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An Interview With Rob and Chris Kirkham of the Vincent Black Shadow

"Gonzo Music"


An Interview With Rob and Chris Kirkham of the Vincent Black Shadow

Rob Kirkham of Vincent Black Shadow

Photo (c) Nicole Lucas

Rob and Chris Kirkham are hilarious. And they play off each other in an interview as well as they play off each other on stage.

The pair comprise two of the three brothers that make up the male portion of the Vincent Black Shadow (the third is Anthony on drums, Rob and Chris play guitar and bass, respectively). The female contingent is composed of Cassandra on vocals and Mary on keys.

Their female vocalist landed them a slot on the Shiragirl/Gritty in Pink stage at the Warped Tour, but Rob and Chris are quick to point out that they don't fit the typical requirements needed to be in a girl band, as well as to duck the "punk cabaret" designation that's been waved in their direction.

I caught up with the brothers backstage at the Warped Tour, after they'd played a set in 98-degree heat on a stage that was threatening to cave in in. Despite it all, they were relaxed and quite entertaining.

RC: So you guys have a really interesting sound. How would you describe it?

Rob: I like to describe our music as Gonzo Music. You know, like Hunter S. Thompson had Gonzo Journalism? It's your own brand of writing, that's what his was. He didn't subscribe to any sort of set rules. So nobody can tell us what to do. Basically we play any type of song we want, and do whatever we want.

RC: So you're ducking the punk cabaret label?

Rob: Yeah, I don't know, isn't cabaret a German type of drinking music, with the lace and stuff? I suppose I do like cabaret a lot, I mean I like the movie Cabaret, and what's that "All That Jazz" and stuff. I mean that stuff's cool and everything, but that's not the only thing.

Chris: I think we're more punk than most bands that are going by punk right now, because we're actually not doing what everyone else is doing.

Rob: That's what the punk ethic is. Do your own thing. Yet, everyone here is doing everyone else's thing. Well, not everybody, but a lot.

Chris: No there's bands that aren't. They're still the diamonds in the rough.

Rob: The rough.

Chris: Yes. That' s R-U-F-F.

Rob: Ruff.

Chris: Ruff.

Rob: That's going to be my new rap group. Diamonds in the Ruff.

RC: How you liking Warped Tour?

Rob: It's been great. We've climbed mountains, and traversed great ravines in order to get here basically. I mean our stage crashed a week ago. I think I saw you in the audience and I mentioned that.

Chris: See, we're more punk than anybody. Our stage keeps crashing, and we have to build our stage every night and figure out what's going on.

Rob: But otherwise, up until that point, and even still, it's been a blast. We've been making a lot of new friends, impregnating a lot of new girls...

Chris: Conceptually speaking, of course...

Rob: Impregnating them with awesome music. In their ears.

RC: What are you guys travelling in?

Rob: We're travelling on horseback for this tour. It's a lot easier, with them pulling the caravan...

Chris: Staying true to the Canadian Mountie ethic.

Rob: Yes, and then actually someone came a long and said, "you're not riding horses, you're just banging two coconuts together"... Seriously, though, we're sharing a bus with another band on the label. So, it's good in the sense that we're on a bus, but it's so packed in there it feels like we're in a sardine can.

Chris: It is pretty sweet, though. It's nicer than my apartment, so I'd rather stay on tour.

RC: How'd you guys end up on the Shiragirl stage, or what was the Shiragirl stage, now Gritty in Pink?

Rob: Well, Shira and Gritty in Pink is pretty much the same thing. We ended up on that stage basically because we have technically two girls in the band. Even though we have three guys, the two girls denotes us as being a girl band. Or a chick-fronted group. We try to avoid that because it's ridiculous. We play music. Who cares who's singing? So, we ended up on that stage because of that, because that's where they put you.

Chris: They saw us in New Jersey.

Rob: Yeah, Shira saw us and invited us on.

Chris: In my opinion, they're subscribers to the real punk ethic, because they make their stage every day, and no matter how many times it crashes or breaks down, they still show up with something, so you gotta give them credit.

RC: How are the crowds responding to you guys?

Rob: They've been really good in almost every single place, we've had a really good reaction. Especially in like California and on the West Coast. I find that, in general, the West Coast is just a lot more open.

I bet you anything it dates back to the genes in people. You know, the people in the west, they came from the East Coast, right? The frontier land, there was definitely a different type of people that wanted to experience new things, so the West Coast was especially good, and Texas, that's like our strongest market.

But otherwise, for the most part, all of the shows have been awesome.

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