THE VICTIM PARTY


GETTING TO KNOW US

Long, long ago, in the before time of 2012 (maybe it was 2011, that was kind of a brown out year for us), we had a particularly silly band practice and came up with the idea to release a full length album about ourselves – with each song devoted to an individual TVPer. We thought “Getting to Know The Victim Party” sounded so ridiculous that it just might be awesome.  But right off the bat we ran into some rather tall hurdles. To begin with we only had 6 band members, so unless we doubled up with two songs about everyone, or turned each band member’s song into some kind of prog-rock jam session, how could we call this thing an LP and maintain the integrity that is synonymous with TVP? At best it would be a very long EP, or an LEP, if you will.  To remedy this, we decided to pen two more songs that would open and close the record. Boom, there we go, 8 songs.  With this number of tracks it seemed like we could possibly get away with the LP label. But it just felt weird. 8 songs? An LP? Balderdash! So we decided this will not stand, and set about writing a 9th song that would serve as a brief interlude from all of these other ego-centric tracks. Problem was, that new song was kind of whack and didn’t really fit in with everything else. It sounded forced, and far too serious for such an intentionally goofy concept.

Then tragedy struck. Adam, our founding bass player decided he’d had enough of these shenanigans and chose to leave the band. We were crestfallen and left wondering what the shit we were going to do next? Not only did we lose a  band member we loved, but how could we  use the song we’d written about  him since he was no longer part of the team? Would it be disingenuous? Would it be false? It only took about 10 minutes for us to realize that none of that mattered, and we could put anything we wanted on the album, plus we really liked Adam’s song.

Then fortune floated into our rehearsal space in the tall, dark and asian form of Matt.   We’d known him for years and he was a perfect fit. All we had to do was write a song about him. We got to work and once Matt’s song was fleshed out we sat around our space congratulating ourselves, and Kyle ended the evening with a toast,  which included  a slight variation to the lyrics of his favourite Boogie Down Productions song, “Wa da da dang, wa da da dang, listen to our 9 self-absorbed songs go BANG!” The toast didn’t work syllabically, but it sure as hell got us fired up and ready to go.

The next question we faced was how will this thing be released? A CD  seemed too 90s, and we’d already put out a vinyl LP and EP, so what was left? A strictly digital release? Nah, even in this modern age people want something tangible to put on their shelves.  So we talked and talked and talked and talked, and drank, and forgot most of our conversations.  But eventually we came up with an idea to combine a digital release with a different medium – the 9th art, the comic book, or, in this case, the graphic novel.  Comics had collided with punk rock many a time throughout the years, but we thought we were being particularly clever by making the physical release a comic with a bookmark (that would serve as a download card).  As far as we could tell, no one had ever done this. Sure, bands had released comics that accompanied their CDs or records, but this was just going to be a comic.

Colin, being the only art school dropout in the band took on the task of drawing. The first hurdle he encountered was the problem of fitting 6 or 7 people into each panel. It was annoying and made the pages look cramped, not to mention that he just couldn’t draw Dean’s nose right, no matter how hard he tried. To remedy this, we decided that the band would not appear as themselves, but would be represented by  two anthropomorphic characters. One would be called Bear, and the other Chimp. This, of course, posed a new set of problems. Who among us was Bear and who was Chimp? We discussed who was the hairiest and who looked the most like a short primate, and to be perfectly frank, this caused quite a bit of tension and hurt feelings. We decided, that too many tears had already been shed, so the only thing to do was deem Bear and Chimp sexless, ageless creatures, that didn’t represent any one member of the band but The Victim Party as a whole.  After all, there was a little honey eating hibernator, and rudimentary tool user in each of us.

The next hurdle we faced, was how to make this comic something worth reading? Was each song just going to be a short vignette about a particular band member? Or was there something that could connect each song into a bigger story?

We weren’t sure if it was fate, demonic intervention, or simply the bi-product of high functioning alcoholism but, we eventually came up with a story arc for Bear and Chimp that could link each song together. And at this point, the comic diverted from being just about us, and  evolved into an inter-species love story. The love affair of Bear and Chimp was the tale we were going to tell, and the more we worked on it, the more we noticed how much each of us had in common with these two beasts.  The relationships we have with our fellow bandmates mirrored those of our two protagonists.  They shared our triumphs and failures, our fears and desires. They partied likes us. They woke up hungover and crippled with remorse just like us. Bear and Chimp became TVP.

We got pretty excited about this project and thought about how it would be released? Do we shop it to labels? Do we work with the labels that put out our last two releases? None of those options seemed like the right thing to do. What had started off as an intentionally ludicrous  inside-joke was becoming intensely personal for all of us, and was pushing our creativity into places we’d never gone.  It just made sense that we should be the ones releasing it.

And then came the biggest hurdle of all: Money. Always money.

At first the idea of using crowdsourcing to fund GTKTVP made us uncomfortable. Isn’t this just internet panhandling? What if we try it and no one donates? Can we get our shit together and make a decent campaign video?

So we talked and talked and talked and talked, and drank less so as to remember our conversations, and concluded that this wasn’t begging people for money, this was asking people to help get a project off the ground.  Contributors aren’t giving US money, they’re funding our project and getting something in return. It reminded us of those old PBS pledge drives from the 80’s, like the video below demonstrates:

Now, we’re no Mike and Goldie, and we can’t offer to bring you fine programming like Nova or the latest Ken Burns documentary, but we are offering you a chance to help us make a great album that you can enjoy two different ways.

And as an extra bonus foe us, by crowdsourcing we get to bypass the music industry entirely. No labels. No publishing deals. No PR guys. Now don’t get us wrong, we’ve been fortunate to work  with great people in the past, particularly Andrew Harris from Black Pint Records and Kieran Meyn from Safe Haven records, both of whom do NOT exemplify the things we dislike about the music industry. However, this project is about us, so we want to do it ourselves….with your help of course.

We’re well past the halfway mark and there’s only 15 days left to donate. So, without any further ado, please go here, check out our campaign video and donate what you can. We have some pretty sweet incentive packages, ranging from the practical to the farcical.

Thanks for reading and be safe.

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A FORMAL BYE-BYE

It is with heavy, although dieting, hearts that we bid farewell to founding bassist and spritely curmudgeon Adam Cook. As many of our pen-pals have pointed out Adam is leaving team TVP at the worst possible time because we have just released the super excellent 7inch “Hard Drugs and Soft Drinks” via Safe Haven Records.  (Buy your copy today here, or preview it here) And, as many of you have guessed, Adam’s departure was a messy affair, largely due to creative differences regarding the title of the aforementioned 7 inch record. While the five of us that still make up team TVP were content with the title we inevitably settled on, Adam was insistent we call it “Hard Rugs and Soft Dinks.” Never ones to put our good reputation in the gutter and lower ourselves to sexual innuendo, all of Adam’s votes for this distasteful pun were vetoed. He was not happy, and trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be a fly on the wall of our rehearsal space the day shit hit the fan. Adam exploded, made Colin cry, and almost came to blows with his own brother Kyle (this of course was a common occurrence, as brothers will be brothers, but on this particular day it was a grim and uncomfortable exchange of words and bravado).

Letting bygones be douches, we wish him all the best, and we know he will excel at whatever he dabbles his calloused little fingers in next. We are all honoured to have played with him and will miss him greatly.  Except for Colin. He’s furious and depressed.



PEN PALS/PROCESS

More questions from the mail bag! This week Kyle Cook of Paris, ON asks what Kyle Cook, the drummer of The Victim Party, does to warm up before playing a gig or entering a marathon recording session. Well, Kyle has several preshow rituals that he uses to get himself into a focused state of beat, but today we’re  going to leave those for another post, and concentrate on his recording session rituals.

Before he even picks up a drumstick, Kyle does what all serious musicians do, he loses his pants. “My legs have to be naked if I’m going to pound some skins, so I only wear high cut shorts or my briefs,” he tells me between giant gulps from a 2litre bottle of Cola. Carbonated drinks are another staple of Kyle’s prerecording hype up. “I need as much caffeine in me as possible, and I really need a full bladder. If I have to piss but won’t let myself, that urgent feeling really translates into the finished product. If I feel like I have to go but can’t then I tend to play everything faster, and as we all know, faster is better. “ Now that he’s jacked up on caffeine and fighting to keep his underwear dry, Kyle moves onto his only meal for the entire session – cabbage. “I need something with minor nutritional value that won’t make my tummy upset. I want to feel full but I don’t want to be sick. Cabbage, particularly red cabbage has always done the trick. I don’t cut it or nothing, I just hold it like a big apple and chomp away while the engineer gets the levels.” And once the levels are good, it’s quiet on the set. “I fucking hate when everyone is flapping their jaws in the studio. This art, my art, requires complete concentration. I don’t want to hear any notes about my playing, or what someone did on their day off. And I especially don’t want to hear any jokes – one uncontrolled burst of laughter and I’m libel to piss all over myself and my drums. It’s happened more than once. Seriously, my kit smells like I store it next to a litter box.”

That’s all the time we have for letters for now. We’ll keep you posted about how the session goes. If you’re in Toronto this weekend, we highly recommend making your way to the Toronto Reference Library for this fun event.  Or if that’s not your thing, try a movie, particularly this move.