No need to change directions with this Maryland based rock band. Straight ahead, onward and upward!
VEER is an award-winning hard rock band from Annapolis, Maryland, founded in 2016 by Ronald Malfi, Jon Malfi, Ryan Fowler, and Christian Mathis. Their debut album, Apocalyptic, Baby, was released on December 1, 2018, where it immediately broke the Amazon Top 100 rock albums. That same year, they were awarded Best Rock Band by the Maryland Music Awards, then received an award for Best Rock Song for their single, "Come Clean," by the World Songwriting Awards, an international organization that promotes and recognizes songwriting in various genres throughout 129 countries worldwide.
By Kreig Marks, March 2021
KM: You guys got together in 2016 and by 2018, had your first album recorded, Apocalyptic, Baby. The album was received very well. That same year, you were awarded Best Rock Band by the Maryland Music Awards and then received an award for Best Rock Song for your single, "Come Clean," by the World Songwriting Awards. For a new band, that rapid success must have been a thrill.
Christian: Definitely an unexpected thrill!
Jon: Yeah, it was definitely unexpected to say the least. We had been working hard on perfecting our songs, stage show and playability as a band. I guess all that stuff really shined through with what we were doing and people were taking notice.
KM: Ron, you said that the songs are “about nothing and everything all at once.” Can you elaborate on that? What’s going on in your mind or the band’s when you’re writing your songs?
Ron: It’s important that the songs resonate with different people for different reasons, so in that respect, the songs have to have enough room, enough ambiguity and openness to interpretation, as possible. Any particular song should mean something different to anyone who listens. It’s like poetry in that way—you’re asking your listener to bring their own experiences along with them for the ride.
KM: Have any fans reached out to you to say that one of your songs really touched them personally?
Ron: Not to get too deep, but our song "Come Clean" is about someone close to me who dealt with--and ultimately overcame--drug addiction. In talking about the meaning behind the song with a mutual friend, that friend was surprised to learn the history of what this particular person had gone through. It opened up some dialogue between them. It was a good thing.
KM: So, you guys have been together about 4 or so years now. How did you all come together?
Jon: Well, we have all been friends for a very long time. Shit, I think we are over the two decade mark at this time, lol. Obviously, me and my brother Ron have been playing music together ever since I could remember and Ryan was in another band with Ron back in the day. Christian was also involved in other musical projects and we were all friends. Ron and I happened to be coming off of a decade or so hiatus from the “scene” so to speak and we were looking to start a new project. I own a small custom guitar manufacturing company and was about to throw our annual music festival and one of my artists needed a backing band. Well, Ron and I filled in for him and got the music bug again. We made some phone calls to the other guys and the rest is history.
KM: Jon, you and Ron are brothers. Some bands, like the Black Crowes, The Kinks and Oasis featured brothers and a lot of times, there was a constant struggle between them for creativity because of their egos. These guys would literally beat the crap out of each other. How’s it been so far with both of you in the band? Any guitars to the side of the head?
Ron: We beat each other up all the time for any small reason so we don’t need to blame the band for contributing to that. But seriously, because we’re so close as brothers we’re also close as bandmates. We have no reservations of talking frankly and directly with each other, which also includes criticizing each other. Jon and I disagree more than any other two guys in the band—sometimes about minor stuff, too. But with that also comes an innate ability to read off each other. I think Jon sometimes foresees chord changes I’ll put into a song as we play it for the first time because he’s so familiar with my writing style. Similarly, I have a sense of what Jon will do on drums as we work our way through a new song.
Jon: Lol, yeah we fight about a lot of shit but it usually lasts for five minutes or so. Then we are cool, then we fight again, then we drink a beer. It usually has nothing to do with the music either. One minute we are arguing about a chord progression than we are yelling about Star Wars or Ninja Turtle figures. We argue about a lot of stuff but nothing serious. We are extremely close with each other and really good friends. I think when people are so close all the time there is no way of avoiding the occasional argument about nothing, but when all is said and done, we are homies for sure. No Oasis bullshit here, we are not rich enough to afford that, yet!
KM: Who in the band is the most laid back?
Ron: All of us except Jon.
Jon: The whole band is pretty laid back, that’s why I can’t be or we wouldn’t be talking to you now.
KM: Who in the band is the first one to get wound up and stir things up? (If you don’t want to answer this, no worries. I don’t want to be the one to blame if this question causes the band to break up or some guitars to be slammed against the side of someone’s head).
Ron: Ha ha! It’s Jon for the win, although it’s usually in a positive sense. Like, he’s not picking fights, it’s just he’s the most vocal about where he wants the band to go, and the most driven in getting us there.
Jon: Like the other questions I just answered, I have to be, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking to you now. Lol, I like to keep things moving and going forward on a consistent basis. Everyone in this band plays their role, mine just happens to be the dick head, and I’m OK with that. HAHA
KM: I guess you could put that on your bass drum head. That would make for cool conversation after each show. Alright, you finish the first album. Afterward, you guys write more songs but haven’t put out another album as of yet. When can we expect the next full album?
Christian: So far I think we are shooting for a late Summer - Fall release but like most planning during the pandemic, it remains a fluid situation. In the beginning, we had a lot of tunes in the tank but the pandemic has limited our ability to get together and rehearse. However, we are discussing different avenues to keep the chains moving.
Ron: Before Covid, we were planning on having that album done sometime last year, like summer of 2020 or so. Of course, those plans got derailed. We’ve since released a new single and a video to support it, “Red Tide,” and have two other songs in the can. These were done during a recording session before quarantine. Now, as the country moves toward vaccination, and people are figuring out how to more properly function during all this mess, we’re starting to look at how we can work on new material and get back in the studio to pick up where we left off. I’ve been writing a lot of new music while being stuck at home and I know the other guys have some songs they’ve been working on as well; we’ve been sending demos back and forth to sort of get the pump primed again. It’s now a matter of getting together, working them out, and getting back into the studio.
KM: We'll be looking forward to some of the new songs. Take us through your songwriting technique. Is everyone involved initially? Do you guys have a plan that you try to stick to?
Ron: I write the majority of the songs. What that means is I’ll generally bring the skeleton of a song to the band and we rehearse it together a few times. Sometimes those songs undergo minor tweaks, other times we rework them more completely. It becomes a unified, group process at that point. This past year has been a bit different, with everyone stuck at home. My songwriting has been done in a vacuum; however, I can still hear on my own demos which songs are nearly complete as is and which ones will require rejiggering by the rest of the band—which ones will need to be “Veered up,” as the guys say.
KM: What song that you’ve written was the most difficult from start to finish?
Ron: “Breathe” off our first album was difficult only because it had a slightly different sound when we first recorded and mixed it, and it wasn’t really working for any of us. It just didn’t click. It wasn’t until we remixed it, took out a guitar, and changed the overall feel of the song did it suddenly snap into place. It wasn’t necessarily difficult, but it was a learning process.
Christian: We had to revisit "Hesitant" a few times to make it work. I think we had a vision in our heads of how we wanted it to sound and it took a little back and forth to make things work.
KM: You guys have a ton of awards from top song to charting. What do you feel has been the greatest accomplishment for you so far?
Ron: The awards and recognition are great, but any band will tell you the most difficult thing to accomplish is continually forward momentum—not only with creating a wider fanbase, selling merchandise, putting out fresh music, but just having four people committed to the same vision. That’s tough. Fortunately, we’re all friends, and we’ve had so much fun that it doesn’t seem like work.
KM: What is Magothy Music?
Ron: Our record label.
Jon: Yeah, our record label, publishing company, marketing company, merchandise company, pretty much everything. We wanted to establish an outside entity to handle all our legal and professional material. Pretty much an umbrella to house all our sub-companies within the band.
KM: Good idea. You guys seem to do a lot of your own promotions. How do you find the time to do that between writing, recording, family obligations?
Ron: That’s a Jon question.
Jon: That is why Magothy Music was created, lol. I am always moving and shaking! As a matter of fact, I am on a phone meeting right now while I am answering these questions, lol, don’t tell anyone. In all seriousness, you need money to keep a band moving, and with lack of funding to pay people to do things, we have to try and do as much as we can on our own. This allows us to continue the writing and recording process. So if you are reading this, go buy a shirt or CD from us!
KM: What’s the longest stretch you guys were away from each other during this pandemic?
Christian: Maybe 3 months or so, but we are constantly on ZOOM calls going over stuff.
Ron: I mean, we’re going on several months now. We were still recording at Ryan’s home studio back in the fall and early December or so, but then Ryan got sick and we all scattered.
KM: Did Ryan have Covid?
Ron: He did, but now he's back, stronger, smarter, and better, just like the Six Million Dollar Man. Well, maybe three million.
KM: Old school response! Steve Austin. The pandemic ends tomorrow. Where do you guys want to have your first big live show?
Ron: It always seems like a bit of a homecoming when we play Fish Head Cantina, so maybe there. Although our last show before the pandemic, we headlined Baltimore Soundstage, so it might be fitting that Soundstage is our first stop in this bold new world. Ha!
KM: Anyone you want to thank or give a shout out to?
Ron: VEER Nation!!!
Kreig Marks, Founder/Publisher, TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and to promote musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.