For many teens, high school can be rough. Those who are brave enough to be different and don't go along with the crowd are often made fun of and feel ostracized.
"In high school, I got made fun of for the way I dressed and the way I talked and really for who I was,” said Evan Crowley a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma. “I was finally able to turn what everyone was saying against me into something positive.”
Crowley has taken his high school experiences and turned them into a positive musical force. In 2005, he joined a newly forming local rock band called Vannadine and became the lead singer.
But his interest in music began many years ago. As a child, Crowley recalls standing on his back porch, belting out tunes to his backyard where his love for music grew into his life's passion. In eighth grade, he took up playing the guitar. He was a member of the choir during his junior and senior years at Putnam City High School and even took private lessons from the choir instructor to prepare himself for a future in music.
It was in high school that Crowley began writing songs. On weekends, away from school, he was able to find an outlet to write about things bothering him, in turn create his own type of therapy. Because of his experiences, he is now able to help others find comfort through the lyrics he's written for Vannadine.
Before joining Vannadine, Crowley toured across the United States with Subseven, a Christian rock band, where he played lead guitar and sang backup vocals. He appeared in Subseven's last music video in 2005 where they recorded, "Hold On." The video was filmed from the Green Door in Oklahoma City and was the last show for Subseven and appeared on MTV2.
Majoring in graphic design at UCO, Crowley hopes to use his expertise to help promote Vannadine and propel it into mega mainstream status someday.
The name, Vannadine, was coined from a former guitar player, John, after the band sat around throwing out ideas and trying to come up with a unique name that sounded catchy.
"We felt like that name was made from scratch and completely fit our situation because we didn't sound like anyone that had ever been recorded," said Crowley who recently stepped down from lead vocalist and now sings backup and plays guitar.
In the past, he sang passionately about frustrations he's had with modern day culture and how he thought things were going horribly in politics. He believed many people weren’t watching the news anymore and wanted to apply such things for people to relate to.
Recently, Vannadine has had a big shift in the message they project as they now have a new lead vocalist, Tim, who brings a unique R & B vibe to the band. Crowley jokes that the reason he stepped down as lead vocalist is that Tim is a lot better looking than he is.
Other members of Vannadine include: Cameron Bergeron, lead guitar and ukulele; Josiah Tullis, guitar; Josh Tullis, tambourine; Caleb Tullis, cymbals, drums and cowbell; and Jim Cain who conducts the vivid light array.
The band members are currently writing songs that focus on messages about telling others to do what makes them happy and to follow their own way.
"Our social structure and our status mean there are a lot of people who are going to judge you and find what's wrong with you," explained Crowley. "I feel like people are beautiful just the way they are."
Vannadine is a unique rock band, liberally flavoring their music with a mixture of musical genres. Each band member is diverse in what he listens to. Additionally, they also take their rock music and add a dance element and incorporate some Latin fusion parts into it.
"We really enjoy music you can dance to and something that has a little spice to it and is not so normal but still maintains a catchy, pop sound overall," said Crowley.
Another unique feature is that Vannadine brings its own light show to every stage so that fans can take part in the experience, which feels more like a production.
Crowley is proudest when he is performing and hopes fans will leave feeling encouraged, having found relief and solace through Vannadine's music.
"I can have like the worst week of my life and go on stage one night … and by the end, I feel completely relieved of everything that's bothering me. I would like to share that with everybody who comes to our show and I would like everybody to feel the same way," said Crowley.
Because of the positive messages behind Vannadine lyrics, they often play at local churches and other venues such as the Conservatory and The Bricktown Ballroom.
For performance dates and information on Vannadine, visit their website at www.vannadine.com.