All too often a band picks up a label or gets thrown into a certain genre, simply because of one song or a section of one song. From that moment on, regardless of their growth and progression, they cannot shake that label. This is something that cannot happen with this week's band because they are so sonically diverse. Yet, I have read many reviews simply calling their sound surf rock, and throwing out names like Dick Dale and The Beach Boys. Let it be said that on their debut ep, The Vandelles do reach into soil and the muck and pull out the corpse of surf rock, but they don't polish it up at all. They cherish the dirt and grit, the bare bones and dark carvernous echos of this shell of a genre. Then they dig deeper by adding layers of distortion and drums, builting something completely new and fresh on top of the corpse. It is one the best debut ep's I have heard in along time.
Recently, The Vandelles took some time out to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): Where did the name Vandelles come from? It sounds both criminal and classic at the same time.
The Vandelles (TV): We wanted a name that sounded like it came off of a Phil Spector collection. Martha and The Vandellas came on the radio, someone thought it would be funny to call ourselves the Vandelles, and it stuck. Second-place name was The Rockettes but apparently there's some ballet outfit in New York that had it trademarked.
OA: Your sound has been described as equal parts Beach Boys and Jesus & Mary Chain. How do you become influenced by surf rock in Brooklyn? Who are some of your other influences?
TV: Ever try surfing in the East River? Thats where all that dirt in our surf melodies came from. The surf thing is only one small aspect of our influences. We're just as much into girl groups like the Shangri-las and Crystals, shoegaze and noise type stuff like Slowdive and Sonic Youth, as well as stuff like the Cramps, The Ramones and Link Wray.
OA: In the era of new media (streaming audio, blogs, downloads, e-card, etc.), how do you personally measure success?
TV: The only way to possibly gauge success in terms of popularity and getting the music out there is the old fashioned way; playing shows and hoping that more people are at this show than were at the previous show. Outside of that we really don''t concern ourselves too much with measuring success as far as the "new media" is concerned, as it's all relative to how many people downloaded your song or blogged about you on any particular day, as the new media outlets tend to creatle and dismantle favorite new bands on a daily basis. Success is better measured on a band level- writing good songs, playing good shows, breaking sufficient equipment- and keeping a distance from the factors we can't control.
OA: There are certain bands that you hear on recordings and can tell immediately that they will be a sonic force live. I believe that you are one of those bands. What do you try to accomplish or convey in your live performances?
TV: Science tells us modern man has 5 senses. In our live performance it is the goal of the band to engage each one of these five senses in the members of the audience. Currently during our performance we have 1) Music and 2) Projections to accompany the music. That leaves us with 3 senses that need to be engaged. The first 2, taste and smell, are easy; Food. If you can taste something, then you can probably smell it, right? We are going to take turns baking food for the audience. Next show we have Lisha making her famous Mac n Cheese, and the one after that Jason's gonna be making some brownies. That will be a fun show. So that leaves one sense that has to be engaged, and the most difficult one at that- Touch. We're throwing around the idea of passing out carpet samples at each show. My personal idea was for each of us to just get bigger amps and turn up, so that way the audience can really "Feel the music, man". We're not sure if that would count though, we're having a scientist look into it.
OA: What's next for The Vandelles?
TV: Future Plans include- Write, Record, Tour, Capitol Records, $$, Brown m&ms, Los Angeles, Coke addiction, Possession of Firearm, Rehab#1, Seclusion, Bankruptcy, DUI, Book of poetry, Rehab#2, Jesus, Reunion concert.
OA: What is the strangest moment you have ever expirenced while on stage?
TV: That would be playing a Brian Jonestown Massacre song, looking up mid-song and seeing Anton Newcombe staring back at us from the front row. He was not amused.
OA: What is the last great book you have read?
TV: The Vandelles don't really read books, unless books on tape count, in which case the last great book I read was Exile On Main Street authored by the Rolling Stones.
Fever of the Beat/Swell to Heaven (mp3)/Die For it Cowboy/Lovely Weather (mp3)/Dead Wave
For more information on The Vandelles please visit their website or check out their myspace page.