From Iceland — Like Drinking A Bottle Of Cough Syrup On The Beach

Like Drinking A Bottle Of Cough Syrup On The Beach

Published October 5, 2011

Like Drinking A Bottle Of Cough Syrup On The Beach

New York rockers The Vandelles are very likely the coolest band to hit Airwaves this year. With their mix of sixties surf, psychedelia and a noise laden wall of sound they’ve hypnotized crowds with something that has been described as an audio and visual assault.


Your sound has a lot of influences from the past such as Link Wray and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Where do you draw your aesthetics from?


Honey: Nancy Sinatra almost exclusively.


Christo: We draw from a myriad of aesthetics for sure: film noir, surf, noise, psychedelic music and art, shoegaze, girl group, and Spinal Tap.


Do you know some of the other sixties / surf / psychedelic bands? Do you hang out with people like the Warlocks, the Black Angels or the Raveonettes?


Jasno: We’ve been lucky to have played with some of our biggest influences, like Dick Dale for one. We played The Black Angel’s Psych Fest in ’09 with Sky Saxon and in ’10 headlined the indoor show. We toured with The Warlocks in the summers of ’08 and ’09. One thing I didn’t realise when I first got into playing music was that I’d end up becoming good friends with some of the bands I’d been listening to since I was a teenager. Like in Toronto, we played Spacemen 3s ‘Losing Touch With My Mind’ WITH Will Carruthers ON BASS while Lisha also played bass at the same time. That was an amazing moment and he was so much fun to hang out with. I also lent my ’59 Jazzmaster to Sune from The Raveonettes for several months after all his stuff was stolen. I ended up selling that guitar later that year but it definitely sounded better after I got it back from him. Most of the bands in our community are connected with stories like that—it’s pretty cool to know we’re a part of a healthy scene that cares about good music.


The terms dark wave or noir rock have been used for your genre of music. How dark and dirty are you really?


Lisha: Someone once described listening to us as like drinking a bottle of cough syrup and taking a walk down the beach on a stormy summer’s night. That’s probably pretty accurate.


What are the themes in your music, your last album? Did you have a kind of story in mind when you put the songs together? 


Christo: The two themes from the last album are definitely opposite of each other. One is clearly a surf theme in the sense that there are lyrics about surfing and the music draws from a lot of conventional surf-rock tricks. The other theme is a kind of film noir theme, which is also reflected in mysterious lyrics and songs like ‘Lovely Weather’ and ‘Going Downtown’.


Which label are you on and how has the label thing worked for you? Or should bands just go with iTunes and self released albums?


Lisha: We mostly do the DIY approach when it comes to recording, producing, and getting the music out there. We do our own artwork and have pretty much entire creative control. Our EP was put out by an indie label, but our full-length album is actually self-released, and so far the response we’ve received and the feedback has been great. The only problem is the amount of trips I have to make to the post office to mail them out! I’m now on a first-name basis with all the mail carriers in New York.


What’s up next for you guys? A new album? A tour? 


Lisha: We are currently recording our new album, as Jasno said. We are definitely taking the music in a new direction and it’s exciting to be in the midst of that process. After our two shows in Iceland, we will be playing four dates in London, Oct 20–23. This is our first trip as a band to Europe, and I think we all can’t wait to run wild over there.


Have any of you been to Iceland before and what are you expecting?


Lisha: This will actually be my fourth trip to Iceland. I’ve been there once in the summer and two times for New Year’s. New Year’s was really great with lots of people celebrating in the streets and setting off fireworks. I expect it to be even more exciting and crazy now that we’ll be there for Airwaves.


Jasno: A year or two ago I saw this show called Drain the Oceans about the Mid Atlantic Ridge—it’s amazing that Iceland is the tip of that underwater mountain system, the bottom of which is thought to be the deepest point on Earth, that’s fascinating to me. Sometimes while I’m sitting out on my board off the break near my place in Jersey I think about how deep the water I’m in really gets or that someone in Iceland could be in the same body of water that I am at that very moment.


Are there any Icelandic bands that you like or listen to?


Lisha: I’ve loved Björk since I was 12 and had actually made a plan to move to Iceland when I was a young lass based on that love. I’m really into múm, Reykjavík!, Sing Fang Bous, Singapore Sling, and Þeyr. The last time I was in Iceland, I went to 12 Tónar and picked up Go-Go Darkness’s record and was completely possessed by it.


Jasno: Of course I love Singapore Sling, and the ever-amazing Björk. I’ve got my fingers crossed we’ll run into her at the pools or Blue Lagoon on Saturday.


What should Airwaves goers expect from a Vandelles concert?


Jasno: We’re playing a great venue and we’ll be rolling out most of Del Black Aloha for the Icelandic crowd. If we’re feeling saucy we may even pull out some new songs as well!


Lisha: Word of advice: Bring earplugs. We’re noisy, but the good kind of noise. We’re also excited to be playing an off-venue show as well through gogoyoko at Bar 11 on the 16th.


What music has captured your imagination lately?


Jasno: I like The Black Angel’s new record; Ringo Deathstarr is about to drop their new record as well and I’m psyched for that—Christo played on a couple tracks. I’ve also been really into Best Coast lately, their reverbed vocal sound captivates me. Aaand, I just re-learned that there was a NIRVANA from the 60’s who were a crazy psychedelic band that wrote the score to one of the worst ‘60s B-movies ever. Great song though ‘Rainbow Chaser’ apparently it was the first song to feature a new technique back then called “Flanging”. Wicked.


Honey: I’ve recently discovered 1960s Rita Pavone. I’m thinking of changing my name to Potato.


What kind of music could you be tortured with?


Honey: As a child, I would throw my Barbies at the radio when the following bands came on: Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice in Chains. These feelings hold true today.


Lisha: I’m with Honey. I can’t stand Eddie Vedder’s voice.

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