Concert Sutra Interrogates Vietnam

by terri sapp

photographs taken by terri sapp

© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved

Interview with Vietnam

click photos for photo gallery

After experiencing the underground Georgia legends, Vietnam, at a couple of shows in October (which can be read about in the supporting Concert Sutra write up this month), I felt I must get Stan Satin, David Dean, David Watkins a.k.a. Zod, Laurie G-Force, and John Stun together and explore the depths of these powerhouse rockers!  In the absence of my wonderful and talented Photographer and assistant, Leah Yetter, I enlisted the help of Noel Page, formerly of Valentine Fix, and Salome’s Wish, etc., currently Pop! On Command.  Noel and I were fortunate enough to gather at the house of Davidean, where Vietnam practices on Sunday nights, for a visit, which quickly moved to a local establishment for a fabulously fun interview.  Read on for a full transcript of the festivities.  Also, don’t forget to check out my photo gallery from the last few months with Vietnam, visit the following site, hosted courtesy of Leah Yetter, Photographer:

Concert Sutra:      How did you guys originally get started?

Stan:      The original band started in January of 1980, in Atlanta.  It was Drew Davidson on guitar, Tim Hunter on bass guitar, and I was singing and playing sax.  We actually all sang, but we really wanted a girl in the band, and we tried out several singers, but we none of the girls worked out.  The next player that joined the band was Sue Garner, and she was the first girl in the band.  We actually played our very first show in front of a sold -out house at the Agora Ballroom, quite a large venue; we got thrown right into the Frying Pan!  It was opening up for Pylon and PIL.  Everyone was there in ripped T-shirts and safety pins to see Johnny Rotten. Of course, by this time, he was known as John Lydon and the Sex Pistols had imploded. PIL was his new band and they had set out to destroy pop music.

Laurie:   (singing) “This is what you want…This is what you get…This is what you want…This is what you get…”

David Dean & Laurie GZod:       Long before that!…(laughs all around – because Laurie is younger and was singing a more recent PIL song – in actuality, PIL had just only recently formed, this was their first U.S. tour. )

Stan:      Their second album called “Second Edition” had just come out. 

Concert Sutra:      Where did the name “Vietnam” come from?

Stan:      We had a really “punk” attitude at the time, and really wanted to offend people, you know, really get under their skin.  We were trying to think of a name that would really irritate people.  Something to shock them out of their doldrums.  One of the names we considered was Cerebral Palsy.  We passed on that.  Anti-Kunst was another name we were considering. (Means Anti-art in German).  All of a sudden our bassist Tim Hunter  said, “I’ve got the perfect name…Vietnam!”  We all just went, yeah, that’s it.  It encompasses everything bad in one name, because of the failure of America in the war.  It had only been like five years since we lost the War, and it was a disgrace, Vietnam, the War.  So, it was the perfect name to get under one’s skin.

Concert Sutra:      How has your process changed or evolved over the years?  Musically, and recording?

Stan:      Actually, we’ve always been a band that loved music.  Originally, we wrote music together as we jammed.  We would come up with a theme, and that’s how we wrote music, just letting the creative spark flow intuitively.  However, in these later incarnations of the band, which we have now, and the one we first started with in 2000, it was pretty much like a recreation where we went back and listened to recordings and recreated the old songs.

Laurie:   But we all still love music!

David:                    (Sarcastically): We’re a cover band!  We just covered our own songs.  We have more original material, too.  The potential for material now is broader than it was.  There’s more maturity as musicians.  One of the latest songs we’ve added to the set list Laurie wrote (Missing in Action).

Concert Sutra:      That actually leads me right into my next question.  How have the younger members of the band influenced your music and live performance?

Stan SatinStan:      Zod has brought the complete rock solid foundation that creates and holds it all together.  Laurie brought in a song that is now one of our favorites. Davidean, when he first joined the band back in 1981, used to play drums, now he plays keyboards, and sings.  Before he joined Vietnam the second time, he and Zod had a really great underground band from Atlanta called Pillowtexans.  These two guys were the Pillowtexans, along with guitarist Steve Beach and  bassist Bryan Lilje, who was in Vietnam’s previous incarnation and appears on the CD.

Laurie:   And I was a big ole fan!

Concert Sutra:      You were!

John:      Were you?

Laurie:   I was!  I even have…some girlfriends of mine dubbed me a videotape of the last show.

Stan:      Aaaaaahhhhhh!

John:      Wow!

Stan:      Get this, Vietnam…the original Vietnam had a show at Georgia State University in 1981, and Laurie came to the show…

Laurie:   Yeah, my boyfriend was older than me.  He was in college, and…

Stan:      You were only sixteen.

Laurie:   Yeah.  I skipped school, and I went down there, and I saw them in the Student Center.  They were like legends.  They were already a myth to us high school kids on the fringe of Atlanta, you know, that were chomping at the bit for some place under age where we could see these things go on.

Noel:      688 was a good place for the all ages shows…in my era…

Stan:      One of the things that you have to put into perspective is that we started in 1980, and in 1981, Vietnam was playing a lot.  Atlanta was really behind the times.  It was still mostly like boogie band type stuff around at the time.

Laurie:   Well, they were better than most in the United States.  Behind Europe, and England, and Germany…

Stan:      We were kind of outcasts, because we were thought of as really weird.  We were like a weirdo band. 

Laurie:   There were THREE punk music people in my high school.

Concert Sutra:      (laughs)

Laurie:   They liked The Jam.  The Jam, and the Clash, and I liked the Sex Pistols.  But Pillowtexan parties…oh my goodness…they had the warehouse district…

Stan:      They had one of the first warehouse big parties!

Laurie G at the EyedrumLaurie:   The infamous black and white parties. 

Stan:      Yeah, I went to one of those.

Laurie:   A real coming of age experience for me!

David:                    We had 8000 square feet…

Laurie:   It was very Factory…Warhol…Velvet Underground…visual, very full on extra sensory…

David:                    With big projections, and controlled environments, where you had to walk down black plastic hallways with a strobe light in your face, so you couldn’t tell where you were…

Laurie:   And, I was just a kid!  They were like, “Come on, little Laurie, come on!”  (laughs)

David:                    (in a menacing voice)  It was all because of drugs!

Laurie:   Oh, I’ve never done drugs!  You got that, right?  (laughs)

Noel:                      Oh, yeah, there’s gonna be a new member to the party here soon, too.  Tim’s coming to bring you all the Vietnam DVDs. 

Concert Sutra:      So, who’s got the biggest cock in the band?

Noel:      AAAAAAHHH!!!

David and Stan:  Laurie

Laurie:   I think that would be me!  (laughs all around)  Actually, in the tri-city area.

Concert Sutra:      I love it!  So, how do you balance your music career with the responsibilities of family, relationships, day to day life…that sort of thing?

Laurie:   First, before we go there, tell me this…who would win in a cock fight between you and me?

John:      Oh, Wow!

Concert Sutra:      I’m sorry, Laurie G Force, but I’m gonna have to say that I could probably take you in a COCK fight!  (laughs)

Laurie:   Yeah, I’m thinking that you might!  (laughs)  I was going to say that, too, because I try to build up this whole thing, so people are afraid to fight me, and then I don’t actually have to fight them.

Concert Sutra:      No, a COCK fight…as far as a FIGHT fight, I’m a lover, not a fighter…

Laurie:   Exactly!

Concert Sutra:      But a COCK fight…I think I could take you in a COCK fight!  But, that’s just a COCK fight.

Laurie:   I’m a door, not a window, personally.

Concert Sutra:      Right, I’m a lover, not a fighter.  (laughs)  But, seriously, I wanna know how you balance.  (To Stan) I know you have a family.  I’m not as intimately in the know about these families, but I know relationships, family, friends, day to day life…

David:                    They all go to shit!

Zod:       This is my family.

Laurie:   We throw it all to the wind for rock and roll!  That’s why you can’t conscionably stand in front of Stonehenge unless you just really let everything go like that, and throw yourself into it.

Concert Sutra:      (to Stan)  You balance it, I know!  I’ve seen your…

Stan:      I guess that I’m lucky…I have a very cool family!

Concert Sutra:      You do!

Stan:      Because they allow me to throw it all to the wind.

Vietnam at Club 29Concert Sutra:      So, that’s the balance!  You have to build ties that care enough to let you do your thing.

Laurie:   My cats give me some attitude, but by in large…

Concert Sutra:      Your cats give you attitude? 

Laurie:   Certainly.

John:                      My family is deathly concerned about me.  (laughs)

Concert Sutra:      Deadly concerned?  Why would you say they’re deadly concerned?

Laurie:   We LOVE the authorities!

John:      I’ll just tell ya, they think it’s gonna kill me, this band.  They’re deadly concerned.

Concert Sutra:      Wow.  Are you deadly concerned?

John:      No, I don’t give a fuck!

Concert Sutra:      Oh, OK.

Stan:      You still live with your parents, right?

John:      Yep, I live with my parents, I go to Kennesaw State.

Concert Sutra:      You do?  (Noel laughs)  That’s my neighborhood, my friend!

Noel:      Kennesaw, represented!

Concert Sutra:      My Maple Trees look fabulous right now!

John:      A lot of other things out there looking good, too.

Stan:      You live in Cobb County?

Concert Sutra:      I live in Kennesaw.  Cobb County in da house!

David:    They have a law where ya’ll have to have guns up there.

Concert Sutra:      I heard about that!  Luckily, I’m holding in escrow my friend’s semi-automatic, so I’m cool.

Laurie:   I’ve gone skiing on a golf course close to your house when it snowed one time.  I think the blizzard of ’83 or whatever…

John:      ’93…

Stan:      There was one in ’83 in New York.

Laurie:   There was one in ’83 in Atlanta, but anyway…there was one in ’93, too, but anyway! 

David:                    December 17, ‘82.

Laurie:   ’82, ok, then this was ’82.

David:                    Froze the pipes…

Zod:       I went through that blizzard at the club Rumours in Atlanta. R.E.M. was playing and Oh Ok opened for them with Bill Berry playing drums for both bands!.

John:      So, I live up there in Kennesaw, and go to school there.

Concert Sutra:      You live there, too!

John:                      Yeah, I live there, go to school there…

Concert Sutra:      Did you VOTE last week?

John:                      Sure did!  Democratic, baby!

Concert Sutra:      Who has pets?  I’ve already met Fluffy and…

David:                    Fluffcatty.

Concert Sutra:      Fluffcatty, very pretty.

Laurie:   Not as pretty as my four kitties!

Concert Sutra:      Who are they?  What are their names?

Laurie:   Neigel…

John:      Their kitties don’t compare to my kitties.

Laurie:   Uh, excuse me, I wasn’t done with my kitties.  Neigel and Ozzy.  Ozzy’s brother, Z, and Tigger.

Concert Sutra:      Tigger!

Laurie:   Tigger’s a Tabby.

Concert Sutra:      Orange Tabby?

Laurie:   Oh, Yeah.  Neigel is a Mancoon, well, anyway, they’re all big.  They’re awesome.

David:                    To your previous question, my kids are in college, and I live alone.

Concert Sutra:      So, you’re pretty free to throw yourself into it.

David:                    Yeah.  I’m in my second childhood.  I have the kids off in college, and I live alone in my oversized house.

Concert Sutra:      It’s gorgeous.  And it has beautiful color on the walls. 

John:                      Doesn’t he have a nice place?  It’s great.

Stan:      He’s so nice to let us practice there, too.

Laurie:   I never stop being childlike.

Concert Sutra:      Yes, me either.  Here’s to Peter Pan!

John:      (a toast) To Peter Pan!

Concert Sutra:      So, I’m sorry.  Buffkitty and…

John:      Buffkitty and Romeo.  Those would be mine.

Concert Sutra:      And you say nobody else’s compares to yours?

John: NO!  Are you kidding?

Stan:      I wanna see your cats sometime.  I love cats.  I’m a cat person.  I have a cat, too.

Concert Sutra:      Who’s your cat?

Stan:      My cat is a female named Lily.  A female short hair.  She’s great.

Zod:       I have a pair of Chameleons…7602s…a Neumann TLM 170I, and a shiny box ribbon.

Stan:      (sensing that Concert Sutra is confused, laughing)  Those are his pets.

Zod:       Those are my pets.

Concert Sutra:      I’m not quite sure what that means, but I know what chameleons are!  Lizards, right?

Laurie:   They’re like robots, but they have more soul.

Stan:      He’s the real gear tech head of the band.

Zod:       I do have a pair of Chameleons.  Mic pre amps that I just spent money on, and they’re really nice, but those are my pets!

Concert Sutra:      No, for real, lizards?

Zod:       (laughing at Concert Sutra)  Microphone Pre Amps

Concert Sutra:        (all guys are laughing at Concert Sutra) OOOOhhh!  Microphone Pre Amps! 

Zod:       I don’t like animals living in my vicinity.  They’re dirty and disgusting.

Stan:      You used to have a cat!

Zod:       No, I love cats.  I would have cats if I didn’t have mixing boards and all this equipment.  I love cats.

Stan:      Aside from being the foundation of the band drum wise, he’s also the foundation techwise.  He’s the tech guy. 

Laurie:   He’s Zod!

David:                    He recorded our album, ROCK ON! 

Concert Sutra:      (to Zod)  So, I take it you are the “geek” of the band.  I’m a geek, too.  I love recording.  How do you record?  Digital?  Analog? 

Zod:       We have digital.  We’ve got a 24 track 24 bit digital Alesis HD 24 Disc Recorder.

John:      The record was recorded on the Alesis ADAT, is that right?

Zod:       Yeah, the actual album was recorded six years ago was on 16 bit ADATs, but then we moved that over to 24 bit ADAT HD24 disc recorder, and mixed it with Panasonic DA7 digital board.  And then, I mastered the stuff in the computer.  I’m about to build a music computer, I just haven’t started doing it all in the box, yet.

Concert Sutra:      Do you use any particular program?

Zod:       I mastered the stuff in CD Architect, using WAVES bundle and PSP Image Warmer, which is really nice.

John:      That’s what we’re using.  What are you using to record?

Concert Sutra:      Oh, um, I use this Sharp Mini Disc Portable Recorder MD-SR60 digital recording system with a surround sound stereo tie clip microphone.

Stan:      That’s great.  That’s a Mini Disc there.

John:      (to Zod)  Is that how we do practices?

Zod:       Yeah, I got a little Sony Mic (Noel begins a loud and mean drum beat on the edge of the table) and a MiniDisc for 15 bucks at a yard sale, which makes great recordings.

Stan:      Wow! Good drums!

Concert Sutra:      (to Noel)  You have got to stop that.

Noel:      Oh, yeah, sorry.  (giggles)

Zod:       It was probably a $300.00 MiniDisc player when it was built.  It’s not the new kind that compresses a lot of material.  It’s just 80 minutes, but that’s great!

Concert Sutra:      Yeah, that’s what this is.

Zod:       What more do you need?  Essentially.  Anyway, regarding this band, we have written, well we did one of Laurie’s songs, and then the band wrote a song collectively.  We wanna do a single.  I don’t know if we’ll do a CD single, but I want to record two songs, two or three songs…

John:      California?

Zod:       Yeah…and record it at my place, but it’s a really small…it’s called Duplex Left.  If you go on Myspace, our Vietnam links to it, all our sites link to Duplex Left, and you can see an old photo of the stuff there that Stan took a long time ago. 

Stan:      We have sites for all of our studios and stuff like that.

Concert Sutra:      Tell me how the record label, Scared Records, happened.

Stan:      That actually came about because in today’s world of desktop publishing…it’s like a desktop record company.  It started because I’m a big computer geek.  I now have a Mac, but I started out conceiving bands and their album covers when I was in high school.  I consider myself a conceptual artist.  I actually designed album covers and had the whole conceptions for fake bands.  I have conceived the album covers and players and titles and everything like that all throughout my life – it’s a hobby of mine.  So, now with the advantage of the digital age, I can develop that pretty easily.  I can actually create album covers and concepts for bands, so I started doing that recently, and there was a fellow about town by the name of 315.  He was at every show in Atlanta for years.  Every time I went out, he was there.  He was a music freak!  He actually played music, and we found out that he had contracted Cancer, and was given only like two to four months to live.  So, we got him in the studio to record an album.  That was the first album put on Scared Records.  That’s how Scared Records came about.  It was kind of a dream of mine to have a label all my own.  Scared Records came about…(Tim Theall arrives with Vietnam DVDs, recorded at the Eyedrum on October 7, for all)…Tim!  What’s up?  Thanks for coming by, man!  I can’t wait to see the DVD!

Tim:       It’s great!  I’ve seen it several times.

Stan:      Are you gonna be able to video tape our show at Lenny’s?

Tim:       Yeah, sure!  When’s that?

Stan:      December 16.  She was just asking me about Scared Records, the label, and we’re having a Scared Records Showcase.  Three bands that are on Scared Records are playing, The Subliminator, Greg Connors, and Vietnam.

Concert Sutra:      Well, that was my next question, so talk about that some more.

Stan:      Yeah, that’s the next big show we have coming up, December 16th at Lenny’s.  The Subliminator is a co-worker of mine.  He was also friends with 315, so when Scared Records released the first record on Scared as 315, he approached me about being on the label, too, to make it the more the merrier on the record label!  So, Subliminator joined the family, and then Vietnam had its album coming out, so that was on the label.  Then, an old friend of mine and Zod’s, Greg Connors, who was originally from New York, moved to Atlanta.  He was in a band called Front Street, and he’s on the label.  So, there’s four artists.  We just signed someone else on the label, too: we just signed a female singer/songwriter from Seattle called So A.D.D. who’s album we are going to release on Scared Records.  Scared Records is like a catch all for all of our various conceptual musical minds.

Concert Sutra:      What’s special to you guys about your latest album, Past Away?

Stan:      It includes two people who are not in the band now.  There are three people that are in the band now that were on the album.  Zod, me, and Daviddean.  We used to have a bass player named Bryan Lilje, who is now our tech guy. 

John:      I play on three of the songs.

Stan:      Right.  We had another guitar player named Jennifer Erickson, who plays most of the guitar on the album.  Vietnam has always had a girl in the band.  It’s mandatory.  Then, John Stun came in, because we needed some additional guitar on some of the tunes…he came in and played guitar on three of the songs as a later addition, so that’s how we initially got him…when we wanted to reform the most recent version of the band …’cause that album was recorded six years ago.

There’s a sixth member too: A guest member who plays with us in Athens: Dana Downs joins us on backing vocals and percussion for Athens shows. She was one of the original members from 1981-82. She was also a member of the Tone-Tones, the second new wave band from Athens after the B-52’s. She helps us with gigs in Athens, too! Thanks, Dana!

Concert Sutra:      Tim, come sit over here with us!  David just left, there’s plenty of room.

Tim:       I was just eves dropping…This one’s yours (hands over a copy of the DVD from October 7th at the Eyedrum)

Concert Sutra:      Awesome!  Thank you!  I’m excited!  Laurie, are you leaving?  I need one word to describe you.

Laurie:   One word to describe me?  ROCK!

Concert Sutra:      Oh Yeah!  Tell me about the color of the band that you and David were telling me about earlier! You were describing what you guys signs are in Mayan Astrology.

Laurie:   Oh, I’m a Blue Overtone Eagle.

Concert Sutra:      What’s David?  He left already.

Laurie:   John is a Blue Overtone Monkey.  It’s like he hasn’t quite evolved, yet.  (all laugh)

Stan:      We couldn’t believe when this started happening.  The two guitar players are overtone, which is perfect for them.  Zod’s the drummer, and he’s a Blue Rhythmic Storm.  David is a Blue Electric Storm, so they’re very close, and he’s the keyboardist.  Get it, electric…synthesizer! I’m the lead singer, and I’m the Blue Cosmic Night.  But we’re all Blue!  That’s what’s amazing.  What were you?

Concert Sutra:      I was a Red Overtone Skywalker, and Noel was a Red Galactic Moon.

Stan:      Cool.  Both of ya’ll are Red!

Concert Sutra:      I don’t know what that means, but…

Stan:      That’s good.

Concert Sutra:      Laurie, what’s your most beloved vacation spot?

Laurie:   Chamonix, France.

Stan:      Good choice.

Concert Sutra:      Sounds like fun!  John?  Where’s John?  Oh, there he comes.  Before Laurie goes, I wanted to ask…It may be an obvious question for Stan, having seen many different Jackson Pollack jackets from over the years…but…if you had to compare yourself to any artist in any other medium than music, who would it be?

Laurie:   Warhol.

Concert Sutra:      any other medium…

John:      That’s a tough question.

Concert Sutra:      (joking)  I’m not here to make it easy for you.  (all laugh)

John:      In another medium…(pauses to think)…Bukowski.

Concert Sutra:      Awesome!  What about you, Zod?  What about you, Stan?

Stan:      Andy Warhol.

Concert Sutra:      I kind of thought you might say Jackson Pollack!

Stan:      Well…yeah…that’s a toss up.

Zod:       I am gonna say Claes Oldenburg, just cause I think he’s funny.  I’ll be a big cheeseburger up on stilts!

John:      I gotta say, I wanna go somewhere between Lenny Bruce and Bukowski.

Laurie:   Not that I compare myself to Andy Warhol, or anything, but just because he seemed more interested in inspiring those around him and drawing back and forth like that, than to be one specific thing.

Stan:      That’s why I would say Andy Warhol, too, because it’s concept as art, and I’m a conceptualist!

Laurie:   Life as Art!

Concert Sutra:      I LOVE that!  What are your favorite vacation spots when you aren’t working on the music?

Stan:      Paris.

John:      The hills of North Georgia.

Zod:       My Studio.

Stan and John:     His recording studio.

Concert Sutra:      That’s your vacation spot?

Zod:       It is.

Stan:      He never goes anywhere!

Zod:       You have to spend money to go somewhere else! 

Laurie:   Second, for me, is Destin.

Concert Sutra:      I love Destin!!

John:      As a state, I think that its scene with creativity, beauty…

Noel:      You are just trying to make Macon Magazine!

John:      Look here, I’m gonna be on the cover by the time this interview’s over!  (all laugh)

Concert Sutra:      OK, I’m gonna need one word to describe each member of this band.

Stan:      the Night…as in the dark night…

Zod:       Breathe…

John:      Can I use a hyphen?

Concert Sutra:      I’ll allow that.

John:      Customer-Maniac…

Concert Sutra:      Well, it’s been a pleasure spending the evening with you guys.  I really appreciate you.

Noel:      I had a question or two.  I…this sounds so cliché, but I guess it’s not, because I don’t know…how did Vietnam originally come to be?

Stan:      The inspiration, you mean?  I have to say very simply, it was the DIY attitude of the late 70’s, early 80’s.  When New Wave and Punk Rock started, and the B-52’s gained a lot of notoriety.

Zod:       You saw the B-52’s at a little house party, man!

Stan:      Yeah.  I saw the B-52’s and the Brains together at the Downtown Café in 1977, and I was inspired, like, “I can do this!”  Because, at the time, you gotta remember: Corporate, Arena Rock was a huge thing, where it was Journey, and all these huge overblown faceless bands…

Laurie:   REO Speedwagon…

Stan:      and you felt…

Laurie:   Air Supply!

Stan:      (giggling)                Yeah…as the little guy, you felt like, I could never do that!  I don’t have a million dollars worth of equipment, and a giant corporate record contract.  The B-52’s inspired me that the little guy, you can do it…DIY.

Concert Sutra:      I love that!

Zod:       Back then, if you didn’t have a record contract, you didn’t get a record.  Now, I can make a record in my living room!

Concert Sutra:      And you do!

Stan:      (at the same time)  And he does!

Zod:       There was DIY back, now, it’s even more so, cause you can do it.  He’s got the record label, and I got all the recording equipment, so there you go!

Concert Sutra:      DIY…Do It Yourself, in case anyone was questioning…

Laurie:   That’s freedom!

Stan:      It’s like anything, it was a huge scene, and I think Athens, Georgia, and Atlanta, too, was the hot music capitol at that time in the 80’s.  R.E.M. and B-52’s and all those bands came out.  It was like the hot place to be.  Everybody ascended on Athens.  But, for every scene, for any arts scene, there’s an iceberg.  And there’s the tip of the iceberg, the ones that get the record contract, and get all the notoriety, and become famous.  Then, there’s the whole base of the iceberg, and Vietnam is part of that base.  We are one of the ones that didn’t get the record contract, but…and there were many that didn’t…but we were there, and were inspired by that whole scene.  688 and 40 Watt Club…It was an exciting time in music.

Noel:      I wanted to hear more about the Columbia thing, because I’ve heard mention of Columbia.

Stan:      There was a rumor that Columbia Records…

Noel:      How close do you think you guys were?

Stan:      About halfway.  At that time, there was no DIY record companies, well there were, but you still had to have a lot of money to do this, and we didn’t have any money.  So, we were still dependant on getting a record contract.  Supposedly, because of the whole scene in Atlanta, and Athens and the B-52’s and all that, there were a lot of A & R people that were interested in us, and saw us, and our manager at one time told us he thought we were going to be signed by Columbia.  He had heard that the A & R guy from Columbia really liked us.  But it didn’t happen.  Again, it’s the base of that iceberg.  Only a few get that lucky break, or gets that one little thing that puts you at the top.  We still were there, and it may have taken us 25 years for this album to be recorded, but we did it ourselves.  The DIY attitude is definitely the way we exist.  Good question!

Noel:      Are you aware of the generational gap amongst the members, and how does that make you feel?

Laurie:   As a younger person, they were kind of my heroes…I sort of knew them only as a young person being brought there by older people to see this really cool and fantastic thing.  I just couldn’t believe that I would know those people.  Then as I grew older, I got more into the inner circle of that realm in Atlanta, then I actually knew those people, all these years later, here I am playing…I played with David (a.k.a. Zod) in a band…

Zod:       We were in Squirt Gun for a minute!

Laurie:   That was my very first band ever, really…

Stan:      You are the first person that Zod mentioned as a possibility for the band when we needed someone in this latest incarnation.

Laurie:   Well, I didn’t really know how to play bass, other than the 28 songs we used to play back then, but that was in the very…I had just gotten my bass in a box…Brian Lilje put my bass together for me, and told me I should save up for something better.  I just started playing, and said, fuck that!  This bass works just fine!

Noel:      And over here, you have young John coming from another decade! 

Stan:      We joke that he’s the oldest member of the band.  Interestingly enough, we are all mostly from the New Wave Generation, as far as not blues based rock.  We’re more of a grating danceable kind of beat.  Whereas John somehow, because he’s the youngest in years, he’s skipped that.  He plays in more of a sixties blues based manner…

Laurie:   John’s more in the sixties…I’m more in the seventies…

Stan:      I’m more eighties…

Concert Sutra:      I am so fifties!

Stan:      That’s why we say he’s the oldest.  You should see the Blacktop Rockets, if you like the fifties stuff.

Zod:       We played Club 29 last night.

John:      Did you talk about Drew Davidson at all?  As far as this band goes, that’s quite a major part.

Stan:      Drew Davidson was the original guitar player.  I told you the three original members (Stan Satin, Drew Davidson, and Tim Hunter)… Drew died in 1986, and he was such a unique guitar player.  He lived in Germany and had an album out in Germany.  John just brought up that Drew was a big inspiration to him in this band.

John:      Oh, definitely.

Stan:      It can’t be emphasized enough how much Drew was a huge impact on Vietnam, as far as his style of playing.  It was a very unique guitar style.

John:      I’ve been playing guitar since I was a little boy, and he certainly was, out of all the guitars players I listened to, out of all the music I listened to, one of the most original.  There was no guitar player doing what he was doing.  He did what he wanted to do.  He was unique.

Noel:      On the other end of the spectrum, how do you feel playing with…

Zod:       old people…

John:      flattered.

Noel:      Do you feel that they’ve turned you on to anything?

John:      Without a doubt!

Laurie:   It’s real easy to jam with them.  It just happens.  There’s never like a “what do we do now?”  Somebody’s always just playing something.

Noel:      You guys have a very attractive composition.

John:      Between the five of us, there is an endless stream of ideas.  It is a bottomless well that doesn’t end, and will never end as long as we decide to play together.  That’s the way I feel about it!

Noel:      It feels natural.

Zod:       There’s a big difference between this incarnation of the band, and the one we had before.

Stan:      There is a big difference.

Zod:       Before, I would say we were more a cover band, but this band, the personalities actually interact enough to create songs together, and, we’re willing to spend the time together to do it.  So, we’re live once a week…Sundays, we practice, because we all like doing it.  Not all bands are like that.

John:      It’s one of my favorite days of the week!

Stan:      Nothing proves that more than our new song called “California.”  It was a democratic effort, where John came with a vocal element that he was using, where he’d say, “I’m leaving in the morning, and going to California,” then David Dean added a vocal element that he had in his head, and I’d had the same thing, and we all combined them and contributed to the song!