Break Routine, a collaboration of brothers Justin and Bobby Vaughn, have just released a cover of Tove Lo’s “Talking Body” on Mind Equals Blown. It is not the first time they have worked together on a musical project, but it is not the norm. Justin is the vocalist for Blacklister, a popular punk band in Cleveland, while Bobby is the singer/songwriter for The Promise Hero, a very busy pop/rock band that tours constantly. While Justin and Bobby are both successful in their own right, the brotherly bond they share in music cannot be denied.
Growing up often means different directions. Justin and Bobby started together in a band they called The Honor Role. They had fun, but found their tastes were heading in different directions as they grew with the music. Bobby wanted to develop his strengths in singing and songwriting pop/rock tunes, while Justin was drawn to the more edgy, post-hardcore music. In 2005, The Honor Role was retired, as Bobby went on to found The Promise Hero and Justin advanced to Blacklister. Still, they are brothers and although they have separate bands, they still play together. Justin explained, “We do work really well together. I could just sing stuff a cappella and he’ll (Bobby) come up with the perfect instrumental. It’s like he could read my mind. Since we’re brothers and have similar voices it sounds pretty cool when we harmonize, which is something people really dug about THR.” They pursue their individual passion in music, but the brothers will continue to work together. Their recent project, Break Routine, is not a one-shot deal. Justin said, “We’re always asked why we don’t just play together and the answer is we do, we just have other projects too that we’re better able to put our own distinct sound into.” Through a common shared love of music, Justin and Bobby support each other, allowing them to explore all genres together, as well as with their respective bands.
Blacklister is a melting pot of musical influences. Justin adds his vocals to Steve Sherman (guitar), Joe Joyce (drums), and Brandon Reinking (bass) to produce songs with a slightly different feel. Some of the music is definitely punk, others are more pop oriented, emo, even indie rock. Reinking is a fan of reggae music and brings that vibe into the mix. Sherman adds piano and synth elements to round out the sound. Justin believes that the dark, melancholy lyrics is what unifies each piece to make Blacklister a stand out amongst punk bands.
The Promise Hero is Bobby’s solo project and he is dedicated to being the best. Bobby has performed with full band accompaniment, as well as by himself. In discussing the pros and cons of band vs. solo, Bobby stated, “They both have awesome benefits. A full band is awesome for having that tight sound and being on that same wave length when it comes to writing. A solo artist has the benefit of getting a lot more accomplished goal-wise at the end of the day!” When an artist is not tied in to other schedules, he is more able to reach individual goals. Bobby expressed joy at being able to control his future. An accomplished musician, Bobby is confident enough in his talent and skill to know when to branch out or improve. He is a favorite on the tour circuit and believes that success is setting high goals that he can ‘knock out’ in a timely fashion.
Normal is whatever fits. There is room for all genres of music on the Vaughn Brothers collective playlists. Blacklister is experimenting with a second guitar and preparing for numerous local shows coming up. They plan to practice a ‘mountain’ of new songs to record this Summer. The Promise Hero will be writing and recording as many songs as possible for their new album, while continuing a national tour schedule. Having seen the high-energy live performance by Blacklister and the emotional, passionate show by The Promise Hero, I am convinced the brothers are exactly where they belong. It is common to see Bobby enjoying a Blacklister show, and to my knowledge, Justin has never missed The Promise Hero when they are in town. Like their other fans, I am excited about the new albums from both bands and consider their collaborations a special treat. They may be following their own individual pursuits, but Justin and Bobby will always remain connected because they are brothers in bands.