Inbox: Abe Vigoda

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Sure, we're always curious to know about an artist's upcoming release, most recent tour, or arsenal of analog gear, but XLR8R's also got a curiosity for quirk. Thus, each week, we email a different artist and find out what makes them tick, in the studio and in life.

Now, the boys in SoCal punk outfit Abe Vigoda will be the first to tell you their musical direction has taken a slightly darker turn with the release of their Reviver EP, but bandmembers Michael Vidal and Juan Velazquez prove here—through discussion about flashfloods, digital cameras, and prized t-shirts— that they still have a fun-loving side.

What are you listening to right now?

Michael Vidal: I'm listening to Television Personalities right now. So English, it’s great. I just picked up this Man is the Bastard LP and I always end up throwing that on. Also, Cold Cave—a pop duo, I presume—just released a cool 12". Sounds like melting new-wave. Dance Mother, short for "dance mother-fuckers," is a new album by Telepathe. I just love it.

What's the weirdest story you ever heard about yourself?

MV: It was probably about something I did while I was drunk.

What band did you want to be in when you were 15?

MV: I wanted to be Billy Corgan, but I pretty much started the band when I was 15, so I guess I really wanted to be in Abe Vigoda.

Worst live show experience?

MV: We played this house party in Chicago after the Pitchfork Festival last year. It was this really crammed basement spot and it was raining pretty hard, but everyone was having an alright time. We started the set and it was feeling really good—like, best show ever status. We were three songs into our set when people start screaming "I don't want to die!" Water was pouring down the basement stairs like a waterfall, a freaky flash flood incident. It felt like a really vivid dream. Nobody died.

Favorite city to play in?

Juan Velazquez: We really like playing in New York. Todd P. always sets up really amazing shows with us. I feel like when we are there, it’s super-hectic and we are so busy, but we get to play with some of our favorite bands and get to eat amazing food.

I've heard several times that the Reviver EP is a new musical direction for you guys. How do you think this release differs from previous ones?

JV: It’s definitely darker and it varies more in tempo. I think it’s also a little more polished vocally. Also, I think that we use different guitar tones and much more distortion and feedback. I feel like the songs are more focused and not as jarring and fast as [tracks on] Skeleton.

What is your favorite thing you own?

JV: My digital camera. I feel like, 10 years from now, I’ll be glad I took it everywhere and annoyed my friends with it.

Name one item of clothing you can't live without.

JV: I have a really awesome Jesus and Mary Chain shirt that one of my best friends gave me. I feel real goth wearing it! It’s also featured in the Greg Araki film, The Living End, which is one of my faves!

Tell us a funny story about growing up in Chino, California.

JV: When Michael and I were younger, we went to this place called the Cooper House, which is where this family [was] murdered. It’s totally true, not one of those suburban legends. One night, we were driving up there with a friend and [had] to take a smaller dirt road to get to the house. I saw a really old horse and buggy with a guy in it riding on the other side. It looked super colonial and scary, and when we looked back after the buggy passed us it wasn’t there anymore. It was fucking spooky!

What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?

JV: Talking in class all the time. I’ve always had a hard time shutting up.

What other artist would you most like to work with?

JV: Well, the Diplo/Telepathe tour we did was super-inspirational to me. I really would like to collaborate with Busy and Melissa from Telepathe. They have some really amazing ideas about songwriting and pop that were super-inspiring to me. Also, they can dance really well, so I would like to incorporate that into my life in general. I would be so psyched if Diplo would remix one of our songs, but I guess we wouldn’t be working with him per se... but he is a really awesome guy.

What's the last thing you read?

JV: An interview in Unzipped magazine, with gay porn star Logan McCree. Coincidentally, I’m going to send him copies of our records in the mail, because he's DOPE.

Complete this sentence: In the future...

JV: Jungle is going to make a HUGE comeback.

Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?

JV: A combination of being brutally honest with people and being a little drunk.

What's next?

JV: Touring, touring, touring, and writing a new record!!

Photo by Sarah Cass.

MP3: "Don't Lie"