Vial’s songs are roughly one and a half minutes long each—there-and-gone bursts of energy that practically burn you as they come out of the speakers, just like good hardcore punk should. After a well-received demo and some random press from Pitchfork, they released their debut vinyl—a 7” EP on Cut Rate, also home of a great Audacity 10”—in September. They speak now from their Egg Van as confused trick-or-treaters sneak peeks from across the street. They play with Flesh World, Roses and more at the East 7th St. Warehouse on Fri., Dec. 5. This interview by Kristina Benson and Chris Ziegler." /> L.A. Record

VIAL: WE DON’T HAVE A FUTURE

December 3rd, 2015 | Interviews


photography by christina c. craig

Vial’s songs are roughly one and a half minutes long each—there-and-gone bursts of energy that practically burn you as they come out of the speakers, just like good hardcore punk should. After a well-received demo and some random press from Pitchfork, they released their debut vinyl—a 7” EP on Cut Rate, also home of a great Audacity 10”—in September. They’re modest (and hilarious) in person but they’re ferocious live, and their songs have much more going on than just high-intensity complaining. In just a few seconds, they dismantle and examine topics like gentrification (as in the song “Move”) and gender relationships (“You’re Not Safe”) and the general alienation of wandering through the world of today. They speak now from their Egg Van as confused trick-or-treaters sneak peeks from across the street. They play with Flesh World, Roses and more at the East 7th St. Warehouse on Fri., Dec. 5. This interview by Kristina Benson and Chris Ziegler.

At what point did you cross the line from ‘people in a room together, with instruments’ to feeling like you were really a band together?
Kaitlin (guitar): I still feel like we’re barely a band. Other bands play with us and we’re like, ‘They’re real bands.’
Krista (vocals): It’s like outsider art—for me at least. I’m not musically inclined, and when I’m writing lyrics, I’m like, ‘OK, this is what sounds good.’ I feel like that’s how outsider artists do it. I think the less, the better.
What was the first show you ever played?
Denee (bass): The East 7th Street warehouse—just a weirdo punk warehouse downtown. I think with Blazing Eye. It was pretty good for a first show—we were all pretty nervous, we hadn’t played in awhile. But it was fun—it’s a good full community there.
The coverage of Vial is like all random people who saw you at a show somewhere and loved it, and then Pitchfork. What does being on Pitchfork do for a band like Vial?
Denee: It was like, ‘What the fuck were we doing there?’ We do get a lot of really good random blogs from people who’ve seen us. Then there was the Burger Boogaloo reviewer—she hated us! She said we were really yell-y and only played twelve minutes.
‘The food here is awful, and the portions are so small!’
Kaitlin: We enjoyed that a lot! And they called us a girl band.
Jon: (drums) ‘I was really excited for this all-girl band, but they were really yell-y and played for twelve minutes.’ We were like, ‘We’re doing something right!’
Krista: We get compared to riot grrl a lot—
Denee: And we’re not even all girls.
Which of your elementary school friends would love Vial the most and why?
Denee: I have a best friend from elementary school—she’s basically like my sister. And she was always super encouraging and we would jam together when we were younger but I never played in a band with her. I think she would be stoked for me—I wouldn’t say she’d be surprised.
Kaitlin: Krista went to pre-school with me and she’s the singer. I think we were just like freaks from the get-go. You know there’s that one other kid in the first grade: ‘Oh, you get benched all the time too?’
Which of your teachers would be least surprised that you’re in Vial now?
Denee: I was pretty openly weird from an early age so I don’t think anyone would be surprised. But I was really close to my high school French teacher. I had her four years, and she had very interactive class projects and I was always singing or dancing. I think the first time I actually played guitar in front of my peers was in her class doing a weird French song for a project so I think she would be really stoked.
Kaitlin: Honestly, in high school there was like us, and there was like the rest of the school. So none! We were just freaks. All of our guy friends were skateboarders and we just hung out with them—they were barely graduating. I don’t think any of our teachers would be surprised. We had different colored hair and we had cat collars and all that.
Do you feel like you chose freak-dom or was it thrust upon you?
Kaitlin: Probably both. If you’re not conventionally what-is-beautiful at the time, you’re not going to be popular. Or if you don’t have a lot of money. And I also chose it by being attracted to extremes. When I first met one of my best friends, I was in seventh grade and I saw her and I was like, ‘I have to be friends with this girl!’ She had a shaved head and bangs. It was the first really extreme female that I’d seen like that. And when I first started hanging out again with Krista in junior high, I totally remember we had no friends.
What is something you know to be true that no one else believes?
Krista: Hmm—shopping at places like H&M and Forever 21 does matter and it does affect other people. Being in [the] fashion [industry], one of my main reasons why I make clothing is cuz I don’t want them to be made in China or in third world countries. All my teachers would be like, ‘No, it’s fine—they’re not being made in third world countries.’ I feel like people don’t realize that.
Denee: There’s a lot of people playing music today that don’t really give much of a fuck about the music itself. I feel like a lot of people want to do it for like Internet popularity or something, and that’s like a sad truth. That’s what makes the real stuff that much better—people who are actually doing it for the right reasons. It’s necessary for them to be a happy person or to just get by. That’s their creative output and that’s what they have to do. And that’s the sad truth—a lot of people are just doing it for the wrong reasons.
What are the right reasons?
Denee: For yourself, and not to please anybody else—not cuz you’re thinking about what your fucking rating on Pitchfork is going to be. And also that the phrase ‘girl band’ is necessary to use when talking about a band. It isn’t. Even if the band is comprised of all females, ‘band’ works just fine.
What is the most irreplaceable record or tape or physical music artifact you have?
Denee: The one record I’m super protective over is a 7” by this obscure UK punk band called the Molesters. One of my favorite punk songs of all time—given as a birthday present from my boss Larry Hardy, along with a stack of amazing rare punk singles. And ALL of my Neil Young records. He’s the best songwriter. He’s gotten me through a lot of tough times.
What prompted you to write ‘Move’?
Krista: My fiancée and I had already lived in L.A. for a year, but we were moving into a new house. I got in a weird altercation with my neighbor—she was pissed I was there, but she had every right to be angry. I was just as angry when I lived in San Francisco. It’s full circle. She’s allowed to be mad. We’re all allowed to be mad. But we can try to be decent to each other. I can point the finger, and people can point it at me. It’s a neverending cycle.
Kaitlin: Some people move to town like, ‘What’s up! I’m here!’ Dude, there is so much more here than just your fucking party.
On ‘You’re Not Safe,’ Krista sings: ‘You’re not safe, I’m the enemy.’ Who is ‘you’ and who is ‘I’?
Krista: For that song, I’m singing about being a woman, or a girl, and growing up and feeling I’m supposed to act a certain way or be a certain way. I was singing to the men in my life. Not ones I’m dating, but family members—or like to any older male in general, where it’s like … I’m not this cute young girl. Like, ‘I can stand my ground.’ Being a woman you can feel threatened, and I was trying to be like, ‘I’m not just going to bow down—I’m not submissive and weak, so sleep with one eye open!’
Do you feel like you’re part of a counterculture right now? A subculture? Or just some little tentacle of mass culture?
Jon: I feel like we maybe grew up in our respective subcultures … but it’s hard to claim that when you’re a little older? We’re doing our thing. We don’t feel the need to be like, ‘I’m punk.’
Kaitlin: Which is sad!
I like how you’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re not really punk, other than being in this ripping punk band.’
Kaitlin: We can’t talk to people about it. I just don’t tell people I’m in a band—people you meet at school or work who are like, ‘What do you do?’ ‘I hang out with my friends.’ You know: ‘You’re in a band? Do you play arenas?’ We’re really so insular.
Do you feel like there’s a limit on where the band can or can’t go because of the things you sing about? Like your future as a band means you’re going to get pushed back in line by bands that sing about nothing?
Jon: We don’t have a future!
That’s kind of refreshing!
Kaitlin: We’re not trying to live off it.
So what is the least likely next step for Vial? Headlining Coachella? A reality TV show?
Denee: We’re not really going anywhere, just like Jon said. And that’s where we want to be. We don’t want to make this into a job or anything—we want it to be fun and we just want to be able to hang out every week. If we happen to put out a another record, that would be awesome.
Krista: We’re just so go-with-the-flow, but we’re not going to headline some corporate-sponsored show,
Kaitlin: We talk about a West Coast tour but it costs money and time—everyone has jobs or in school full time so it’s hard. I hope we can at least record a tape again. I can’t imagine us having a reality show? I don’t even know what that would be—drinking beer and making fun of each other? It would be very boring. It could be a bedtime show. We are so bad in front of the camera.
But you’re so fearless about playing shows.
Kaitlin: But we get so nervous.
Is that what all the beers are for?
Kaitlin: Yeah! We hype each other up too. It’s nerve-wracking. You get up there and it’s like, ‘This is what I made.’ And everyone could be like ‘fuck that!’ We’ve played shows where we don’t fit in but we’re always like … fuck it, as long as we’re having fun, that’s what matters.

VIAL PLAYS WITH FLESH WORLD AND ROSES PLUS DJ EMILY ORIGAMI ON SAT., DEC. 5, AT THE E. 7TH ST. WAREHOUSE. 8 PM / $10 / ALL AGES. MORE INFO HERE.
VIAL’S SELF-TITLED EP IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM CUT RATE RECORDS. VISIT VIAL AT VIAL-BAND.TUMBLR.COM FOR MORE INFO.