Wednesday, March 14, 2012

108 interview with guitarist: Vic DiCara. March 2010.

Vista: Hey Vic. I want to start this off by asking about the new 108 album. It's titled, "18.61". What is the meaning and thoughts behind this title? Any concepts or running themes within the album? Also, where was this album recorded & how many songs are on it?

Vic: It is the 61st couplet of the 18th chapter of the Hindu classic, "Bhagavad Gita" {"The Devine Song"}. The lyrics to the title track should reveal how the meaning of this reference pertains. Concepts running through the record are: natural, spontaneous, dirty, busted, broken, raw, not clean, not perfect, not polished, disharmony. Lyrically, the themes are similar - it is a natural and spontaneous expression of the dirty, and busted, and broken parts of life, the parts that are not perfect, not polished, and not harmonious. It is those parts which make us search for deeper things, truer things, more "raw" things. We recorded this record over a year ago. In February of 2009. I can't really tell you why it took so amazingly long to make it out. We recorded it with Alex Garcia Rivera, in his basement, on his 16 track tape machine. Then later, Kurt Ballou mixed it at Godcity {studios}, and then later, Carl Saft mastered it. There's a standard slew of songs on there, numerically. LP - dimensions.

Vista: I've heard one song off the new album called, "Forever is Destroyed". Now only a powerful title, but also a powerful song. What is the song about?

Vic: It is about the destruction of EVERYTHING. The complete inescapable misery of the fact that every single thing we will ever know or love will be pulverized by the tick of a clock. "Time I am - I reduce all to dust". <--- This is another Krishna-quote from Bhagavad Gita.

Vista: I see that 108 has a new drummer, AGAIN!? It seems as though this is the most revolving position within the band. I mean, Rob, Triv & you have obviously been together for quite awhile now. Anyways, tell us about the "new-guy"? Also, how many drummer has 108 had, over the years?

Vic: We are second only to Spinal Tap, in the number of drummers. I counted once...Let's see, this may or may not be totally accurate, or properly spelled:
Ekendra Das.
Zac Eller.
Chris Daly {longest drummer}.
Lenny Greenblat.
Mike Cross.
Mike Paradise.
Then we split up, then got back together...There was Rasaraja's friend, god, I can't believe I am forgetting his name, pretty sure it was "Mike" something? He's going to want to kill me if he reads this! Then there was:
Mike Dorado.
Tom Hogan.
Alan Cage.
Mike Justain.
We are going to stick with Mike Justian or call it quits. It's getting absurd. But, when Mike can't make it, Mike Paradise fills in well. Mike Justian is just amazing, literally just amazing. The new record is light-years ahead of the rest of our stuff, maybe even all our stuff ever, because of Mike Justian's contribution.

Vista: I wanted to ask you about not only the "Burning Fight" book, but also the "Burning Fight" book release show. What is your impression of the release show, as well as the book itself.

Vic: The show and book release were fabulous. There are only two books about hardcore which I've read which are any good, in my opinion. "Radio Silence",and "Burning Fight". I prefer "Burning Fight" because it has a focus that is much more relevant and meaningful to me. The show was an amazing concept, and all the people who attended it made it a really fantastic experience. On stage I said something like, "boys and girls, are you enjoying your field trip to the museum?", because to some extent it felt like a lot of acts were like museum displays, or that the atmosphere itself was museum-like..."Wow, look at that dinosaur, mommy! It's MOVING!". I was surprised though, how boring the newer bands were in comparison to the older bands. They looked really bored or something. Why? It was odd. The show itself was just WONDERFUL though, and I'm a pretty negative guy, so for me to say that is really something. I love Brian {Peterson} for being behind that book and show.

Vista: As a guitarist, who are direct influences to you? I'm wondering, how old were you when you first started playing? What was the first song you learned on guitar?

Vic: Dr. Know from the Bad Brains. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Those are probably the biggest. Then would be James Hatfield of Metallica and Kerry King of Slayer. And also David Gilmoure of Pink Floyd, he is by far my favorite lead guitar player. His leads are ALWAYS so, so strong. The Crumbsuckers was also a big influence, as was Dag Nasty and D.R.I.. Some people say I sound like Greg Ginn. I rarely listen to Black Flag. Rob and Triv love them though, so they must have told me to play in ways that sound like him? No idea. Maybe I just "sound like Greg Ginn" because I have no idea what the fuck I am doing when I pick up a guitar? I was, let's see...Well, I must have been in 10th grade I think, or maybe 11th when I started playing. The first song I ever learned was, "The Thing That Should Not Be", by Metallica.

Vista: What type of music were you into when you were first exposed to music in general? Also, what was your very first exposure to punk/hardcore music?

Vic: Every child should be exposed to music through his or her parents. Parents may not be musical, but it's really a a shame when they don't at least play some music for the kid. My mom especially heavily exposed me to the Beatles and the Doors, and my dad exposed me more to Led Zeppelin, and gave me some seeds of taste for blues. I guess he tried to show me Frank Zappa too, but I wasn't really into it. Later on my friends exposed me to Rush. From there we all mutually got exposed to punk through Skateboarding videos. Agent Orange & Sex Pistols especially. That got me to make friends with hardcore kids in school, and then Tom Capone showed me Youth of Today and the Cro-Mags, and the Bad Brians, and the Crumbsuckers, and all the metal too, Slayer, Metallica {I didn't get into Celtic Frost till recently, though}. 

Vista: What type of gear do you use while recording & performing live?

Vic: I don't know, I am lazy when it comes to that. I don't really know what I play through. I think it's good for me to be like that. I concentrate on playing not on "what" I  am playing. Actually, I don't even concentrate on playing either. I just try to go into a mystical trance zone and let spirits of demons and gods posses me and create the music that universally needs to resound. My great friend Trivikrama, our bassist, knows all about that stuff - amps and pedals, and guitars - so it's best when I just let him set me up with what to play on a record, or at a show. He is great with that. A very, very large percentage of the sound on the new record is a result of his genius. 

Vista: I want to ask you about the album, "Threefold Misery". In your memory, what was your mindset during this period, both musically and lyrically? It was really different that say, "Songs of Separation". Also, I remember being really surprised that "Threefold Misery" wasn't originally released on "Equal Vision Records". Years later obviously, Equal Vision re-released those entire recording sessions. Again, from your recollection, what went on during this entire period of time?

Vic: My mindset for that was, "this is that last thing I will ever do musically, so let's make it count". I wanted every single riff to be right on the nails. That was driving the record. Trivikrama was driving the record, too. It's just an extension of, "Songs of Separation" - It's just taking those riffs and chords from songs like, "Son of Nanda", or "Solitary", or what have you, and moving it forward in the evolutionary progress and sticking a more unpredictable drummer behind it. I guess it might be very good in one sense that we've had so many different drummers, it helps each record have a different tone. "Songs of Separation" was strict and clear cut because, {a} - Chris Daly was a very steady, solid, and clear cut drummer on that record and {b} - Don Fury, where we recorded it, was very by-the-numbers in his approach to recording. "Threefold Misery" was more psychedelic because, {a} - This is the first time you get Trivikrama on bass, on a 108 record. He is a human psychedelic. {b} - You get Matt Cross on drums who is more like an octopus, and {c} - We recorded with Brian...Brian, fuck I forget his last name, Brian from, Battery, Salad Days Studio. He was WAAAAAY more talented than Don Fury. It's ridiculous to even compare them. And he had a much more free-form and experimental approach to recording it. It came out on the European label for money reasons. We needed money really bad. Also, we needed the record to be out in Europe for our final tour.

Vista: Speaking of "Threefold Misery", that album always seems to come up when not only discussing 108's most defined album, but also, as one of the best albums of the 90's. What is your opinion on this? Is it something that you even care about or is your thinking, "Eh-whatever"?

Vic: If I'm going to play something from 108 for someone I meet at the hairdressers or at the grocery store, I'm probably going to play "Threefold Misery" for them. probably "Mantra Six", or maybe "Killer Of The Soul" or something like that. That's what I care about. In that sense, I agree that "Threefold Misery" is a defining album or a really good album. I do like our most recent record {18.61} equally to "Threefold". It is better than "Threefold" in some ways. But, I'm still not sure if I would play a song from it for someone to hear 108 for the first time coming out of the blue. Maybe "Forever is Destroyed", just because it is so gigantic and nauseating and disturbing. If I make a new acquaintance shit their pants and vomit, I would play "Forever is Destroyed" really loud for them. "Oh, this is the band I am in here....GHASLLSDLALSD{insert end of the world here}".

Vista: Over the course of time, it seems like as a band, 108 have become a much noiser and chaotic band, not only musically but vocally as well. Right around the time of the, "Curse of Instinct" era, 108 made a turn, in my opinion. Much more darker, noisier, harsher. Thoughts?

Vic: I can sum that up in one work, John. That word is: Trivikrama.

Vista: As a band, what has been 108's biggest accomplishment? Not to say that you think in terms of "goals" and "accomplishments", but I'm wondering, what has been a true highlight for you personally, with 108? On the flip-side, there always has to be an equal downside...What has been the biggest disappointment?

Vic: The biggest disappointment is that "Blade Runner 2" got canceled. I am disappointed in general because circumstances are not synchronized for us. When we were super active in the first incarnation we were just WAAAAY to weird and sort of out-there to get out to a larger audience. Now, in our second incarnation we are more grown up and less, well fuck...We are still fuckin' lunatics...Oh well. I guess I'm disappointed that there aren't 2,000 kids at every 108 show, honestly. I love what we do, and I wish that it had a larger audience. I'm not willing to change what we do to court a larger audience, so that's that. And I'm frustrated that our circumstances now just don't synchronize, so we can't do any real touring or any of those things that are so essential to an artist. On the other hand, I feel really lucky that we are still able to make music and record it, and have a whole lot of people listen to it and let it get into them. I think our biggest accomplishment was that we came back from the grave and didn't smell like a corpse. We reincarnated successfully, and I guess that is something to be really proud of, because I'm not sure how many other bands have ever been able to get back together after 10 years of being apart and still be on the same page, with the same intentions, intensity, and similar results.

Vista: I want to ask you about the current hardcore scene, as opposed to the 90's. There have been a million styles and such a contrast of acceptance to say, Krishna Consciousness. Do you feel 108 is more accepted as a band? I mean, I vividly remember in the 90's no doubt, there was a huge backlash against not only Krishna bands, but Christian bands as well. Have people become more accepting to 108, and if the answer is "yes", do you miss that opposition toward those types of people? After all, I'm sure it lit MORE of a fire within 108 when met with negative attitudes?

Vic: Your specific version of this question has a unique and interesting slant. The problem is that in the current incarnation of 108, we play as many shows in 3 or 4 YEARS as the first incarnation of 108 played in 3 or 4 months. If we were as active a band now, as we were then, people would be shitting bricks because the discussion level would just escalate and the ideas would be too in your face to handle. Right now we are more or less just letting kids off easy. They can mosh and go home if they want. If we were as active as we used to be, hitting shows all the time, people would be flipping out, and it would be a LOT OF FUN. We are still more or less an oddity, or a circus act in the scene right now - just because we play so infrequently.

Vista: As a band, how do you guys write songs currently? Is it lyrics forst, then music, or vice versa? Is there a collaboration between all of you?

Vic: There's no formula. But the only song 108 ever had where lyrics came first in the creative process was, "Deathbed". Usually, the music tells us what the song wants to be "about" lyrically. I should probably write a few lyrics first, because I sure as hell wouldn't mind coming up with a new "Deathbed". I used to write 99.9% of the lyrics and music. This was true all the way up through "Threefold Misery". On our very final piece of vinyl from that era - "Curse of Instinct" EP - We broke away from this. Rob wrote some lyrics, we wrote the music together in the studio, and we took lyrics from a  friend. When we got back together, it's different. Everyone is collaborating on music and lyrics.

Vista: Thinking back to another band you were involved with, what are some of your fondest memories of being in the band, Inside Out? Also, after all these years, off the top of your head, give us some thoughts on that time era?

Vic:The best times in Inside Out were in Alex Baretto's room, just playing, jamming, writing songs. It was so exciting writing, "No Spiritual Surrender". The whole time era was an extended puberty, on a mental and spiritual level, not just physical. A very important time, for me, but also painful and with stupid "mistakes" that are unavoidable. 

Vista: Here's another question that I've wondered about for years...Have you ever heard the Downset song titled, "Body Cry"? I know that they used a big portion of 108 lyrics within that song. How did that come about?

Vic: Rey, the singer of tht band, was a good intellectual and spiritual friend of mine since Inside Out. I can only support that band, and I am honored that a friend would use my lyrics in his own song.

Vista: What are your thoughts on your time with the band, Burn? I know you recorded with them. What memories do you have from that time era? Also, did you perform live, in Burn?

Vic: It was huge amount of fun to play with Alan Cage again {we previously played in our mutual "first band" Inner Strength, and in our next band, Beyond}. It was also a lot of fun to play with the rest of the musicians and especially to get to know Gavin Van Vlack a lot more closely. We played, I think, three shows. I'm proud to say I was in Burn.

Vista: Which band had more of an influence on you...You can only choose one and explain why...Cro-Mags or Bad Brains?

Vic: The Bad Brains, because the Cro-Mags were copying the Bad Brains.

Vista: This is a question that I always ask, just because opinions vary so much. What are your top 10 punk/hardcore bands/albums of all-time?

Vic: I probably don't have 10. I like the following records, I'm not sure if there are 10 of them or if they are in any order, or if other people consider them the correct genre for the question:
Bad Brains - "I Against I" and "Rock For Light".
Cro-Mags - "Age Of Quarrel".
Quicksand - "Slip".
Minor Threat - "Out Of Step".
D.R.I. - "Dealing With It".
Crumbsuckers - "Life Of Dreams".
C.O.C. - "Technocracy".
This is crazy because some of these records are not that important to me, but I still list them, and there are other records that are important to me that I am overlooking. Agnostic Front's "Cause For Alarm", for example. Plus limiting it to "hardcore" is very artificial for me. So, I don't like this answer. Oh well, print it.

Vista: Outside of band practice, writing music, recording & playing shows...What are your interests and hobbies? Also, as far as 108 goes, is the band scattered all over the country? How does that affect the band as far as playing shows, etc.?

Vic: My band never practices, that's not much of a hobby anyway. I am living in Japan, so we are scattered all over the word. It makes shit crazy. My interests are in ancient Vedic astrology, and currently in the human energy field and the correlations of the 7 types of human fields and chakras with the 7 planets of Vedic astrology. 

Vista: Here's a question that not only I've thought, but I've heard from a few people, so I'm gonna ask. I don't think it's a big deal, but wy do you perform live in you underwear?

Vic: I am a pervert? Technically speaking, it gets hot on stage. But honestly I have nice legs and a cute belly button? It's too bad hardcore is so male dominated. Actually, scratch that. It's a good thing. Well, actually it's a bad thing, scratch it backwards, but in the context it's good for me because I don't need any complications to my love-life, which is wonderful. But, don't misunderstand me. Well, it will be impossible not to misunderstand me. I am so misunderstandable. I like to look the way I like to look. If at some moment that is looking what *I FEEL* is "pretty" or "cute" or "attractive" then that's what I'm going to do. I've seriously considered wearing pirate garb to play, because I think those threads are just fantastic. You know what I mean. Hey, I used to wear an Indian Dhoti on stage, {"lunghi" technically}, which is essentially a "pink dress" so you take your pick, you like me better in hot pants or dresses? 

Vista: Going back a little bit to the topic of the Cro-Mags. I know they are an influence to you, but...Who's version do you believe? Harley's or John Joseph's?

Vic: Both of them are crazy, and both of them are worthy of my respect.

Vista: What bands/groups are your guilty pleasures? Example, do you sing Jay Z or Lady Gaga songs while driving down the highway?

Vic: I am too rude to have any guilty pleasures. I am a Lady Gaga fan, but don't feel guilty about it at all. I sort of look up to her as a role model. I am thinking of wearing some of her stuff on stage. Rob is into Jay Z, like he is the messiah or something. I would go more for Beyonce. That song "Halo" has got serious heart and is really good. I sort of wish I had "guilty pleasures". I never feel guilty about anything. That is probably a pretty bad thing, eh? But, maybe it's part of the reason why I am able to express myself musically the way I do? So, no recalls please. I like my part-numbers.

Vista: Do you keep up with the current hardcore scene, band-wise? Are there any bands out there nowadays that have caught your interest?

Vic: Yeah, but that doesn't mean they are any good. I might have rotten taste. I like "Rise and Fall". They are on of the few bands I can actually put on the Itunes and listen too. I like Lewd Acts, no I really love Lewd Acts. I don't listen to them at all, and I might hate them if I did, but I REALLY, REALLY love the band. Who else? I don't know, I guess I don't actually keep up with new bands. Most of the stuff doesn't strike me as "new". Fuck, most of the stuff coming out in 1988 wasn't new even in 1988. I think most of the new stuff happened in 1986, then again in maybe in 1992 and 1993. Not sure when else. Most of it is just like, "we would love to be a Leeway cover band, or a Cro-Mags cover band, but that's too embarrassing - so let's write other songs that sound like those songs, and use a name from one of their songs", etc.

Vista: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. Any final words?

Vic: Never forget to bring a towel.

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