(Interview by Gareth Postans aka Girth, introduction by Mano)
One of my favorite American Oi! bands at the moment is undoubtedly LA's own Vis Vires! With members of The Hardknocks and The Templars in its ranks, this Californian powerhouse keeps on delivering hit after hit and with a new EP just around the corner it's time for a little Q and A! Thanks to Gareth for the interview and thanks to Perry Templar for the answers!
So Vis Vires - how did you guys form? What's the story?
Vis Vires came together in February 2018. I had just moved to LA and met Anthony at a gig. The Hardknocks weren’t active at the time and he asked if I’d be interested in starting something. Lou was playing with him in Hardknocks and wanted in on it as well. About a month later we started advertising for a lead guitarist and got Willie. The rest is history.
Your sound is very obviously influenced by Metal but I also hear some Japanese bands in there. Was it a matter of: I want our sound to have metal tinges or was that just the way it came out?
We wanted to carve out of own niche and do something different from all the cookie cutter Oi bands around. Also we didn’t want Vis Vires to sound like the other bands that we play in. We all like various types of metal so we figured why not roll with that. We do like some of the heavier Japanese skinhead bands, it’s cool that you picked up on that. Some of the songs we’re working on now are quite different from anything we’ve done before so our sound continues to evolve.
How has covid been for the band? I know you brought out 'The Fight goes on' last year. Do you feel this time has made you more productive? Are you playing live again yet?
We’ve all managed to stay free of the virus thankfully, but It really killed the momentum of the band. We were set to release the album and had shows and festival appearances booked all over the US and it all came to a grinding halt. Honestly I’m quite angry and bitter about the whole thing, but it is what it is. That being said, we recorded a single “Awaken” b/w “Winter” which will be out October 1st and have just recorded a track for a split 7” with Lvger. We’re also working on material for a new 12” EP or album to be released next year. As for live shows, we’ll be back to gigging in 2022.
I've seen you live a couple of times in Europe. I loved Beach Beer Chaos especially. Any plans to hit Europe again perhaps next year? Any UK action on the cards?
Yes Beach Beer Chaos is a great festival and we were honored to be asked to play. We have plans to tour Europe next summer, Covid willing of course, and the UK may be in the cards as well. Hopefully everything will work out.
Your lyrics and artwork conjure up images of battle, survival and conquer. What's the story behind your focus on wolves and the inspiration of your lyrics. History buffs? Movie buffs?
History is a major interest of mine but it doesn’t really influence my lyrics. Maybe Anthony has a different take on that. I rarely watch movies cause I have a short attention span and it’s hard for me to sit still for a couple hours. I do love a good documentary though.
Your splits with Ultra Sect and Kaleko Urdangak - how did they come about? Friends with the bands? Inspiration or just label suggestions?
The split with Kaleko came about through Anthony. Not exactly sure how it came together to be honest, but it was a good record. I like the versions of our songs that appear on our album better though. We’ve both known the members of Ultra Sect for many years and they’re a great band, so it was great to do a split with them. We plan to do some gigs together next year as well.
How are you finding being in The Templars as well? Obviously, your band mates are in other bands too. Does that give you much time to do anything else outside of music or are you music 24/7 365?
The Templars only play a few gigs a year so I have plenty of time to devote to other musical projects. Balancing music against the demands of work and my personal life is the bigger challenge but it’s what I love to do so I find a way.
What are your thoughts on a big festival like Rebellion? Would you ever play this? To me it seems like the same bands play every year and the prices always increase.
I’ve been to Rebellion 7 times counting the days when It was called Holidays In the Sun. I’ve enjoyed it but I doubt I’ll attend another one. I’d rather see a few bands at a club than go to big festivals. I’m not opposed to playing it personally but we haven’t tried up till now.
What's next for Vis Vires? Gigs? New album? Split?
We have a single “Awaken” b/w “Winter” coming out October 1st. Like our previous releases it is a partnership between Contra, Common People, and the Firm Records in Europe, Commandante Records in Brazil and Anthony’s label Battle Scarred in the US. I think is the best thing we’ve recorded yet. Both tracks are absolute hammers!! We just recorded a track for a split 7” with Lvger and are just about done writing for our second album which we plan to record next year. As for gigs, we decided to just wait until next year due to various reasons, especially Covid. That said we plan to come back strong next year.
Vis Vires means strength and courage. Have you had to fight to get this band going and get people interested in the band or has the response from people been great from the start?
This band has been a battle almost since day one. We’ve had several periods of inactivity due to personal issues, members commitments with other bands, etc, and now Covid. It seems like every time we build momentum something happens. It’s frustrating, but “the fight goes on”. The reception has generally been great, however, some people don’t seem to know what to make of us because we do our own thing and don’t dumb down our sound to try and fit the Oi! mold. That being said, all our releases have sold quickly and are sold out so we must be doing something right.
Who are your favourite bands around at the moment?
Reconquesta, Falcata, Ultra Sect, Force Majeure, B Sauadron, Hats & Caps…I’m also listening to a lot of dark wave and post-punk these days.
If you could recommend one book to someone, what would it be?
1984 by George Orwell. There’s so many parallels to the shit show we’re living in now. Scary!
Some bands (Templars for example) are much different on record than live. Whereas, yourselves are both loud and fierce both on record and live. Was this intentional? Has your sound attracted any metal fans?
Thanks for the compliment. We try our best to capture our live sound in the studio. We’ve all made major upgrades to our gear during the pandemic so we will sound even better once we start gigging again. It will be like a punch in the face!
Why don't you have any lyrics about skinhead byrds, boots, braces and getting nicked?
Because those topics have been done to death. As I said earlier, from day one we swore to ourselves that we would try our best to avoid all the skinhead cliches both musically and lyrically. If that’s what people want to hear there are a million other bands they can choose from. Besides that, as a middle aged man I’d feel silly singing about fights, “byrds” (I hate that fucking term), and boots except as a trip down memory lane.
Any final words?
Thank you Gareth for the interview and for all your support. Many thanks to everyone who’s bought our records, come to our gigs, and supported us in any way. We appreciate you all! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @visviresoi and watch out for us on the road next year.