VICIOUS IRENE is one of these very few bands that have a crossover potential. They have a sound that appeals to both punks as well as metalheads. If you haven’t checked them out yet then this interview is your way in. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
I’ve been following you guys for a while now and I can’t help wondering when we will see a full album for you?
MM: It’s out there! We released it in June this year, it’s called Distorted state of mind and can be ordered from us directly or found in any of those punk distros that are trading with Ruin Nation Records.
MC: Yes, enough with the EP’s for a while! After releasing 3 EP’s the last years we thought we needed to record a full length album. Distorted state of mind is available both on CD and LP.
Vicious Irene is to me a very DIY kind of band. What is the hardest in doing it yourself and not have any backing from any major sort of partner?
MM: I’d say tour booking. It takes a lot of energy and nerves and would be nice to get some help with sometimes. But on the other hand it’s also very rewarding and you get to know people everywhere, so I’m not sure anything would be better without it.
MC: I don’t really think about it as hard but doing everything yourself takes time and can be quite stressful when there is a lot going on and often there is with this band :).
A part from tour booking we do our own merch, we fix and repair our tour van, we have released most of our music ourselves during the years. It really requires a good collaboration within the band. But for us there is really no other way, this is the way we want it to be and a reason why we like playing together.
LT: It’s all about planning and passion! Also we love collaborating with different people with the artwork, recording or tour booking, so it’s more of a DIT – do it together. The DIY world is amazing, creative and political. It’s not about money, it’s about giving and receiving, inspiration and anarchy, resistance and utopia.
You guys tour quite frequently. How do you manage to do that when everyday life is so expensive? How can you afford to be away from everyday life?
MM: Is everyday life really that expensive or is it just all about how you prioritize? I always try to keep my everyday expenses as low as possible, I don’t see the point in getting expensive habits just because you can. We tour on our holidays, or when we can get some time off school depending on life situation. Of course it can get tough if you have a part time job and would need the hours, but if you wanna tour that’s how it’s gotta be I guess.
LT: Yeah we tour on our time off work or school, we prioritize that before other sort of vacations coz that is what we love to do.
FV: Well, I think it would have been harder to tour that much if none of us had a job and only the doll/welfare fund to live at, cos even if you are away on a tour that is break even you still need to pay the bills at home. But also as Molly says, it is very much about how you prioritize, none of us in the band are very big consumers by political reasons. And of course it wouldn’t been able at all if there wasn’t for all awesome people that putting up shows!
When you tour what kind of places do you play? How much longer can you keep doing this before it will become unbearable and undoable?
MM: Mostly places like youth centers, house projects and squats but also pubs and sometimes more commercially oriented clubs. We will keep on forever and ever and ever! Or at least as long as people want to book us, haha.
FV: Yupp, until we kick the bucket.
MC: We also play at festivals. I think what is most difficult is to get time off from work, that’s what is mainly my problem. That’s also the main reason why we say no to gigs, since all of us work inconvenient working hours such as weekends and nights.
Do you feel that the band is growing the way you want it to? Have you set up goals that you try to achieve with each new year the band exists?
MC: I absolutely think the band is growing and sometimes changing the way we want to. And every year the band has existed so far we have put up goals and future plans. We don’t put up any boundaries in which direction the music might go (as long as everyone likes it of course) or what dreams and hopes someone might have.
LT: Yes, I feel we can totally follow our hearts and instintcs about what we wanna do and create.
FV: I agree with everyone. Within the band there is an open minded mentality, there is not only one person that decide which way to go or what to do. There is always room for an open dialogue and new ideas where everyone’s voice is counted and all decisions are made together. That makes the band and ourselves growing and keep up the go.
I know that there used to be a large squatters scene in Europe in the 80s. What kind of scene do you feel that you belong to? How important is it to belong to a certain scene?
MM: We would definitely say that we belong to the DIY scene (whatever “belonging” might mean..). You can say that it’s connected to the squatters scene but far from all venues are squats, (and far from all squats want to deal with punks and punk shows) but it all boils down to a non-profit scene where no one is making profit of anyone else. We don’t make any money, but we try to sell our merch so we can have a little plus in the band budget instead of a minus.
MC: I’d say we sell our merch so we can afford to make new merch and record new albums. It goes around. I think it is important to belong to a scene that takes stand against sexism, the meat industry, homophobia…
LT: …. consumerism, racism and transphobia. I totally agree.
FV: The DIY scene is like our home, but i also think you shouldn’t be afraid knocking someone else’s door if you got something important to say, if you know what I mean.
Would you say that you are particular political? What do you think about bands like Pussy Riot that stand on the barricades risking their own life?
MM: Well not as active as Pussy Riot. I wish I was more active, but that’s also a matter of what you have to prioritize in your life I guess. Work eats my time, and the rest I put on the bands. I think it’s fucking great to make a statement such as Pussy Riot did! They are role models for all of us claiming to be political, talking of how thing’s should be done. The fuckin did it!
MB: Vicious Irene is a political band for sure. The way we choose to live our lives, the lyrics we write, to gigs we play. We try to make our stand by writing and screaming about it, playing support gigs, appearing with our music on support compilation albums etc.
LT: There are different kinds of activism and you don’t have to risk your life to be an activist. We are political, like Mary says, in the way we choose to live our lives. We don’t eat animals and we don’t wear them either. We are feminists and believe in sisterhood, standing up for women’s causes and act on that either at work, in the street or in actions. We´ve all done some support work for people without papers, we believe nations are a bullshit way to divide people. This whole rightwing racism/islamophobia politics that is spreading around Europe is absolutely disgusting and terrifying. We do what we can to raise voices against that. For me also working with Popkollo is a 100% political. Popkollo is a rockcamp for girls that we do every year in many locations in Sweden. It’s a non-profit organization to brake the patriarchal norm in the music scene.
FV: Yes, I see that we are political. I also think that with this society we live in today, you can’t be enough political. I admire everyone that struggles for animal rights, equality, freedom of speech and environmental issues. It’s really depressing though, that people have to risk and struggle for their lives only because of a few persons that are such power-hungry, such as they do anything to not lose their hold, even produce weapons that got only one purpose: to kill other people.
How important is it to support the right to free speech that we see examples of being restricted all the time, as for example with Pussy Riot?
FV: I think that is one of the most important things! The freedom of speech is a human right. It is very sad there is a need for struggle for the word. You can control people in a society via Google, FRA, surveillance cameras, passport, land borders, tell them it is for their own safety, keep on paint a picture of “the other” as a threat, not tell anyone this controlled society is like a big fence. You can take everything from someone except their thoughts. But without a dialogue you dig your own grave. If it’s hard to figure out yourself, just read the history.
Can you exist and not be political? When does a band become too political?
MB: Of course you can, most band do right? But I think it would be hard for Vicious Irene to exist and not be political, since we are the people we are playing in the band.
MM: I don’t think you can be too political. What would that even mean? On the contrary, I think many bands are not enough political…
FV: Well, don’t sell your mind or lose your ear completely…you can be such political so that you don’t even wanna listen to anyone else. Like if you already know the answer in a discussion that you started, what’s the point to have it?
What does the crystal ball tell you about the future of Vicious Irene?
MB: We want to make new songs, I think it is the main goal for the fall! And hang out in the rehearsal place.
FV: Yes, the nearest future I bet it’s gonna be with coffee-overdoses and mountains of cookies. That’s mostly the plan and exactly what we feel for doing this autumn, from here on right now we leave the door open for surprises!