Letting go is hard, but if you want to move forward, it’s something you have to do. Floridian post-hardcore quartet Vagrants know this better than most. Last year, the band were rocked when their original vocalist announced that he was to spend time in jail. The news initially dealt a huge blow to their ranks, particularly in the case of guitarist, co-vocalist and chief songwriter Jose DelRio, who’d founded the band with drummer Anna Hayes in 2017. Having made waves via debut single “Window Panes” and with plans in place for a follow-up EP, the discovery that their frontman was to face incarceration threatened to shackle a bright young group just when they looked set to break-out of the local Pensacola scene.
“I’ve known our previous singer for a very long time––he’s one of my best friends,” DelRio begins. “To lose him from our lives completely when he went to jail was hard––it was like having the rug pulled from beneath us. Ultimately, though, it prompted a big change for us all.”
With a good portion of their debut record already written, Vagrants regrouped and pressed ahead with recording. Finding a replacement for their former singer in Dylan Knapp––a man who’d originally been drafted in to play bass before impressing the rest of the band with his vocal ability––Vagrants set about channelling their turmoil into a post-hardcore sound with roots in the genre’s star-studded past, but with one eye firmly on its future. Said record, the four-piece’s debut EP Separation, is a brilliant first move born out of loss.
From the self-reflective poeticism of “St. Anthony” through to thoughts on losing those once close (“Circle Of Friends”) and lamentations on a broken relationship (lead-single “Clarity”), Vagrants tackle all facets of the concept behind which their record is named. It all comes to a head on Separation’s title-track: the only song wholly written after Knapp’s recruitment, its lyrics attempt to make sense of the EP’s tumultuous inception, and whilst at times things get pretty dark, a powerful “carry on” message shines through.
“It’s mainly about how we felt when our old singer broke the news,” DelRio remembers. “We were trying to cope with losing one of our best friends, whilst also needing to figure out where we went from there and coping with the uncertainty of what was to come next. In the end, we realized we had no choice but to move forward, despite an important part of our lives coming to an end.”
Each of Separation’s five tracks is about losing someone or something close to you. An EP whose primary aim, according to DelRio, is to provide solace, comfort and catharsis to the listener, it’s a body of work which spans many facets of alternative music but one that retains its identity and heart throughout. A sound that combines They’re Only Chasing Safety-era Underoath with the raw intensity of Taking Back Sunday and the forward-thinking nature of Circa Survive and Being As An Ocean, Vagrants’ music is taking post-hardcore to territory previously unexplored.
Separation is the sound of a band refusing to give in and emerging victorious, and whilst its creators have had to let go of the past, in doing so, they’ve opened the door to a future bursting with promise.