When you hear the hard plucking of the bass and your eyes roll back inside your head, you know the shit is going to go down. There is a connection between you and the music, and you can feel every throbbing punk-driven power chord. For Chicago’s ¡Vamos!, Spiderbait is the shit! Taking lessons from bands that were effected by the Chicago cityscape and that glorious style of hard-hitting punk rock and angular off-kilter tempos (from Naked Raygun to Trenchmouth to Jesus Lizard; even though formed in Austin I still consider them a Chicago band), ¡Vamos! channels that aura with unique hooks and an immediacy that fulfills the bands name. Let’s go! Get moving! This is what first comes to mind when you hear their creative slant to the punk genre. Josh Lambert, Will Wood, Ryan Murphy are edgy and act like someone who has drank way too many caffeinated drinks. Consumed by a cult-film ethic, their style proves that counter culture can still exist.
I talked to Ryan Murphy about the band’s inception, their place in the Chicago scene, and the new album. Make sure your arms and hands are inside the car at all times because this ride is getting ready to take off!
Tell me about the origins of ¡Vamos!. How did it all come together and how do you know each other?
We all ended up living together at this DIY spot called the PALZIE. We all partied pretty ferociously there. Will was living below the attic space we practiced in. He eventually started coming up with bass lines while we were upstairs “practicing”. I say it like that because Josh and I would just get blasted, drink coffee, play and sweat it out and then go to work. It was fun. It is where I formed most of the foundation for my guitar tone. We had a rotating cast of characters that played bass. Lets just say, it didn’t work out. One day, I remember Will just came upstairs and was like, “I got some ideas”. We’ve been a family ever since.
How has Chicago affected the band to develop the sound that you have. What is it about the music history and vibrancy of the city to help push you to do what you do?
We hate Chicago as much as we love it. We’re from different walks for sure but all of us love the hustle and Chicago has always been a city that works. Which is great if you’re like us and love making mistakes and getting into trouble. You can always bounce back in Chicago. The winter blows but whatever, we just leave and go on tour. I don’t know how it has gotten into our sound but it’s around us all the time so I guess in a sense we’re victims of our locale.
What challenges to you do face in the current facade of the Chicago music scene and what makes things easier in this environment?
Honestly, the bands keep getting better and raising the bar. You really have to keep up or bow out in my opinion. There is a heaping wealth of talent and it is being showcased all the time. So you see it. You just gotta pick up the pace. At the same time the scene is really chill. You don’t have a lot of privilege floating around. Everyone works really fucking hard and that is awesome to know that your not the only asshole beating the pavement to get shit done. So in terms of things being easy? You work hard, you play the hardest. As a result people get down. You gotta let loose or be lame I guess.
What led to releasing the two EPs in 2013 and did they help push the band out there more into the public eye? Were you happy with how the band was coming together and an idea imposed?
We needed to record something. We played out all the time but had no recordings. I don’t know why we didn’t. I think it had a lot to do with our gear situation at the time. It was grim. HOWEVER, Jason Richards and Jason Hendrix from the band Big Science were like our gurus. They wanted to help. They liked the material and they dug the hang. This is our super secret formula for making records. They we’re really good at pushing us into the ether, as it were. We went places with our sound we we’re unaware that we could go. It’s the best feeling looking down a mountain and being like, totally worth it. Shit got weird and it was tight.
“Midwaste” seemed like a more vicious beast with a vendetta. How did this full length develop and how was this experience different than the EPs. What did you learn from it?
Jeff Kelly. Blizzard. Deadline.
We were running out of time and needed to have this tape ready to go for tour. In terms of a vendetta? Yeah, probably. No one puts baby in a corner. We had backs against the wall and Jeff swooped in and saved our butts. We were feeling ambitious. We came into a new van. That gave us the oppurtunity to get the hell outta dodge. We wanted people to hear this shit. Ian and MAXIMUM PELT (our label) had taken a shine to us. I was living with him at the time. It made enriching our relationship very easy. He was dtf with us and I think that had something to do with the rate at which we cranked out these tunes.
Now with Spiderbait, it feels like you are not just a tornado spinning out of control, but a more decisive group who controls the chaos a little better. What do you feel are the greatest strengths to this release? Why for the more garage philosophy and psych rock appearance to a previous chaotic punk approach?
We like songs. That sounds sarcastic but its true. We like songwriting and spend a lot of time bickering about parts. Usually we start with some stream of conscience baloney. After that is out of our systems. We proceed to tear the idea to pieces. It can get heated at times but we’re creating something. We wanted to do more things vocally with spiderbait that we had not done previously. We we’re excited to hear these songs on vinyl. Dan Rico had some amazing insight during the recording process as well. We wanted to make something that seemed and looked pretty but sounded like it would just destroy you. I think SPIDERBAIT offers the listener that trifecta. It has the power, steam and sand that we were missing with previous releases.
The concept behind the band’s moniker, the album name and the album cover all presents a sense of immediacy in a disillusioned setting. In addition, the music on the album hits the ground running. What does immediacy mean to you and how important is that ideology when it comes to writing and recording songs?
Man, we don’t have a patient bone in our bods. Josh will skip tracks if they don’t get to the hook quick enough. It’s our mission to effectively write some rock and roll. Yeah we want it to be dirty and fucked up. We want this song to get super weird. We love pop song structure. We also strive to try and do that all in 2:30. We don’t wanna write anything that makes you itch.
There is also a sense of transparency as the video for “Spiderbait” poses some interesting effects to the viewer. How did the video come about and why the thematics that are involved?
We love that horror and slasher genre, though. Seriously. We wanted to do something grotesque. We love EVIL DEAD. Expect more of that. The thematics have a lot to do with the nature and subject matter of the song. SPIDERBAIT deals with, not dealing with your problems. Eventually they catch up to you and eat you alive. So we thought, instrument cables! They always get left on the floor not taken care of and they break. What if they came to life and tried to consume you? Jack Edinger the director and our real good homie was the reason that video is so visceral.
The band started with a very strong DIY presence. How much does the band still do with that regard and how is that significant to the band. Having that control, does that make live shows more poignant? How has playing live changed from the band’s beginning days?
We are doing a lot more than we used to on stage. We don’t do write studio albums. We write songs that we play live. We used to get away with so much more stage antics. That’s definitely changed a bit. We still explode on stage but there is more of an arc. We have tightened things up and it comes across. We still play DIY shows all the time. Don’t think that will ever change.
We will be seeing more from you later this month, but give us a run down of what the band’s plans are for the rest of the year and what you all hope to accomplish now that the album is out.
Yeah, we’re looking to crank out some new stuff in October with the amazing Dan Rico. We’re gonna keep touring the midwest a lot. We are trying to do a video for every song on SPIDERBAIT. Step up or get swept up. We’re going to do what we have always done and loved doing. Making music and partying so hard. Getting lost is an art in itself. We are scary good at it.