An interview with Janesville metal band, VERSUS ME
by Mike Huberty
September 2017

Janesville's VERSUS ME - photo by Elizabeth Wadium

Janesville's VERSUS ME
photo by Elizabeth Wadium

Janesville’s VERSUS ME is talented AF. If you like hard rock there’s lots to like. Singer James Milbrandt has a fantastic voice when he’s singing, usually on the chorus ‘cuz the verses are always gutteral, more percussive than melodic. Bassist Lee Milbrandt and guitarists Patrick Thompson and Clint Greendeer are super heavy (but maybe give the 6-stringers a solo a sometime, c’mon!) On recordings, drummer Dustin Helgestad sounds like triggers and MIDI, but that’s the way heavy rock sounds now, if he can even play half of it live, then he’s awesome.

Alright, this all makes me sound like an old man (back in my day, drummers had to do cardio to be able to double kick!) The fact is, these guys are on the upswing with cool videos, major label level production, and you just know that they’re going to be rock n’ roll heroes with the hometown Janesville crowd at WJJO Sonic Boom - and they’re better than half the stuff JJO plays most of the time. I watched all their videos and then talked to them about their upcoming performance, influences, and more. Sunday October 1st they’ll be performing early, so don’t get too drunk on Saturday and come down and see these guys!

MI: What bands do you consider influences for VERSUS ME?
VM: Early bands that really pushed our sound were ATREYU, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, AUGUST BURNS RED. All of those bands were so riffy and intense you couldn’t not want to play music like them.

MI: What makes you want to bang your head?
VM: The guitars, guitar tone, breakdowns, riffs, harmonies, solos if necessary. There’s nothing more intense and exciting then going to a metal show that you just can’t quite experience at other types of shows. If you’ve been to one, you know what I’m talking about!

MI:  What track should people check out for their first one? So they can sing along at Sonic Boom?
VM: I think we have a wide range of music which gives us the chance to play with all different types of bands. The song that probably shows most of our diversity in our style of music is our song “(A)Tension”. It was the first song we released as a band. It goes from soft to heavy and even has a little rapping style in it too. 

MI: What’s the story behind it?
VM: The song was written about anxiety and its a relate-able topic for a lot of people. Besides the song having a variety of musical styles in it, we were also able to have our friend Craig Mabbitt from ESCAPE THE FATE do guest vocals on it. I think any listener will have a roller coaster of emotions listening to it, but will find themselves with the chorus of “Will this ever stop, or ever slow down…..etc,” stuck in their head!

MI:  What shows have been really memorable for you so far?
VM: We had a couple most memorable shows. First being our first show in Edgerton, WI at the teen center there. It’s where we shot our music video for “(A)Tension”. Our second being Sonic Boom. We all have been working so hard to achieve the level of a festival, especially having it fall in our own home town. Can’t get any better than that!

MI: What’s the plan, yo?
VM: We have been writing a ton of music lately. I think we have a couple curve balls we are going to throw our fans, but in a good way. We are a metal band, but we also want to progress in many different directions but still keep our main fan base. I think we can achieve this and make it exciting for our current and future fans. 2018 will be starting off in a great way for VERSUS ME.

MI: If people come to Sonic Boom, are you guys gonna deliver the goods or what?
VM: Seeing us live you will get 110% no matter what size show or venue we are playing at. We spend a lot of time on our live show and choreography. It’s what we feel a lot of bands don’t spend the time doing.  You’ll be seeing our newest single “Real Life Monsters,” along with a few other singles and songs off our debut cd “Changes.”

MI: Tell us a little bit about Janesville and the scene there, anything about the town that inspires you?
VM: Janesville is a great city with a lot of talent, especially musically. There’s several different music genres coming out of our area. It’s just finding the ear for your style of music. There’s not a lot of venues for Metal music, but its a different scene now than 10 years ago where there were underground venues everywhere within a 2 to 3 hour radius. We try to show people and fans that you don’t necessarily have to live in a major city to be a good or popular band.  You have to write good music and do all the leg work to achieve your goals. We hope to take this as far as we can!

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