YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – It seems like a pivotal moment for the Vindys.
The Youngstown-based rockers will release their long-awaited third studio album, “Bugs,” on July 31 and play a hometown show at the spacious Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre that night.
The act’s potential has long been obvious and the new album could take it to the next level. The quintet, led by Jackie Popovec, is poised to become a regional act with staying power and an unlimited future.
The 10-track “Bugs” is more than good enough to get them there.
Popovec, however, is having none of that. She sees the new release as just another step on a years-long journey.
For those hearing the songs for the first time, the album will land with a meteoric impact.
But for the band, its rollout has been a waiting game.
The album had been finished since early 2020, but its release was delayed by the pandemic. The Vindys have been playing some of the songs live for over a year.
Still, “Bugs” is by leaps and bounds the best thing the band has ever done.
Popovec, the band’s front woman and main songwriter, isn’t going to rest on her laurels, and says The Vindys are still growing.
“Every step we take brings us a little closer to realizing what this band can actually do,” she says. “I don’t feel that this is a pivotal moment, but more of a culmination of baby steps that we’ve been taking for a long time. It’s a culmination of things, the payoff from the 10,000 hours that we’ve put in at gigs and in practicing.
“But I do feel the momentum.”
The concert at The Amp will be the band’s first hometown show since October. The Vindys are the only local rock band to ever headline the 5,000-capacity venue and this will be the second time they’ve done it.
But John Anthony, the band’s lead guitarist and co-founder, recalls just a few years ago when they were playing three nights a week in local bars and restaurants.
“We were learning to understand each other, learning how to be a band together,” he says.
That comfort level is paying dividends. While previous Vindys albums were written exclusively by Popovec, “Bugs” sees the band becoming more collaborative.
Anthony wrote the Jack White-esque rocker “Don’t Tell Me, Just Love Me,” while Popovec and guitarist Rick Deak co-wrote a couple of songs.
“It’s not just me as a singer-songwriter bringing songs to the guys anymore,” Popovec says. “The more people you get involved in the process, the better.”
It was a new piece of equipment that inspired Anthony to write “Don’t Tell Me.”
He explains: “I had bought a new guitar pedal that has kind of a Jack White vibe to it, so I wrote that riff before Jackie had time to write the lyrics.”
That’s an anomaly, he says. “In writing all of our tunes, we always have a sense of what Jackie will do with it.”
So it’s the first Vindys song in which Popovec had nothing to do with the music. But when she set out to write the lyrics, she knew just where to go.
It’s about a dominatrix that Popovec met in a New Orleans bar during a vacation a few years ago.
“She lived in the French Quarter, works all night, and has a giant house,” Popovec says. “She does not drink and is very responsible. But she has this weird career and I was enthralled by someone who could be in two worlds like that. When I heard the music for ‘Don’t Tell Me,’ I thought, ‘These are the words for that song!’ ”
Overall, the whole album has a sharper rock edge than previous efforts.
Another example is “Judas,” which begins with Popovec singing a brokenhearted lament before a guitar riff and a blast of horns kicks it into highway gear.
The elements of the song are masterfully arranged to set up recurring waves of confident aggression. It’s all about creating the dynamic music that Popovec insists upon and which is on display throughout the new album.
If “Judas” toggles between extremes, the title cut is based on a steady and irresistible bass groove that bounces down a path the band hadn’t taken.
“Many things came together with that song,” Popovec says. “I had this melody in mind and [guitarist] Rick [Deak] brought me this beat and I said ‘Yeah!’ It felt so natural to play that melody on top of that beat. It’s a pop song but we ‘Vindy-fied it.’ ”
One song on the new album that is just screaming to get out is “Want Your Heart.”
It’s in the style and structure of British hitmaker Adele – and that, Popovec says, is not a bad thing.
“I’m OK with it having a familiarity to a singer as big as Adele,” she says.
Back in 2019, The Vindys were tasked with creating a rousing song for a video that Pittsburgh cable channel AT&T Sportsnet would use during Pittsburgh Pirates game broadcasts. The result was “Are You Ready,” a stadium-ready anthem that was a grand slam.
But when it came to putting it on the new album, Popovec was leery at first.
“It was a last-minute decision,” Popovec says. “I didn’t want to put it on. But now I’m glad we did.”
The Vindys own the rights to the song. But because Popovec wrote it for a specific usage, she initially felt it should remain unattached.
But it makes sense on the new album and fits in perfectly.
“Are You Ready” was written to fire up Pirates fans. It also sums up where The Vindys are right now.
As Popovec sings:
“Knew we could, so we did.
Beat the odds and now we’re big.
Put it all on the line…
Now they know it’s our time.”
The Vindys July 31 concert at The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre will begin at 7:30 p.m. with opening act The Conkle Brothers. Tickets are $10 and $20 and available at Ticketmaster.com and the Covelli Centre box office.
Pictured: The Vindys, as shown on the cover of their new album, are Matt Jackson, Ed Davis, John Anthony, Jackie Popovec and Rick Deak. (Photo by Cusano Photography)