{Behind The Music} Vicious Mammals on Payday

 VM Treasure Island

Payday is at first glance, kind of the classic break-up song, but what I really love about it is that it’s got a twist to it. It’s up-tempo and it hits hard, and the lyrics have a swagger to them. It’s not all about being downtrodden and “woe is me”.” @viciousmammals

Jacqueline Jax logo photo

GETTING TO KNOW VICIOUS MAMMALS
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

 The beginning…
My parents, grandparents and older brother played guitar, so I grew up kind of steeped in music. It didn’t seem like anything special to me as a child to sing or learn to play – I just thought it was something everyone did. But I was really spurred into action as a teenager, when I was going through that phase where I felt self-conscious and awkward, like most teens do I imagine. It was about that time that I discovered punk rock music and the do-it-yourself ethos and realized that I could pick up a guitar and play and sing. I finally had something that made me feel good about myself and a positive outlet to pour all that teenage energy into and kill the boredom, so I stuck with it.

“Payday” is…
a song Dick Nitrous wrote himself, mostly. At first glance, it’s kind of the classic break-up song, but what I really love about it is that it’s got a twist to it. It’s up-tempo and it hits hard, and the lyrics have a swagger to them. It’s not all about being downtrodden and “woe is me”.

You can expect a lot from our music…
To me, Switchblade Ballerina is just a good old-fashioned rock & roll album. As a band, we came up through our local punk rock scene, but I hesitate sometimes to call this a punk album because it’s going in a totally different direction than most of the other bands in our scene today who are trending more toward hardcore or metal. Our sound is leaning back toward blues-based rock and bringing back the three-minute song, that timeless sound that people still love, but not a lot of emerging bands do these days. I don’t think it was even intentional at first; we just started playing together and found out that’s something we can all groove on. But we realized that’s where it was headed so we’re running with it.

We are from Wasilla, Alaska…
which is just outside of Anchorage. Like most Alaskans we like to get out into the great outdoors and we actually incorporate that into our music. People here want to be out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, so instead of convincing them to cram into a dark stale club for our shows, we take the show to them (whether they want it or not). For example, we recently played a show on a floating stage in the middle of a lake. All the people out there in their party boats and kayaks and jet skis swarmed around us; they loved it!

VM HaloThe music business has its ups and downs…
we all just want it to be purely about our art, but at the same time, it’s great to make an income from it so that the pursuit of art can sustain itself. I’m sure anyone would tell you that. The real pitfall I think a lot of new bands get trapped in is this perceived Catch-22. It is a business and people have money on the line, so they don’t want to blow it on unproven bands; they want someone who’s already somewhat successful. But a lot of bands think that they can’t become successful unless someone else is willing to invest in them. So they just kind of wait around for something to happen to them. You can’t sit back and wait! Musicians who are just starting out should realize how much “sweat equity” they can put into their bands, if they want it bad enough. Maximize the opportunities that are given to you instead of sitting around waiting for the ones that aren’t.

Social media is great…
As an Alaskan band, we love social media because it allows us to extend our reach. Of course, we want to tour hard but, from here, it’s such a logistical hurdle we have to make it count when we get the chance. We can’t just jump in the van and go. So, in the mean time, we use social media to bolster our fanbases around the world. The challenge is getting above the static of all the other bands, all the cat memes, etc. One tactic we use is to send out free stickers and patches to people on social media. If nothing else, we’re spreading promotional materials, but most importantly, we are making a personal connection with something tangible and “off-line”. We usually stuff the envelopes with hand-written notes on the back of old show flyers. I think it really resonates with people that we’re humans and not just some robots auto-tweeting links at people or whatever.

We prefer releasing albums over singles…
We released Switchblade Ballerina as a full-length album with just a few songs off the album dangled out there in advance as singles. I think as a new band, it’s important to get enough music out there as soon as possible to give people a chance to figure out your overall sound and decide if they like you or not. At the same time, I think releasing demo-quality material is a mistake. We already had 12 songs written and road-tested so we went straight for the full-length and I have no regrets. Plus, we are kind of old-school in our approach, so it really fits us to be able to offer our fans a “real album”.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with...
Johnny Thunders. No one played like him, before or since. I want to see his fingers move. I want to know what he did to get that monster tone. Who did he sell his soul to so he could sound like that? That’s what I’d ask him.

We do not care about being trendy or not…
This type of music isn’t for everyone. We’ve never worried about being trendy. We worry about making good music: good songwriting, good playing, good production. Trends come and go but if something sounds good, and the four of us like it, there must be other people out there who like it, too. So we just play what we want and do our best.

VM Halo 2

I am most afraid of…
the band breaking up! I’ve been in too many dead-end bands where someone’s been a dead weight or a constant source of conflict. These guys I’m with now, I’d go to the ends of the earth with them. That’s what’s scary about it, though. I’m just waiting for the big knock-down drag-out to happen. We’re overdue!

My personal definition of success is...
giving a performance that really moves people. We recently played a show in Fairbanks, Alaska that was awesome. Not the biggest music town, or the most glamorous venue, but we were jacked when we hit the stage and when we hit the first chord the place exploded! We’re reaching the point where we get more of those crowds that blow up when we play and it’s addicting. I crave more of that!

My overall professional and personal goal is…
to see the world, play as many shows in as many places as possible. I’m not the type of guy who can just wing on over to London and hang out, know what I mean? Music is the wind beneath my wings. I just want to keep going as long and as far as I can and see what happens.

I challenge myself and move forward towards my goal by…
1. listening to music critically. Up to this point, I’ve just kind of “winged it”, but I’ve come to realize that there is a lot of nuance to making music. I’m trying to pick up the fine details and really explore sounds to take our music to the next level.
2.believing in myself. I think all artists are their own worst critic, but if you ever want to get anything done you have to have to keep pushing ahead (even if it might be down a dead end!)
3.having fun. It’s easy to get caught up in the business and stressed out about booking or writing or whatever, but the reason we started this band was to have fun and that’s what keeps us moving forward.

Vicious Mammals Links Social Media:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/viciousmammals
Twitter: https://twitter.com/viciousmammals
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/viciousmammals
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/viciousmammals
Website: http://www.viciousmammals.comSwitchblade
Bandcamp: www.viciousmammals.bandcamp.cpm

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