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Guitarist Cole Espeland of Vended Talks Touring, Friendship Before Music & More

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Some of your favorite rockstars have kids who are all grown up and starting a band to become your new favorite rockstar. They’re following in the footsteps of their parents. One of those bands is Vended – a five-piece band created by the kids of two Slipknot members (Corey Taylor and Shawn Crahan) – which has proved that they have lasting power as they have been making music together since they were in high school!

The Travel Addict sat down with guitarist Cole Espeland to talk about touring in the States and Europe, how the band got into creating stage personas and his hometown of Iowa and the importance of friendship in the band. 

Vended recently did a run of shows in Europe. What were the highlights of that tour?

Playing arenas and festivals every night was pretty crazy and eye opening because we’ve been playing mostly smaller clubs this whole time. Being exposed to crowds of that size is pretty wild. And a lot of the metal fans over in Europe go a lot crazier. Seeing a lot of these bigger, older bands give props to us as a younger band was pretty cool, too. Exodus really reached out to us and was giving us mad props. Jinjer was really good to us as well.

Did you get a chance to do any sightseeing or find any cool things to do in any of the cities?

In Prague, we went to the big castle there. In Barcelona, we went to another big church. (La Sagrada Familia). In every city we kind of try and find a beach or a cool food spot to just hit up and see as much of the local stuff as we can.

What are your favorite parts of playing festivals like Louder Than Life?

Ooh, there’s so many great bands. Ghostemane plays the next day and I think we’re going to hang around to catch him. At these big fests, just going around and meeting everybody and seeing what they’re up to is cool.

Some of these bands we’ve played with before, but we’re going to see those artists again and see what’s up. We’re new to this so it’s fun to check everything out and see the behind-the-scenes. It’s just cool to kind of check out the grounds and catch some cool artists, go hopefully meet some and chop it up.

Vended Cole Espeland interview
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You’ve been out on the road now traveling more than ever. What are your must-have items that you have to have on the road with you?

I like to have a jump rope because I like to really stay active. Any time there’s a hotel gym, I like to get a good little 30-40 minute workout in every day. It kind of clears the brain, especially after being cramped in a van or bus all day.

For the most part, I might just grab a guitar and jam and just try and forget about what’s going on around me. I know Griff plays the Nintendo Switch, which is kind of his thing. We all just kind of have a little niche to forget about the tour part and just kind of have some normal life because jumping from city to city, is hard on the brain sometimes.

Are there any hidden travel gems in Iowa that you think people should come and see?

B-Bop’s in Des Moines is cool. It’s a burger joint, like a fifties style diner. For the most part, Iowa’s just a very relaxed and chill place. Knotfest is also really cool for an Iowa visit.

Vended has been touring for about a year now. How is the stage show continuing to develop?

Whether it’s a stadium show or a tiny hundred-capacity club, we just give 110%. Whether it was the Code Orange Tour in April or this tour now or the European Festival Stadium show headliner, we just try and put as much energy out there as possible. On the small stages, you might be cramped, but you just got to play where they put you and give the fans the best show you can. 

Can you tell me a little bit about the makeup designs and characters you have on stage? 

We knew we had to do something to set us apart from other bands. On stage, it’s a lot more than just the music. People sometimes listen with their eyes before their ears.  Back when we were 14, 15, 16, we kind of were thinking, let’s get some stage clothes together. And then we thought, what’s another thing that could set us apart?

So, we decided let’s try some kind of makeup, so each member kind of just did their thing with the makeup – face, arms, whatever, and created their own design. It gets us in the mood to play, gets us in that different mentality, and then it sets us apart from other bands visually.

Some bands can definitely rock t-shirts and jeans on stage, but we think for our situation, having our makeup and having our stage clothes just puts us to that next level in our minds and visually. 

Back in July, you released “Ded to Me”. Is there more new music coming soon?

Yes, there will be more music coming soon. No specific date as of now or nothing that I can speak of. But we have a lot of shows coming this year, so we’re going to keep pushing new stuff out. And then maybe something really big will happen early next year. Something along the lines of a full project.

What’s the songwriting process like?

It’s very collaborative with all of us, but usually it’ll be myself or Simon jamming drums and guitar, just kind of throwing ideas at each other for a couple of hours. Then we’ll bring it to the other guys and iron out all the wrinkles to make it a full, smooth project.

Griff does most of the lyric writing himself, but we’ll add little touch ups here and there, but overall it’s mostly collaborative. But me and Simon kind of get the meat and potatoes  down and then everybody throws their ideas in as well.

How did the band form?

Griff (Griffin Taylor) and I were in middle school together and I would always see him walking up and down the hallways, singing and screaming and stuff, just having his headphones in. I didn’t even know about Slipknot at the time or any of that background, and I just saw this kid singing in the hallways.  

I played guitar, so I was like, ‘that’s the kid I want to start a band with.’ So, I just reached out to him and we started jamming together. When we got into high school, we got connected with Simon (Crahan) and then the other guys just kind of came along. We’ve been playing together for about six years now, just kind of figuring ourselves out, jamming and writing. But that’s how it started back when we were 13 and 14 years old.

Vended Cole Espeland interview
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The band has stayed with your original lineup. Why is it so important to stay together?

For us, friendship and brotherhood really come before the music. If we’re not playing, we’re literally just asking each other to hang out. It goes further than the music for us. We’re literally like brothers. If we’re not playing on stage, we’re still together a lot of the time. The lineup is super strong and once we found our five guys we really just stuck at it. I don’t think we have any intentions of changing the lineup anytime soon. 

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