Tag Archives: Rockabilly

Interview: Vic Victor of the Koffin Kats

Punk / psychobilly rockers Koffin Kats currently are kicking ass overseas.  The band, who recently released an all new full length album called Our Way & The Highway on Sailor’s Grave Records, has been touring non-stop in support of the release.  With plans on touring the states in the Spring, Koffin Kats show no intentions of slowing down at all.

I reviewed Our Way & The Highway last month and was beyond impressed with what I had heard.  I am really looking forward to seeing these guys live again sometime very soon.  Their mix of punk rock and psychobilly keeps things entertaining and fun.  They are a hard working group and skip all the bells and whistles and go straight for the kill when it comes to performing live.  They are a punk rock band.  This is what they do.

I had the chance to chat with Vic Victor, the band’s vocalist / stand up bassist this week.  While in Spain, Victor was more than happy to answer a few questions about the band and their recent release:

BHP: Our Way & The Highway rules. This might by my favorite release by you guys. How happy are you and the band with how it came out?

VV: Thanks! We are rather proud of this one… I’m very happy with the way the mix came out. Damn close to how I had originally heard the songs in my head while we were writing them. If not better.

What did you do differently this time around?

We sent the raw tracks out to be mixed by Rene De La Muerte from the Canadian Psychobilly band The Brains. In the past we have always just mixed in the studio with the engineer we were recording with.

Any reason for the delay in dropping a new album?  I thought hit was supposed to drop last year.

Originally we were going to put it out in November 2011, but we realised that it wasn’t enough time to properly promote it. Besides we were in no real hurry. This being the 7th release in 8 years of the band, I think we are putting albums out at a good pace.

So how’s Tommy Koffin doing these days? Do you still talk to him at all? It really does not seem like the band had any difficulties with getting Ian to speed. Am I correct in saying that?

He’s doing fine. We all still hang out whenever we are home. We were practicing the day Ian arrived from New Mexico. Really havent taken any breaks since his joining, so he’s going through the intensive training program. haha.

After initially listening to the new album, I realized you shared your vocal duties with Ian. Whose idea was that?

We have never done that prior and i thought it would be a good change up. Plus it makes the song “Choke” flow more natural between the verse and chorus by going back and forth with the vocals.

“For The Good Times” has what sounds like an empty bottle solo, did you guys dispose of those drinks properly?

Ah studio drinks. Yes those are necessary. Its good to keep the vibe a bit loose when recording.

I can not help but compare “The Devil Asked” to a Butthole Surfers song, maybe it was from the deep mono tone intro, but still, this song strayed away from the others. Was that the idea of this track?

Actually I had no idea how i was going to sing the verse part until the day I had to record the vocals. The night before, I was sitting at the bar and it came to me to do it almost Tom Waits style.

Do you have a favorite track off of Our Way & The Highway? I dig “Locket Of Sin” and “For The Good Times” the most on the album.

“The Bottle Called” has stuck with me as one I’m more proud of. It was the first track written for the album. It was actually released on split we did with 12 Step Rebels earlier in 2011. But that song right was the model for writing a lot of the tracks on Our Way & The Highway.

You guys tour a ton. When you have downtime, what do you do to make ends meet?

There are two reasons we tour so much. One being because we feel it’s necessary to get out there and push as hard as we can promoting the band with live shows. The other being that because we are gone so much, no job would have us back for only a few weeks at a time, so we have to stay on the road to pay the bills too.

Touring overseas has got to be amazing, but how does your upright bass take those trips? Have you had any casualties with your standup or any other equipment for that matter?

We have fried a few pedals and tuners with the power difference haha. I shipped my first upright over for the first Euro tour and it lived there until a few tours ago when I sold it to a band after it was just too beat up to play anymore. Then my current upright was one left over there by The Quakes. Two days after I got it the neck broke due to it falling over. Not an easy quick fix, but I seem to have developed a talent for rough road fixes on uprights. Its still holding strong on this current tour.

So if you had your choose, what bands would you want to tour with alive or dead?

Alice Cooper for sure. He’s not dead yet so maybe that can happen haha. I’d also like to do a tour with Bad Religion.

That would be insane.  Who are some of your favorite bands you have toured with in the past?

We have been very lucky to hit the road with bands we have looked up to like Nekromantix, Long Tall Texans, The Meteors, & Mad Sin.

What is the response from folk who have never heard or seen you guys live before?

They are usually not sure what the hell just happened but they are usually happy hahah. The upright bass really grabs ones attention when they are not familiar with it and what can be done with it. Gained a good amount of following outside of the psychobilly world because we play all over the place for crowds who sometimes don’t know of anything related to psychobilly but dig that we are loud and fast.

How do you describe your sound to someone who has never heard of you?

Its easy. I always say punk rock with an upright bass. The hard part comes if you get asked what kind of punk rock? Then I say… you really should just listen to one of our records.

That’s the best way to check anyone out.  So, what made you all jump onto the Sailor Grave Records roster?

They have put out some great bands albums in the past and we were looking for a label that we thought could help promote us better. For the first time, we are very happy with the way a label has worked with us.

That’s great to hear.  Seeing that 2012 has just started, what plans do the Koffin Kats have before the world ends…?

If the world does end at any point this year… we will be on tour when it happens. We are pushing to hit the 250+ show mark this year. Last year was around 230.

That is impressive!  Anything you would like to say?

Just want to thank everyone who has been spreading the word of this new record and we will continue to tour and hope to see ya out at a show.

One last thing, when are you guys coming to Cleveland?

Well see ya in the spring and in the fall.

The Koffin Kats are currently on tour and will be hitting up the states in the Spring. Visit the Koffin Kats’ website for more tour information.

Album Review: Koffin Kats – Our Way & The Highway

Last week Detroit’s rockabilly act the Koffin Kats dropped an impressive release titled Our Way & The Highway.  Recently signing to Sailor’s Grave Records, a primarily Oi! / Punk label, the band continues to make great outlaw punk rockabilly music that strays away from the doom and gloom and focuses more on fast times and taking chances.  People usually consider the Kats to be “Horror-Punk” but their 6th release is straight up, fun and addictive psychobilly  punk rock.

Having toured the globe continually for the last 8 years, this band has earned their solid fan base the old fashioned way.  If you have not seen them live before, you can expect non-stop fun through their sets.  In fact, the band prides themselves on not-stop touring and making each night a party.  Bringing this kind of attitude to the venues on a regular basis ensures nothing but good times – trust me, I have seen them live before, it was great.

“Riding High” starts off the album full-forced with a sound very similar to something off The Damned’s Grave Disorder (I adore that album btw…).   Vic Victor has a voice that easily could rest along the lines of Elvis and even Chris Isaak and is showcased immediately as heard in the opening track.  “The Way Of The Road” rubbed off as a rock track for a moment and soon morphed into  schizophrenic variations of punk rock and rockabilly.  The song really kept my attention with thanks to the ridiculous bass playing.  Very cool song to check out if you have never heard the Koffin Kats before.

“Severing Ties” was straightforward and exactly what I expected to hear from the Kats.  “For The Good Times” talking about mass consumption and good times even has some drink ware used as instruments for a solo.  This song is by far my favorite track on the album.

I could not help but compare “The Devil Asked” to a Butthole Surfers song.  It was very off key from the rest of the tracks on the album, yet fun to rock out to. “Locket Of Sin” sounded way more personal and gloomier than other tracks on this release with the story revolving around a troubled connection between a man and his woman.

I must admit that I rarely get into rockabilly / psychobilly / any-billy these days, but I really enjoyed listening to Our Way & The Highway.  In fact, after listening to this album, I am going to be digging into the Kats’ catalog as it’s been a while since I have rocked out to them.

Full of catchy solos and rampant machine-gun bass playing aligned with great singing, Our Way & The Highway is easily likable regardless if you are a huge fan of psychobilly or not.  I really think that this is the album that will act as a stepping stone for the Kats to emerge from the underground scene and really hope these guys make their way back to Cleveland soon.

Concert Review: Wagons / Dirt Daubers / Heelsplitter – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH – 09/11/2011

Well Cleveland, I hate to say it, but you all missed out Sunday night on one hell of a show.  I am not one to usually say things like that, but Sunday night was an amazing night of music and chances are, you were not there.  For those of you who were though, I am sure you can all agree that Wagons, The Dirt Daubers, and Heelsplitter all put on a memorable show.

Sunday night was all about Americana, folk, and outlaw country inside the Beachland Tavern.  Making a triumphant return to the best little venue in Cleveland, Henry Wagons and his band Wagons traveled all the way from Melbourne, Australia making sure that Cleveland was one of their stops.  About a year ago, Henry Wagons came to the states without his band and played a solo set at the Beachland Tavern.  Later that night Wagons told me that he would bring the rest of his band back soon and play Cleveland again.  The man kept his word.

Local openers Heelsplitter wowed me instantly with their “Frankenbass”, a homemade upright bass with the body being a drum and one string bolted to neck of the instrument.  The two bearded males and cute female act played some awesome songs and had me actually question myself at one time, “are these guys really from Cleveland?”  The band reminded me of Split Lip Rayfield, a band I really adore, but did not completely rip them off.  Frankenbass, banjos, washboard, and no drums provided for a great start to the night.   I loved it when the trio all switched up their instruments and played more tunes.  I witnessed various Frankenbass playing styles  from plucking to beating the hell out of and must say, marveled at its creation.

Up next was the husband / wife act The Dirt Daubers.  Featuring JD Wilkes of the Legendary Shack Shakers, the duo, normally a threesome, admitted that they were missing their bass player and Jess would be filling in on the kick drum.  Their set was full of rockabilly, blues, country goodness and it was just two people on the stage playing the music.  Never mind the fact that Jess was dressed in quite the adorable dress, she kicked that drum all through their set in high heels as if she had done it many times prior.  Laughs were shared by the duo and crowd she Jess admitted a couple songs in that “this is fucking hard” and soon said that if she kept playing the kick drum she was going to have one Popeye leg.

JD looked like Buddy Holly in a way with his banjo and harmonicas strapped to him.  Throughout their set, they played songs from their upcoming new album titled Wake Up Sinners. I could not help but be amazed when JD would rip a harmonica out of one of the holsters attached to him and would play it.  I was more impressed when JD grabbed his washboard and showed the crowd his secret to not using a strap to secure the washboard – he stuck the legs in his front pockets.

The duo played a few more songs and covered Elvis as well as Gene Autry.  Towards the end of their set played a fast paced jam featuring a kazoo.  It was the best kazoo playing I have ever heard.

I wanted to hear more from the couple, and I think they wanted to play more, but had to kindly exit the stage and make way for the headliners.

It turned out a lot of people came to see The Dirt Daubers over Wagons and I thought for a moment some people might pick up and leave before the main act, but Jess told the crowd how amazing and fun they were the other night.  She even stated that Henry dedicated each of the seven songs on his set to each of the seven people that were in the bar the night before.  I would estimate that there were about 20 people in the tavern by the time Wagons took stage.

Opening with “Shake & Tumble” off the bands brand new release, Wagons turned the heads of anyone who was not looking at the stage.  It was not all business for the band as Henry talked to the crowd throughout songs confessing he knows “what a big deal primetime television is” and admitted that he has been powered by buttered vegetables for the last couple of days.

Henry mentioned Cracker Barrel quite a few times.  The man loves his American cuisine.  He even took a moment to ask the crowd where he could get some bacon ice cream and seemed disappointed when someone screamed back IHOP.

While playing “Save Me”, Henry left his band behind and jumped into the crowd headband and all.  Masking the best of his surroundings, he joked with the crowd how the band was probably sick of him and soon returned to his brethren and played “Never Been To Spain”.  I heard Henry play this song last year at his solo performance, but when the band backed him up this time, I was just floored with how awesome it sounded.  The band then moved into Wagons’ version of “The Gambler”, where Henry told the crowd that he wanted to be the next Kenny Rogers.

Before the band broke into “Driving Home” Henry asked for tips on getting to Chicago.  Someone mentioned toll booths and, of course, Henry found humor and asked “tall boobs?”

The rest of the band was included in discussions as well and props were given to This Way Out, the sweet shop that lies below the Beachland.  Once of the band members actually bought a shirt there prior to the show.  They did not say why, but after the show I found out he did that because he was wearing a Cincinnati Bangles shirt.  He was not trying to be crude, he seriously had no idea.  Apparently someone yelled at him before the show started.

Hoping to hear more songs by Wagons, they played more personal “Moon Into The Sun” and then closed the night with “Willie Nelson”, a track about, you guessed it…  The soon crowd was all singing along “he likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal” with the band and soon after the set came to an end.

There could have been two people or two hundred in the tavern Sunday night.  The band did not care one bit and played their hearts out to all those who attended.  The people that were lucky enough to witness that which is Wagons showed their approval throughout the entire set.  Ironically one of the guitarists told everyone that he had played a ton of shows and Cleveland was one of the best shows he ever played.  He was dead serious too.  After everything was said and done I was chatting with the band and it was either Mark or Chad that told me he was dead serious about what he said.  He loved the tavern that he just played in and was glad to have been able to do so.  They all told me they would be back again one day to rock out.  I know that is not a lie either.  I see big things coming from this Aussie outlaw county band.

Nick 13’s Solo Debut Is Streaming on Spinner Right Now!!!

I’m not sure what you are doing at the moment, but if you can, head over to Spinner and check out the new Nick 13 solo album that drops today.  Spinner is streaming the album in its entirety and I am loving it.

Nick 13, most commonly known as the singer and songwriter of Tiger Army, has gone a new route and created some acoustic storytelling-Americana songs that are driven by his unmistakable voice.  His solo attempt is without a doubt something different from what many people might expect from a rockabilly/punk artist, but I can tell you this…it is amazing and he did a damn good job.

From a press release I received:

Nick’s debut album for Sugar Hill Records features acoustic and electric guitar, standup bass, pedal steel, fiddle and much more from a wide pedigree of players who connected with 13’s genuine passion, understanding and knowledge of the history of the music and forward-thinking vision for the future. Some of the folks on the album include Lloyd Green, Sara Watkins, Josh Grange, Eddie Perez and Mitch Marine, in addition to the album’s producers Leisz and Intveld.

 Nick offered fans a brief preview of his solo work during encores at Tiger Army’s 2009 “Octoberflame II” event, followed by a full unveiling on the Palomino Stage at Stagecoach last year. “Nick 13 paid earnest homage to Merle Haggard and Ray Price, both of whom [followed] him shortly on the same stage,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
West Coast shows (including a stop at the roots-music mecca Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, California) preceded a second major festival appearance at the 15th-annual “Hootenanny.” Playing second to last, just before Chuck Berry, Nick delivered an hour long performance the Orange County Register called nothing less than “an artistic triumph.” Earlier this year he made his first ever appearance at South By Southwest.
Nick spent much of the past two years writing and recording his debut solo album in Los Angeles and Nashville (even living above Printer’s Alley for a time) – laying down tracks like “Nashville Winter” featuring pedal steel legend Lloyd Green, the Bakersfield sound “101” and the atmospheric “Carry My Body Down”.

I hope to have a review of the release shortly, until then, enjoy…

I Am A Zombie For Her Love

Sorry Those Darlins, I have another crush now to add to you three.  Not that you three will ever lose me as a “Those Darlins Junkie”, but today I was introduced to Kim Lenz, a redheaded rockabilly beauty from L.A. who is joined by her backing band The Jaguars.  This modern day rockabilly band is amazing and I can not believe I have not heard any of their material before.  That of course is going to change for this guy…

I am shocked to hear she has been putting albums out since 1998 and a rockabilly fan like myself never heard about her.  Then again I am not the biggest rockabilly fan so I am sure I am going to be missing out on good bands.  If any of you readers know of any I should check out leave a comment at the bottom of this post and thank you in advance.

Check out the awesome “Zombie For Your Love” video off Kim Lenz & The Jaguars latest release It’s All True!.  Look for the “Thriller” reference in there while you are at it too.

Zombie For Your Love