Today, Off Road Minivan release their debut EP, Spiral Gaze. I hesitate to use the words “side project” to describe this band. Vocalist Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary is the front man of the metalcore band Fit For a King but the style of this project is so vastly different it’s pretty clear this isn’t just space filler.
Although the EP is relatively short at 4 tracks, each song packs such an intense punch. O’Leary’s smooth and unique vocal style really makes this release stand out in a niche where Circa Survive are still releasing great records.
Sub-genre labels aside, if you’re a fan of rock music in general, Off Road Minivan is more than worth the listen.
I spoke with O’Leary about the origin of this project and what’s next:

NT: Where did the name Off Road Minivan come from? I have a feeling there’s a good story there.

RO: “My fiancé and I were driving on the thruway. We were stuck in traffic and a minivan ripped through the grass median and up the other side of the highway. My fiancé went “look it’s an off road minivan” and I yelled write that down. It was exactly what I was looking for.”

NT: What were some of your favorite records growing up?

RO: “Dashboard Confessional – So Impossible EP was the first record I heard that made me want to sing and play guitar. My favorite record ever is covered in controversy currently so I feel I shouldn’t comment on it although it is truly my greatest influence. My parents were always listening to Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and other sweet 90’s alt rock so I’ve just always liked it. My parents are pretty cool. My first cassette was Hanson! Best rock band ever!” (he laughs)

NT: Are there any bands currently recording/touring that you feel have been directly influential on Off Road Minivan?

RO: “Manchester Orchestra, Thrice and Foxing are huge influences of mine. They are making the best music they ever have and performing it to the highest level. They all bring something so special to the scene and achieve such great acclaim. Foxing may not be HUGE yet but if you haven’t seen them, you’re missing out.”

NT: How long were you a band before releasing this EP?

RO: “About a year and half. We spent a lot time just getting comfortable and jamming different songs. Once I showed a demo we had recorded of Spiral Gaze to Tooth & Nail, that changed things quickly.”

NT: What was the recording process like? Where did you record?

RO: “We recorded guitars, bass and drums ourselves. Melvin is a fantastic engineer and recorded them himself. Evan works in a studio teaching piano and drums so him Melvin we able to do that themselves. Vocals were recorded with Brendan Williams at Gain Stage Audio in New Paltz, NY. It was so incredibly fun doing it ourselves and getting to feel the songs out. I think there is a few things I’d change on a song or 2 but I’m really happy with how it came out. I think it gave a great sense of satisfaction to the group.”

NT: The mix and master is incredible, really reminds me of Anberlin. Who was the engineer on this EP?

RO: “Melvin Brinson engineered the instruments and Brendan Williams engineered vocals. It was mixed by Mike Watts at Vudu Studio and mastered by Mike Kalajian at Rogue Planet Mastering. Watts has mixed some of my favorite records (As Cities Burn, As Tall as Lions, The Sear hunter etc.) and it was just the right fit. Kalajian has been a close friend for years and will always master my songs. He really understand Melvin and what He wants the songs to sound like. He’s a really great friend.”

NT: How did the opportunity to sign with Tooth and Nail Records come about?

RO: “I am currently signed to them with a metal core band (Fit For A King) so I had shown them Spiral Gaze on a whim. I hoped if they liked it enough they would let us put out a release.”

NT: Who directed the video for “Spiral Gaze” and how was the experience filming that?

RO: “The video was directed by Kevin Johnson. It was the most pleasant video experience I’ve ever had. Kevin is so calm and collected the day went incredibly smoothly. I assistant directed/produced and worked closely with the actors. He would tell me what he needs from them and I would try to bring it out. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.”

NT: What’s the significance behind the name “Spiral Gaze”?

RO: “I honestly couldn’t tell you. I started free styling this song with the band at practice just trying to make melodies. When I was first singing it, it came out like “Spiral case of comatose tones” and I was singing about looking into my friends face and seeing right through them. So I changed it to Spiral Gaze. I feel like with that friend his words and eyes and would go right through me with no direction. It’s strange but just felt right.”

NT: What are you most excited about as you release this debut?

RO: “I’m most excited to put out the best music I’ve ever written with my closest friends. We’ve watched each other grow into men and they have all been such a blessing in my life. It’s just a calling I can’t shake. If you’ve missed the radio, the way Music was in the 90’s & early 00’s, this is your band. I just think we have something enjoyable to listen to. It’s not hard and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the songs. It’s just a short batch of honest songs. We are Off Road Minivan and we wanna be your favorite band.”

Listen to Off Road Minivan’s debut EP, Spiral Gaze, below and buy the EP by clicking here!

Check out the video for “Spiral Gaze”: