off, why did you choose to name your band “LIFEBOAT!”?

That seems to be the million dollar question. Basically, Cory and I were exchanging texts one night about life, and Cory dropped a serious metaphor. I told him, “Man, that was a really deep thought,” and he simply responded “LIFEBOAT!” We were actively searching for a name at the time, and we liked it because it came so naturally and organically to us. It was a play on words, and it just fit.

In your band’s bio, it says that your music is influenced late 80s SoCal skate/surf punk bands. Are there any in particular that really inspire you when writing music?

The list goes on and on, but I am a huge fan of BAD RELIGION. They are one of the bands that made me want to play music in the first place, but we also really like NOFX, PENNYWISE, TEN FOOT POLE, GUTTERMOUTH…all those bands from the late 80s to early 90s. We try to recreate that sound as best as possible while also putting our own spin on it, but it’s nothing fancy by any means.

I know you guys are a pretty new band, and you recently played your first show at Hook Up in Virginia Beach with COPPER AND STARS. How did that show go?

I think it went pretty well. We were all nervous as hell getting our first show jitters out, but we got some good reviews from the people that were there. We made a few mistakes here and there, but we are glad we got our first show over with and we are looking to learn and move on from it. We all used to perform in other bands, but collectively we have been out of the scene for the past eight to 10 years. We kinda feel like old geezers, but now we are more prepared for when something goes wrong. It’s a low-stress environment for us, and we missed the hell out of it. After the first two seconds when we started playing, I knew that I was glad to be back.

The song titles on your debut album Resolute seem to be as tumultuous as the crashing waves on your cover art. Was that intentional?

To some extent. A lot of that process was a pain in the ass. We did it all DIY on my laptop. I personally recorded and mixed the tracks, and I did the vocals myself not really out of want but more out of necessity. The whole process was very tumultuous, but it helped us look back at what we accomplished and made us realize we can do it even better next time.

Are you looking for a permanent vocalist to take over the lyrical aspect of the band?

I would like to focus only on guitar if that’s possible, but we would have to be on the same page. We had other people express interest in singing for us, but they said that we would have to change up the music to match their singing style. That didn’t really jive with us. If somebody called me up that is influenced by the same style of music and meshed well with us, then that would be cool, but right now it’s not a necessity.

Are there any songs on the record in particular that are very personal to you?

The last one, “You’re Right (I’m Wrong)”. It’s about having people around you that give you suggestions about how to live your life and filtering out who you agree with versus who you don’t and severing ties with people who don’t believe in you. It’s something I can relate to, and I think a lot of other people will relate to it as well.

Which song is your favorite to play live?

Probably “Not Your Family” because it’s simple enough that I don’t have to focus too hard on playing the guitar, and can focus more on my vocals. One of my biggest fears was being able to sing and play guitar at the same time, and it makes me pay attention to how I sing and challenges me as a vocalist.

I saw that you guys have already finished recording the music for your next album. What can your fans expect from that?

The people that like our music will notice that a lot of our new stuff is the same sound overall but with backing vocal harmonies and more technical solos. On Resolute, I had the only vocal parts, but with the backing vocals the sound will be much fuller. Also, when we recorded the album, we didn’t have a bassist, so I just mirrored the guitar parts on bass, but now that we have Dave, he thickens up our sound and makes it more interesting. We are trying to get it all done and release it in May.


What are your thoughts on the current state of the Virginia music scene?

I think the 757 scene has been in a stale rut. Unless you are personally involved in the scene in a band, or you know people in bands, or you used to be in a band, there aren’t many new faces out at shows. It’s not like eight years ago when you would tell a friend about a show and then a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend would come out and actually enjoy the music. There is not as much outreach to the rest of the community like in Northern Virginia or Richmond. Personally, I think promoters and bands invest too much time in Facebook and social media, not enough on face-to-face, interpersonal promotion.

Do you have any more shows coming up that you would like to announce?

There is nothing set in stone yet, but we are always looking for opportunities to support bands in the area. We don’t care about opening, and we will even play for free. We are down for the cause, and we want to support this scene any way that we can.

For more updates on LIFEBOAT!, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Reverbnation, and check out their debut album Resolute on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

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