Groups often start when a couple of people, with a shared musical vision, get together. Guitarists Keith Kane and Matt Scannell, impressed with each other's talent and musical direction, began working as an acoustic duo in the early '90s. After a summer of gigs and day jobs, the duo had enough money to record a CD "There and Back Again" in '93. That landed them some opening act work. Their next release, "Running On Ice," featured a fuller sound and included Dave Matthews Band drummer Carter Beauford. But for roadwork, a series of bassists and drummers rolled in and out.
Here's where it pays to be nice. Drummer Ed Toth was working at Borders Books and Music when Scannell's mom came in looking for a Vertical Horizon CD. Toth's boss was very helpful and as a "thank you" she put the manager and a friend on the guest list for an upcoming show. Toth turned out to be the friend. When he heard the drummer was leaving, he set up an audition. With Toth in the line-up, Vertical Horizon produced "Live Stages." The CD moved some of the group's earlier acoustic songs into the electric realm.
The last to join, bassist Sean Hurley, came on board in '98. Released in mid-99, "Everything You Want" immediately established Vertical Horizon.
The album sold over 1.5 million copies due largely to the title track going to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and Adult Top 40 charts. It was the most played song of '00. Then there was "You're A God" which rose to #4 on Billboard's Adult Chart. Though it didn't really help the band a whole lot, it's worth noting that "Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)" became a Top 20 Country hit for Gary Allen.
Unfortunately, '03's "Go" didn't have the same impact. Things like that don't go unnoticed by a label.
Probably no one realized there would be a five-year hiatus before the next album came out. One reason was the band ended their relationship with RCA and moved to Hybird Recordings. The label re-released "Go" with the song "Better When You're Not There," that was not on the RCA version. "Forever" was the single from the '05 re-packaged set.
Later in the year, Toth announced he was leaving. Substitute drummers filled in until Ron La Vella was selected. Meanwhile, Toth joined the Doobie Brothers.
"Burning The Days," Vertical Horizon's sixth studio album landed in '09. ""There is a lot more variety and quite a few different artistic moods on this record - almost different sonic landscapes... a lot of these songs feel like a faster tempo than anything we've ever done before," said Scannell. One sonic factor could be attributed to the contributions by Neil Peart. The Rush drummer had written the lyrics to "Even Now" when his friend Scanell asked if he would play on the track. Peart was emphatic. ""No one else can play drums on it — I won't let anyone else play drums on it. I have to play the drums on it." Peart also lent his talents to "Save Me From Myself" and "Welcome To The Bottom."
"Everything You Want" is Vertical Horizon's best effort. Scannell concurs. The opening songs are excellent guitar Rockers though the album tends to mellow-out on later tracks. Going back to their indie albums, now distributed by RCA, "Live Stages" and "Running On Ice" are best seen as part of a developmental process.
Given that Vertical Horizon started as an acoustic duo it probably shouldn't be a surprise that the group would revert at some point. "Go" is a largely a collection of acoustic/electric songs with a high number of ballads ("I'm Still Here," "Goodbye Again" and "Echo"). There are also a couple of solid mid-tempo songs ("It's Over" and "Won't Go Away"). "Sunshine" is a dense Rocker but it is clearly outnumbered. Jenkins' moody lyrics and airy delivery are prime for the Adult Alternative market.
"Burning The Day" presents a laidback, low-key Vertical Horizon. The group's gift for melody and arrangement is evident on "The Lucky One," "Back To You" and "Afterglow." "Save Me From Myself" is dark and dramatic but doesn't really go anywhere. Also, on this track, "Welcome To The Bottom" and "Even Now," Peart's contributions are limited and reserved, though "Even Now" is a pretty good ballad.