Try as the world might, The VAM Commanders (“VAM”) can’t be stopped. Neither snow nor rain nor old age nor fading artistic relevance or the Pacific Ocean stays these rockers from their sacred duty of bringing the thunder. Something they’ll be doing on tour with performances at:
But thanks to a rare extended stateside appearance from Tokyo-based drummer, Dustin Wasserman, VAM is back on the road again, with a string of Pacific Northwest performances listed below, and This is Not a Time Machine, a new album recorded cross-continentally through the use of file-sharing programs.
And it’s all for one reason: the fans.
“For years after we scattered, people kept writing to us asking us to play this show or that, or so they could tell us what VAM songs had meant to them, or that they were learning to play from our albums,” says Josh Gross, the band’s guitarist. “We just got tired of telling them no.”
This is Not a Time Machine is a collection of older tunes the band never got around to recording like it’s anti-arena rock anthem, “(Please Don’t) Show Your Boobs,” the rapped diary of VAM’s disastrous first tour, “Highway 2 Hell,” the self-titled ode to band hero, “Al Bundy”, as well as a series of new songs written specifically for the album, and a handful ported over from side projects.
“The songs written just for the new album are the most mature we've ever done,” says Gross. “They are then balanced out by those oldies so immature we didn't bother to even record them back in the day. I know it's too late for the new songs to be VAM classics, but they should be. Like wine, cheese and bagels, I think we've improved with age.”
Other than maturity, one thing that sets the band’s newer material apart is a more broadly inclusive songwriting process. Joe Perez, the band’s hypeman has been in VAM since the start, but This is Not a Time Machine is the first of the band’s albums to include songs he wrote.
“The weirdest thing isn’t just that Joe wrote songs on the new album, it’s that he wrote some of the best songs on it,” says lead vocalist Will Shapiro.
The album’s title came from Gross, who was the most skeptical of reunions due to his belief that people didn’t want new songs or performances so much as to turn back the clock, something the band not only can’t do, but something he feels it shouldn’t try to do.
“We started out in a small tourist town that wasn’t so hot on a bunch of punk kids causing a ruckus,” he says. “VAM was a way to take control of our own destinies rather than having them prescribed from on high. It’s always been about looking forward, not back.”
That sentiment is flushed out in the album’s title track, which Gross penned as an anti-nostalgia anthem.
A reuniting rock band that is dedicated to smashing nostalgia might seem like an odd pairing, but VAM whether it was crafting lounge tunes for its punk audience, singing punk songs about chihuahuas, only playing handmade guitars from the band’s bass player, performing in only towels, or releasing an EP made up entirely of the same audio track with six different sets of lyrics as a homage to the late great Wesley Willis, VAM have always done things their own way, generally wrong, way.
This is Not a Time Machine will be physical and digitally released worldwide on September 16, 2014 on Tingle Finger Recordings.
Advanced digital release coming soon to the Tingle Store!
15th anniversary reissued deluxe version of "Relics of The Flowbee Empire," the 1998 debut album from seminal Southern Oregon band The VAM Commanders. On its way to digital records stores everywhere and available now in the Tingle Finger Store with two additional secret bonus tracks only found here!
In the words of the band themselves, "We recorded this album when we were total idiots. The songs are stupid, the recordings are garbage. But we were the best kinds of idiots: those that had yet to learn what we couldn't or shouldn't do, and so pursued every bizarre idea that came into our heads."
To honor the release, The VAM Commanders will be playing a few shows in Southern Oregon, see below:
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Tingle Finger is proud to present the official release of, Purple Green, by young southern Oregon 90s alternative wave legends, Smidgen!
Melding jazz and punk songwriting with strange noises and undeniably dancy rhythms, Smidgen was “the band,” for Southern Oregon in the early 90s. While somewhat comparable to better-known alt-rock groups like Mr. Bungle or early Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smidgen’s style was their own. They wowed audiences with their ability to seamlessly meld complex and innovative rock music with funk beats and Sesame Street singalongs, influencing many a young Oregonian not just to pick up an instrument, but to dare to play it in a new way. It was a feat made all the more impressive by the band still being in high school when this album was originally released in 1993.
Get a free download of the lead track, "Ten Thousand Times Plus Twenty Two" by signing up to the Tingle Finger Mailing list today!
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