From Pure Magazine Dec. 1994/Jan. 1995

Vambo Marble EYE: Insatiable Road Whores

by Chris Auman


Pure Magazine coverf

Vambo Marble Eye are masochists whose relentless touring schedule on any given week has them in their van scrambling to places like New London Connecticut and Lawrence, Kansas with stops in St. Louis, Des Moines, and Indianapolis in between. This barrage of mini-tours is enough to make even Old Man (Hank) Rollins cringe.

Four shows in three days in two thousand miles is not an unprecedented feat for VME, and the real cruncher is that in between the frenzy of these bonsai tours, there are time clocks to be punched and forty-hour weeks to be worked back home. It's damn near given the band ulcers and it's definitely given them gray hair.

Having caught one of their high energy, alcohol-fuel shows at Lounge Ax this past summer, I invited myself over to bassist/singer Perry Finch's apartment. Guitarist Mike Wing and drummer Kevin Smith were also in attendance. I brought beer.

"High Life? Nobody buys beer like this."

I apparently brought good beer.

I asked VME what attributed to the graying of the Vambo Marble Eye hair? Were they harried over the Haiti situation? Troubled with the OJ trial? What?

"Let's just say," said Perry, holding back a sarcastic smile, "that we're concerned."

They may be concerned with who they owe and how much, where their next gig will be, and how far, but they're more concerned with their music than with their money. This is why bands like VME are fast becoming an anachronism in the evolving spectrum of 90s rock and roll. With acts like the Spin Doctors and Johnny Cash trying to scrape up indie credibility, and Green Day being the nation's biggest punk rock representative, VME remains old school.

Their music is reminiscent of early punk legends such as the Meat Puppets and the Minutemen. They put out their own records on their own label and support their own tours with the classic "do-it-yourself" ethic that laid the groundwork for what sells millions of records for major labels today. And it's got them hocking bagels and vegetarian cuisine on the side.

In existence for about four years, Vambo Marble Eye was originally formed in the college town of Bowling Green, Ohio (just south of Toledo on your road atlas), before relocating to Chicago. The band didn't come to our fair city empty-handed either. They brought with them two 7" singles, an ambitious musical film, This Jesus Must Die (based on the '70s freak opera Jesus Christ Superstar), and their debut full-length album, Two Trick Pony.

Two Trick Pony was recorded at Ultra suede Studios in Cincinnati, which is owned and operated by Afghan Whigs bassist John Curly. Curly, with the help of fellow engineers, Dave Davis produced the record. Created in the "loud, ducked up" musical philosophy practiced by VME, the record has received mixed reviews from the music press, who've tried to put every funk, punk, metal, jazz, groove tag to it, with little success. Two Trick Pony is also the first full-length for the band's record label Off White Records, which supports fellow Ohio band Gone Daddy Finch and their album, God's Own Santa Jacket.

As for the future, the band has just finished recording new material to be released as singles. They also plan to continue touring. They're probably in Kansas City right now playing in front of ten drunk local crazies who will no doubt shout "corn fed" at them, as they usually do, when they announce that they are from Ohio via Chicago. They could be sleeping on any couch in the Midwest right now from Columbus to Columbia, trying to get one more hour of sleep before eight more hours of driving.

Dave Thompson of Alternative Press, had this to say about Vambo Marble Eye: "in a perfect world, VME would just stay on the road forever, and every time you want to hear them, they'd just turn up in your living room with a load of their mates and play really loud." If you ask Perry, he might tell you that Vambo Marble Eye has been on the road forever and it's not a perfect world by any means. "Eventually, this working forty hours a week and being in a band, however many hours that is, and pulling both those things off is going to come to an end soon. Something's going to give and I think it's the body."

But until then...

© 1993-2020 Chris Auman