Month: September 2011

Victory and Associates – Rock band, not a law firm

Great piece in the SF Weekly about our record release show.

Google the phrase “Victory and Associates,” and you’ll find at least three exact matches: a professional recruitment firm in Dallas, a marketing and public relations outfit in Tampa, and a fiery rock ‘n’ roll band from the Bay Area.
The band comes up first — but even if it didn’t, the fact that this bunch of irreverent punk-inclined rockers managed to coin a moniker so perfectly satiric that it is actually the name of square businesses elsewhere is pretty impressive.

That kind of sly irreverence is exactly what we’d expect from Victory and Associates, an outfit that matches anthemic rock with punk energy and sharp-tongued critiques of materialism, narrow-mindedness, and other unfortunate but common traits of American life in 2011. This formula is employed with great proficiency on These Things Are Facts, a new album whose release the band will celebrate tonight at S.F.’s Brick and Mortar Music Hall.

Guitars and drums drive Victory’s music relentlessly forward with the ferocity of post-hardcore, but its songs are tempered with a pop-punk band’s ear for melodies. Lead vocalist Conan Neutron has a muscular shout that lands somewhere between boisterous and empathetic, introspective and ready to pounce, depending on the song. And unlike a lot of punk-leaning rock records, most of the songs on These Things Are Facts actually sound different from each other. Opener “Get Tough, Get Through It” is motivational fist-pumper; “You Can’t Eat Prestige” is a snarling, sarcastic taunt; and later on in the album, “Not Returning” meditates on leaving behind a constrictive hometown before exploding in the choruses. The only song that really falls flat on the album is downtrodden closer “Home Is Where You Hang Your Hope,” whose lyrics carry a bit too many cliches.

Still, through most of these 11 songs, sheer speed and sharp dynamic changes — along with potent singalong hooks — keep the momentum contentious and fun. These Things Are Facts is a smart, energetic listen — punk rock at the heart, but not too serious to throw down a soaring chorus or flashy guitar solo once in a while. It’s good enough to make us wonder if maybe that band name isn’t satiric after all.

There are other stories, but this one’s ours. – A record release in the age of indifference.

Friday is the record release of the Victory and Associates record: These Things are Facts. My one, and only band. There’s been a lot of build up to this and it’s been a long time coming. We tried our best to make a record of and for the times. I’m proud that we did it the way we wanted to in an age of indifference.

These Things are Facts is released locally to SF on 09/16/2011.,It will be in stores approximately one month later. This will be the 5th full length record that I’ve released in my “music career” of about 12 years. 3 with Replicator, 1 with Mount Vicious and now this, the first Victory and Associates record. I’m not counting eps, compilations, singles, splits. Just full length records and this is the 5th one that I’ve put out/had put out, but in a way it’s the first. Phoenix like, reborn from the flames.

This will also be the first (non-single) release show I’ve had in FOUR YEARS, that the band didn’t break up the night of the show. That sounds more dramatic than it is. I’ve had had 3 bands. Replicator broke up 6 to 7 months ahead of time, setting the self destruct for a final show that co-incided as a release of the final written material. Mount Vicious imploded after a grueling 5 week tour on the night of our record release, nearly a year to the date of announcing our presence to the world. (Ok. That one was dramatic.)

I spent the next 2 years, regrouping, refocusing, and attempting to use all that pain for something good. Not a cudgel or axe to tear things down. I wrote more furiously, and more from the heart than I ever had before. I wrote music that made me want to persevere, and honest lyrics that said what I needed to say and hear. I pushed myself to new and greater levels and beyond. And you know what? It’s harder than it seems. You risk ridicule, scorn, indifference and more. First world problems, but problems nonetheless. But if it’s worth the risk, it’s worth the reward. Whatever that may be. The whole while, the loose, rag tag bunch of smart asses and also rans I assembled had turned into quite a kick ass rock ‘n roll band. Eschewing the “mostly harmless” tag that some people so eagerly tried to slap on it.

When people hear the music and truly listened, they tended to like it and even love it, and they recognized the truth of it and where it was coming from. It resonates. Hey, I mean listen: You get kicked around enough, you taste enough failure… you start to think that’s all there is. You set your sights lower, take a deep exasperated sigh and roll over. This album, these songs, this band, is a stunning rebuke to that. Literally.

I mean that in the way that it was created and funded (a different post altogether), I mean that in the lyrical content. I meant that in the ethos of the band. Victory and Associates is no accident. These Things are Facts didn’t just blunder together. It’s exactly what we wanted to make and exactly the way we wanted to make it. That is worth celebrating on its own.

There are other stories, but this one’s ours.
I get sick of telling the story too, I wish I could just let the music stand on its own. As much as I like to think of us as brave warriors fighting a battle against “noble indifference”, we’re also just a bunch of guys playing music. Another record released in a world bursting at the seams with music, all of it vying for your attention. All of us competing not only with each other, but with all of music all the time. All of that music along with everything else happening in this oversaturated world of ours.

Look man: it’s like children, everybody thinks that theirs is the most special, and at the end of the day most strangers hear a bunch of noise and hassle. But we’re as proud as can be of this record it’s the one we wanted to make… top to bottom. A relentless, uncompromising attack on lethargy, indifference, disconnection, and background music for background people. More than that: A rollicking, powerful rock record that is truly of its times, a manifesto of how to deal with our crazy world of out of control infotainment and mediocre misery. Times get tough, you get tougher.

So am I proud? You better believe it.
I mean have you seen this?

How this record was funded is an interesting story, but in the end it’s just the tool to create the structure. It doesn’t make the home. Moreover, there will always be people that want you to the same thing you did before; the past can be a prison that way. You want those people to come along, but they don’t always. You get ok with that.

But that’s part of what this record is about, getting up and getting free of the chains that bind you, creatively… emotionally… shoot… physically if it came to it I guess. “If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” Nonetheless, there’s always that small sinking feeling in the back of your mind though. Nobody will show up to the party, people are too busy or “busy” to listen to the record. You’re wasting your time… you’re wasting your time.
“Say I’m wasting my time, say I’m wasting my life… get tough, get through it, alright”
(Yeah, wrote songs about that too.)

Here’s the thing: We made a great rock record, the one we wanted to make.
And we’re going to throw a crazy awesome party with all of our friends to celebrate that.
There. Things.

Archers of Loaf – “Sure I can put you on the guest list, Of course, I can put you on the guest list”

It is the year 2011. The era of autotune still reigns supreme and i’ve just seen one of my favorite bands of all time play for the first time ever. After having to turn down opening the show.

Let me back it up.

First of all, I play in a band. Moreover, I have been playing shows, touring when possible, and making records for over 10 years now, it’s my world and my culture. It’s something I am comfortable with and more often than not, it’s enriched my life rather than made it worse. However, the world of rock ‘n roll is a cruel mistress that often serves much more in the way of heartbreak and lowered expectations than the endless parade of drugs, sex and sold out shows that non-rock people expect.

I got this e-mail on the tuesday before the show by Matt Gentling of the Archers of Loaf.

Uhh… Dude?… Kind of a strange question but… What are Victory and Associates doing Friday night? I thought you had told me some of the dudes were out of town, but we had a band cancellation on Friday. Would you guys be able to/up for that show?

It’s the kind of thing happens, it happens a lot. But just not to me, not to OUR band, not from the *Archers of Loaf*. A band who I listened to so much I actually wore our my cassette copies of their records (yes, cassette, fuck you.).
Why was I getting that e-mail? Well see, the beastly bassplayer of one of my favorite bands became e-acquaintances over the last year as he was a supporter of this crazy ass thing I did awhile ago. Weirdly, I only knew him as “that awesome dude from North Carolina” not as the dude from that band.

One of the rare times that my near encyclopedic knowledge of useless rock minutia didn’t kick in automatically.

I’m getting off topic though.
So we got “the call”, one of the members of one of my favorite bands had asked us to play.
Aaaaand….We couldn’t do it. One of our members was out of town, hell out of state, and practically off the grid. The likelihood of pulling it off was near infinitesimal.

So what did I do? I paid it forward.

See there’s this band, they are our friends, peers and “labelmates” Hurry Up Shotgun. They’ve been kicking around as a band for awhile. One of the few bands that all 3 of my bands have played with over the years. Over those same years they’ve just gotten better and better. And their most recent record is easily one of my favorites of the year, in a year full of great records. They really are a great band and moreover they DESERVED the break.

“Hurry Up Shotgun contemplating a switch into the better paying career of restroom attendant”

Matt from AoL, ever the most crucial dude in rock, was totally into it and told me to ask them. Their reaction can be best summed up with this phone call I made to Shotgun drummer Adam Kayne. Waking him up with my phone call, I greeted him with this:

“Dude! Can you play with Archers of Loaf on friday at Great American Music Hall?”
“Uh… what?”
“Can you play with Archers of Loaf on friday at Great American Music Hall?”
(extended pause of nearly 10 seconds)
“Uh… What?”

Of course the answer was yes. But that’s the kind of call that just doesn’t come through for bands like us. Ever. Certainly not over the transom. And that’s one of the many, many reasons that Archers of Loaf are one of the best bands ever, they get it, they care. They just happen to be totally amazing as people as well as music makers.

So it was written, so it came to pass.

“Winners of the ‘bill’ most likely to confuse your grandma award 2011”

They played, how was it?

“SHITTY. hahah! Kidding, they were fucking amazing”

It was glorious, they were wonderful and it was a pleasure to see. Although a bit bittersweet. Here I was watching my friends absolutely kill it at the best show they’ve ever played in their life, something I had a small hand in helping make happen. They were fantastic, it was amazing and there is this sadness and a touch of jealousy to it. You work so hard on something put your heart and soul into it in a real way, (in this case our band’s music and record) and to have to pass on a show that’s complete bucket list material? Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. An also ran story at best.

But, it was the right move.
As I said, they deserved it.

If there’s one thing that i’ve learned though in my time on this planet, if you have the chance to do a kindness you should. I think this cruel and mean world would be a lot better of a place if people did that a little more. Myself included. Facilitating HuS playing that show was totally the right thing to do certainly more so than trying to hastily cobble together a set as a 3 piece or with a ringer. That wouldn’t have been fair to our missing bandmate, to the rest of V and A, Archers of Loaf or the audience.

I had a couple people that knew the details come up to me and talk about good karma or what not. Yeah, for sure. But that’s not why you do something like this. I helped get one of my favorite bands the show of their lives in front of their natural audience opening for one of their favorite bands. That really is reward enough. A single show doesn’t “make” a band, but in a world where just getting people’s attention is an uphill fight, it’s a rare and wonderful thing, and certainly a once in a lifetime experience.


These things ARE facts.

It’s a real thing:

And it’s awesome! Get into it: