The Vandals – The Quickening – Interview

The Vandals

The Quickening (Nitro)
An interview with vocalist Dave Quackenbush and bassist Joe Escalante
by Scott Hefflon

Speedster punk sneerboys The Vandals are back with another album of paranoia, anti-hippy sentiment, and punk ethic 101 with The Quickening. As one of the few bands that can race through 15 songs worth of well-crafted punkpop laced with sarcasm and skillful playing, the Vandals are a novelty in the glut of indistinctive “punk” bands. As quick and frantic as a one night stand, the songs on The Quickening do their business and get the hell out. Singer Dave Quackenbush has an instantly recognizable voice, and guitarist Warren Fitzgerald can actually play (how unpunk!), thus making any Vandals record worthy of your collection.

Are there any original members left in the band?
Joe: I’d say, not really. I’ve been in the band for, like, 15 years, but this is a lot different from those days. Like the Harlem Globe Trotters.

Or Menudo.
Joe: Same thing.

This is your second release on Nitro, but what’d you do before this?
Dave: We went through several bad record labels.

Joe: You ever heard of Sony?

I think so. Small indie label out of the Mid-West?
Joe: We did two records with Triple X and then we were on Restless, and we had trouble getting out of it. For Triple X records, you have to know the secret handshake or you can’t find the record. Restless went bankrupt and fired everybody. Then they resurfaced, without us, thankfully. We had to sue their ass ragged.

Do you like being on Nitro?
Joe: Yeah, we love it. They’re good people.

Dave: Finally, there’re some punkers with a label.

Joe: Like hippies that just want to promote their own glam career.

Both you and Guttermouth seem to be pretty anti-hippy.
Joe: It’s a generic term for loser.

Are there swarms of hippies where you live or something?
Joe: When we say hippy, we also mean glam people, rockers, grungers…

Dave: People who try to be punkers but don’t have it quite right…

Joe: Some people think that punk rock is all about individuality. They’re wrong.

Dave: Those are hippies who are trying to infiltrate our scene. There are certain rules you should know.

What are a few of them?
Dave: You can’t tell. You should know.

It’s a secret punk rock handshake thing?
Dave: Yeah, pretty much.

Joe: There’re a lot of rules. 1) No hippies! 2) See #1.

How many of your songs are anti-hippy?
Joe: All of them in spirit. They don’t fight back.

Dave: Sebastian Bach and all those guys attack businessmen as the evil enemies. They don’t fight back.

Joe: In punk rock, the hippies are the evil enemy.

I was reading in your bio… Did you guys write your bio?
Joe: Henry Rollins wrote our bio.

Dave: He’s king of the Hippies.

Joe: He needed the money. We like to let the label express their artistic creativity by writing our bios.

Maybe next time they’ll record your albums, too.
Dave: Maybe they should.

Joe: They’d probably sell better.

I read in the bio you didn’t write, about the end of the world. Is it bad? Should I bother to pay my parking tickets, or is it all over? Is there some kind of hippy plot to take over the world? Are they everywhere? If I had a best friend, might he be a hippy in disguise?
Dave: It’s your responsibility to weed them out and eliminate them for the good of humanity and future generations to come.

But what can I do? I just do interviews. Henry Rollins writes most of the magazine. He needs the money.
Dave: Don’t steal our jokes.

I’m not. I’m trying to work with you here. What would be your choice for a single if the record company didn’t already make that decision for you?
Joe: “Canine Euthenaisa.” No… Yeah, that one.

Dave: I like “Soup of the Day” off Live Fast, Diarrhea. And “Aging Orange” off the new record.

The label chose “It’s A Fact.”
Joe: We made a video for that last night.

What’s the video like?
Dave: We stood in our rehearsal space, and a guy pointed an 8-mm camera at us.

Joe: We have high hopes for it.

Dave: It’s pretty good.

Joe: It’s in a movie. You know those videos where they have clips from the movie and then they keep switching back to the band? It’s one of those.

Dave: It’s in the new Star Wars. No, wait. it’s called Glory Hole.

Joe: No, it’s called Glory Days. It was originally going to be called Last Call, but they changed it. And get this: The music score was composed and performed by The Vandals. Actually, Warren wrote it all, but whatever. The soundtrack is available on Kung-Fu Records, our record label. It features The Vandals.

Dave: Imagine that.

Joe: So we made a video for the soundtrack, and we used a Vandals song instead of the new NOFX song. One, because they probably wouldn’t let us make a video of them, and two, because we wanted to make a video of our band. The Bouncing Souls, Mr. T Experience, Tilt, New Bomb Turks, Bad Religion, NOFX, and Sublime are on it.

Is it a tour documentary, or is it a movie with a plot and stuff?
Joe: It’s a movie with Alyssa Milano in it. That’s all I’m going to say.

Dave: And it’s good.

Do you do any walk-ons or anything?
Joe: We only do roll-ons. We don’t want to sell out.