Conan Neutron feature interview in What’s Up? Bellingham
Sometimes, you just come across a band you love. The music is good, and the band is full of cool musicians that make you dig their music even more. Bellingham, meet Oakland’s Victory and Associates. For those that don’t already love them, you will.
Brent Cole: Can you give me some background on the band – how long have you been together? How did you get together? What bands have you guys been in?
Conan Neutron of Victory and Associates: Sure thing. Victory and Associates started playing in early 2010. Everybody in the band has been playing for years in other bands, the most known of which for Bellingham are probably my old bands the short lived Mount Vicious and longer lived Replicator. These Things are Facts is our first full length record, after a 7″, a split 7″ with Hurry Up Shotgun and a compilation appearance. TTaF is accurately categorized as a “get things done” kind of record, it’s a raucous and intense rock and roll affair that has the interesting twist of being a generally positive, motivationally theme. Although we curse like sailors in regular life, there is no profanity in the songs. The idea was to create a fantastic rock and roll band that eschews the cliche and excess of the rock idioms that we all enjoy, play it as honest and as hard as we can, and write some awesome feel good music that doesn’t make you feel bad.
BC: You’ve played Bellingham often, more regularly for a national band than you’d expect. How have Bellingham audiences responded to the RAWK?
CN: We have! We absolutely adore Bellingham, it’s one of our favorite places to play. We love the people, the places, everything about it. I would rate Bellingham as one of the most awesome RAWK cities in all of the US. That’s not a pander, THESE THINGS ARE FACTS. For such a small place, Bellingham gets down with the rockin’, but you don’t have to dumb it down either. There is an absence of pretension and the kind of background music for background people that is so prevalent elsewhere. The first V&A show at Cap Hansen’s ranks as one of my top 10 shows of all time, and i’ve been touring at large for over a decade! I mean damn, this is the city that brought us Federation X! One of the finest and most criminally unsung rock acts of the last 15 years. We adore Bellingham, Hollie from the Shakedown calls us “honorary locals”, we wear that badge with honor. I mean hey, B’ham is also home to national treasure Richy Boyer, that alone is landmark status for me. We’ve joked about writing a song called Bullet train to Bellingham, which would be both a Drive Like Jehu homage as well as shorthand for how much we love the place. It may yet happen.
BC: How many tours have you guys been on? What’s the farthest you’ve travelled?
CN: This is… #4 I think? Unfortunately due to real life commitments and the insane cost of gas, V&A hasn’t gotten out further east than Chicago. But we’re hoping to change that now that we have a very awesome and representative record to get behind. All things considered, V&A is still a very new band, but the fact that it’s a group comprised of unjaded seasoned veterans who have no time for Tom Foolery and wasted time has served us well.
BC: Tell me a bit about the Oakland scene, what makes it so cool. Seems like there’s a lot of great music coming out of the bay area.
CN: There is. It’s fragmented. There’s the metal scene, the garage rock world, indie pop, etc. Some of the stuff that’s getting national attention doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me, but I appreciate that it’s pretty good for what it is. There are a lot of artists here. Sometimes that can get damn annoying, especially when you have to head up to Friend Rock City so regularly. The coolest thing about thing about Oakland/SF is also it’s deteriment. It’s a bit of an island. There’s a lot of bands that never, ever tour or leave the bubble of the bay area, which I just don’t think is a good thing at all. That leads to an echo chamber of bad art. Then there are bands like Thee Oh Sees and Saviours who tour like crazy and make everybody look lazy. Hurry Up Shotgun is an incredible Oakland band that everybody should pay attention to, and there are a ton of other rad bands happening too. Moon Eater. Hank IV. It’s not cohesive in the least. Everybody in the bay area is permanently in a state of distraction. That can be really annoying. I do wish it wasn’t so damn expensive to live here sometimes, but it’s a remarkably great place to live. Amazing people, amazing music, amazing food, amazing weather. And you can drink on stage! (haha! IN YOUR FACE Washington State)
BC: Who plays which instrument?
Conan Neutron (Me) – Vocals/Guitar/Lyrics/Sweat
Shane Otis – Lead Guitar
Evan Gritzon – Bass/Vocals
Mouse Menough – Drums
BC: How many people donated to the kickstarter? Were they local or from all over?
CN: 96 people for a total of $5,151! I’d say it was about 60% bay area, 15% Pacific Northwest, 15% Midwest, 10% elsewhere…. including CROATIA!
BC: If you could open up for anyone, who would it be?
CN: Queens of the Stone Age, Melvins, Torche, Cheap Trick, Archers of Loaf, Federation X, Obits, Night Marchers, Bottomless Pit, Future of the Left, Poster Chlidren. We’ve gotten within spitting distance of some of those, and I daresay: Some we may yet pull off. I also have to say that Virgin Islands and Police Teeth are two of my favorite American bands, no fooling. So this triple bill is kind of one for the record books for me. There are some rock nerds not in the Bellingham area that are pretty jealous of folks about to see this bill. I’m pretty stoked to see those two incredible bands do their thing, I think it’s a great match at a great venue. I would attend this show even if it wasn’t our Bellingham tour stop!
BC: This is gonna sound corny, but you’ve been really cool and easy to work with. Is that just who you are, or have you made it a conscious effort to be awesome to deal with? ‘Cuz, I’ve gotta assume, it’s helped out along the way… Did with me, that’s for sure!
CN: Hah! Well thanks, I guess it’s just the way that I am? Some of it is that i’ve been on the other side of the situation as well, but mostly I just don’t understand when people get so entitled that they make a journalist’s job harder. I look at it like symbiosis, great music journalism and music criticism are a vital part to the process. It leads discovery, it helps get the signal out over the noise. I mean, come on, you’re going to get precious about that or throw a fit like a child? Get over yourself. It’s all part of making this music thing work. I’m just always thankful when people are willing to listen to me rattle on.
BC: On that note, you don’t shy away from promotion – how do you see the place of promotion in the modern music scene?
CN: Necessary evil. The biggest problem with all of our modern age is that it’s EVERYTHING AT ONCE, ALL THE TIME. You put out a record, it’s not competing with what came out that week, it’s competing with all music all the time, as well as anything else on the internet. A lot of which has boobs. It can be infuriating. I mean, i’m sure it’s great to just sit around and have your genius recognized, but for the rest of us we have to work. Doing something of note rarely ends at writing a song or booking a tour. There’s a lot of art and music out there that seems to lack purpose, direction or justification for it’s existence, we believe in what we are doing fully and completely and part of actualizing that vision is letting people know that it’s happening. The message behind these songs is one that I think people should hear right now, it’s a record of our times you know? We’re trying to invite people to this party, and part of that is letting them know that it is happening.
BC: Who is the coolest band you’ve played with?
CN: Helms Alee are amazing, total next level stuff right there. Great band, great folks. I have a special place in my heart for Iowa’s Poison Control Center, who are absolutely one of the finest live acts in the country right now and who we hope to tour some with next year. Dog Shredder, CONTINUES, But our “brothers from another mother” Police Teeth really do rank among the highest, not just as awesome dudes, but as one of the bands that’s just doing stuff that’s so vital it’s a little amazing that the greater world hasn’t caught on. It’s not a surprise that they become every band’s favorite band. I treasure each and every time we play with them, and frankly… it makes me want to play harder and be better. Which is the kind of competition you need to have. I like to think we have the same effect on them. The Pacific Northwest is really pumping out some quality stuff in my mind these days.
BC: Any last thoughts?
CN: I’m not sure why it’s never came up in other press, but These Things are Facts (our album title) is actually inspired by Bellingham! From the first Victory and Associates tour, a tour packed with enough rich, hilarious and awesome experiences to fill a book itself. At that show I mentioned earlier at Cap’s, a night of incredible fun, debauchery and general silliness. Later, in Portland, on the way back from our first tour and one of our guys said to the other:
“I’ll bet every other girl you make out with in Bellingham pukes on you.”
to which a random gentlemen, who is walking by… doesn’t break stride… stlll walking… asks:
“You guys talking about Bellingham, Washington?”
“These things are FACTS!!!”
We knew we had the album title right then, come on, how do you beat that? These Things are Facts!!!
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