Sweet Smooth Smoke Rising. An Interview with Vaporizer
Those of you who pay rapt attention to the Throw Me a Frickin’ Bone column might already have taken note of Vaporizer and the kind words I’ve bestowed upon their intense irascibility and how I gave their EP a nod as one of the top self-releases of last year. If you haven’t already checked them out, or at least intend to, please do so – I even said “please” – as they are fully deserving of the phrase “highly recommended.” I originally encountered this Winooski, Vermont quintet while out on the road with Exhumed at the tail end of 2012 and was totally pinned to the drywall by their deft ability at injecting a sludgy/stoner wall of crushing calamity with equal amounts of melody and despondency. Not only that, but they absolutely fucking bring it live. I’ve gone on record on numerous occasions, referring to them as one of the best unsigned bands in North America and I guess I’ve just done so once again. The band has a recently released 7″ available, a split 7″ and a full-length in the works and are doing a run of shows on the way to SXSW in a couple months or so, so what better time to catch up with bassist Jake deVries.
Could you please impart upon us the history of Vaporizer?
Vaporizer is a collective of folks that were left over after a couple of Vermont metal / punk bands dissolved around 2008. The four of us bonded via a common love for heavy music, D&D and cheap beer. We spent about five years bouncing around Vermont living in various band houses in the woods, writing, recording, partying, and touring the east coast.
What was the initial goal(s) upon Vaporizer getting together? How would you say this/these have changed since the start?
The initial “goal” for Vaporizer was to hang out and party with some band-oriented stuff casually thrown in the mix. This quickly shifted into a more focused and repetitive process of writing, recording, and touring. We’ve done this for so long now that it’s impossible for any of us to do anything else. To be honest, I don’t see this ever changing.
You hail from Winooksi, VT. What the hell is a Winooski and how do you feel calling a small city tucked up in the northeast home has hurt/helped your band?
A Winooski is where you go to flee inflated rental prices and escape noise ordinances. We’re the next town over from Burlington, VT which is currently home to a seriously thriving metal scene. We’ve always had a lot of interesting bands coming out of this place. In general, the Burlington / Winooski area is housing a ton of extremely talented and driven musicians. It’s a super artist friendly environment. It hurts a bit to make those 12 hour round-trip drives to NYC for one off shows… but that’s a small price to pay for living in this musical oasis.
Tell us about the new 7” you have available. Were the songs recorded specifically for it or were they leftovers from another session? Who’s putting it out and how can people get their mitts on it?
When the opportunity came along to pop out a 7 inch with Hydro-phonic, we decided we wanted to dump a fresh batch of songs on it and push our musical envelope, hard. We penned two new tunes and ran right down to our go-to recording dude, Clay Neely of Black Pyramid, at Black Coffee Sound in Massachusetts. If people want the record they can order it from the Hydro-phonic webstore [www.hydro-phonicrecords.com] or get it from us when we make it out to your town. Here’s one of the tracks from the record if you want to check it out:
On that note, how many releases do you have available anyway?
We have two releases currently available, the 7 inch and our original EP. If you go online to www.vaporizer.bandcamp.com you can download the EP for free / whatever you feel is a fair price [wink, wink]. Some die-hard Vaporizer fans might have one or two of the old handmade demos from the early days… when we were just learning about crayons and glue. There’s actually one super-rare demo that was dipped in bong water, but I think our vocalist may have smoked that.
What’s your go-to vaporizer for use on a Friday night while watching South Park re-runs? Does ‘vaporizing’ play a significant role in any aspect of the band’s daily doings?
HA! Actually, it’s mostly bongs for this bunch. Funny how that works out.
I remember about a year ago your making mention of the fact that the band’s members were taking steps to essentially quit real life to take a stab at touring as much as humanly possible. How has that worked out? How much touring have you done?
2013 has definitely been a busy year for Vaporizer. We’ve shed a lot of that “real life” mentality. We went on a crazy tour with Vektor, went out for a few weeks solo, and did countless dates around the northeast. We’ve also had lot of fun at home supporting some amazing bands like Gwar, Gojira, Dying Fetus, Napalm Death, Exhumed, and all the awesome local bands here in VT. We’re all completely addicted to life on the road, there’s no turning back now. We’re hungry for more gas station food.
Of course, with touring follows ridiculous tour stories. What’s your favourite?
Our tour stories usually boil down to us sleeping in weird places. The Meat Locker in NJ takes the cake. If you’ve played there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t played there, well, the name says it all. We’ve crashed on sidewalks, rooftops, in state parks, garages, ghost-filled basements. We spent one winter night in a barn where [drummer] Eli [Wood] barely survived the freezing cold by wrapping himself in our backdrop, and we all woke up in the morning because my sleeping bag was inexplicably on fire. It’s amazing we’re all still alive.
What about the glow-in-the-dark shirt I just purchased from you. Do you think anyone else can or will look as spiffy as I do in it? What other merch do you have available for the curious and interested?
Everyone looks spiffy with glow-in-the-dark tits on them. All of our merch is available online at www.vaporizermetal.com/category/merch/ Luckily, we have a drummer who is also a sick tattoo artist and designer, so he takes care of all the bands artwork. If you’re into tattoo stuff, definitely give his shops page a look-see: www.facebook.com/magneticnorthtattoo
Any designs on a full-length record in the near-future? What about label interest?
It’s all just around the corner. We’re working on another 7” right now with this amazing Australian metal band, King Parrot. Our full length is due in the not too distant future. As far as labels go, we’ll just keep pumping out content on our own until the right one comes along.
Email interviews kind of blow because I’m always feeling like I’m missing something. What have I missed that you feel needs mentioning?
Vaporizer on tour:
Feb 27 – Shaskeen, Manchester, NH
Feb 28 – O’Brien’s, Allston, MA
Mar 01 – No Problemo, New Bedford, MA
Mar 02 – Elevens, Northampton, MA
Mar 04 – The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY
Mar 05 – The Forvm, Buffalo, NY
Mar 06 – Now That’s Class, Cleveland, OH
Mar 13 – SXSW Music Festival, Austin, TX
Mar 14 – SXSW Music Festival, Austin, TX
Mar 15 – White Swan, Houston, TX
Mar 16 – Wild Salmon, Lafayette, LA
Mar 17 – Mud & Water, Baton Rouge, LA
The band has also just announced a Kickstarter campaign to raise merch making money. Details here.
[photos provided by Vaporizer]