Herein lies the unedited and most recent interview with Boston supergroup Viva Viva. The original story was edited and published by the Boston Phoenix on November 9, one week before the Boston Music Awards and two weeks before the band appeared on and in the December edition of Filter Magazine.
With Dave “Cave” Vicini on self-proclaimed “media blackout”, the majority of the interview came from a one-on-one interview with singer/songwriter Chris Warren in the privacy of his own apartment. Our friends Jack and Miller were there as well.
I’ve been lucky enough to follow Viva Viva from the beginning… from the conception, to their many creations and performances. A few weeks ago, the band was (finally) recognized by city superlatives, winning “Best Live Band” at the Boston Music awards. The story is complimented with photos from the awards ceremony, a few live shots, a bonus Chris Warren witticism, and an unreleased video by our friends at Meetyourbeat.com. Enjoy!
Vivas to those who have failed/And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea/And to those themselves who sank in the sea/And to all the generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes/And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known-
“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
When Officer May and Lot Six both called it quits, Boston lost two of its most promising bands of last decade. Their ships had sailed, and against everyone’s will, had sunk. Formed from the wreckage, however, was a vessel with an all-star crew that brought the captains of both bands to the helm. Viva Viva became Boston’s new supergroup.
Combining the junk-punk delivery of Dave Vicini with Chris Warren’s soulful cigarette-scared snarl, they alternate verses and coexist in eerie harmonies. With the haunting keyboards of Fumika Kano, the deathmarch drums of Dominic Mariano and the doomsday bass of Dan Burke, Viva Viva purvey a gritty, boot-stomping blues. Their songs are sinister, provoking ‘carpe diem’ for those who walk the crooked path and battle cries for the scorned and the scarred– our soundtrack to a city of dead dreams.
Following the band’s D.I.Y. full-length debut, Art, Sex, Death and Time and their growing reputation for decadent live shows, Viva Viva eventually caught the eyes and ears of Fort Point records, who signed the band and released their “official” self-titled, debut early this year. Their follow up EP, What’s the Kim Deal?, is due out January 24.
“Dave came up with the title,” says Chris Warren. “I think Kim Deal is an underdog badass and we think we fit into the ‘underdog badass’ category.”
With six songs, most of which already well-known to their loyal fans, the EP will finally give the proper exposure to the turntables and headphones of their anticipating audience. Straying slightly from blatant expressions of excess, Viva Viva’s upcoming release seems to focus more on the universal struggle, paranoia and loss of innocence.
“It’s been a long slow process so I don’t even notice,” says Warren. “It’s like when you look in the mirror every day, you don’t see the change because it’s so subtle. If some of our newer songs sound more positive and optimistic, it’s because I’m trying to fool myself into a more positive outlook. I was born a pessimist, but that doesn’t mean hope and love shouldn’t be part of my future. When I was younger it was ‘we’re all gonna die’. Now it’s, ‘Ok, we’re going to DIE!’ Instead of being depressed knowing this ride comes to an end, let’s embrace it and laugh in the face of death and party with a good soundtrack. Hopefully we’re making a good soundtrack for it.”
The most significant change for Viva Viva, however, is not in the songs, but the absence of commanding frontman, Dave Vicini. While he will still tour and record with the band Vicini, recently relocated to Lexington, Kentucky.
“We all miss him dearly,” says Warren about the loss. “We have played shows as a 3-piece, so we can get away with it– we call it the Viva Viva Express. Not only is the band great, but they are my family. Whoever is around, we will make it work. Are you going to cancel Christmas because your brother can’t make it? You have to continue on with what you have. The biggest difficulty is that Dave isn’t around to sing the songs I wrote with him in mind. There are certain songs that only he can sing.”
Vicini will be back later this month for their upcoming shows, including a performance at this year’s Boston Music Awards where Viva Viva is up for “Best Live Band” and “Best Rock Band”, not to mention finishing unscheduled work on their second LP, Live Free or Die Trying. “We’re not rushing anything,” notes Warren. “We’re going at our own pace which is both unambitious and smart.”
Surrounded by a likely cast of characters at Warren’s apartment: Bud, Jack and Marlboro Reds– a musician’s late-night BLT if you will– Warren ended our interview, grabbed his acoustic guitar and went into an impromtu “Sweet Jane”, an intimate rendition of Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” and finished with an unreleased song of his own which fit seamlessly into the quiet kitchen concert.
“As far as songwriting,” Warren concludes, “I don’t know where it comes from and where it goes, but I’m glad people enjoy it. Ultimately I’m doing it for me, which is frustrating because I’m never satisfied.”
Nolan: What is your idea of success?
Chris Warren: Well, some people want to be rich and famous. We apparently want to be poor and imfamous. I think we should keep doing what we do best—being weird and rocking out. Money wouldn’t hurt.