They went on tour repeatedly, sleeping on the floors of sympathetic fans and watching their peers grace the cover of AP. But after making a decidedly different album, initiating a massive personal housecleaning and securing the backing of a major label, only one question remains: Will there be any way of stopping VAUX?

Story: Jonah Bayer

They look more like a roving street gang than a rock band-and even though they’ve recently shorn the stringy hair that once obscured their faces, there’s still a black panther creeping up the bassist’s forearm. They’ve been together, in one incarnation or another, since 1997 and have probably opened for your favorite band on more than one occasion. However, despite all this, most of America hasn’t heard of Vaux.

There are plenty of ways to rationalize their identity crisis: You can cite everything from poor distribution to being lumped into a scene where the band never truly fit in. But ultimately, the members of Vaux-vocalist Quentin Smith, bassist Ryder Robison, drummer Joe McChan, guitarists Chris Sorensen and Adam Tymn, and guitarist/keyboardist/lighting operator Greg Daniels-still don’t know why they’ve yet to experience the success of their gold-selling one-time tourmates like Coheed And Cambria and the Used. “I don’t know; I would really love to know what it is,” Smith says about the underwhelming mainstream response the band have received until now. “But I have a feeling it’s going to change, I have the feeling we’ll be picking up people we wouldn’t have expected to pick up with our last record.”

Smith has reason to be optimistic. The band’s major-label debut, Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice, is bigger in every possible way, from the production values to the budget to the stakes that are riding on its success. But, most importantly, it’s the album the band have always wanted to make, in the sense that it finally reconciles the band’s hardcore roots with their unironic love of ’90s alt-rock. “It’s one of those things where we were listening to all these bands that we loved, but we were playing music that was totally different,” Smith explains. “It was like, ‘Why are we doing that?’ Why don’t we incorporate a little bit more of what we enjoy listening to into what we play?’”

To do this, the band retreated outside of their comfort zone, off to Jacobs Studios in Farnham, England-the same place where Radiohead’s Pablo Honey and the Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead were put to tape-to record the follow-up to their 2003’s Volcom release, There Must Be Some Way To Stop Them, with Garrett “Jacknife” Lee (U2, Snow Patrol). Beyond Virtue sounds distinctively like Vaux, yet nothing like anything their previous recordings. Smith has abandoned screaming for a tasteful croon that sounds eerily like his hero Billy Corgan (those who have heard Vaux’s version of Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” can attest), while the rest of the band utilize triggers, pianos, industrial beats and even the occasional xylophone to bring their collective musical vision to fruition. But that doesn’t mean the band have abandoned the heaviness of their past work; they’re just trying to redefine it.

For the rest of the story, pick up AP 208 below…