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!
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