Welcome to IndieView, where we interview up and coming indie or unsigned bands to give you the early heads up about them! We kick things off with Victor Bravo a band that is bringing the 90s alternative into a heavy 21st century sound all their own. We spoke with frontman Collin Frendz about the group's past, present and future.
IndieView: So who is Victor Bravo? How did the group come together?
Collin: Victor Bravo is primarily myself, Collin Frendz, and Dan Collins. We're both from southern Maine originally, relocated to Brooklyn. I play guitar and sing, Dan plays drums. For our EP, "Shut Out the Sky," our friend Scott Mason in San Francisco played bass. Recently we've been playing live with Dani Read, a bassist originally from Indianapolis who lives here in New York.
Dan and I grew up together in the same town and played music together in college. Eventually I was living in Brooklyn and Dan was in Boston, and I just wanted to play again. So we gathered a couple of others and met in Boston just to mess around in a rehearsal room. It grew from there. Dan moved down to Brooklyn to move in with his girlfriend who already lived here, and to help make the band a reality. Scott, who played bass on the EP, mixed it and co-produced it with us, was another musician friend we knew from college. Dani came across our early tracks on MySpace and sent us a message. We invited her in to jam with us and we all hit it off.
IndieView: Where did your name come from?
Collin: In our original 4-piece line-up, my sister Kelly was the singer - I just played guitar - and our bassist was also named Kelly. It got confusing really quickly in rehearsal. We kept trying to come up with nicknames to differentiate the two, and none of them stuck. Eventually, Dan came up with this: to use the military alphabet for the first letter of the instrument they played. This gives you a bit of scary insight into Dan's mind. So my sister was "Victor" because she sang vocals, and our bassist was "Bravo" because she played bass. Even those nicknames didn't stick, but we soon realized that put together, they were a pretty great band name. So it wasn't all for nothing...
IndieView: How would you describe your sounds to someone that has never heard you? And where do you think you fit in the current music scene?
Collin: I really prefer to let each listener define how we sound to them, but I also realize people need touchstones to help connect us with things they might be familiar with. So for that I would say that we're definitely a rock band, and we have pretty heavy amounts of garage and punk in what we do. But hopefully we're never limited by that, we try to stay open to new ideas and directions, within reason. The bands we love the most are the great alternative rock bands from the 90's...Superchunk, Husker Du, L7. I think we'll always land somewhere in the "heavy rock" category. We'll never be Hanson or anything like that.
There's some talk about the "Brooklyn Scene" right now, and we definitely see and know a lot of great bands in Brooklyn...bands like TV on the Radio and Dirty on Purpose are getting pretty big. Goes Cube and Stewart are two of our favorites. We go see Brooklyn bands play a lot so I think we're influenced by them on some level. But at least for us, it's not as tightly-knit as what I've heard about Seattle in the 90's. We're not sharing apartments or anything...although it might be cool if we did.
IndieView: What is your writing process like?
Collin: It varies somewhat...most of our songs now are those where I brought most of the music into the studio, then it was shaped and honed in rehearsal. I do write almost all the lyrics. But recently we've had some songs evolve from spontaneous jams with all of us. And one of our best songs was completely written by Dan.
IndieView: Inside Track - if you can tell us a little bit about each song on your new CD. Whether it's a cool story associated with the song, recording or what inspired it.
Dallas: I think this may be the least mysterious song I've ever written, not that I'm known for mystery. I'm a bit shy off-stage but my lyrics tend to be pretty direct, I think. This one was straight from the gut: one of my best friends in the world who I loved dearly moved out of New York to be with her boyfriend in Texas. I knew it was the best thing for her life but it hurt like hell. The lyrics took on maybe a bit of a romantic turn that was not there in real life, they just evolved that way.
Binge: This one I'm a bit nervous about how people will interpret it. But if you're a real artist you have to let that go. For me, it's about the moment when you just can't take life anymore and you're going to do something a bit self-destructive to get back at the world. Which is stupid, because you only end up hurting yourself. But there's also a positive catharsis in there somewhere, the vindication of walling yourself off and refusing to let the world mess with you for a bit so you can recover and get your bearings.
Sarbanes-Oxley: Some people are really perplexed by this one. A lot of accountants love it. A lot of people don't know what Sarbanes-Oxley is, so it's been an education for some! Essentially it's federal law, and to me it's something that typifies America these days: extreme overreaction. We had the Enron scandal, so now all companies have to have it documented anytime anyone in their company touches money. It's insane, really...the intent is good but middle-class folks all over the country have had their jobs turned into utter hell because of it. And I thought it would be funny at the end to wonder what if in romantic relationships you had to document every minute of your day, where you were, who you were with, etc. to reassure your partner that you weren't cheating on them.
Toxic Tornado: I think musically this is probably the simplest song on the record, it's just chords blasting pretty much straight through. But it's probably also the one I'm the most proud of. It's about rage, holding people accountable, and refusing to put up with unfair treatment at the hands of another. It goes full blast from start to finish and takes no prisoners. To me, that's what rock is all about.
IndieView: What's been your highpoint as a band so far?
Collin: In our short little history there's been so many it's hard to pick! But our show at CBGB's Lounge stands out. Dan had to beg them to let us play before they closed, and then somehow we wound up with a Saturday night slot! Not too bad for one our first few gigs. I was excited but probably the least enthusiastic in the band...growing up in Maine on Top 40 and classic rock I didn't hear much about CB's until I moved to New York. But when we started playing all that changed...the place was amazing. We had a huge crowd that went absolutely nuts. And they paid us well, as was their custom for decades. It was really great to be able to play there while it was still living and breathing.
IndieView: Your lowest?
Collin: We haven't really had anything awful happen to us, we're really grateful for that! My guitar has stopped working in the middle of a song on stage three times, and each time at the moment it happened I thought it would be horrible. Once I unplugged my own guitar cable by accident, once we blew the power at the club, and once Dan knocked one of his cymbals over and it swung like a battle axe onto the stage in front of it, instantly severing my guitar cable in two. As a performer sometimes I just want things to go smoothly, you know, so every time I was like, there goes the show. But every time it got fixed pretty quickly and it had almost no impact. In fact, we seem to thrive on a bit on mishaps, we tend to get angrier and put that energy into our performance. The one where we blew the power, most people in the audience thought that was pretty cool.
IndieView: Any tour plans in the works to support the new CD?
Collin: We've made one trip to Boston which was really great, and we're working on plans for an East Coast tour relatively soon. We know from experience that the best way to find people who dig our music is to play live. Our biggest goal is to be a great live band and I think we are.
IndieView: Finally why do you do it?
Collin: Because we love it and it's fun! The first time we ever played together, it was just for fun. We had no plans to be a real band or anything like that. But after a few hours, we all had this wild look in our eyes, like, we want to make sure we can keep doing this - this is awesome! And to be able to keep doing it, we've got to keep finding people who dig our music who can help support us. People say about bands, you know, "This band saved my life," or "This album saved my life," and I don't think they're joking. For a lot of people music is something that helps them get through, helps them enjoy life more. I really believe that every good band has its fans out there, who actually need to discover them because they need their music. I've certainly needed the bands I like to get through all these years. So that's what we're doing - continually putting ourselves out there to find people who need our music. We don't know how many there are, but we're determined to find every last one of 'em!