On 11/26/95, I saw Vision Of Disorder, H20, IGNITE, and SICK OF IT ALL on the same bill for under $10. Try that one today. Though already a megafan of the latter 3, Vision Of Disorder were the new kids on the bill and had quite a bit to live up to. Within 5 minutes of taking the stage, the crowd erupted and a small tussle broke out. Right after they played, I, cash in hand, headed to the merch table and bought Still, their 5 song EP. I still have the fucker.
Originally released on Striving For Togetherness Records, VOD’s approach to writing fused several different elements of aggressive music into one cohesive package. It was plenty Hardcore, but it offered a bit more than most of the Drop D chug chug that permeated the scene. It was also perfect for anyone who loved the music, but could’ve cared less about the politics that seemed like prerequisites for inclusion at the time.
The deluxe reissue, released by Dignified Bastard Records, added 2 additional tracks from the Still recording sessions, and the label spared no expense in its production or physical quality. Trust me when I say they made the 20th birthday of (arguably) the best EP to come out of LIHC more than worth picking up again.
For Live High Five’s second VOD interview, I caught up with singer Tim Williams on the phone just after the physical re-release of Still, to talk about his thoughts on the release 2 decades on, the anniversary performance at St. Vitus a few weeks back, and their plans for 2015 (which include a new record.) Stoked!
G- Tim, thanks so much for speaking with Live High Five today, man! The St. Vitus set ruled and thanks a lot for that… How’s everything been going with the guys, man? What’s happening?
T- Everything is pretty good, you know? We’re actually pulled over on the side of the road right now. Mike Kennedy (guitar) went to go get something and we’re headed to rehearsal to continue writing the new record. I haven’t been there in like a week or two, so these guys should have a couple more ideas together. I’m looking forward to plugging in the old reverb and delay pedal and seeing if we can make some magic happen.
G- Alright! And this is the follow up to 2102’s The Curse Remain Cursed on Candlelight. I was going to jump right into Still, but let’s look to the future first, man. Apparently you guys have a yet-to-be-named producer in mind for the record. I don’t want to try to goad anything out of you, but any word on who that might be? If not, when can we expect the unveiling?
T- Well, you can probably (the record) expect it late Spring or early Summer. We do have a producer picked out and I still cannot yet release the name, but he should make the record sound crushing! Crushing!
G- Very cool, man. The last record sounded great, too. All the stuff has been good… We know what you guys are capable of, so we’re looking forward.
T- Thank you.
G- So as I said, the last record came out on Candlelight Records… Is the new one going to drop on Candlelight as well?
T- Yeah yeah. We have no problem with Candlelight whatsoever. We feel they do exactly what VOD needs them to do, and we’re definitely putting out another release with them.
Now, the Still reissue is on everybody’s mind. I actually have it in the car right now. Dignified Bastard dropped it and, like I said, they did a really, really good job with it. Thanks to all you guys for copping all the test press packages so I couldn’t get one (jerks). Tell us a bit about how the reissue came about… Who approached who and what was it like while in talks to get it going?
T- Well, from what I remember it’s been in talks for a long ass time, and I remember Kevin Gill approached us. We weren’t really watching the clock or anything or knew where we stood in regards to the release. I guess we realized it was coming up on the 20th anniversary of the release, but we never really put too much thought into it. I guess Kevin sent us a couple emails and stuff and we’ve stayed pretty good friends over the years. He reached out a number of times and probably a gazillion emails went back and forth over a very long period of time. VOD is a pretty easily distracted band by nature, and I think we were recording a record and doing a bunch of shows and a lot of it probably had to do with us.
But yeah, we spoke back and forth and crunched some numbers. We wanted to make it somewhat of a special release. We know that that recording is an important release to our core fans. We wanted to do it justice and we wanted to do something special with it. It took a little while to work it out, but we did and here it is.
G- And props to Kevin Gill as well and Dignified Bastard as well because, in doing these releases, they’re not really making any money off of this because it’s all going back to you guys. Lord knows you’ve put more than your fair share of personal money into the gas tank and into your equipment and stuff, and a lot of this money is going back to you guys, and that’s the way it should be because you guys are the creators. We respect that very much.
G- So, if you can recall, the EP was done in someone’s living room if I am correct, and I wanted you to give us a little briefing and take us back to the recording of the EP and the situation, how long it took, and the feeling from those first few listens when it was done.
T- I believe it was recorded with Tim Gillis at his old studio out in New Jersey; Tim Gillis’ original studio, Big Blue Meanie, which was basically, like you said, his house. He is a really big guy, big big dog lover, lived out there on the edge of a field, and we went out there. The vocal booth was a closet with some carpeting in it, and the one thing I remember is that the drum room was in the basement and the way to get down there was this giant aluminum space shuttle hatch that Brendan (Cohen) would have to climb into, which we thought was pretty funny. Again, Tim Gillis is a really big guy with a big beard, before beards were cool. He had a huge beard and long receding hair, and he looked pretty scary. Again, a big guy.
Then, he takes Brendan’s drums out and sets them all up ad says ‘This feels kinda weird,’ and just rips into this crazy ensemble of beats. We we’re all just blown away that this guy could move that fast. That’s one memory (laughs).
G- And how long did you spend at Big Blue Meanie to get the tracks done?
T- Back then, it was only 4 tracks originally. The other tracks were from other recordings.
G- Ahh ok. And the re-release on Dignified Bastard is 7, with “No Regret” and “Formula For Failure” on there as well.
T- Yeah. That (the CDEP) was actually a re-release of the original Still EP.
G- OK. I have some of the split 7’s, which we’ll talk about shortly, but I was under the impression that all the songs were done at that original session.
T- No, on the original 7’, there’s only 4 songs on there. I think I have it in the basement somewhere.
And to answer the question, we didn’t spend a lot of time there because back then, recording cost money. (laughing) Even though Kevin Gill was footing the bill, and it wasn’t an enormous amount of money, we didn’t spend too long on it. We spent the time we needed on it. Back then, the vocals probably took a little longer because I was still developing and I was knew and even recording was new, you know? That was like the 3rd thing we ever recorded, and we were new at it. Believe it or not, recording takes a certain talent on its own and is something you need to get used to, although it’s been made way easier over the years due to technology, but that’s another story.
But we were all really young then, and we just had a lot of fun. It was just a lot of fun, really carefree. VOD hadn’t really reached its height in popularity yet, so we were still climbing. We had no idea it would happen. All I remember, and I may have repeated this story in an interview before, is that your boys from Syracuse (Earth Crisis) put out that Firestorm 7”, and we were terrified. We were like ‘Holy shit! This thing is so good! Our 7” better come out somewhat good, or else we’re done.’
G- Of course, we’ve gotta give Earth Crisis and Firestorm their props. All great guys and great musicians, and the EP is still awesome. But I have to say, that EP was way more polarizing than VOD’s. Earth Crisis, of course, had the vegan-straightedge politic, and a lot of it was preaching, often to the converted, where VOD was way more accessible and not too straightedge, if I remember correctly (laughing.)
T- No, no. Hell no. (laughing) We were just getting geared up then.
G- But both records still stand out something huge. If you guys want to get together and play another show on the same bill in the near future, we’ll be all over that.
T- Well, they were on Candlelight, so there were some talks to go over and do some shows in the UK, not that that would help you guys, but we’ll see. Who knows? No one knows.
G- That’d be a fun one.
And speaking of shows, let’s talk about the St. Vitus 20th. That was AWESOME! Great lineup, and I got a little bit drunk and am a bit too old to be jumping on top of people, but I was doing it anyway. How’d you feel about the show and response, because the place was rocking that night, man!
T- It was phenomenal. There’s always a certain pressure, as any musician can tell you, that comes with playing a hometown show. Some people like it, I don’t. But, it was an amazing show.
You know, we’ve been really, really fortunate. We’ve had some great shows ever since The Curse Remain Cursed. It was well received. The shows have been really, really good, and that was another one. Place was packed! It was everything you could want it to be. Nuts and crazy and the band played well. It’s a really good sounding club, and our friends own it, so we were really happy to bring a nice, packed house to the venue. It’s a weird following in that venue too, so you never really know what’s going to happen, so we were really happy it was packed out. In Brooklyn, the kids can get snobby.
G- Very much. I moved back Upstate after graduate school, but I wish St. Vitus was there while I lived in the city. St. Vitus is THE club! Their lineups are ridiculous! They’ve got Quicksand playing NYE, I saw Judge there, all these bands just killing it.
St. Vitus, stay with us for a good, long while. And have VOD play again.
G- And in addition to Still, and the other records, and the new record coming out, I have a question for you. A nice selfish question. For those of us who weren’t able to get the physical copies back in the day, VOD had a bunch of cassettes and demo releases and stuff like that, I wanted to know if you guys ever kicked around the idea of putting out an early VOD retrospective with all that stuff on it, because I can’t find the original copies fucking anywhere.
T- It’s very funny you should ask that question. To all the fans out there, yes we do have the original DAT’s of VOD’s really early recordings, like the first demo and second demo. I don’t know if I even have any of the original cassettes left, but there has been some talk and speculation of doing a pressing of For The Bleeders strictly on vinyl, and once again we want to bring something special with that, and we’re going to release (2) of the original VOD demo tracks on that vinyl record.
G- When is THAT supposed to be coming out, man?!
T- We’re just going through the paperwork now, but I know certain things have to come into play for it to be released for Record Store Day, so we’re trying to be on point with that.
It’s going well, though. It’s going smooth. We have less going on right now and it’s not like what Kevin Gill had to go through with us. He had to have some extraordinary patience with us. Greg Ross. From Go Kart Records is handling the deal with that, and it should be out. We’re looking forward to that too, because I love the way my records look on my wall. (laughing)
G- (laughing) Stoked! Dude, that’s awesome!
OK, so you guys are tracking for the new record, you’ve got the re-release out, and you’re all working guys putting in your time during the 9-5 grind on top of this… What’s up with the shows in the near future? Do you have anything going on for late 2014 or in to 2015? Any plans to get some shows in?
T- Unfortunately, there is nothing going on with 2014. We had some offers, and they were significant, but we really need to buckle down for this record to work with the producer we want to work with, and I believe the deposit is already in and we’re not into blowing money.
We have 1 show that we agreed to do at Starland Ballroom on Valentine’s Day with E-Town Concrete and Indecision, so we’re gonna do that, and that’s gonna be ridiculous. Those guys have been after us for a few years so we’re going to do that one for sure, and we’re in email communication for a Summer festival tour over in Europe and that’s slowly coming together, and we’ll probably do some US shows in the Spring before that, so plan on Fall 2015 for VOD to do some full US dates.
G- Good news all around.
And just one last question, kind of hypothetical, but 20 years on from the Still release and the band is still going strong. You’ve still got the original fans and you’re making fans out of kids who weren’t even born 20 years ago. You guys played with Black Sabbath… What else is there to say?
But after all that, what do you hope to achieve, and continue to achieve, going forward with VOD, man? Tell us what the ultimate goal for the band is now.
T- To keep putting out great records, travel for free, and tour when we want to. That’s it.
G- And that’s all any working musician could possibly hope for, so there’s nothing wrong with that!
G- And that’s all I’ve got, man. I just want to say thank you again very much for speaking with Live High Five today and we’ll always be big fans of VOD. We’re looking forward to the future stuff!
T- Excellent, man and thank you very much!