Volume 92, Issue 12

Thursday, September 24, 1998

write all about it


The Vandalizing of London's music scene

Photo by Lisa Johnson

By Myles DeRosse
Gazette Writer

Preparing for the Detroit show on the The Vandals' North American tour, bassist Joe Escalante takes time from his busy schedule to notice his surroundings.

"Right now we're in a really nice hotel in a really bad neighborhood." He goes on to describe the music they have been playing for over a decade as "good old, California punk rock."

The Vandals are presently on tour to promote their latest album Hitler Bad, Vandals Good and are noticing crowds of up to four times what they have had on previous tours. Needless to say, they are loving every minute of it.

Along with increased attendance at live shows, the band is also enjoying improved record sales – which is a very positive thing when one considers that punk sales are dropping faster than the loonie. Escalante attributes the rising numbers to the strength of the new album of which he says "is our best album to date."

Hitler Bad, Vandals Good is a true punk album which could easily be categorized with their major influences, including NOFX, Lagwagon and Pennywise. Other than just enjoying these bands, they also pay tribute to Pennywise with a cover of "Come Out Fighting," in dedication to Jason Matthew Thirsk's memory.

Not only is their album a modern punk gem but their live show is reflective of this great energy. "It's sure not for the whole family," Escalante jokes, adding the show contains a highly sarcastic tone. He says the show includes a "no preaching" policy – which in other terms means they don't spread propaganda.

The Vandals understand their audience is mainly comprised of teenagers and they don't want to put ideas into their heads. "We want kids listening to their parents and not running around with beliefs like 'the government sucks' and 'kill your parents' because a band said so."

Since The Vandals are not using their lyrics for a political platform, they fill their songs with humorous, wacky lyrics. Some songs could be considered grotesque, but mainly they are made in good fun. Escalante says they get most of their weird ideas from hanging out, joking around and watching movies. "A lot of our stuff is stolen from David Letterman."

In recent years The Vandals have not just been taking from the media, but they have also made a fair contribution back to the art.

The Vandals were featured in an episode of the X-Files where the main character, a homicidal teen, was sporting a Vandals t-shirt. He also had the title track off a Vandals earlier release Live Fast Diarrhea playing through his head. This show alone gave The Vandals exposure to millions of people.

The Vandals are also broadening their horizons by working on an internet show that will be broadcast like a TV show, but over the internet.

The show is titled Fear of a Punk Planet and is about punk kids who own a club and try to get bands to play there. "It will have the feel of The Larry Sanders Show, but for punks," Escalante believes.

The band isn't just doing television shows. They have been working on a film project with Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Mallrats). The Vandals will also have an appearance in an upcoming film by Jeff Richardson called Citizen Punk expected for release in early '99.

A lot of exposure for a bunch of punks.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998