After just one listen to Varials’ brutal beatdown of a song “The New Damnation,” the blistering opener off their 11-track slobberknocker Pain Again, no one would probably expect the five band members to be a fun-loving group of guys looking to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
See, in the hardcore community, rarely are you ever allowed to smile, make jokes or, god forbid, have a little fun. Usually when it comes to most “heavy” bands, fans expect artists to be a cold and rabid collection of dudes practically foaming at the mouth 24/7.
Sure, on stage Varials are as brutal as they come. If you’re looking to blow off steam and let loose with a little slam dancing, the Philly five-piece is a solid choice. Offstage, however, vocalist Travis Tabron, guitarists Mitch Rogers and James Hohenwarter, bassist Mike Foley and drummer Sean Rauchut just like to enjoy themselves and write music showing off the musical abilities they inherited from their parents.
That’s another thing about the young upstart outfit. Unlike a lot of bands out there, a few of the members received their musical talents from their parents. Take Mitch, for example. His dad is a drummer and his mom is a singer who performed regularly while pregnant with him. Both of which actually helped push him towards teaching young guitar players in afterschool programs. Then there’s Travis. Like Mitch, he also has a father who likes drum beats – drum beats that lean more on the hip-hop side of things since his dad is a rapper.
Now as you can probably already tell, Varials isn’t your typical hardcore beatdown band. For that reason, we wanted to reach out and get to know the guys a little bit better and understand how they got started. To check out our in-depth interview with the band, be sure to see below. Afterwards, if you’ve yet to pick up their punishing LP Pain Again, be sure to do so here.
Where did you grow up? And was there a music scene where you grew up?
Travis Tabron (Vocals): I grew up in the Philadelphia area and there was always a music scene for most kinds of music.
Mitch Rogers (Guitar): Chalfont/Bucks County, PA. When I first started going to local shows the scene was so sick. There was a show every weekend. You could see bands like Balance And Composure or The Wonder Years at local churches or halls. I used to see so many insane bands at The Moose Lodge in Doylestown.
James Hohenwarter (Guitar): I grew up in North Wales, PA and I still live here! I was introduced to the local scene in about 2009, from there I met a lot of people (including the other guys) that I’m still good friends with today!
Sean Rauchut (Drums): I grew up in a small town in PA called North Wales. My dad always played in bands so I grew up going to see him and then found a local metalcore scene on my own. It was sick back then.
Mike Foley (Bass): I grew up in Audubon, Pennsylvania, a small suburb a little outside of Philadelphia. I started playing guitar when I was in 8th grade, about 13 years old, and instantly fell in love with playing music. I started going to shows when I was probably about 15 or 16 and the local scene was doing really well at that point. It’s actually really funny, I remember seeing bands Sean, James and Travis were in at the time before I even knew any of them now here we are all together playing music.
What were you doing before Varials formed?
TT: Making music in local bands or making music/beats by myself.
MR: I was actually touring with a different band and had been since I was nineteen. I joined Varials after I left that band last year.
JH: I was going to community college, when suddenly one day after school Sean had the idea to start the band, so we headed back to my house and recorded the first song!
SR: I always worked random jobs but I tried college for a semester and wrote the first Varials song on my first day. Then bombed out of all my classes and dropped out to pursue the band.
MF: Before Varials I was in school and playing in another band with Mitch. Me and Sean knew of each other but were never really super close at the time, then one day he messaged me asking to fill in a show for Varials (knowing my bass rig was POPPIN). At that point, I was like WOW that was sick and I think the rest of them felt the same way and they ended up asking me to join. Which ended up working perfectly cause my other band was kinda falling apart at the same time. So shortly after things start picking up more with Varials, I made the decision to drop out of school and pursue the band and start working full time instead. Parents were NOT happy at first haha.
Who or what influenced you to start playing music?
TT: I’ve always been playing music my whole life.
MR: Almost everyone in my family plays an instrument or sings, many have done it professionally for a long time. I grew up surrounded by music and going to see my parents or grandfather play gigs. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t learning and playing an instrument. Musically, I still find my biggest influences for me more dreamy/shoegazy stuff and that’s how I’ve always been.
JH: It honestly just sort of happened for me. I learned to appreciate music more after I started playing guitar.
SR: My dad for the most part. Also being around other kids at a young age who wanted to be musicians so I thought it would be cool if I got good at it haha.
MF: My dad was in a band when he was a teenager too and my grandfather was a great pianist but I’m the first of my family to take music more seriously.
Who’s the band(s) that got you into heavy music?
MR: Linkin Park, Coheed, and especially Slipknot. I remember seeing the video for "My Plague” on the DVD for the original Resident Evil movie and I was hooked.
JH: I want to say Chiodos, at least as the first band that I listened to that really had those screamo vocals, ya know?
SR: The bands that got me into heavy music were Slipknot and Chiodos.
MF: I started getting into heavy music around the same time I started playing music, some of the bands getting me into it being Rise Against and Linkin Park then eventually branching off into heavier stuff.
If you could collaborate with any artist of your choice who would it be?
TT: J Dilla
MR: Frank Ocean…or maybe Chino from Deftones…or Lil Uzi…That would be the hardest decision of my life.
JH: I’m not totally sure. Definitely someone who has nothing to do with heavy music.
SR: I would love to collaborate on any style of music with Dave Grohl or Jack White.
What have you learned since being in the music industry?
TT: There’s a lot more work that goes into making a record professionally than I expected.
MR: Don’t let anyone knock you down. Do you and don’t take anyone’s bullshit.
JH: I always wanted to learn (and have) how things work behind the scenes, things that people don’t see that build up to be the face of the band.
SR: I learned that it takes you from being in a band with your friends having pure fun to being a serious business. I focus more on business now then I do just writing sick songs haha.
Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
TT: The art of being tasteful - Josh Schroeder
MR: Don’t always base your decisions off of pleasing others
JH: Don’t tie yourself to one specific thing in the industry. Learn the ins and outs so that your career doesn’t end if the band itself does.
SR: I had a friend give me some pointers back then and I ended up accomplishing more than they did. It’s kinda hilarious I had absolutely no idea what I was really doing. Just write good songs and market your band the right way. And don’t forget to always have fun.
What does the future hold for Varials?
TT: Weirder music
MR: More tours, more music…hopefully play out of the US as soon as we can.
JH: Everything and everything!
SR: We’re just gonna take this band to its fullest potential and ride the wave while we can.
MF: Pain Again has been getting great feedback and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming year has in store. Touring outside of the country is high up there on the goal list for me for 2017/2018 so we’ll see if that happens.
What would you like to be remembered for? Musically or not.
TT: Lyricism and composition.
MR: I just hope one day when I’m dead people still listen to music my friends and I made. It’s hard to actually leave something behind that lasts forever but music never dies so…
JH: My ways around things - my Macgyver-like resourcefulness.
SR: The kid who made sacrifices and went for what he wanted and accomplished it.
Better moment: Signing to Fearless, releasing Pain Again or seeing money printed with Travis’ face on it?
TT: Releasing Pain Again
MR: As much as I love the fake money…seeing the whole process from the outside and then joining was a little weird for me at first…but everything about making and releasing Pain Again made me feel like a real part of the band, so that for sure.
JH: Releasing Pain Again, it’s an album I couldn’t wait for everyone to hear!
SR: Definitely signing to Fearless haha.
MF: Getting signed to Fearless was such a huge achievement for me personally, and the band as a whole. [It’s] something I’ve dreamed of since being a young kid.