They’re the energetic punk-pop ensemble fronted by an attractive, big-voiced female singer, and signed to the ginormously successful Fueled By Ramen Records label.
All of which makes VersaEmerge almost identical to their mega-popular label mates, Paramore. Yet despite the curious similarities between the two bands, VE passes the blindfold test with a sound that is discernibly more enigmatic, due in no small part to the damsel-in-distress vocals of Sierra Kusterbeck. Indeed, even slightly educated ears will be able to distinguish the difference between Kusterbeck’s yearning wail and Hayley Williams’ gale-force howl.
Kusterbeck reveals a philosophical attitude that bodes well for her band’s success. Asked to address the inevitable Paramore comparisons, Kusterbeck said she “totally gets it.”
“When you listen to a new band, the first thing your mind does is compare it to something you already know,” the 20-year-old singer said. “For us, that’s Paramore. It doesn’t bug me at all. Paramore’s a great band, but we’re definitely our own thing, and I think people will realize that.”
VersaEmerge is currently touring in support of its full-length debut, Fixed At Zero, a disc blog Absolute Punk describes as “intricately woven with grandiose strings and experimental twists…[the CD] has the charisma to draw in your attention, and the substance to keep it.”
Formed by guitarist/songwriter Blake Harnage, VE issued two independent EPs, “Cities Built On Sand” (2005) and “Perceptions” (2008). A series of personnel adjustments resulted in the recruitment of Kusterbeck and bassist Devin Ingelido. Kusterbeck said the personnel shake-ups were simply a case of compatibility issues.
“The touring life is fun, but there are definitely times where it’s really grueling,” the singer said. “When you’re in band and living 24-7 close together in a bus, you have to mesh well. You can’t have tension, or not like each other. It won’t work and it won’t be fun.”
Having found that elusive chemistry, VE are now enjoying some entry-level rock ‘n’ roll perks. “We have enough money every night to get a hotel room,” Kusterbeck says with a laugh. “We used to park all night in Wal-Mart parking lots. Now we’re fortunate enough that our fans support us and buy our merch. Hotels are awesome.”