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All ya need: VanLadyLove packs Christmas Box benefit

December 14th, 2014 Posted in Arts and Life

By Noelle Johansen

LOGAN—A decade ago, a Utah band reaching international fame was little more than a pipe dream. However, after local groups Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons paved the road to success, Provo’s VanLadyLove could be the next in line.

Lead singer Travis van

Lead singer Travis Van Hoff

VanLadyLove headlined Aggie Radio’s recent “Christmas in November” charity concert. When booking them for the event, assistant station manager Nate Dukatz was unaware that the group was just named one of 100 “Artist on the Verge” award winner for 2014 by New Music Seminar in New York.

“I might’ve put that on the poster or something if I had known,” Dukatz said. “I didn’t realize until right before.”

Thus, it was not due to this recent claim to fame that Dukatz sought the talent of the local band for an upcoming concert to raise money for Christmas Box International.

“I knew that to charge admission, you need someone that’s going to draw a crowd,” Dukatz said. VanLadyLove fit the bill. “I just knew that a lot of people up here knew who they were.”

Despite the concert falling on the Saturday night before Thanksgiving break, at the same time as several other campus events, around 180 people attended. Through ticket sales, donations and a silent auction featuring a guitar signed by members of VanLadyLove, Aggie Radio met its fundraising goal for the night.

“We raised $1,000 for Christmas Box International,” Dukatz said. “It was successful, it was fun. I think VanLadyLove had a good time … They were really good, probably a little different and a lot better than what I expected.”

Band member Caleb Loveless described the unlikely beginning of VanLadyLove: two roommates, longtime friends and musicians collaborating in a YouTube video to bring exposure to their individual solo projects.

Loveless said the video was entered into a contest that made the band the opening act in a Parachute concert. “All of a sudden, we’re just screwing around and we have three days to open up for Parachute in front of thousands of people,” he said.

Since then, Loveless, lead singer Travis Van Hoff and the rest of the band have quit jobs and school to pursue music fulltime.

“When you have five guys that are committed in that way — and we treat it like a job, we work at least eight hours each day in one way or another — it’s amazing what you can do to make progress,” Loveless said. “I’ve never been so busy. … I’ve never worked so hard.”

As the self-described “sparkle guy,” Loveless plays a variety of instrumental roles in the band, from guitar to mandolin.

“I just add that extra layer of fun to the song,” he said.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 1.56.23 PMVan Hoff, who grew up playing the piano and learned the guitar when he was 15 years old, hardly sees making music as work.

“It’s pretty fun actually,” he said. “You get to do what you love. You get to chase your dreams. That always makes the days a little brighter. We never thought that it would actually turn into something this big.”

In one way or another, however, Van Hoff has been preparing for his role as lead singer for a long time.

“In my kindergarten class, in our classroom the bathroom was attached to our room,” he said. “I would always go to the bathroom and think nobody could hear me and just be singing at the top of my lungs, and my teacher would tell my mom that I would be singing in the bathroom.”

Other members of the band come from different genres of musical backgrounds, but the variety seems to work.

“We’re so mismatched in this band,” Loveless said. “We’re just a bunch of misfits. We have no business playing in a band together. We have so many different styles and personalities, but in the end what it created is something different. Five weird personalities — we’re excited people want to listen to us — it could’ve been a lot worse.”

It couldn’t have turned out much better for VanLadyLove.

“They’re the next ones to do something big,” Dukatz said, citing Provo as a hot spot for quality new acts. “If you just have that many bands with that many people who care about music, you’re going to get some good ones coming out.”

Whatever the future holds, Loveless said the band name is a reminder to help the musicians remember where they came from.

“We kind of just think of it as our way to stay humble in all of this,” he said. “We realize, at the end of the day, all we really need to do this is a van, a lady and a little love. It’s our ode to keep it simple and humble.”


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