Blow the Scene Editor Joshua T. Cohen caught up with VOETSEK on the opening night of their Full US Tour, running June 29 through July 25. You’re getting it straight from the tour van in this exclusive interview with Ben, Ami, Scotty, and Athena!
Imagine a group a ruckus, uber-talented, eclectic punk rockers playing speed-metal songs at breakneck pace. Mix in a healthy blend of socially poignant lyrics with a barrage of riot anthems and one can begin to get a sense of Northern Cali’s VOETSEK. They’re punk, they’re thrash.. they’re fucking awesome. A frenetic four-piece outfit with equal representation in the XY and XX chromosome department (“Four balls, Four titties.” as drummer Scotty puts it), Voetsek are embarking on a month long tour and will be joined by a few of the best bands in the underground punk and metal scenes, such as SCHNAUZER and MUNICIPAL WASTE for select East Coast shows. Voetsek have been going strong for over seven years now with releases on some of the most legendary underground labels around, including Six Weeks, Deep Six, 625, Sound Pollution, MCR and more.
Voetsek’s latest album Infernal Command, was hailed by EXCLAIM! who said, “..what thrash metal has been lacking for years. Even great bands responsible for its recent surge in popularity fail to provide what Infernal Command offers so readily..”
Joshua BTS: For our readers living under a punk rock, go ahead and introduce yourselves by declaring your on-stage weapon and telling us; What is Voetsek?
Ben: Voetsek is the non-stop shred machine that your mother warned you about. I’m the one who engages the warp speed, high-pitched solos.
Ami: Ben’s all about the warp speed and shred! He’s a face melting maniac. I just deliver the message.
Athena: I bring the Warlock of Boom.
Joshua BTS: Voetsek is about to embark on a month-long tour all over the US. What can we expect from your live performances on this tour? Who are some of the bands you are looking forward to playing with? And what cities are you looking forward to playing the most? Breaking out any rarities?
Ben: Personally, I’m most looking forward to playing NYC, the land of my birth and my forefathers. As for bands, we’re playing with the best band in the universe, Cleveland scene stalwarts SCHNAUZER, which is pretty much the best thing that can happen to a band. I’m also looking forward to multiple dates – a hair care tip sharing with MUNICIPAL WASTE and LANDMINE MARATHON. You can totally expect some surprises in the set, let’s just leave it at that.
Ami: We expect to slay this country, you’ve been warned. There are some areas we have good friends in like Ohio, L.A., Rawk-Chester NY, Houston TX , San Diego , Denver CO and Pittsburgh PA: so those are the places I’m most looking forward to. As far as bands go Landmine Marathon, PLF, Sumarian Axe, Death Crisis , Roskop and Municipal Waste are the bands I’m stoked to see. Also getting to see rad bands that are new to me is pretty cool.
Athena: We’re stoked to be playing with so many great bands this tour. In addition to the bands mentioned above I’m looking forward to playing with PLF and BATTLE RIFLE.
Joshua BTS: Voetsek saw some serious critical praise for your album Infernal Command which was released in 2008 on Tankcrimes. Did you expect the album to be such an underground phenom? Tell us about the recording and release of Infernal Command? Any new works on the way?
Ben: The writing and recording of Infernal Command was a real experiment for us. It was my first record with the band, and so there’s always that period of adjustment. The writing process, recording process, and even the practice routines are gonna vary from band to band. So for me being the new spoke in the wheel, there was definitely a period of adjustment right around then. Still, I’m super happy with the album, and you can expect to hear all your favorite cuts on the road. I hope that answer was confusing enough.
Joshua BTS: Can you touch on some of the themes in your music? You seem to walk a line between songs that deals with the light-hearted end of the spectrum, such as lyrical content about circle pits, to the more serious side when dealing with topics of social conformity and oppression. Where do you draw inspiration for your lyrical content? Is this lyrical dichotomy something that is planned?
Ami: As far as lyrical inspiration goes, I write about shit in my life whether it be a good thing or a bad thing. Shit that posses my thoughts/ feelings or shit that stokes my world. I’m constantly writing. Even when Voetsek has no projects in the works I keep a lyric journal.
Joshua BTS: Can you touch on some of your musical influences? Past and present? Any new bands out there right now that are really exciting you?
Ben: All I listen to is Art Tatum and Brooke Sofferman.
Joshua BTS: I hate to break out the gender card already, but I find it awesome that you have a female vocalist complimenting what is some serious musical shred work. We’re not dealing with No Doubt riffs, Ami Lawless keeps up some of the fastest shred played by punks west of the Mississippi! Do you feel the underground scene reacts differently to a female fronted band? Do you have to deal with any misogynistic chumps, or is the punk scene as one would expect – supportive of the diversity?
Ami: Thanx for the kind words bro. Most punx are pretty supportive and cool about the gender thing. I have gotten some shit for being queer, which is lame, but hey everybody has their own beliefs/ opinions, so if you don’t like our band based on my sexual preference, you can fuck off.
Scotty: Four balls, Four titties. Always have been, always will be.
Joshua BTS: On a lighter note – I know from personal experience, most bands have some weird peccadilloes when hitting the road. Some bands refuse to pull over on long trips, utilizing the ol’ urination process in empty Gatorade bottles…I’ve heard of bands smackin’ each other down with leather belts to relieve stress…Tell us..What quirky things do you do on the road you wouldn’t want to tell your mothers about?
Scotty: We smack each other with Gatorade bottles full of piss to relieve stress.
Ben: Not only do we not refuse to pull over, but we’ve actually been chastised by our driver for taking too long to shop and at rest stops. The only thing that bums me out about the VOETSEK tour, is that no one else wants to play geography in the van.
Jun 30 2010 2:30P @ The Yard w/ Landmine Marathon San Diego, CA
Jul 1 2010 8:00P @ Sound Kontrol w/MAGNUM FORCE Phoenix, AZ
Jul 2 2010 2:30P @ Rubber Gloves Denton, TX
Jul 3 2010 2:30P @ Broken Neck Austin, TX
Jul 4 2010 2:30P @ Vanguard Warehouse w/PLF Houston, TX
Jul 5 2010 8:00P @ The Bar w/High Fructose Corn Syrup New Orleans, LA
Jul 6 2010 7:30P @ the Poison Lawn Knoxville, TN
Jul 7 2010 8:00P w/SCHNAUZER @ The Leather Shop Lima, OH
Jul 8 2010 8:00P w/MUNICIPAL WASTE @ The Summit Columbus, OH
Jul 9 2010 2:30P DUDE FEST! Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN
Jul 10 2010 8:00P w/MUNICIPAL WASTE @ Reggie’s Chicago, IL
Jul 11 2010 8:00P w/MUNICIPAL WASTE & MIDNIGHT @ The Grog Shop Cleveland, OH
Jul 12 2010 8:00P w/MUNICIPAL WASTE @ the Smiling Moose Pittsburgh, PA
Jul 13 2010 8:00P @ Strange Matter w/BATTLE MASTER, CROOKED TEETH, STREET PIZZA Richmond, VA
Jul 14 2010 7:00P New Brunswick, NJ @ Fuck Mtn. w/SEASICK & LONG PIGS New Brunswick, NJ
Jul 15 2010 8:00P @ AS220 w/DIOS MIO Providence, RI
Jul 16 2010 8:00P @ Beaumont Warehouse (West Philly) Philadelphia, PA
Jul 17 2010 2:30P @ ABC No Rio (matinee) w/MAJOR POTENTIAL & SILVER BULLET New York City, NY
Jul 17 2010 8:00P @ Tommy’s Tavern w/MUNDO MUERTO & PERDITION Brooklyn, NY
Jul 18 2010 8:00P @ Flying Squirrel Rochester, NY
Jul 19 2010 8:00P @ Ann Arbor, MI
Jul 20 2010 8:00P @ Casa de Kotex Indianapolis, IN
Jul 21 2010 7:30P @ Locked Out w/GEFFIKA, CORPUS LUTEUM + more Chicago, IL
Jul 22 2010 8:00P @ BFG w/DRESDEN, THE PARISH + more Appleton, WI
Jul 23 2010 8:00P @ The Rat House w/IN DEFENSE Minneapolis, MN
Jul 24 2010 8:00P @ Knickerbockers w/EZRA, SORROWER Lincoln, NE
Jul 25 2010 2:30P @ Old Curtis Street w/ROSKOPP + more Denver, CO
All images Courtesy of Voetsek
For more information check out Voetsek’s Official Myspace
Interview by Joshua T. Cohen.