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Music / Vertical Horizon

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Vertical Horizon is an American adult alternative band, initially formed by Matthew Scannell and Keith Kane in 1991 while they were students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and later joined at various periods by several members in different roles. The band is best known for its singles "You're A God," "Everything You Want," and "Best I Ever Had," all on its 1999 Everything You Want album.

The current line-up:

  • Matthew Scannell (lead vocals, lead guitar) - 1991-present
  • Ron La Vella (drums) - 2009-present
  • Donovan White (guitar, backing vocals) - 2012-present
  • Mark Pacificar (bass, backing vocals) - 2016-present

Past members:

  • Keith Kane (vocals, backing vocals, guitars) 1991-2010
  • Ed Toth (drums, percussion) 1996 - 2005
  • Sean Hurley (bass guitar, vocals) 1998 - 2009
  • Jason Sutter (drums; currently in studio and touring ) 2009 - 2010
  • Corey McCormick (bass guitar; currently touring ) 2009 - 2010
  • Eric Holden (bass guitar, backing vocals) - 2009-2011
  • Steve Fekete (guitar, backing vocals) - 2009-2012
  • Cedric LeMoyne (bass guitar, backing vocals) - 2011-2012


  • There and Back Again (1992)
  • Running On Ice (1995)
  • Everything You Want (1999)
  • Go (2003)
  • Burning the Days (2009)
  • Echoes from the Underground (2013)
  • The Lost Mile (2018)

The band has its own webpage, which can be found here.

Vertical Horizon's music provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: According to Matt Scannell, "I'm Gonna Save You" provides this.
    Matt Scannell: Sometimes complete disregard for reality and the absolute faith in one’s ability to overcome adversity can be unfounded, but also wonderful. This song comes from this place—thinking, "There’s no question in my mind that I will absolutely take care of you."
  • Album Title Drop: Running On Ice takes its name from a line in the song "Falling Down," Burning The Days from lines in the songs "I Believe In You" and "Carrying On," and Echoes from the Underground from the song "Evermore".
  • The Alcoholic: The first verse of "Wash Away" portrays an old man who "drinks 'till he can't see, all night, all night." The third verse showcases a family where the father is likewise an alcoholic.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Played straight in "Wash Away." Averted in "All is Said and Done" and "Back to You," where the man is the one being abused.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: "More" starts with a man and his lover in this position.
    He pushes your hair back, just like you like it; he watches you sleeping until you wake up, wake up...
  • Better as Friends: "Sunrays and Saturdays" has the narrator wishing his lover well as they end their relationship, while he says they'll still keep in touch.
  • Big Rock Ending: A number of their songs employ this. "We Are" and "Shackled," for example.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Japan" on the Running On Ice album has Japanese speech in the last verse.
  • Break-Up Song
    • "Shackled," the last track on the Everything You Want album, was written while Keith Kane was going through a relationship breakup.
    • "Sunrays and Saturdays," from the Running on Ice album, tells of a fairly amicable, though still painful, break-up of two people who find they're just not compatible with each other.
    • "I'm Still Here" isn't about a breakup per se, but it is about cutting ties with some who's holding you back.
  • Control Freak: "All Is Said and Done" is stated to be a commentary on these kinds of people.
  • Declaration of Protection: "I'm Gonna Save You" is the It's Just That Simple variety.
  • The Ditherer: "The Middle Ground" is a plea for the narrator's love interest to make a decision whether to take their relationship head-on or to break up.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In "Back To You," the narrator does this to someone who's been physically abusing him.
    All of your hatred that you hold so sacred, I am elated to give it back to you.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: The narrator of "Everything You Want" is revealed to be this in the final chorus.
  • Domestic Abuse: "All Is Said and Done" and "Back To You" have Matt taking the role of a man who has been or is being subjected to this by his partner. "Wash Away" implies this is the situation with the husband and wife in the third verse, what with the husband being an alcoholic.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The song "Even Now" uses the title phrase both as a description of time ("even now, after all these years...") and as a description of the current state of the relationship between the protagonist and his ex ("I guess we're even now").
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Inside" on the Go album:
  • Epic Rocking: "Even Now" clocks in at 6:43, building in intensity throughout.
  • Fading into the Next Song: A number of their songs do this. "Everything You Want" and "Finding Me" are two examples from Everything You Want.
  • Growing Up Sucks: "Lines Upon Your Face" tells the tale of a group of boys who grow up from childhood to meet the difficult realities of adulthood.
  • Heroic Resolve: "I'm Gonna Save You."
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In "Sunrays and Saturdays," the narrator and his lover break up because he wants this for her.
  • Irony: The idea behind "You're a God," which is stated to be based on the level of power others have over a person or vice-versa.
    Matt Scannell: Really, the title is ironic: you're a god and I am not—well, that's actually not true anymore, because now you're not a god.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: "I'm Gonna Save You" embodies this concept, according to Matt.
    Matt Scannell: It’s very much a knight in shining armor idea and sometimes that drives me crazy. Other times I think it’d be nice for someone to just come in and save the day.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Lost Mile, kind of. It's at least acknowledged by Matt Scannell to be more idealistic than its predecessors.
  • The Lost Lenore: Implied in "On The Sea."
  • Mood-Swinger: Matt, by his own admission.
    Matt Scannell: (His girlfriend) understands the mercurial changes in mood and gets that if I’m standing, staring out the window, I’m probably working. That can be a hard thing to get.
  • Never Say Goodbye: The message behind "Forever."
    Matt Scannell: You just need to mourn it, you need to shoulder it for a while and kind of move through it until you can get back up straight again and move on, or at least not let it go. That's what this song is about, it's about not letting go, but not letting it stop you.
  • New Sound Album: There And Back Again and Running On Ice consist largely of songs recorded to a soft guitar rhythm with almost no percussion accompaniment. Then you listen to "We Are," the first song on the Everything You Want album, which has plenty of percussion and louder guitar sounds. From there on out it's a mix of the old and new...and then there's The Lost Mile, which veers away from the rock-guitar style in favor of the style of old records and artistes who inspired the band's early days.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Matt Scannell has been identified as this. Lampshaded during this interview.
    Matt Scannell: (to the interviewer) You're not the first person who's asked me that. I think my mom was the first. She says, "Why are you always so grumpy?" I don't know.
  • Poor Communication Kills: According to Matt Scannell in a 1997 MTV interview (for which part of the transcript is seen here), this is part of the underlying message behind "We Are."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "All Is Said and Done" is basically the narrator telling off an abusive lover.
    I'm not going to bend now, you're not going to break me, you'll never be hard enough to scratch my face.
  • Religion Rant Song: According to this interview, Matt—who was raised Catholic—has had to set the record straight for people who assumed "You're a God" was this kind of song.
    I just would hate for someone to listen to "You're A God" and have to think that it's a song about letting go of religion. Because it's really about getting back my power.
  • Revolving Door Band: Matt Scannell is the only consistent member of the member of the band. The closest other was guitarist and vocalist Keith Kane who was present for the first 5 albums but left in 2010 with his position being replaced twice. The band is also on their sixth bass player (Sean Hurley being the only one to be present on two albums) and their second drummer.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Sung about in "Everything You Want."
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Discussed in this interview concerning the band's album The Lost Mile, which is noted to be much more optimistic than the albums that came before it.
    Matt Scannell: I have an inherent dislike for snappy, happy, the-world-is-great songs because I think reality is never black or white—it’s always a shade of gray. So, if you tell me everything’s perfect, I’ll call you on it, and I don’t want to be the guy who then turns around and makes a shiny, happy record. But at the same time, I’ve learned not to manufacture the emotions that inspire my songs and that if I’m in a good place, to honor that. If I’m not heartbroken, I don’t want to artificially insert myself into that place.
  • Split Screen: Utilized in the video for "Forever," to showcase different angles of the band's playing or to showcase scenes where Matt is walking along a city street or hillside with different aspects of the scenery being shown, or to juxtapose Matt's wandering with the band's playing at the same time.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: "Liberty" tells the tale of the narrator pining after his lover, who's in a relationship with another man.
  • Stepford Smiler: The plot of the music video for "You're a God" features a beauty pageant contestant who's all smiles when she goes up for the judges...but backstage it's a whole other story, as prior to going up she gets into a fight with a fellow contestant, and once the competition's over and she's alone backstage she flings her newly-won trophy at her make-up mirror.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: In the video for "Forever," at one point while walking through the woods, Matt stands next to a tree that has quite a few names carved into its trunk.
  • Teen Pregnancy: The second verse of "Wash Away" tells the tale of a young woman (explicitly described in the lyrics as "a young girl") with a six-month-old baby, who's on welfare and lamenting her missed opportunities.
  • Title Track: "Everything You Want."
  • True Companions: Sung about in "The Mountain Song."
    What you've done for me is more than I could hope for; oh you are my friend. And I'll be there for you through happiness and sad times; oh our love will pull us through.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Hinted at in "The Man Who Would Be Santa." Matt Scannell indicated that he wrote the song after an argument with his father.
  • Wham Line: In "Everything You Want", the POV character switching "he is everything you want" to "I am everything you want".
  • Word Salad Title: One version of the story behind the band's name goes that while Keith Kane was writing down a list of possible names, he wrote the word "vertical" then drew a horizontal line along the bottom of the word. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: "I Believe In You."
  • You Are Not Alone: "A Song For Someone" is basically written for anyone out there who may be going through their own challenges, with the very first line going "This is a song for someone all alone."
    "This is a song for someone I don't know; may your days get brighter as you go."