|Genres||Alternative rock, industrial rock, experimental rock, alternative metal|
|Labels||2blossoms, Elektra Records|
|Associated acts||Bang Band SiXXX, Generica|
Ernesto J. Ponce
|Past members||Thomas Froggatt
VAST (pronounced "vast") is an American alternative rock band based in Seattle, Washington. The acronym VAST stands for Visual Audio Sensory Theater and is the main creation of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jon Crosby. The band is signed to 2blossoms, an independent record company created by Crosby himself.
VAST's sound is identifiable as ambient electro-rock with considerable industrial and acoustic influences, usually made with Crosby's traditional acoustic guitar, electronic instruments and processing, drum-driven tracks, and heavy bass. Vocally similarities range from classic rock to post-grunge. In recent years, however, VAST's sound has been more identifiable with acoustic rock in releases such as April and Me and You.
Crosby's musical endeavors began at a young age of 13, where he was noted in Guitar Player Magazine as a promising guitarist of the future. He often recorded home demos with nothing more than a guitar and a drum machine, sometimes a bass player with him as well. He nearly signed onto a guitar-based label Shrapnel, but turned it down to work on his budding songwriting skills. Crosby eventually left Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, California, to do home study and begin his own band, which he dubbed VAST. Much like fellow alternative rock/industrial band Nine Inch Nails, Crosby was the only member but found a touring band who knew the songs well enough to play with him live.
After sending multiple demo tapes to nearby radio stations in his home state of California, the band began to receive considerable attention; especially after Crosby sent a demo to Elektra Records, who eventually signed a contract with the budding musician. VAST released a teaser of their upcoming debut album Visual Audio Sensory Theater titled VAST Is..., which featured the first four tracks of the album. The track "Touched" received considerable amounts of airplay on local radio stations before capturing the attention of a mainstream audience, when it was featured in the Dana Brown surfing film Step into Liquid. It also received exposure when it was played briefly in the trailer for the movie The Beach (even though the song never made it to the actual soundtrack). NBC also used it as a promo song during TV show advertisements.
After the promising tracks of Visual Audio Sensory Theater, Elektra pressured Crosby to go back to the drawing board and craft an album that was accessible to more listeners, but still retaining the distinct sound VAST had conjured for the last album. After two years of recording, VAST returned with 2000s Music for People. The album featured a more rock-oriented sound, and benefited from major-label funding by allowing Crosby to work with the New Bombay Recording Orchestra in India. Turmoil was abundant during the album's recording and rehearsal process as Crosby constantly fought with record executives over the music's direction and former backup guitarist Rowan Robertson wishing to leave VAST to begin his own solo career. By the end of the album's recording process, Robertson had left VAST, and Crosby reluctantly moved forward with the band. As expected by the label, Music for People created a bit of a buzz in the musical world as the band received MTV airplay with their lead single "Free"'s music video, with the single charting on the Billboard's Hot 100, and hitting No. 2 on the Modern Rock Tracks. The band became a relative success after Music for People, but the album's poor sales and lack of a second charting single led to tension between Elektra and Crosby. In late 2002, Elektra terminated VAST from their contract. In later years, Crosby has stated that the break from their label could also be attributed to the fact that Elektra wanted "VAST to be this big, huge band and I wanted VAST to be this underground kind of thing, so we just decided to split."
Turquoise and Crimson years (2001–2005)
In 2004, Crosby recorded bundles of tracks that were titled Turquoise 3.x and Crimson 3.x; they were released through an online electronic delivery outlet. Crosby solidified his band's line-up during this time, and from then on, VAST became a standard 4-person band. With the unusual method of distribution of these tracks by a band with a relatively large fanbase formerly signed to a major label, many record companies were outraged with the releases. As a result from pressure from his former label Elektra Records, Crosby was forced to sign a short-term deal with Carson Daly-owned independent label 456 Entertainment to release the best of both releases as one album, titled Nude. This release also had the most high-quality versions of the songs, as the online releases were only available via mp3. In later years, despite being pressured into signing onto the indie label, Crosby later said the idea of releasing Nude on an indie label was a "nightmare", Crosby says because "There were so many problems dealing with them (456 Entertainment) on every level. I feel we made a big mistake not believing in ourselves enough and doing it on our own." But, blooming out of the disaster with 456, Crosby's independent label 2blossoms began.
2blossoms years (2005–2006)
After a short tour for Nude, the band released 2blossoms's first release, A Complete Demonstration, which was a collection of early demo tracks during the Visual Audio sessions. The album was a limited-edition piece and sold quickly due to popular demand, leaving many fans empty handed and out of pocket. Then in 2006, VAST released Turquoise & Crimson, a double-disc collection of all the tracks that were released as bundles online in 2004 online under his label. Originally it was only available through the 2blossoms website, but it was later released to retail stores. During the tour for the double album, VAST played at the legendary CBGB's, and, in late 2006, VAST released Live at CBGB's on their 2blossoms record to moderate sales. After multiple tours, VAST went back to the studio and recorded their first all-acoustic album, April.
The release method for April was, once again, unorthodox. In 2006, Crosby released an online version of the acoustic album online with ten tracks. April was mostly recorded only by Jon Crosby and an acoustic guitar, with minimal use of bass and drums. After the online release Crosby was "unhappy with the finished version", so went back to the studio and finished the album with four new tracks and a whole new track listing. Fan-made artwork graced the cover, and the album received a traditional release in stores. The album was not as well received by critics and fans, but was modestly embraced. Crosby later said that he only had it in him to do one album like April, and that it was his favorite VAST album.
Crosby also released a span of solo albums entitled Generica with him and an acoustic guitar throughout 2007 and 2008, culminating in a collection in 2009. The music would later find its way onto VAST albums being reworked into a full-band setting on future release Me and You.
Despite an expected documentary entitled Closed Romantic Realism, 2008 saw the release of an EP for Crosby's science fiction novel Bang Band SiXXX. The EP, containing six songs, is closely related to his older music with lots of electronics leading the music instead of acoustic guitars. Crosby claims it's a return to his older, darker sound. The EP is entitled Bang Band SiXXX: Relay EP. Many of the songs have become live staples at shows.
In May 2009, Crosby released Me and You and a North American tour in support of the album. Me and You contains songs from Crosby's Generica series reworked into a full-band setting. Crosby also is planning on launching a release of the album in which you can purchase the album and allow the proceeds to go to a charity of the purchaser's choice. Me and You is currently only released through retail.
From October 2013, through the official VAST Facebook account, Jon Crosby put out a set of "Works In Progress," resulting in a total of five. Fans were encouraged to vote on their favorite tracks in a similar nature to the release of Turquoise & Crimson in 2003. "Works In Progress 1" featured three new demo tracks: "Again And Again", "Noise" and "Where'd You Go". "Works In Progress 2" featured five new demo tracks: "They Only Love You When You Die", "Kimi", "Fire Of Love", "Desperate" and "I Want It Back". "Works In Progress 3" featured four new demo tracks: "Diamonds To Coal", "Burning Desire", "The Thing They Took" and "Something About You Turns Me On". "Works In Progress 4" featured four new demo tracks: "Call On Me", "Broken Girl", "Like God" and "Put Your Lips Around My Generation". The fifth and final installment, "Works In Progress 5", featured six new demo tracks: "Trail Of Tears", "Whisper My Name In Your Heart", "There Is No Tomorrow", "It's Time", "I Would Like It", and "No One Could Know".
Of all these demo tracks, "Like God" had previously been released in the same demo form in 2005 as part of the official VAST fan club package, "No One Could Know" had been played live in 2009, and "Whisper My Name In Your Heart" was played live in 2009 under the working title of "This Love Song".
The outcome of this project culminated in the release of Making Evening and Night — a double album with disc 1 featuring all the songs the fans voted for, and the second disc featuring the rest. A finished version of this album is yet to be released.
Late 2015 and early 2016 have seen the releases of Stripped/Black, Stripped/Red and Stripped/Blue; a five-part collection of VAST songs all done acoustically.
Stripped/Orange was released on August 28, 2016. Unlike the other albums in the Stripped series, this album includes bass guitar, electric guitar, djembe, percussion and other vocal overdubs, to create a full sounding recording. A standard, acoustic version was also released.
The final entry in the Stripped series, Stripped/Green, was released in October 2016.
Although intended to be a five-part series, Stripped/Violet was released in December 2016. Of the release, Jon Crosby said: "I felt like something was missing from the Stripped series. All songs I wrote before the first VAST album ended up ignored. They are a little raw because I wrote them between 16 and 18 years old, but I feel they are an important part of my body of work. There are five songs on this album that were never released at all until now."
- The TV series Angel featured "Here", "Dirty Hole", "Temptation", and "I'm Dying" for the promotional material design to help launch the series and "Touched" in the episode "Lonely Hearts".
- "Flames" was featured in the films "Sommersturm" (International title: "Summer Storm") and After Sex.
- Visual Audio Sensory Theater (1998) Elektra
- Music for People (2000) Elektra
- Nude (2004) 456 Entertainment / SPV
- Turquoise & Crimson (2006) 2blossoms
- April (2007) 2blossoms
- Me and You (2009) 2blossoms
- Making Evening and Night (2014) 747audioworks
- Live in Seattle: Acoustic at Tower Records (2004) Online-released
- Turquoise & Crimson (Online Version) (2004) Self-Released
- A Complete Demonstration (2005) 2blossoms
- April (Online Version) (2006) 2blossoms
- Live at CBGB's (2006) 2blossoms
- Seattle 2007 (2007) 2blossoms
- Live In Chicago (2008) 2blossoms
- Live in NYC (2011) 2blossoms
- Stripped/Black (2015) Self-released
- Stripped/Red (2015) Self-released
- Stripped/Blue (2016) Self-released
- Stripped/Orange (2016) Self-released
- Stripped/Orange (Overdub Version) (2016) Self-released
- Stripped/Green (2016) Self-released
- Stripped/Violet (2016) Self-released
- They Only Love You When You Die (EP) (2017)
Solo work and side projects
Jon Crosby and the Resonator Band:
Bang Band SiXXX
- Bang Band SiXXX: Relay EP (2008)
- Wilson, Scott. "VAST Difference". Pitch. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Vast Bio, History, Info on JamBase". www.jambase.com. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "STILL DRIFTING IN THE VAST Jon Crosby of VAST - Blurt Magazine". Blurt Magazine. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Making Evening and Night CD (signed and numbered by Jon Crosby)". The VAST Shop. Retrieved 2015-10-22.