Interview / The Promise Hero


Starting over isn’t always the most ideal option when it comes to music, but sometimes it has to be done. Renaming yourself and keeping your previous music appears to be a bigger challenge. Instead of having a fresh start, Cleveland’s Bobby Vaughn has decided to rebrand his music under his name and continue to play The Promise Hero music in his set; and he’s been receiving a lot of questions as to why he wouldn’t just start over.

“I see it as a continuation,” Vaughn explains. “I see it as changing the name to Bobby Vaughn and anyone else I say this to they’re like, ‘No, you’re starting a new project.’ Truthfully I’m playing the same songs as The Promise Hero. I’ve been a solo member as The Promise Hero since 2011, so it’s been seven years by myself. I started off with four of us that were in it to win it and when a couple guys wanted to move to New York to do their own thing, I respected that, but I felt like I didn’t want to replace them until I found the right fit. It was something that I created with them so I felt weird doing that. I felt like nobody really was going to be their personality with what creativity they brought.  So I’ve been going solo since that other one guy faded away. I’ve been playing The Promise Hero songs solo and I’ve had friends join me onstage, tour with me, and ask me if they could be in my band and I’ve always said, ‘Let’s see what happens;’ next thing you know, I’m by myself again.”

Vaughn found inspiration to rebrand his music while on the road with Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness and saw the passion he wanted to present onstage while on the road with Shakey Graves.

“I worked as a roadie occasionally to make money and the first band I worked for was Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness. I would help build his piano everyday and I was his merch guy. I got to see what it’s like being a pianist on tour. Then I worked with another guy called Shakey Graves for the last four or five years and I was his guitar tech and merch guy and I got to see what it’s like to be a solid, amazing performer. I’m putting those two things together and I’m playing piano now and I’m trying to be a solid, entertaining performer.

“Similar to Andrew McMahon is he plays everything from his previous names as well, Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. That’s his show, he pulls things from all his career and that’s where I feel inspired to do the same thing. I call it changing the name, but if people want to look at it as a new act, I’m not ditching anything that I’ve helped write and put out. I’m excited to just put it all together.”

Starting over would seem like an easier option when you’re going from a punk-rock full-band to just yourself and a piano, but Vaughn believes in his ability to captivate a room and have the audience enjoy themselves while watching him perform.

“I’m playing a quieter instrument. I guess because of my transition of having members; I was a loud punk-rock band in the beginning, but I guess going solo leaves me with only a few options, which includes, if I want to play on stage by myself, have backing tracks. I just decided I wanted to use a piano. Ultimately, with that choice, it’s going to sound different, but I definitely want to preserve the energy and the amount of excitement and entertainment you can get from a show. I want that same liveliness in my sets, somehow as a single person. That’s the challenge I have. I can’t say that I’m doing that. I don’t know if people would necessarily agree that’s what I’m doing, but that’s what I’m trying to do.”

“I want to rebrand as Bobby Vaughn because it clears up a lot of confusion or questions as to who’s in the band. It’s just me and I’m excited to continue on as just myself and whoever wants to join me for shows and have live, full performances with backing members, is something that I would love. And that’s where I’m at right now. Twelve years in the making.”

Rickie McCanna