VAMPIRE STEP DAD - 'Inside your head' | An Interview
I've been pretty lucky to date in being able to delve deeper into the hearts and minds of my most favourite Artists to give you a reflection of the Artists themselves. I now discuss a Vampire that theoretically has no reflection but it doesn't stop me from giving my own!
The creaking door opened and closed behind us all way back in 2015 and there stood an impossibly charming Vampire with a natty sweater (or 10) that was undoubtedly ready to send us all back to the 80's. And that he did....in style!
The flair and musicianship of this fanged wonder has garnered him a legion of fans with his unmistakable ability to take us through the gauntlet of 80's movies never made from love scenes to suspense thrillers to action packed crime montages and back again. No stranger to the stage he supported none other than the Dark Don himself 'Carpenter Brut' in Atlanta on his North American Tour and continues to charm and delight (if there is such a thing for a Vampire) to date with his Live (blood) streams and socials.
Forged were bloody excited that he agreed to do this interview about all things Step Dad..take a look and see what you think.
Hey thank you so much for sharing your time with Forged today and Congratulations on the recent release of the Remixes Album and with proceeds going to such a worthy cause too, that’s amazing! How did you pull it all together?
Yes! I’m so proud of the family for raising $250 in just one day for Lost-n-Found Youth, which aids homeless LGBTQIA+ youth, who are especially vulnerable. It’s something I’ve been meaning to put out for a while now, but life and whatnot has gotten in the way.
Marketing wise I feel its genius but tell us a little about the concept of ‘Vampire Step Dad’ how did that all come about?
My main goal was to try to think of a name that immediately conjured 80s stereotypes in the brain of anyone that heard or read it. At the time there were plenty of examples calling on the dark, neon-lit cyberpunk side of the 80s, but almost nothing on the lighter side of things.
For me, a lot of 80s memories are tied up in family TV and movies.
There was a lot of media riffing on the idea of the nuclear family. My Two Dads, Full House, My Stepmom is an Alien, 3 Men and a Baby. So I knew I wanted to play on that a bit.
The tricky part about adding to your family is that you have to learn to trust the new addition. So I thought it would be funny to kind of personify that suspicion of a step parent by exaggerating it.
Realistically, you may think “Can I trust this guy to take care of my mom and me?” But I wanted to push it to “Is this guy a literal monster when we’re not looking?”
Honestly, at the time, I had no idea just how much the name would become the entire overarching theme of this entire project.
How do you think your sound has developed over time?
Earlier on I was just kinda throwing darts and seeing what stuck. My older releases are much more sporadic, while my newer stuff is a little more consistent. (At least within a single release) As much as I love making the action-packed music, I find I naturally gravitate to the kind of bitter-sweet, melancholic love songs.
Who have been your musical inspirations growing up? I imagine that has changed a little over time?
Hugely. I grew up loving punk, ska, and metal. Very DIY, make a band in a garage and play shows at house parties. A lot of that was coupled with a strong hatred of pop music. Despite that, for as long as it’s been possible I’ve been making music on my computer. Generally just stupid little songs, nothing ever very serious, but I was always aware of the power a computer had for making music.
Despite that, bringing a computer on stage was sacrilege.
Honestly it wasn’t until I found Carpenter Brut that I started to realize electronic music was a genre I could participate in seriously. Of course, when I first began, I’d planned to never play live, so even then I wasn’t willing to bring a computer on stage with me!
Possibly putting you on the spot but what would you say is the most favourite track in your entire discography? Why?
I REALLY love Please, Jan Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. It was the first VSD song I ever wrote. I love the bass line, I love the atmosphere. Also the Night I Met Your Mother. I kind lament that one never really caught on for many people. I think it’s so lush.
What has been the advice that you’ve been given that has always stuck with you?
Probably that the most important thing for sustaining a musical endeavour is to connect with your supporters. The days of the aloof, to-cool-for-you rock star are over. People are looking for a connection. They want insight into an artist’s life. And the upside of that is you end up meeting incredible people with incredible stories. It’s the best part of this whole thing.
What is the one guilty pleasure you cannot live without?
I kinda don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Like, if it brings you happiness, don’t be ashamed of it! But I’ll play along. It’s corndogs. It’s childish and awful for me, but oh man, cornbread on a hotdog is like,
What has been the one standout memory of your career to date for better or worse?
Opening for Carpenter Brut. My first show ever as VSD. It’s ridiculous, and I’m VERY aware how lucky I was to get that spot. It forced me to take this much more seriously, and I don’t want to think how different my life would be if VSD was just another blip in my musical history.
Are there any Artists on the scene currently that you’d love to collaborate with?
Collaboration is a weird thing for me. Part of it is me being a control freak. Another thing is, what if what you end up with doesn’t make you proud, and then you have to like, let that person down? You know, all the negative aspects of it keep me from enjoying the incredible possibilities it could create. I actually tried to do a collab with Brandon, who I feel is an EXCELLENT songwriter, but we both got side-tracked and it just fizzled. We both keep promising we’ll make it happen some day. We’ll see!
Anyone with even a passing interest in your career will notice an abundance of 80’s pop culture references which are so well done, is that an organic part of your creative process or is it more defined?
I’ve always found that I work well within some constraints. Limitless possibilities gives me option paralysis. I’ve done a few challenges your team has to make a short film in just 48 hours. I LOVE those things. The time limit forces you to make decisions and focus. So working within the 80s nostalgia is a form of limitation for me that helps me focus. Also, it’s kind of a cheat, because you can use other peoples’ fond memories as a jumpstart to making new memories.
We’re over here listening to Vampire Step Dad obviously...but who are you listening to?
The last several months I’ve been OBSESSED with Fickle Friends. Retro style pop band with female vocalist. Amazingly tight band, and their grooves are so danceable it’s ridiculous.
You’ve done a few gigs online and indeed live are there any experiences you cherish? And conversely any experiences you’d love to forget?
Yes, doing online concerts has been a good way to cope with the situation we’re all stuck in. It pales in comparison to a live show, but this whole year has been about making due with what we have. I love seeing how some people have put in a lot of work to bring together bands and make shows for all of us to enjoy. And most of them are FREE, which is incredible. The indie music scene is so generous.
As for a favourite memory, um, ALL of them? I love playing live SO MUCH. The only part I hate about it is waiting till it’s time to go on the stage. I get to play my music, and people dance along, shout, clap...it’s like a big party. And then after the set I hang out at the merch table and talk for hours with anyone who will talk with me. Many of whom have become good friends. I’ve even officiated a wedding of two people I met at a show!
Regrets? I’m deeply afraid that, while listeners are having a great time at my show, other
musicians/bands think I’m a terrible guitar player. Even so, I know I put on a good show, but it’s always nice to know your peers respect you.
Can you tell us about any current or future projects?
I’m always working on new music. It’s been VERY difficult the past months, as the pandemic has really sapped my creative energy. But, I managed to write a new song I’m really proud of just recently. I’ve played it during one of the online shows. Lot’s of good responses. So once I have enough new music made, I’ll have another EP to release.
I was all ready to come and see you in August at Neon Retro-Fest which alas didn’t happen. Are there any gigs in the Diary for 2021?
It’s impossible for an artist at my level to make any plans at this point, but it is very much my
intention to play more shows, in more places. I’d actually set a goal to play all 4 corners of the US in 2020, but we all know what happened there. NEON was part of that plan. But, I’ve let them know I’ll happily play NEON when it’s safe to put on again!
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
Knowing that I’ve made music that can have a positive effect on someone’s life. People have used my music in their WEDDINGS. It’s incredible to know that, in some small way, I’m part of one of the most important times in a person’s life. It’s an amazing connection.
Your favourite 80s movie?
Probably The ‘Burbs. But Princess Bride is my fav movie of all time, so it’s up for debate.
A message for your fans?
I don’t have fans. I have family. To my family: You are loved in a way you’ll never fully understand. You have helped to make my wildest dreams come true, and for that I am forever in your debt. Thank you from the bottom of my cold, undead heart.
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