JS: You were saying a line that got cut off about when you two met. Can you finish it?
“And then pretty much two weeks into us knowing each other we were writing….”
V: And then pretty much two weeks into us knowing each other we were writing songs in local parks using my journals and Jamey’s acoustic. Soon after that, we were recording those songs in the van. It makes sense that years later we would be playing shows in the van. Very excited for the second consecutive Tiger Army show tonight at Slim’s. Last night was a very intense drive by for us. We consider it a big responsibility opening up for an act like Tiger Army.
JS: How do you manage your bipolar-ism now? Are you on meds?
V: I’ve tried meds. Some worked, some didn’t. I have a bottle of Seroquel I keep for emergencies, but mostly I keep off it. For me, medication was only a bandaid. It just numbs my pain, there’s no fixing it. I figure I may as well use bipolar as a tool. It strengthens me, I’ve learned so much about myself and people because of it. It is a very serious mental illness so I don’t recommend people who have bipolar to go without some sort of healthy coping method, but I do believe that pain teaches the willing.
JS: Jamey joked about how you guys are the only people who like your music. Is this true? Do you not really care what others think about it?
V: We understand that, for most people, any music with screaming carries a certain amount of taboo or mere contempt. And the few who do love the technique of screaming thin out even more when a trap beat or an electronic beat is present. A lot of people still interpret any combination of screaming and synthetic beats as Crunkcore, which our music is very much not. Crunkcore was a genre of music represented primarily by bands who could easily be defined as completely ridiculous. We are still receiving negativity associated with Crunkcore. We do care about what people think, but we like to make light of the subject.
JS: Could you see yourself doing this band, making this music with anyone else besides Jamey? (or vice versa)
V: In the past, I tried to start bands without Jamey and it was a mess. I’ve done a solo-project, but it was just too depressing. Something about Jamey and I’s chemistry has always resulted in the best times of my life and also my favorite music. It would be completely against my own happiness to work with someone else.
J: Volly and I have made my most uplifting and terrifying music to date. Vantana Row is what she used to trick me into marriage.
JS: I’m assuming a lot of your music is a joke….yes or no?
If it is a joke, are you surprised by the attention you’ve gotten and the fact that you have fans?
V: Our music is no more a joke than, let’s say, most Blink 182 albums. We do joke around a lot on our albums so I get how people could come to that conclusion but it’s hard to personally answer yes to that question when so much of my lyrics revolve around my struggle with self-hatred and negative thinking.
JS: How long have you been living the van life? What’s the make and year of your van?
V: It’s a Dodge Ram 3500. We slept in the van on occasion as far back as 2011 but we started consistently sleeping in the van in 2015, while hanging out at our rehearsal studio (shout out Rehearse America, San Leandro, CA lol). In 2016 we started hanging out in the van full-time but still had a rehearsal space (that one was in East Oakland). We didn’t start doing drive by shows until February of this year. We also hadn’t released any videos that depict what our drive by shows are until February of this year. We recently released a live performance of “On Wednesdays I’m Going To Make It” and in this video we hadn’t done a drive by show yet, so everyone in the video had little to no idea what was going on until we were pulling away.
JS: Your earlier bands: What genre of music were those? Rock? Indie?
V: Our earlier bands made mostly post-hardcore music but we have always incorporated synthetic elements into the mix.
JS: Where’d you film “It Sux?” Where was that mini mall?
V: The video for “It Sux” was aimed to be filmed in more rural areas but we settled for Antioch, California, our hometown where we originally met. It’s a hilarious location for any music video, I think.
JS: Yo! My phone’s not working right now, FYI, so hopefully you see this email today. Thank you for the answers! Very very niiiiiice.
One more question: The video “On Wed I’m Going to Make It” what venue was that you parked your van outside of? What street were you on? Telegraph? It was hard to tell!
V: Hahaha! Yes, we were specifically going for very very niiiiiice answers. On that night, we played at two venues: The Stork Club and The Golden Bull. So you are correct about Telegraph. Since then we have performed and filmed over a dozen drive bys and we don’t have any plans to stop. P.s. We had a lot of fun hanging out with you and Mischa!
JS: I had a lot of fun hanging with you guys, too! Thanks for putting up with me! Question: How should I spell your new album, “Forever”? And please please holler when you have any cool underground shows coming up!!!
Oh and how do you throw CDs to people in your drive by shows? do you throw them out the window? Or open the door? Or do you have a hole/slot?
V: Haha yeah we were having too much fun coming up with that album title. It’s spelt: 4ourIVer.
You probably already have the spelling for these but just in case:
I throw the CDs through the side tinted windows that hinge open from the bottom, creating two small slots. I put my hands through them for just about the whole song. Our next music video will have some current live shots showing my hands doing this. Because people can only really see my hands, I think it invites some filtered form of intimacy. Atleast one brave person grabs and holds my hand every nine out of ten shows we do like this. The interactions we’ve shared outside these clubs have been outrageous and beautiful.