Interview in Thrasher Magazine by Todd Taylor, published nov 2007.
THE VICIOUS ARE FROM a little kick-ass town in northern Sweden called Umea, where there's a punk rock renaissance going on. It's not the punk rock version of re-enacting Civil War battles where we all know how it's going to go down before a note's hit (but the uniforms look cool). Although The Vicious are aware of their roots--catchy songs of alienation you can dance to--they don't drag along on the crutch of nostalgia for their power. Their music couldn't be made in an earlier time. There's too much new millennium ugliness being spit into their eyes and etched onto their vinyl.
I guess you could call Umea's scene incestuous without the sex, where the spawn is a fuck-ton of great music. The Regulations, Demon System 13, (International) Noise Conspiracy--members from each of those bands comprise The Vicious, and their full-length, Alienated, is one of those slabs that make you go, "Yup. DIY punk's still kicking some ass."
You all, with your previous and other bands, have toured America. A lot of people--Joe Strummer comes to mind--said that the first couple of times touring America that it was like living in a movie.
Erik: I have never said, "Pinch me, I must be dreaming," before. But when we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on our way downtown, seeing Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Hudson River at the same time was like an explosion of impressions. It didn't feel real at all. It felt, like everybody says, like a movie. I came across the same feeling again some days later. We had played a late show in Raleigh and were going to drive to Philadelphia overnight. We stopped at Waffle House around three in the morning and that was the most American experience on that tour: the people, decoration, jukebox, food, coffee, toilets. Everything was answering directly to my prejudices I have after 20 years of A-Team and Ricki Lake.
Speaking of food, what's a Swedish dish that doesn't translate over to America?
Robert: We have an excellent dish called "palt." It doesn't even translate to the south of Sweden. It's potato and wheat flour shaped like a gray ball. You eat it with butter and jam. Delicious.
Do you have any advice for bands touring internationally?
Erik: Eat good food, all the time. My only way to stay above the surface on tour is to eat twice as much food than I do at home. And it's something to do in the van.
When I saw you play at The Clinic in Orange County, you were late because your van broke down on the Grapevine (where The 5 spills into Los Angeles). But when you played you didn't complain, didn't even seem phased.
Erik: Well, we didn't have anything to complain about. We had been sitting in that van without air conditioning nonstop from San Francisco, and when it overheated on the Grapevine we were so bummed out. Going over to the United States and having to cancel the show in LA because of car problems? It just felt like shit. But, in some way, the van recovered and we made it to the show late, but not too late. We had to run with our gear to the stage, plug everything in, and play some songs, all in 30 minutes. It was easily the best 30 minutes that day.
Where did that ethic come from?
Robert: It's all about having fun, not "putting on a good show." We want people to feel the same thing about the music as we do. We are humans, not entertainers. If we have a bad day then people will notice it.
I've called Umea the Dangerhouse of Sweden. Am I a wrong for saying so?
Erik: I don't know what dangerhouse is.
Weirdos, Dils, Eyes ...
Erik: I've seen it mentioned in reviews that we get, but I never looked into it. But you might be right, but most possibly wrong.
If The Vicious could do a split with any of the first-wave LA bands, who would it be?
Robert: I don't know. It would be a lot more fun to do a split with a currently existing band, like The Germs or something.
I always miss Mexican food when I leave the southwest. What's something that's everywhere in Sweden, but you couldn't find in America, that you were homesick for? You can't say socialized medicine.
Robert: Palt and salty licorice.
Erik: Regular breakfast. I don't get the point of eating a gross dinner before I'm fully awake. It's like eating when you're drunk.
What's the last thing that brought uncontrollable laughter in the tour van?
Erik: Our 10 packs of the pleasure pills Horny Goat Weed that we found at a gas station. It brings out the goat in you!
How did you get hooked up with Yannick and Feral Ward? Portland isn't that close to Sweden.
Erik: The world isn't that big, really. We've known about Yannick's label and what he does for a long time, and when he contacted us it came naturally to work with him. He is awesome and we couldn't ask for more. It's an awesome label, definitely worth checking out.
If you had to encapsulate what The Vicious' message was in a couple of sentences, what would it be?
Robert: It's about doing something with your life. Anything. You'll be old and worthless before you even know it.
What's the first thing you do after you hit an elk with your car?
Erik: Last time it happened the elk was still alive. It was on the side of the road shaking and making these strange noises. So my dad had to get a knife from the trunk and finish the job. Sad, but true. Then I think we got a ride home with the cops, since our car was smashed in the accident. Just another day up north.
COPYRIGHT 2007 High Speed Productions, Inc
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning