Genres: Noise Rock/Punk
David Dobbs’ Instrument: Guitar
Matthew Powers’ Instrument: Drums
I met with David and Matthew earlier this summer before a show they had at the Park Theatre. I was interested in meeting them because I was really new to the genre of “Noise Rock.” To be 100% honest, I was really new to the genre. The loud atmosphere was really exciting and really let me experience a little dose of how loud and how much David and Matthew had when performing on stage. They are currently on tour doing really cool stuff. Follow them on their instagram to see all their exciting adventures.
Ashley: How long have you been playing together?
David: Matt and I have been playing together for coming up to 2 years and vampires has been a conception for about 4 or 5.
Ashley: And how long have you been playing your instruments?
David: I started playing piano when I was 8 maybe and that moved to guitar when I was 13. I can play everything though; drums, keyboard, bass guitar and whatever.
Matthew: Yeah I started in piano, my dad tried to get me into it. I never really cared for it, drums was what I really wanted to do. I guess I have been playing drums since I was 12 years old so a long time. More than half my life which is weird to think about. Drums is my main thing but like David we are both multi-disciplinary, we can both jump to guitar and bass and dabble around on piano and all that kind of stuff.
Ashley: Where does the band name come from?
David: It comes from a deeply routed childhood love of vampires. I myself dressed up as a vampire every Halloween for like eight years in a row until my friends started calling me a loser. It’s also an emotional and spiritual reference to how as humans we feed all the time. Whether its actual practical raw matter like food or it’s like emotionally or spiritually feeding off other people. We’re drawing attention to that dynamic of not being ashamed to admit that we all feed off each other and it’s not in an angry or cynical thing it’s just something to acknowledge that we all need each other.
Matthew: We both really like vampires as an idea of a monster. They are kind of the most human-like. They have feelings and emotions and they are even relatable in a way.
David: It’s the stresses we put on ourselves. Dracula always felt at odds. He was only proud when he was comfortable otherwise he was angry all the time. It just showed that he was like everyone else.
Matthew: We don’t have any imagery associated with fangs or capes; it’s all a very artistic reference point, I guess.
Ashley: So why did you decide to start playing together?
Matthew: We kind of found each other. [David] had something I was working on on the internet and we started talking and realized that we were looking for each other.
David: I was looking for a drummer and he was looking for another project to be apart of.
Matthew: In that shared time we both kind of realized that my thing was just a in the basement having fun and he already had a project with legs and had momentum and he had a show coming up with Big Fun a couple years back and was just looking for someone to fill in the dates because he had to place it. We got together for that originally and just when on from there.
David: Yeah, we put out a four song EP together and we kind of liked the EP. It was just a showcase of what we were going through at the time. It’s really raw, its four songs that we wrote together and helped established the band in its new direction and it’s new legs so to speak. We just recorded a full-length album and it’s pretty exciting.
Matthew: It’s our first big studio album. Before [the music] was done low-fi, on the down low kind of thing. It’s our first step into a big studio with a cleaner sound. You can hopefully hear more of what we’re doing opposed to the low-fi feeling of the EP album. The songs are going to come through more in this new way.
Ashley: What is a jam or practice session like for you two?
David: Our rehearsals are usually during the week, Tuesdays and Fridays. They start around 7:00 pm typically. They’ll be me getting home from work and I’ll tidy up the space a bit and we’ll go over the lyrics and most of the time we are either writing songs or rehearsing towards a show, those two modes. We’ll play through songs a couple times and play through the songs we suck at a couple more times. Otherwise we are writing songs there is a little more relaxation and experimentation. I guess a jam is just an idea or a very small part of an idea. I’ll have a riff, let’s say, a single riff of 5 or 10 notes, some will be good and some will be bad. Matt will come along and stitch riff 2 and riff 5 together and I’ll be like “wow, it’s a line now.” Other times though they’ll just write themselves. After like four hours we will have a song.
Ashley: Would you say your songwriting is more lyrically or melodically driven?
David: Oh definitely melodically. Music writes itself and usually you find places to put vocals on top so it’s never me humming to myself trying to write guitar to my vocals it’s me matching a vocal line to my guitar I’ve already written.
Ashley: And how do you choose your lyrics? What’s your inspiration?
David: It seems to always be a commentary on social relationships and social dynamics. Personal experiences that I’m watching happen. Some songs are really personal and I wonder how I sing them all the time in front of strangers. Sometimes they’re a way to get people involved.
Ashley: How do you sing about personal things? How do you decide if something is okay to share?
David: It’s something that happens while playing music. It’s never “oh I’ll just go sit down and write music” they just start to happen. The music makes me feels a certain way so whatever I’m feeling that month or that day or that year and it just comes out. It’s usually reflective stuff, I’m commenting on something and then I decide to make it personal. How it might happen to me. I don’t really know how I let it become about personal stuff, it just happens because it makes sense. It’s okay in that way.
Ashley: Why don’t you [Matthew] write lyrics? Have you thought about it?
Matt: I guess with my own music I do, but I guess I never stepped into that role with vampires. Not to say that it’s not in the cards that if I have some lyrics that I felt passionate about. I’m still getting into singing with vampires, they used to have a pretty big back and forth vocal dynamic between the Dobbs and the drummer and that’s something we’re trying to bring back in my own way so there may be a time when I’ll have something to say but until then I’m just hitting stuff in the background.
Ashley: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
David: Still being band. A lot of bands, I think, find the internal dynamics to be too much pressure. It requires patience and hard work. We used to play at Sled Island Music Festival and that’s a huge accomplishment for this band. We’re putting out a record with a big name recording studio and that’s another huge accomplishments. We’ve gone on a couple fun little tours so far together and haven’t broken up. At the end of day it’s a band about social reflection so that interactive connection of getting other people’s take on the music so it’s always a cool moment.
Matthew: it’s nice to have people after show and say “oh I haven’t seen people do that or have that much fun on stage since I was a kid, or in years, or since this band.” People are looking at our music and what we are doing and there is a nostalgic feeling or energy that is brought back to them. I think it’s an amazing accomplishment to have that connection with people.
David: We talked about why it’s special. For us it’s just us doing what we’re doing, It’s the matter of that generational gap of the old rockers and the new kids. There is also this feeling of tolerance and inclusion, of just being seen somewhere. Part of going to a show now is just having certain people see you and tweet about you. I’m just interested in a good time.
Ashley: So you mentioned that you’re going on tour, what’s the most stressful part about going on tour?
David: The most stressful part was finding ways to keep going. We all work 8 hours a day and you’re one activity is playing then you sleep and you drink a lot.
Matthew: The days off or feeling like you’re not just wasting your time out there.
David: Learning how to maximize your time. We don’t have an agent of a publicist so we are in full control of our time and there are some points of it where we should be doing more. That’s just hard shit though; it’s not really stressful.
Matthew: It’s a breeze being out there when you’re driving to a gig and it’s going to be a new show in a new city with new people and there is always something to look forward to. Maybe it’s stressful that you’ll always needing to be “on”. You don’t want to drink yourself on the road, we want to network and meet know people and remember them.
David: That’s the most stressful part; always making you’re sure you’re at your best. Finding ways to recover to clean slate. US we’re doing the same thing everything everyday but for those people who are just seeing us for that one day. On a personal level to meet people and say I’m a stranger and you’re a stranger and at some point you might even want some space but it’s not fair to others. It’s not out of our control
Ashley: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous about starting out?
David: Don’t be nervous.
Matt: Yeah, just get out there and do it. You’ll find that once you’re on stage that nothing else matters all those things you were worried about don’t matter.
David: Be bad. Be the worst, you can only get better if you start out bad.
Matthew: Let yourself to be that too. Don’t expect you’re going to be a rock star right from the get go. My first show I got heckled with my first band. The first show we did outside of the basement. That experience was enough to be like “stop, I’m done.” But no, you want to get better and you want to prove those people wrong.
David: I’m so impressed when I see a bad who suck but they did it. They tried. I find that’s way more exhilarating than [a band] who has practiced for 10 years before finally taking the stage. Don’t perfect it. Work it out if it shows and really reflect at rehearsals. Try it out, if it doesn’t work out for a show and you’re cheeks burn red scrap it but if it works, you’re a better man.
Ashley: So what do you guys do to deal with nerves before a performance?
Matt: I don’t really get nervous anymore, I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s more the anxiety of wanting to play. It’s not that I’m scared of anything happening it’s that I just want to be on stage now; I want to be on stage where I feel comfortable.
David: I still get nervous on bigger shows. To be closer to the gear, to the stage, to the bartender or the sound guy, to feel the room that’s how I work through it. For the bigger show I’ll get nervous, it won’t be a crappy nervous where I’m sweating, it’s a nauseous nervous. I feel that’s a real strong energy that I can use to my advantage.
Matt: Yeah use it like adrenaline in a way and ride off it.
Ashley: What is your favorite song to perform live?
Matt: I really like the newer stuff. The foot we are stepping forward with, the new songs are really fun. Because we wrote them so quickly before getting into the studio just to get them out kind of the thing, I feel the songs are still evolving. What you hear of the album is just the first conception of them, us playing them live they are evolving and parts are becoming longer and things are getting cut, so things are really coming to life.
David: That’s the best to say, we’re always pumped to play the new material.
Ashley: How do you balance your music with your other obligations?
David: Yeah very carefully. You don’t have a social life. Your band and your art will make you very social. If you are partying all the time, you’re losing a lot of time. I have a radio show, I record that, I work at a restaurant and I do [music]. I do so fucking much. So managing your obligations, you knowing what you’re doing is important. Continue to say, it’s important that I work toward this so you find the time. If you care about it you’ll find the time.
Matt: Music has always been a big priority of my life, as much as I tried to balance it with other things, the bands I’m in have kind of taken precedence in my life in a way. There is always for them. The jobs we have to do from 9 to 5 is more to fund the things I want to do after work. I work so I that I can be in a band, otherwise I’d be a starving musician that couldn’t afford to go on tour and wouldn’t have a vehicle. It’s impossible otherwise, I’ve tried working with musicians like that and it just doesn’t work.
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