February Featured Artists: VAX Residency at New Revolution Arts, Feb 27-28

VAX in Berlin, 2013. Photo by Anni Tracy.

VAX in Berlin, 2013. Photo by Anni Tracy.

I sat down with the three members of VAX (pronounced fasjh) at Ninth Street Espresso in Gowanus on Sunday evening to talk about their upcoming residency at New Revolution Arts (7 Stanhope Street, Bushwick-Brooklyn). The band is comprised of Trix (tenor saxophone), Biz (keyboards), and Vone (drums). In their own words, “VAX is not a band. VAX is a waterfall. VAX is a hurricane. VAX is an unstoppable force. This collective trio features each member’s musical meltdowns and manic artistic episodes. The power of three is more than one. VAX.”

In addition, both nights will open with a video installation by Zach Caldwell. Jamie Agnello and Jason Vance will also open with a piece of devised theater.

Interview

Cisco Bradley:   You guys have two records, correct? Vinyl only?

Vone:   Vinyl only.

Biz:      Vinyl only.

Trix:    Yeah. It’s important.

Vone:   Illegal Download Only. That’s the next release. It’s not online though.

Trix:    No, it’s not online.

Vone:   You can’t buy it online. Yeah.

Trix:    Yeah. You have to go to Pirate Bay to get it.

Vone:   Is Pirate Bay online?

Biz:      That’s online.

Trix:    It’s important. Yeah. The next one is Pirate Bay only.

CB:      And, when will that be available?

Trix:    I think in a—

Vone:   What month are we in now? February?

Trix:    Well it’s gonna be in the—

Vone:   I think in the Fall.

Trix:    —the next transit of the planet Xenon, I think. Just the next transit.

Biz:      Xenon—which star or solar system is that?

Trix:    Xenon orbits Tralphador Three. So, when Xenon passes in front of Tralphador Three is when the next thing drops. So, I’m keeping a close eye on that.

CB:      Would you guys like to introduce yourselves? Or, not?

Biz:      Have we ever even figured out how to do that ever?

Trix & Vone:  No.

Trix:    Well, you guys have names and I don’t.

Biz:      Yes, you do.

Vone:   Yeah, you do.

Biz:      I just don’t know how to pronounce it.

Trix:    It’s Trix or Tree.

Vone:   Oh, it’s “Tree” but it’s spelled “Trix”.

Trix:    Yeah.

Biz:      It’s “Tree” but it’s pronounced “Trix”.

Trix:    Yeah. So, we got a Biz, a Vone, and a Trix, right?

Biz:      Yeah.

Vone:   Yeah.

Trix:    I’m doing all the talking. I’m sorry. Introduce yourselves.

Vone:   No. You can keep telling him.

Biz:      Hi. My name is Vone. I’m from the Yarmouth, Maine. Hi, my name is Biz. I’m from the Yarmouth, Maine. Hi, my name is Trix. I’m from the…

Trix:    The Yarmouth, Maine

Biz:      …the Yarmouth, Maine. We all grew up together.

Vone:   Yeah. We grew up together. Born in ’93… Wait. Now, was it ’94?

Biz:      3, I think.

Vone:   ’93?

Trix:    18…

Biz:      1893.

Trix:    Yeah. I left the Yarmouth at a very early age. I didn’t have a choice.

Biz:      It’s almost like you weren’t there.

Trix:    It’s almost like I wasn’t here. It’s like I was launched from the womb in the Yarmouth like directly into another plane … like, all the way to Ohio.

Vone:   Where in Ohio?

Trix:    Grandview. Broadview Avenue in Grandview, Ohio. Right up the street from John Glenn, first US astronaut to orbit the globe, I believe. Does that sound correct?

Vone:   Yeah. Well, that sounds correct.

Biz:      You were?

Trix:    I was. Yeah.

Vone:   You were his neighbor.

Trix:    I was him.

Vone:   Oh, you are the first astronaut to—

Trix:    For a minute.

Vone:   Oh, my god! I didn’t know that.

Trix:    So, anyway, yeah, down the street from John Glenn, actually. Shook his hand once in elementary school. He was old.

Vone:   Really?

Trix:    Real old.

Vone:   The first jazz record I owned were a Buddy Rich and a Gene Krupa CDs.

Trix:    Together?

Vone:   No.

Biz:      CD.

Vone:   Yes, CDs. That was like CDs. My grandfather gave them to my Dad to give to me. He’s like, “Here, give your son… Your son who likes drums, take this”—

Trix:    Like, one Gene Krupa and one Buddy Rich?

Vone:   Yeah. Totally.

Trix:    Did you ever put them both on at the same time?

Vone:   Yeah. I actually… Why do you think I play… I was like, “Oh, yeah. These should be both played at the same time.” [making drum sound] Kinda like that. It’s kinda like that. Rich and… It’s true that they’re both kind of big bands.

CB:      Yeah. So, could you tell us about VAX? What is VAX?

Trix:    VAX is a..

Vone:   It’s a type of yogurt I think, right?

Trix:    I think so. Yeah. I think it’s a Greek yogurt.

Vone:   Greek yogurt.

Biz:      I don’t think that’s pronounced exactly the same way.

Vone:   Exclusive at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Super expensive yogurt.

Trix:    Yeah. Super expensive yogurt. VAX is a lightning bolt. VAX is the ocean.

Biz:      How deep is that ocean?

Trix:    How deep is VAX? Really kind of deep.

Vone:   Liz, you have to answer some too.

Biz:      Don’t tell me what to do – to quote Patrick.

Trix:    Don’t tell me what to do.

Vone:   That’s a band quote. “Don’t tell me what to do”.

Biz:      Except that’s all we do in this band – is kind of tell each other what to do. And, we all take the advice very seriously.

Vone:   That’s also very true.

Trix:    That’s true. That really the only rule is you have to say yes.

Biz:      Well, yes, but like…

Trix:    Yes and…

Biz:      Yeah. I guess that’s expanding.

Vone:   So, to sum it up, VAX is “Yes and…”

CB:      “Yes and…”?

Trix:    Yes and…

Vone:   Yeah. Actually, it’s kinda accurate.

Biz:      It’s a vehicle for transferring your own weird fantasies to other people to do. Make other people do the weird things that we imagine.

Trix:    Totally.

CB:      So, when did VAX begin?

Biz:      There are different…

Trix:    It didn’t.

Biz:      …different points. It never—

Vone:   July 7th, 1983.

Trix:    Yeah.

Vone:   When’s your birthday Liz?

Trix:    October 8…

Biz:      Well, Devin invited me to his 6th birthday party?

Vone:   6th birthday party.

Biz:      Younger. Was it fourth or fifth? I think you were turning six though ‘cause we were both… Oh, shoot. Maybe four. Oh, no, no, no.

Vone:   I think I was turning 5.

Biz:      Yeah, yeah. You were in first grade. Yeah. Devin invited me to his 5th birthday party and then I invited him to my 6th birthday party.

Vone:   We haven’t been to each other’s birthday since. That’s the only thing that’s changed.

Biz:      That’s true.

Vone:   We actually avoid each other a lot.

Biz:      On that day.

Biz:      We make sure not to … to keep it sacred

Vone:   There’s no contact allowed.

Trix:    Yeah.

Vone:   No phone calls. No birthday cards.

Trix:    The photos are good. Isn’t there one of you wearing a dinosaur costume? Isn’t one of you a dinosaur?

Vone:   Which one of us would be a dinosaur?

Trix:    I don’t know.

Biz:      I’ve always been a dinosaur.

Trix:    I feel like both of you could pull it off.

Vone:   I was a bunny or something in one of those.

Biz:      You’re a road runner.

Vone:   Road runner?

Biz:      Road runner. That’s what you told me.

Vone:   Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Biz:      Is that with the plastic card…

Vone:   God, the ‘80s were so…

Trix:    The 1880s.

Vone:   Yeah, 1880s.

Trix:    Yeah.

Vone:   Or, it could have been the ‘90s.

Biz:      But, yeah, we met in Mrs. Wheat’s pre-K class.

Vone:   Yeah. I love Mrs. Wheat.

Biz:      She was awesome. She was amazing.

CB:      Mrs. Wits?

Biz:      Mrs. Wheat.

Trix:    Spelled like the…

Biz:      Like the food.

Vone:   Like the grain.

Vone:   Yeah. Her husband owned General Mills. So, she took his name. It’s very…

Trix:    Complicated. Yeah. That part may or may not be true.

CB:      So, these visions or fantasies or dreams or whatever they are that you convey to others and have them experience this, is it something you do spontaneously during the performance? Is a lot of this stuff that you bring in from dreams or from …?

Biz:      I think it can come across that way. But, actually, even what I was saying, maybe I said it wrong, is actually the weird f’d-up things that we think would be fun but can’t imagine it ever working– we make other people do.

Trix:    We make each other do.

Biz:      Yeah. And, it kind of springs out of terrible ideas that come to life in weird new ways because, you know, you have two other minds that are…

CB:      So, when you do this, you get the other people cues of some kind?

Biz:      Oh, you mean in the performance itself? The performance is full of very subtle orchestrated cues.

Vone:   I mean, like the inside of us is like when we’re working on these ideas and coming and brainstorming and thinking of things.

CB:      When you’re preparing it?

Vone:   Yes.

Biz:      Everything is also, maybe we didn’t explain this, completely collective. Yeah. Our working method is… how do you say—

Trix:    Nobody’s bringing in a tune that they wanna play.

Vone:   Actually, none of the composing happens outside of when the three of us are together.

Biz:      And, some things can develop just from…

Vone:   –doing stuff. Things develop. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But, you know what I mean. It’s like we’re living our lives and we have these ideas from other inspirations and then we realize them whenever.

Then, I might say, “Patrick, I think it would be really fun if you acted like a kitty cat and we put a leash on your throat and send you out in the audience during this dance thing and you like kinda went around and pawed all the audience.” And, then Biz says something like, “Yeah, I want a leash too.” And, then we have to go to Target and buy two leashes and try it.

Now, it might not work in the rehearsal room, so then we scrap the idea and return the leashes and get our receipts.

Biz:      Have we ever returned the leashes?

Trix:    I don’t think we’ve returned anything we bought. But, that’s what we wanted to do.

Vone:   That was an idea. That was an actual idea.

Biz:      We never actually bought them.

CB:      So, the leash … is one example of a number of props?

Trix:    Yeah.

Vone:   This won’t happen because it got canned. But, these are ideas that are being bumped around as things.

Trix:    A lot of the ideas involve me in various physical situations.

CB:      Is it because you’re the most mobile? I mean, in terms of—

Trix:    Slightly.

Biz:      I think that you’re the one who volunteers for all that kind of stuff.

Trix:    Well, here’s the thing. Is that I’m the most mobile and—

Vone:   Definitely.

Trix:    –despite the fact that these two are the most generally insane throughout their daily lives [pointing to Biz and Vone], but once we hit the stage, I think all bets are off.

And, I think I might win that particular avenue.

Biz:      Stage insanity is definitely…

Trix:    It’s a specialty of mine.

Biz:      A specialty of yours.

Trix:    Yeah.

Biz:      But, also Vone, but in a different way. You’re like an extroverted stage presence, I think you’ll win, definitely.

Vone:   But, Patrick is like… what’s the… Bono? What’s the U2’s lead guy? Bono, right?

Trix:    Am I the Bono?

Vone:   Pro-bono? See, that’s kinda like a bo-bo. No. But, a really good front man.

Biz:      Well, I mean, also the least inhibited, maybe.

Vone:   Yeah. Mobile. That’s actually slightly a thing. But, also Biz stands there like this. [demonstrates posture and motions]

Biz:      Yeah. No. I mean, I think—

Vone:   You’re the mask.

Biz:      I think for me, I’m actually—I’m the most normal.

Vone:   Don’t look at me.

Biz:      I kind of like play the straight guy even though I’m usually wearing a dragon mask. So, it’s just like—

Vone:   Don’t look at me. But, she has like an alien face.

Trix:    Yeah. I’m the most likely to take my shirt off. That’s for sure.

Vone:   That’s for sure.

Biz:      I’m not very likely to take my shirt off.

Vone:   I’m the most likely to be doing something very drastically wrong.

Biz:      Yeah, usually completely wrong. I can usually count on that.

Vone:   Not stage acceptable.

Biz:      Yup.

CB:      Such as? Can you give us an example?

Vone:   Oh, god. Like, if you could like turn the drum set into a swimming pool, I would be diving… You know, stuff like that. Let’s just say, perhaps, I was gonna light the entire drum set including myself on fire.

Trix:    You would do that.

Vone:   I would do that.

Vone:   Also, something along those lines.

Trix:    Also, if this were a comfortable thing to do, you would be on your back underneath the drum set all the time.

Vone:   True.

Trix:    Instead of sitting on the throne.

Vone:   That’s different.

Trix:    Banging on the toms.

Biz:      If people could see you well enough.

Biz:      So, next time, we’ll use like an upside-down camera on Vone. With an upside down drum set rigged over him so he could—

Trix:    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Biz:      –be in the video and be projected in the—

Vone:   This is like the next piece, you know what I mean? Seriously.

Trix:    And video chatting through aol with— Oh, man! Who is the drummer in Chick Corea’s… Dave Weckl.

Vone:   Dave Weckl. Yeah.

Biz:      So, you’d be Skyping Dave Weckl from underneath the—

Vone:   What do I do? How do I get out of this one?

Biz:      Keep calm.

Trix:    Dave, I don’t get it. Help. Yeah. Does that answer your question?

CB:      It does. It does. Could you talk about the masks? Biz, are you the one that makes them?

Biz:      I do.

CB:      You make them all by hand?

Biz:      Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s…

Trix:    I’d say she grows them.

Biz:      I kind of grow them from my face.

Trix:    Yeah.

Biz:      Or, they are actually my face.

CB:      They are your face. Okay.

Biz:      Uh-huh. Or, they’re my true faces. Some even more than others. Like, the dragon is my truest face or form.

But, that’s also something that is a… I mean, I think a lot of things in this band where like it didn’t happen because of the band. I actually do it for all the projects I do. It’s sort of one of these things that flowered the most, reached its full potential, because of this band.

It was something that I knew I needed to do anyway because of my own… between stage fright and other issues. Whatever. We won’t talk about all that. But, I started making masks from a very early age. And, it was kind of parallel to music and other things. And, the combination has made the most sense of anything I think I’ve done or just simply, in my life. This is the kind of group where it sort of clicked the most.

CB:      But, why this band in particular?

Biz:      I mean, it’s the same thing where I feel like we’re all able to be our weird selves and we kindof actualize this super intense lunacy that was all kind of in all us that we couldn’t really get out in other groups, like in other settings or jazz music or the improvised scene or other things, which are actually very free but still limiting. Because they have traditions.

And for this, because we all just kind of operate differently somehow in this group or we let each other do anything, then it just makes all the weird stuff make sense all of a sudden.

Trix:    We’ve created a world for ourselves where everything is okay, basically. Where, if you’re a band leader and you’re bringing in material for your band to play, like, I wrote this, I want you to play it, you’re already dealing with the fact that people are gonna be… Judgmental isn’t the right word but, people will be comfortable doing it or not.

And, we’ve created this world for ourselves in which we can all be comfortable all the time even doing the most uncomfortable shit, you know?

And, actually that’s one of the MOs, is—

Vone:   Trying to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Trix:    Exactly. And, taking everyone there with us.

Vone:   Yeah. It’s always been like that too.

Trix:    Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, that was the first thing. Like, yeah, those were the first ideas we had for The Sooner We Jump, The Better. Like, we…

Biz:      Pushing those.

Trix:    Yeah. The first ideas we had were the parts of that record that cause physical and emotional—

Biz:      Pain.

Trix:    –damage.

Vone:   Damage.

Trix:    Yeah. That’s the shit that came out immediately.

Vone:   Yeah.

Trix:    And, then we just had to connect it.

Vone:   Yeah.

Trix:    We had to come up with the cartilage.

But, yeah. I mean, I think this is an outlet for us to do the shit that we want to do in other settings but that we never could.

Vone:   Yeah. I mean, definitely for like Biz and I, because we’ve been playing music together for…

Biz:      40 years. 44 years.

Vone:   44 ½. No. But, you know, our whole life.

Biz:      Since 1987 or whatever. I don’t know.

Vone:   But, it’s always been in other situations.

Biz:      In normal situations.

Vone:   In normal situations. But, obviously, both of us have strong other feelings. Striking a chord … So, like Patrick was saying, that all of a sudden it was like why don’t we just have the situation where all of those ideas can just be the ideas? Why don’t we just do that?

And, for me, having that situation amongst all the other things is really important.

Trix:    Yeah.

Vone:   ‘Cause there’s so many different scenarios as a musician that’re super special that you’re equally invested and a part of, which are very valuable.

Trix:    Our only limitation is our physical ability to pull something off. We have ideas about technology that we want to do that we don’t have the financial ability to put together. We don’t have the knowledge about it. We’re slowly getting closer to that stuff. We have ideas about spaces that we wanna play in that are beyond our ability to book or they’re physically too large or the requirements are too great.

CB:      Do you have an example that you’d like to mention?

Trix:    Well…

Biz:      We don’t want to give you all of our ideas.

CB:      Only what you are comfortable sharing.

Trix:    Yeah. Of course. Basically, just a lot of our ideas have to do with going really big.

Vone:   Yeah.

Trix:    Like, taking over a whole city. Like, we wanna do that.

CB:      Yeah.

Trix:    We want to take over an entire city for several weeks, you know? Like, whatever—

Vone:   Yeah. I would say that because of the chemistry of the three of us, that our like natural or organic chemistry, which is, might I add, really great to have…

Biz:      And, rare.

Vone:   …and rare, we do end up getting together a lot.

And, more importantly, because of that chemistry, there is a lot of ideas and thoughts and creativity, a lot of collective creativity that gets thrown around.

So, like Patrick is saying, there’re a lot of ideas and a lot of them end up being shit that we’re just dreaming of. And, those dreams, we’re trying to realize them and get better at making those happen.

And, I would say that an interesting thing with this time around, us working together, has been just the way that we’ve been able to work, for me, it does get better. Like, just the way we’re communicating and organizing and structuring and…

I mean, we’re still working essentially the same way but we’re getting better at it. There’s more stuff happening and we’re more prepared to know with how to deal with crazy ideas that we have, whatever those are – logistics, or musically, or performance or, you know…

CB:      So, what resources would you need to take over a city or town?

Vone:   Yeah. Do we wanna talk about the Manhattan idea or…?

CB:      I’m not trying to pressure you guys.

Trix:    No. I mean, the main thing we’re doing is we’re kinda building a family. I refer to it either as our family or as our team. We’re just getting more and more people on our team.

That’s the main thing I would say.

CB:      In terms of people who follow you or participate somehow?

Trix:    Yeah. Participants…

Vone:   Yeah. More like friends and people that—

Trix:    People who are invested—

Vone:   People that like what we’re doing and like us and we like them.

Biz:      And, they like pancakes.

Vone:   And, they like pancakes. Like, with the vinyl, “Oh, only the people that were at those very limited gigs who got to see it have the record and, the only way to hear it is through that.”

And, it just feels even more personal unlike other projects where, you know, you’re just releasing everything to the world and 10 people are listening to it anyway. Not that we’re not trying to increase that but, it is building people that we relate to more honestly or something.

Trix:    And, it brings about some crazy stuff too. Like, some of the young people who are really into this music who have known Biz and Vone for a long time, they’re showing their friends this music but, the only way to do it is to bring people over to their house and play them the record.

Vone:   Right.

Trix:    Yeah. That’s so deep. That’s so deep. That makes me so happy that it’s actually physically bringing people together. That, to me, means a lot. And, that wasn’t the original intention but that is a very real happy…

Vone:   Result.

CB:      I have had the idea of having listening parties. And, I think the kind of stuff that you guys are doing is ideal for that.

Vone:   Yeah. I think that’s a nice way of sharing the music. It’s not just like music for music. It’s, you know, reaching beyond. Even the performances that we’re doing, it has a lot of everything because we’re thinking about a lot of different things, you know? We’re not only doing just music even though we’re totally way into that. We’re getting better at dealing with all of the ideas that we have.

Trix:    Have you ever seen Synecdoche, New York? That Philip Seymour Hoffman film? I think I’m saying it right. Synecdoche?

Biz:      Yeah, yeah.

Vone:   I don’t know.

Trix:    Synecdoche? Yeah. It’s spelled like… I used to say “Sin-ek-doash” ‘cause that’s how it’s spelled. It’s a Philip Seymour Hoffman film. That’s kinda how I feel about this group. It’s just starts out as this little thing, it grows and grows and grows. I mean, for me, it’s growing all the time in my mind. The main thing we need, like I said, is more people on our team like he gets in the movie.

Oh, it’s dope. It’s dark. So dark, it’s fucked up. Beautiful. More people on our team and just more resources. Like if Vone didn’t have to be teaching all the time… I mean, I saved up some cheddar and I’m taking the month of February off from working my silly day job.

But, you know, I mean the crazy thing is if we could do this 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week, if we had the resources to do that, we’d be doing it. And, if we had some lackeys who we could give a shopping list to and give them just, you know, $500 to go pick up the things we needed, we would do that. This group would be doing some really insane shit.

It’s already crazy but, you know, we’re just kinda dealing with the reality of what we have. Like I said, most of our ideas, we cannot execute financially or physically so we just put them on the back burner until we figure out what we would do.

But, yeah, I mean we’re building.

This piece is already way more involved in terms of our financial investment than anything we’ve ever done before. It’s way more involved in terms of our commitment to the presentation than anything we’ve ever done before. So, it’s really exciting. It keeps growing.

Vone:   It definitely keeps growing. I don’t wanna use the word exhausted but, it’s just kinda like, you can only step into forward motion with this group. It’s not like you’re just kinda reading the parts that you played before and then it’s cool. No.

You have to give up everything and go all in because that’s just how we’re working. It’s like tilting… you know, it’s leaning forward so much. It’s setting the bar higher for each of us and for the group every single time.

You saw the 4th of July gig. Cool. It’s like zoomed forward in so many different ways since that experience. Like Trix said, it comes down to just having the time. And, it’s really hard to like… you know, ‘cause Biz is over there [in Germany] and it takes a long time. We rehearse a lot.

Trix:    A lot of trail mix.

Vone:   It’s a lot. It’s a lot of trail mix and clementines and…

Biz:      We haven’t been doing the Fever Grass lately but it used to be a lot of Fever Grass.

Vone:   Oh, it used to be a lot of Fever Grass.

Biz:      Which is not a drug. That’s just a place—

Vone:   That oxtail at Fever Grass..

Trix:    Druggie. Addictive.

Vone:   That’s right. When we first started, we were rehearsing in my house and…

Trix:    it’s down the road from a Caribbean restaurant.

Vone:   Yeah. And, you know, sometimes we… I mean, compared to other groups and sessions that we’re doing, we were doing like eight hours with obviously food breaks ‘cause, you know, we’d die. But… Like that video game guy in Japan.

CB:      Three days later.

Vone:   Yeah. But, you know, the special thing is that it feels totally natural to be doing that. And, it still feels natural to be doing that every time that we’ve gotten together.

Biz:      But, I think it also has something to do with the fact that it’s not just music or it’s not just like the fact that okay, we want to perform and do funny things and crazy things. Actually, I should mention too though, we started as a group… We were put together by a friend of Vone’s and ours, Paul Lichter.

We should just drop his name because Paul Lichter is one of the most amazing people I know and…

Vone:   Same.

Biz:      …maybe without getting into it, he’s a great, great friend of ours and a guy we knew from childhood. Great influence just musically and artistically.

But, he put this group together when he saw Trix play once and just knew… (We had never met Trix,)

Vone:   That’s true.

Biz:      And, he just knew, “You guys have to play together.”

And, it just happened—he set up a gig for us in Maine and we just had this weird rehearsal where we’re just like, “Oh, hi. Who are you?” And, then—

Trix:    The music was not happening.

Biz:      No. It was happening. It was happening. Here, I disagree.

Trix:    It was. That first gig was dope.

Biz:      Because our improvising was immediately like, “What?!” Something else was going on. I mean, the improvising was amazing. The gig itself was like kind of normal. Like, we were playing tunes or each others’.

Trix:    Yeah.

Biz:      That kind of thing. And, I was like, “Fine.” But, I wasn’t super excited.

Trix:    We weren’t this band yet.

Biz:      No. It wasn’t VAX. But, then, a year later Vone, Trix, and I got together…

Trix:    Well, we’d been improvising once a week at Vone’s place. And, we would reach this ecstatic magical state. And, the question was, “How do we not…” Not how do we get to those places ‘cause we get those places.

Biz:      Yeah.

Trix:    How do we play a whole set that is an ecstatic magical state? So, we started figuring that out.

Biz:      Yeah. But, I mean, it was also kind of idealistic a bit too. Like when we got together and drank way too much coffee at Ikea, because it was free, and we just started sort of realizing that we had actually the same over-arching goals.

It’s not even artistic… It’s weird life ideas or ideas about what life is supposed to be like or what we were going for, which is something inexplicable that we don’t even know what it is but we really want to be reaching for this thing and like trying to figure out how to do that without even knowing where we’re going.

And, that’s how the whole idea with The Sooner We Jump, The Better happened. Because it was this idea of not knowing what we’re even going for but just going as far as we can.

Vone:   Going for it super hard.

Trix:    Getting as close as possible. Yeah.

Biz:      And, trying. And that was super exciting…

But, then all of this weird stuff started just coming out. And, it all just coagulated very quickly into this thing.

And, then it was VAX from that point on.

Trix:    Yeah. From that point on. We came up with the name that day, right?

Biz:      Yeah, yeah.

Trix:    Yeah. At Ikea, actually.

Vone:   Thanks, Ikea.

Biz:      I don’t think they have free coffee anymore.

Vone:   Do you wanna sponsor us? ‘Cause we could use some patrons.

Trix:    They tricked me into buying a cinnamon bun that day. Assholes.

Biz:      They used to have free breakfast on Mondays too.

Trix:    They used to do that.

Biz:      They used to.

Trix:    That’s when we were there.

Biz:      Yeah, yeah. That’s right. It was free breakfast.

Trix:    We went to Ikea because they had free breakfast on Mondays.

Vone:   I was probably working.

Trix:    Yeah. Vone was working. He was teaching music. Biz and I went to Ikea because they had free breakfast. And, we sat and looked out over the Hudson River and, what? What is that? The bay?

Biz:      Yes. That port stuff in Red Hook.

CB:      You’ve talked about the experience for yourself, your experience of doing this is transformational. What are the reactions you’ve gotten from the audience? What kind of impact do you feel like you’re having on people?

Biz:      I don’t know if this is off the record or on but, I remember the last tour… There are always different reactions. There’s usually a whole bunch of the audience that just has no idea even what happened and either doesn’t react well or doesn’t react at all or can’t process? And, then there are always a handful of people who come up to us and say that we just blew their minds.

Trix:    The piece that we toured on in Europe last year, I think, really fucked a lot of people up, including us.

Biz:      Yes.

Trix:    And, I don’t think it was a good thing.

Biz:      Yeah. It was a little harsh or alienating.

Trix:    Yeah.

Biz:      It was supposed to be fun.

Trix:    And, it was seriously eye-opening. It was seriously eye-opening for all of us, I think. I speak for myself. It was like being kicked in the head.

I was like I can’t deal with playing this thing and having it just bounce off people, you know? That hurt a lot.

Vone:   Yeah. But, also, different audiences.

Trix:    If we were there playing our piece that we have now…

Biz:      It would be different.

Trix:    It would be way, way different. And, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. We needed to do that and be like, “Oh. Some of this shit is not gonna work.”

But, for instance, a former student of mine opened for us two nights ago at Wesleyan and when we finished it was two in the morning. And, he and his buddies who live in Boston, who were driving back that night, stayed.

Vone:   Oh, shit. Wow.

Trix:    Yeah, yeah. They stayed to see us. They played first at like 10 o’clock or something. We played at 1 am. We finished at 2. They hung around ‘till about 2:30 to like hang with us and talk with us. And, Will just came over…

Will Green. Check him out. He’s a bad guitar player. Amazing. Their band is called Trigger. He came up to me and gave me this huge hug. And, it was… Yeah, that to me meant so, so much.

Trix:    And, a lot of people… Yeah. The reactions are kinda all over the place. Sometimes people react very cerebrally and come up and talk to us afterwards. And, sometimes people really feel it physically and, you can see that.

We looked out the other night and people were dancing, bopping their heads. It was beautiful. And jaws were on the floor or whatever. It was a lot of—

Vone:   Confusion, in general.

Trix:    Yeah, totally. But, I think, generally, with the exception of that tour, I think it’s generally super positive. Yeah. Even if people leave confused.

Biz:      Actually, more went that way on our tour last year.

Trix:    You know who loved it? Those two little kids.

Biz:      Oh, the kids loved it.

Trix:    In Braunschweig.

Biz:      Yup. They’re gonna be messed up for life.

Trix:    Yeah. Thank god! Well, you said something amazing. You were like, “This is beautiful. They’ve never been to a concert before.”

Biz:      Yeah, yeah.

Trix:    “That’s what they think a concert is now.”

Biz:      That’s what music is for them. You going insane on stage.

Vone:   That was a super risky operation.

Trix:    It was really… It was a little dark at times. And, what… Oh, yeah, like going out into the audience and playing the pop twist and like—

Biz:      And, being purposely obnoxious to everyone.

Trix:    Kids were so into it.

Biz:      They loved it. They were eating it up.

Trix:    It was beautiful.

CB:      So, when you say confusing, I didn’t take that necessarily as a bad thing. Confusion is sometimes a good thing?

Trix:    I think so.

CB:      Or a positive transformational sort of thing?

Trix:    It definitely can be.

Vone:   Well, you know, I mean you go to a concert and you’re… Anybody that goes to something…

Biz:      Has certain expectations.

Vone:   I mean, you either go in because you know something about it and have an expectation or a preconception of what something might be on any level.

Or, you just get invited randomly by your friend who’s like, yeah, let’s check out this blah, bah, blah group and, that’s what their idea is. But you’re not ready for the experience. Oh, it’s a band, you know? Okay. So this band is playing.

And, then like we are a band but like there are a lot of other… The way that we’re opening things up, it’s like it’s more multi-dimensional of a performance, you know?

It’s not just like we get up there and we play two songs and then, you know…

Trix:    Well, it’s interesting because if you go to a big rock concert in Madison Square Garden, like what we’re doing in terms of theatrics is super tame.

However, if we had those resources—

Vone:   That’s true.

Trix:    –we would be blowing the roof off the place. We would be going completely bonkers.

And, in terms of your question about confusion, yeah, I think the main thing for us is to… I don’t know. I think confusion in this sense is a good thing.

You know, instead of going to a concert, like Vone said, having expectations and then having those expectations fulfilled and you leave.

Vone:   Right.

Biz:      There’s also the confusion as like to whether we’re intentionally doing things or whether it’s serious. When it’s definitely not or almost never serious and yet always serious. And, there’s so much intentional stuff that comes off as unintentional or vice versa.

And, I think people also get confused by their expectation of what a band is normally trying to do … I think we are in the same range in what we’re trying to do but we’re also… I don’t know. We’re not taken seriously in the same ways.

And, I like that. That’s what I really like about this band because it’s actually fun.

New This Week on Jazz Right Now / Feb 16, 2015

New Videos

Documentary Premiere

Playlist

Playlist for the Week of February 9, 2015

  • Tim Daisy – October Music vol. 1: 7 Compositions for Duet (Relay Recordings, 2014)
  • The Fully Celebrated – Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity, 2009)
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa – Bird Calls (ACT Company, 2015)
  • Nate Wooley-Dave Rempis Quartet – From Wolves to Whales (Aerophonic, 2014)
  • Vision One: Vision Festival 1997 Compiled (AUM Fidelity, 2006)
  • Joseph Daley – Portraits: Wind, Thunder and Love (Jodamusic, 2014)
  • Tim Berne’s Bloodcount – Poisoned Minds: The Paris Concert II (Polydor, 1995)
  • Peter Evans Quintet – Destination: Void (More Is More, 2014)
  • Rob Brown Ensemble – Crown Trunk Root Funk (AUM Fidelity, 2008)
  • Birgit Ulher & Leonel Kaplan – Stereo Trumpet (Relative Pitch, 2015)

Documentary on Life of Joe Maneri to Premiere at Spectrum, Tuesday, Feb 17

Press Release

On February 17 at 7 PM, Spectrum will present a US premiere screening of The Passion of Joe, a documentary by a Taiwanese musician Yi-Chen Chang and American filmmaker Richard Widmer. The film deals with Joe Maneri (1927-2009), a visionary and individualistic figure of American jazz and avant garde. The viewers will get intimate glimpses of Maneri’s life, masterful clarinet and saxophone performances, and time at the New England Conservatory, where he taught from 1970 to 2007. There is accompanying commentary by his friends and colleagues, including Julia Werntz, James Bergin, Harvey Pekar, and Chang, a recent student of Maneri. The documentary is an important tribute to a man whose extraordinary contributions to music and microtonality merit a prominent place in the American consciousness. Chang will be present to answer questions.

121 Ludlow St. #2, Manhattan. $8 general, $5 student/senior.
Website: soundcloud.com/oneitara

New York Tenor Saxophone Festival at Ibeam, Jan 29-31, 2015

New York Tenor Saxophone Festival curated by JazzRightNow.com, Jan 29-31, 2015
Ibeam Brooklyn (168 7th Street)
$15 per night, $35 festival pass


Thursday, January 29

8 pm – Jonathan Moritz Trio with Shayna Dulberger, Mike Pride

9 pm – Yoni Kretzmer’s Double Bass Quartet with Reuben Radding, Sean Conly, Mike Pride

Friday, January 30

8 pm – Ingrid Laubrock, Nate Wooley, Sam Pluta

9 pm – Tony Malaby’s Adobe Trio with John Hebert, Billy Mintz

10 pm – Thomas Borgmann, Ken Filiano, Reggie Nicholson

Saturday, January 31

8 pm – Anna Webber Quartet with Jonathan Goldberger, Michael Bates, Jeff Davis

9 pm – Thomas Borgmann Trio with Max Johnson, Willi K.

10 pm – Ras Moshe Trio with Shayna Dulberger, Andrew Drury

Cisco Bradley
JazzRightNow.com

New This Week on Jazz Right Now / January 26, 2015

January Artist Feature

Videos

Reviews

Interview

Playlist for the Week of January 19, 2015

  • Nate Wooley-Dave Rempis Quartet – From Wolves to Whales (Aerophonic, 2014) review
  • Noah Garabedian – Big Butter and the Eggmen (BJU Records, 2014)
  • Jacques Coursil – Trails of Tears (Universal Music Classics & Jazz, 2010)
  • Wadada Leo Smith – The Great Lakes Suites (TUM Records, 2014)