The Return of Abe Vigoda


Written by Johny Chhetri
11 Monday 11th October 2010
Abe Vigoda, the calypso punk band that everyone came to know and love in 2008 are back; just not in the same way you’d expect. Synths have been added to the mix to produce tracks that make you picture grey landscapes and noir-ish scenery. You could say that their sound has matured well like a finely aged cheese, with 2009’s EP Reviver representing a massive roll of the ol’ blue (cheese, not waffle) being scored to show how the maturing process is coming along...
Enough of this cheesy nonsense, Abe Vigoda are playing a massive show with No Age and Male Bonding at London’s XOYO this Thursday. And to get you extra psyched for it, we had a chat with champion shredder Juan Velasquez about how the primal riffs became primal synths.
How have you changed over the past year or so?
I think we have matured not just in the band musically but in our personal life as well. It’s a very amazing time for us I feel; we have been able to do things with our band that we never thought were even possible. Done some amazing touring and I know it sounds cheesy or like a Cliché, but I think we have learned a lot about being in a band together. Also, having Dane in the band has changed us sonically, but also the band dynamic is different. All positive changes I think.
What influenced the new direction in your sound? How have the fans taken to it?
Many things have influenced this new sound I think. I think people think we changed in just a year or however long it’s been since Skeleton came out. But we wrote those songs long before the record was released in 2008.
People’s taste and influence can change a lot within two years time. I think it was a natural progression for us even though some people seem to think it is very drastic. Having a new band member can change things more than people realize. It’s a new set of ears, and a whole new person with different musical influences and ideas.
I think that dance music in general has become much more important to us as artists. Whether it’s disco or house or electro, dubstep, new wave, whatever. I think that the influence of dance music has been the biggest one with our new sound and I can imagine it will only influence more with music we will be writing in the not-so-distant future.
You’re now being termed as synth-punks, is that a title that you see fit?
Honestly I’d rather have that than TROPICAL PUNK. We’re sooooooo tired of being seen as that. I mean titles are always funny but I do like synth punk bands so it’s not a terrible representation.
Can we still expect a lot of energy from the live sets?
I still think there is lots of energy but there is also more attention paid to playing the songs well, and making them sound really good in a live setting.


Recording this record really made us think about our live sound and we are more interested in sounding full and textured and captivating than jumping around and smashing our gear, not that it’s not going to happen anymore! Haha! But we are by no means Kraftwerk or something; we are not that stoic that’s for sure! Haha!
Will you be playing early stuff as well as the new stuff?
Not to let anyone down but it’s looking like we are probably focusing on CRUSH material right now. It is pretty cohesive to play these songs as a set and it is sort of where our music is heading more so than the old stuff. We have always played the stuff we have been working on when we tour.
You’re performing with fellow Smell compatriots No Age and Male Bonding on the 14th, are you guys ‘pumped’???
Oh YEAH! So excited for this tour!!! We love Dean and Randy (No Age) they have been such amazing older brothers and a total inspiration. It’s going to be so rad to hang out every night, hopefully share some laughs and minimal tears. Haha!
When Male Bonding were in LA we had so much fun! Those guys are really funny and smart and totally down to have a great time. Plus they shred!
How do you get ready for a live show? A nice meal? Relaxing hand and foot massages? Meditation sessions?
You never wanna eat toooo much before you play haha! It weighs you down! Honestly we don’t do much to get ready. For me a good combo of caffeine and some booze always does the trick. Mike likes to drink tea sometimes for his pipes.


Speaking of meditation... is it true that former drummer Reggie (Guerrero) went to a spiritual camp of some sort?
HAHAH!! That’s so funny. He is going to Evergreen University in Olympia WA. It’s sort of a hippie school, so there might be some spirituality. Not to out him but he is also ENGAGED! which is amazing! LIVING THE LIFE.
How have things been with your new(ish) drummer? Any extraordinary drama?
No more drama than with anyone else. He is super easy going and a real treat to hang with on tour. Not very high maintenance and I hope he is having a good time. He is a super good influence on the band, lots of energy.
What’s happening in LA right now? Any new scenes/movements/genres/acts to look out for?
There have been a lot of kids interested in darker music which I think is really great. Tearist and Former Ghosts are both from LA and write such amazing dark pop songs. Dunes are honestly one of my fave bands from LA right now as well, great post punk the Cars meets Siouxie!
Also, from the Inland Empire which is an area outside of LA that we grew up in there is a band called Dazzle Ships that my friend Sam puts out. They have a rad 7” out with 4 songs on it. Sorta Cocteau Twins-ish but more punk in some ways.
Future plans?
Tour the hell out of this record! Make more friends! Hopefully be in Europe LOTS AND LOTS. Make more music videos, play with more amazing bands!!!!
Any advice for the kids?
I thought we were the kids?

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  • Guest: thequeenofspain
    Tue 12 - Oct - 2010, 17:49
    Evergreen University is the greatest! You can major in wind-dancing if you want to. Crazy school, crazy people. Go WA!