Formerly known as Casting Pearls (but changed to avoid confusion with Casting Crowns), this one time trio of front man/guitarist/songwriter Bryan Olesen, bassist Case Maranville and drummer Scott Rutz has expanded to a four piece (now including guitarist/keyboardist Riley Friesen) and redirected its guitar charged rock to incorporate additional dance elements, while subsequently signing with INO Records.
They released their self-titled debut album to stores nationwide on Feb. 10, 2009 and received rave reviews from media outlets far and wide. Check some of them out:
“VOTA takes a fresh spin on the same players' arena-filling alternative rock offerings and occasional dance-floor fillers.”-CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
“Olesen’s syrupy vocals are perfect for this sort of music, and most of the songs are electric. VOTA shows its writing chops here, re- minding listeners of God’s love and redemptive power, making this a strong debut.” –CHRISTIAN RETAILING
“Catchy, honest, and encouraging, 2009 looks to be a big year for VOTA.” -JESUSFREAKHIDEOUT
The group’s self-titled debut is loaded with artistic innovation, taking cues from the players’ previous alternative dichotomy, plus additional influences ranging from dance poppers Maroon 5 to ethereal rockers Augustana. Add in a return outing with famed producer Nathan Dantzler (Relient K, Audio Adrenaline, Tree63) and VOTA brilliantly straddles the line of current and timeless.
“We really tried to throw the rule book out the window with these sessions and we tried to look at each song specifically and give them what they needed,” offers Olesen. “We stretched our limits in every sense even down to the way we recorded. A lot of times a band records the drum tracks, then bass, then guitar and then vocals, but we took it one song at a time, which made the process more expensive, but artistically it was great to freshly move to each element. In the end, all the tracks have a wonderful diversity, which allows you to listen all the way through and put on a nice iPod shuffle mix.”
Beyond the studio, that fleshed out sound has expanded on stage, leaving VOTA a force to be reckoned with either in headlining, festival or even outreach styled environments such as on its ongoing 180 Tour, a public high school assembly program designed to encourage students in their character and decision making. The foursome’s veteran status certainly doesn’t hurt, with Olesen serving as arguably the most explosive rock n’ roll front man in recent memory.
There’s no doubt anyone leaving a VOTA show will be thoroughly entertained, but outside of a mere performance spectacle, there’s a much more introspective thread that runs through the guys’ sets. Besides showcasing a relatable message that runs the gamut of personal and spiritual relationships, plus being lights in even the darkest corners of society, members’ humanitarian interests are also major components.
In addition to their music, the band teamed up with Food for the Hungry and has donated $80,000 to efforts in Kenya.
“We’re not looking to be defined by being musicians and rock n’ roll and we hold on loosely in that sense,” Olesen sums up. “Now that we’re not 16-year-olds wanting to be rock stars, we’re sensitive to where God wants us and I think that’s given us a mature focus to kind of break the mold of going through the motions- whether that be with the way me make music, the 180 Tour and how we interact with everyone we meet along the way.”