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VEE DEE


It seemed like everywhere I went this band's name kept following me around the city. On every flier on every wall, on the tip of everybody's tongue, in every record store. Vee Dee. I was in a record store, flipping through the bins. I picked up their record, put it back down, I'd have to get it another time when I heard a little more about it, when I read some reviews. I was up at the counter ready to check out when some odd force grabbed me and dragged me back to the record bin to grab that Vee Dee record. The artwork looked homemade, very cut and paste, like it took them about two minutes to get it all put together. A big white sun with a plain black background. Looked like I'd be buying this record anyway, despite already being in the hole financially. When I got back home the Vee Dee record was the first record to hit my turntable. Upon the first initial listen it sounded good, nothing special really, but good. It sounded like a pretty straightforward garage/punk record. Good songs, tight band, an all around decent record. But something kept drawing me back to it and with repeated listens, a hypnotic psychedelic sound began to emerge and not too long after I was hooked. I began playing the record for everyone who came over. It quickly became one of my favorite and most listened to records of 2004. I had the opportunity to interview Vee Dee backstage at a somewhat recent show of theirs in Kalamazoo, MI. The interview was done under odd circumstances, with the backstage full of other people and other bands shouting as loudly as they possibly could, taking part in the interview whenever they saw fit. Also, the band and myself were a bit more than uncharacteristically drunk. All name calling and general unseemliness were cut out by myself. Still, read at your own discretion.

Dan: Is that thing rolling? Anyway, I don't want to talk about the Brides.
TB: No? Not even a little bit?
Dan: Not in any way do I want to talk about the Brides.
TB: Okay. Well, we all know Dan was once in this great band called the Brides and he doesn?t want to talk about it. Were any of you other guys in any other bands in the past you might want to mention?
Dan: Fuck all that. What is going on with Vee Dee? What is Vee Dee's mission?
TB: Who?s doing the interview here? Good question though. What is Vee Dee's mission? Does Vee Dee have a mission?
Dan: Yeah we have a mission. We are a sonic machete in a space jungle. That's what we are. Now that that's out of the way though, I'd like to talk about Anti-Matter here, our drummer. Can we talk about our drummer? TB: Of course. I will say though that I saw Vee Dee play before Anti-Matter was in the band and with him on drums you guys are a much more solid unit.
Dan: Thank you. Actually you should be telling him, thank you Anti-Matter. See, Nick and I here, we're kindred spirits, and we found this Anti-Matter, who completed the circle, because it's always about that, completing the circle that is.

TB: Completing the circle? Care to elaborate?
Dan: There has to be a unified understanding about what is happening.
Nick: Three always works great for a circle.
Dan: Always. Four never works?
Anti-Matter: Four is two and two, which?
Dan: Four never works because democracy doesn't work and four will never work. That's why three works.
Nick: Plus there's no such thing as a power quartet. There are only power trios.
Dan: Only power trios.
Anti-Matter: And it's powerful.
Dan: Absolutely. Anti-Matter compliments us like no one else has and that's why we love him dearly. Like, we're brothers. Nick and I, we're brothers, and Anti-Matter is like our other brother.
Anti-Matter: I feel like there was no Vee Dee before me.
Dan: You know, we don't even argue. It's all understood. It's like telepathy. We absolutely understand what the other is thinking so it's not even a question of what the next song is going to be.
Nick: Almost, unless I roll my eyes which I don't do too often.
Anti-Matter: Unless he yells at us after the set.
TB: Okay. I noticed a reoccurring Vietnam theme in a lot of Vee Dee songs. Where does this Vietnam fascination come from?
Dan: That's all Nick's fascination. My dad was actually in the Vietnam War. Specialist 4th class Herbert A. Lang. I don't think his was in the shit. But yeah, that whole Vietnam kick is all Nick's.
Anti-Matter: My dad was also in Vietnam. He was first Lieutenant James R. Flaiz and he was in the jungle, in the shit, and he shot a boa constrictor right in the fucking face.
Dan: This is good stuff. Exclusive stuff for your mag.
Anti-Matter: Actually, maybe it was a king cobra he shot in the face.
Dan: Like I said earlier though, that whole fascination is strictly Nick's.
Nick: The thing with Vietnam is simply because I think that what we're doing right now is practically walking into the same fucking situation with our current government and it just blows my fucking mind that these people haven't learned from their mistakes and don't really seem to remember what happened. I mean, they haven't learned that you just can't go into another country and try changing people's lives around, because those people have been there for thousands of years and they really don't like us. I mean anyone can see that it never will work.
Anti-Matter: It's a whole other world over there and our government doesn't seem to understand that.
Nick: Exactly. So basically I guess I write about it because I'm like "Hey, don't you remember that we already did this?" Plus there's just something I can't describe about it. I don't know. Maybe I'm a Vietnam veteran who died and was reincarnated or something in like 1980?
Anti-Matter: No. It is very relevant to what's going on now and I think people definitely have forgotten.
Nick: It's a weird time right now, and nobody wants to talk about it because everybody that came home from Vietnam got spit on and they make movies about it, but when a lot of those guys came back they were treated like shit, as it was pretty much the first unpopular American war and it was totally fucked up, and we're sort of living in the shadow of it now.
Anti-Matter: My parents were in that generation and it's like the last thing that's on their minds. I think it really should be very important for people our age who are fighting in wars right now.
Nick: I think a lot of people from that generation kind of want to forget about it. A lot of people sort of feel like that may have been the end of innocence in America. But people were always getting fucked around and have always been fucked up, doing drugs and getting blow jobs in back alleys and...
Dan: No shit. There was anal sex and shit going on like since the dawn of time. Now I don't have an exact date but I can tell you that pussy has been eaten throughout the whole twentieth century. I mean everybody is so familiar with sex. But back to Vee Dee, we exist beyond sex. We're through with sex. People don't understand that we're trying to de-familiarize everything. We're even trying to de-familiarize the populism of rock & roll. We're trying to create something new that is like freedom.
TB: Is that the mission of Vee Dee that you've been talking about?

Dan: Yes. What we want is freedom. That is our mission, freedom.
Anti-Matter: Between the three of us, yes.
Dan: Absolutely. The only way you can get there is if you de-familiarize what is normal. That's the only way you can look at rock & roll because rock & roll is always going to be the same, unless you de-familiarize it. When you do that it gives freedom the opportunity to take it's fucking stand.
Nick: These guys are really drunk but I'd say this really is the first time we've actually consciously and coherently put it. But yeah I would say freedom and I think ultimately what we're doing is trying to communicate with people. We definitely don't want to alienate people or say we're different from everyone else. We want people to feel like they're part of what we're doing.
Dan: We don't consciously go out and think to ourselves that we want to be different than say the Krunchies or the Functional Blackouts, but I do think that what we do is challenging in a different way. We're challenging reality. I also think Vee Dee challenges rock & roll every day. Every time we practice. Every time we play. How else are you going to create art? I mean this is art. Most rock & roll and art have become standardized but it has to be challenged. How else can you be even somewhat original? I think we are very original and don't sound like anyone, usually. Especially with the newer stuff.
Nick: Plus, I think we all realize that rock & roll has always been around and it's like a long lineage of something, and I'd say we're definitely trying to find our own voice in it and not sit there and be like "Oh, lets write a song that sounds like Crime meets the New York Dolls" or something. The longer you try playing something you normally wouldn't play and try and make it work. Maybe people won't necessarily get it or like it but so long as you're happy somebody's going to look you up twenty years down the line.
Dan: I think my worst nightmare would be to be shuffled away with another Nuggets volume, just shuffled away.
TB: All right, Anti-Matter. Seeing as you?re the newest member in the band, what's it like being in a band with these two? Dan doesn't exactly have a history of keeping a band together too long?
Dan: Be honest...
Anti-Matter: Do you really want to know? I'd say Nick and Dan are two of my best friends. Dan and I live together. We live in the same house. I see Dan in the mornings...
TB: Cute. So you guys share the same toilet paper and go on the Hun with each other?
Anti-Matter: We do share the same toilet paper. When I want to go online I go to Dan's room, a.k.a The Masturbatorium, to use his computer. Dan and I are very close. All I'm saying is I'm very happy with being in a band with both of these guys. They're two of my best friends. Dan smokes a lot of weed, which I'm all about, but then he doesn't practice because he's always high.
Dan: Oh bullshit.
Anti-Matter: Actually Dan bitches about me for smoking too much weed and not practicing.
TB: You guys have a full length out on Criminal IQ, have songs on the Maybe Chicago compilation on Proto Mersh/Criminal IQ, and a single on Goodbye Boozy. Do you have any plans for recording anything else in the near future?
Dan: The next full length is done, maybe not recorded, but done. Written.
TB: Every time I've seen you guys play it seems like you break out at least two or three new songs...
Dan: Fuck that first album. We're done with that. It's already over. I mean yeah, it is good. The Nuggets groundhogs that just eat it all up can have that already. The second album is destined to be stronger and mastered well..and loud! But the third album is where you're really going to have to open up your third eye, because everybody's third eye must be opened.
Nick: This next full length we have planned should be recorded soon , hopefully, after the New Year.
Anti-Matter: For the record, for the interview, I want everyone to know I am staying with the Krunchies tonight.
Dan: What's it like being in a band called Vee Dee? Is that what you asked?
TB: Sure. Lets go with that.
Dan: Well, I mean, it's not difficult. But it is a little annoying having to explain that we are called Vee Dee, V-E-E D-E-E. Like everyone's always, V.D., like I have fucking crabs. Like "I read Horizontal Action and I'm a fucking sexual pig."

TB: Have you guys played with any bands you absolutely never want to play with again?
Nick: Ooh, I don't know.
Anti-Matter: Emo bands. I hate emo bands.
Nick: Yeah, we played in St. Louis with three emo bands and that was the all-time worst. So I guess just the emo bands.
Dan: We're into real music. People that create real music like Paul Capriano. Am I pronouncing that right? Caporino. Guys like Paul Caporino, guys in the Functional Blackouts, guys in the Mannequin Men, those are guys who create real music. That's the stuff I'm into.
Anti-Matter: We don't want to talk shit about anybody, but emo bands should just go fucking die, and die sad, hopefully.
Dan: Put this in the interview. I want to play drums in M.O.T.O. I want to play drums in a band that I respect and that I think is a real rock & roll band. Not a band that is bullshit.
TB: At the first few listens Vee Dee comes off as sounding like a straight up garage/punk/rock & roll band but after repeated listening a psychedelic sound and influence starts showing through that separates you guys from a lot of the other bands using a similar formula. Where does this psychedelic influence stem from?
Nick: I suppose it's a lot from me. Both Dan and Matt are big fans of the Beatles more out-there stuff though. Matt likes some of the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds", "Smile"-era stuff too. I've listened to punk and '60s garage since I was in high school and after a while you start to get an ear for the later '60s stuff that most close-minded garage types like to write off as hippie shit. Psychedelic music is great though. And it's not just from the '60s or just rock. I think a lot of free-jazz like Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra are psychedelic. Or Rocket From The Tombs, the first two Stooges LPs, anything that stimulates your mind. Oh, Funkadelic's early stuff kills too. So, whether consciously or not, the psych does seep into our sound. Definitely.
Dan: I think Nick will agree that the music we listen to is different, which is great for the band. Also, even our listening habits differ. We are both obsessive about music in different ways. I don't buy much music, I am very very picky when I buy something and I think less like a collector than our Nick. I will listen to the same records for weeks and weeks and then get into something else. But I would like to thank Nick for introducing me to the following bands: SRC, The Churchhills, Manfred Mann Chapter Three... Side note: We just got back from Ann Arbor, Home of SRC. We played a show with a great band called the Terrible Twos. Anyway I found a weird homemade copy of SRC's first album on CD, for my mp3 player, signed by lead guitarist Gary Quakenbush!
TB: Have you used psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs? Ever have the kind of experience on them where you feel like a squirrel outside your window may be trying to kill you?
Nick: I've had some mind-blowing shit happen on LSD. I have also freaked my shit and thought I was gonna die. I think the euphoric aspect of the psychedelic experience is viable and does happen but there is this whole other side of hallucinogens that's really dark and scary. I had too many bad trips and don't do hallucinogens anymore. My mind got blown out. Don't need it. My third eye is open.
Anti-Matter: I used to do acid a few times a week for a year or two in high school. I have probably eaten around 100 tabs.
Dan: I've only done mushrooms a few times. I've seen too many acid casualties I guess. I don't trust most acid "dealers". Unless my mom was making it, I wouldn't try acid. I like mushrooms because they are natural and sorta mild.
TB: The song "T.V. Police" comes off to me as an almost perfect punk-rock song in both music and lyrical content. It mentions science fiction, lobotomies, methadone, institutions, television, and of course police. Was it written with a conscious decision to include all these subjects in one song?
Nick: "T.V. Police" is one of our many paranoid conspiracy-type songs. I did not make a conscious decision to write the perfect punk song. I think modern American society is fucked because people are always scared but not aware of it. It's like we're all ignorant of how scared we are of each other, the government, huge corporations, or whatever. So we think we can make our own identities with products and define ourselves with what we watch. Basically we are in 1984 only Big Brother is not watching you, because Big Brother is you. Or you think like Big Brother. Some such shit. Yeah, TV Police.
TB: What the hell is "Kaleidoscope Death Ray" about? What the hell is a Kaleidoscope death ray?
Nick: "Kaleidoscope Death Ray" is part one of our Vietnam trilogy. It deals with the end of innocence, or selling out of the '60s youth culture. It was unrealistic to grow your hair, drop acid, put flowers in soldiers' guns and think those actions would cause change. The end of the '60s (Altamont, Manson, cocaine, Nixon's re-election) found the young na´ve idealism to be no match for the entrenched American capitalist system. The "Kaleidoscope Death Ray" is a hippie gun (kaleidoscope) mixed with '50s sci-fi (60's youth beginnings, cold war, UFOs). The idea is that a kaleidoscope death ray would wipe out the hippie dream or prove how sadly implausible it was. Love your brothers and sisters.
TB: Dan, this question's from Brian Costello. What did Dr. Filth of the Functional Blackouts ever do to you?
Dan: He's beaten me up before (once). To make up for it, he let me cheat off him in medical school.
TB: What is the first thing each of you do in the morning?
Nick: Cuss the alarm clock, make coffee.
Dan: Moan low.
Anti-Matter: Get coffee and go to work.
TB: Last question. It's time for bed. From what I've seen and what I've read, you guys seem to be getting a lot of mixed reviews. It appears that everyone who likes your music really likes it a lot and it seems that people who dislike your music really have a strong dislike for it. How do you guys feel about that?
Nick: We've gotten, it seems to me, really good reviews. A lot of people listen to the album and don't hear much right away. It's a sleeper I guess. It is a rather straightforward rock-n-roll album, so some may say we're unoriginal or whatever. Bad press is still press. If you don't like it, fine.
Dan: I haven't heard many bad reviews, or felt a strong dislike for Vee Dee. Someone from Terminal Boredom wrote a luke warm review. One month later it was retracted and replaced with a nice one. (Ed.: Not true. Different reviews that appeared in different issues. We retract nothing.) So I think Nick is right about "Furthur" being a sleeper or a creeper.
Anti-Matter: I've only read two reviews that weren't really good. They also were not that bad either. Abbada abbada hey now, I guess. If you really step back, look closely into the gypsy's eye? All this happened in Cleveland, Outer Space...

END INTERVIEW

VeeDee website
Interview by Matt Coppens
Pics by Canderson and ? (if you took 'em, let us know and we'll give you credit)



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