EMQ’s with VULGARIAN
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Denver, Colorado based Sludge Metal band, Vulgarian. Huge thanks to all of them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
AD: Anders, I yell into a microphone. Vulgarian was started the day after the US presidential election in 2016 because we were so pissed that we elected that clown we had to lash out in some way.
TH: Thomas, hitting things with sticks, generally on tempo. Anders and I had originally intended this to be a pretty straightforward d-beat band, but we brought in Frank, who had some other ideas — which have worked out really well — so we had an interesting start with him and another bassist who was playing in a jazz metal band at the time. In the first two years, we released an EP and played a few small festivals.
FB: Frank,I play guitar and provide backing vocals for Vulgarian. We originally started with our friend Cody on bass, who had more of a jazz background; this combined with my penchant for riffs that can be a bit noodly produced an early sound that was more angular and with more odd-time riffs. Cody left on amicable terms to focus on his jazz project, and our new bassist Kevin shifted the balance of influences back toward Melvins and Neurosis.
KH: Kevin, I make the big blang blang sounds on the bass. I joined Vulgarian right as they started writing this release we’re about to drop, and as the fellas already said, my imprint on the sound has been to move things closer to sludge fundamentals, always been big into Melvins and their ilk. Thomas originally pitched this to me as strictly a side project, and it ended up taking much more of my focus after we all found common creative ground.
How did you come up with your band name?
Like every band this decade: come up with a hundred great band names, realize they’ve already been taken by like four other bands — two of which have active Cease and Desists against each other — and start grasping at increasingly esoteric names. I read an interview in 2016 where Trump was described as a “short-fingered vulgarian” and knew that was a decent name we could get away with — though there are similarly named bands abroad!
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Some of us are from Denver, Colorado or have lived there for a long time. It’s an amazingly vibrant scene, I’m sure anyone serious about metal can think of a great band from Denver. It can be kind of top heavy. Before Covid, there was always a good show going on and hundreds of mediocre ones so it can be tricky for new bands to break in, but the scene is incredibly supportive. It was a pretty regular occurrence to go back and forth between a couple great shows a night, or see an internationally acclaimed fairly mainstream metal band like Primitive Man play a bookstore.
Our guitarist is from Chicago, Illinois, which has a larger -core representation, and not the good kind — but he pines to crack my head open on the sewer grate in the middle of the Reggie’s floor one more time.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
We will be releasing our debut album “Human Scum” on October 30th in addition to a single.
While you wait, check out their two track Demo “Thoughts And Prayers” from earlier in 2020!
Who have been your greatest influences?
We have a wide range of influences because each member brings something completely different. For vocals: largely 80’s hardcore bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Dead Kennedys with some classic sludge bands like EHG, Dystopia, Grief, etc. For drums, a little more of the charismatically drummed doom stuff like Reverend Bizarre and Boris. Our guitarist is definitely a huge Opeth fan and really enjoys metal in that style, and before which resulted in a rather strange-sounding self-titled EP before we reigned it in. We made him listen to nothing but Melvins for two weeks in order to get the bullshitting out of his system and recalibrate him to a more root-note centered riff philosophy — and it worked. Now the riffs are coming from more of a mashup of Yob, Neurosis, Dystopia, and Discharge, with a hint of Death.
What first got you into music?
TH: My parents forced me to play music from a young age — and were subsequently incredulous that I wanted to play in bands when I was older and take it more seriously. It was your idea!
AD: Same, Black Sabbath coming on the radio while I “help” my dad work on the family cars started it all.
FB: I’m a depressed millennial so Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” was the first album to make me go woah. But in my early teen years I broke out of that once I discovered Opeth, Amon Amarth, Agalloch, and Gojira, just like most of the sad metalheads I hung out with at 15.
KH:Like many things I got into in junior high and high school, music spoke to my escapism, and I chased that feeling of escape into increasingly extreme genres before finally finding my home in metal. My folks supported it until I lost any interest in playing with the church band that they’d bought my gear and lessons for.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
TH: The idea of playing with Jello is fun, but I’m guessing the reality is significantly less fun.
AD: Dolly Parton, I love classic country and since she is down with BLM would be great to hear her amazing voice belt out some support over some nasty riffs.
FB: I would love it if we could write something with Vermin Womb or Black Curse.
KH: I think I’d be into performing for a record and while Stephen O’Malley from Sunn O))) toys around with our entire signal chain and makes crazy sounds out of it.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Some of us just get burned out by fests or even long shows. So really, anywhere that is interesting outside of the fest itself, whether that be for the geography or culture.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
A fan tried to register a misspelled domain name for us. We had to beg them to not do it.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
No matter what happens this election, don’t forget about how you felt this summer when everything was coming to a boil.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
TH: Honestly, I hate that loading drums in and out of both the venue and practice space and setting them up takes much more time than actually playing the shows. I think everything else, even the boring and challenging stuff, is great. The scene brings out some of the best people I’ve ever met, and some of the worst, and sometimes it isn’t always immediately obvious who’s who.
FB: I love touching people’s feelings. It means a lot to me to watch people be genuinely interested in your music. I really hate it when people learn I play metal and they ask if it sounds like Gwar or Metallica. It’s 2020, educate yourself. Also, navigating an ocean of shitty people. I’m tired of learning of how many people close to us have actually been total bastards.
KH: I enjoy the opportunity that it’s given me to make lasting connections with some really cool people, and the sense of community and connectedness that comes out of it. The metal community is the first place where I ever felt like I belonged. I hate that the cult of the smile has bled into that community from Corporate America, making it difficult to get an honest answer out of someone if the truth is hard or prickly.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
It would be nice if it was easier for musicians to get adequate financial compensation for their time.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
TH: Anders and I are probably going to name Dead Kennedys – “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” or “Plastic Surgery Disasters.”
AD: Don’t forget “In God We Trust Inc.”
FB: “Vertebrae” by Enslaved or “Morningrise” by Opeth.
KH: “Houdini” by Melvins.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Personally, I think we all prefer the experience of listening to vinyl, especially music that was made for the format.There are definitely albums that sound worse on vinyl, and obviously, the best format is the one you can actually listen to – CD’s are the best format if you’re driving a car from the early 2000’s.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Early on we played a show where Anders broke his ankle while moshing to the band who played after us (Voideater) so that was pretty memorable…especially since we were going on tour the week or two after and he wouldn’t be able to help with load in / out. Okay, maybe that was the worst one.
One that we remember fondly was a basement show we did to benefit the Rojava in Syria. It was a day or two after Thanksgiving and during a blizzard so hardly anyone showed up. It was a classic case of having to play for your friends in the other bands, but was still an excellent time — we played well and the other bands killed it. In fact, not even the residents of the house were able to attend, they were stuck in the mountains due to the blizzard.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
TH: This summer we were doing a lot of direct-action stuff, which was really taking up our free time during the heat of it. But otherwise, I don’t think playing music really dominates most of our time. I like to ski mountaineer, develop software, storm chase, etc.
AD: I’d probably try stand-up to scratch that performing itch. I’m pretty introverted 90% of the time but I need that 10% getting up in front of people and I’ve always admired good stand-up.
FB: I’m currently a therapist and am spending every second of my non-music time working toward full licensure in the state of Colorado.
KH: I’d probably relocate for work more often and experience other cities. I work in technology and have had to turn down some good jobs just because I stay with my music after building a lifestyle around my bands.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Waylon Jennings, Anthony Bourdain, Carrie Fisher, Richard Pryor, and Weird Al.
What’s next for the band?
Not any shows anytime soon. We’ll probably work on material as the need arises and work on promoting this album as best we can, and see how the political landscape unfolds after the election and if shows are going to be a real thing any time soon. Hard to plan with so much uncertainty in the future. Since the album recording process was a big effort, there’s definitely a little bit of attention being put back to our other bands (like Thomas and Frank in Postnihilist and Kevin in Dreadnought). We’ll of course be continuing to do direct action and societal engagement, especially as the next few weeks and months promise to be chaotic and critical. Don’t play shows during a pandemic, your band’s not that great.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
As Americans we had to look this up — never had one. Our definition of “cake” and “biscuit” also differs from yours. Vulgarian has no official stance on Jaffa cakes.
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