When they talk about life on the road, playing local shows, and recording their second release, it’s clear the six guys who make up City of Vain genuinely enjoy what they do.
Sacramento-based punk band City of Vain is recording an EP that should be out in June, the first release since their debut album “American Nightmare” came out in October 2011. Also in June, they kick off a short west coast tour, and this Friday you can check them out at Blue Lamp.
They’ve played together since 2010, and their brand of punk inspired by Oi, Ska and Hardcore lyrically addresses addiction, redemption, and shines a light on some sociopolitical issues. No matter the content, City of Vain tries – and succeeds – to make music that’s enjoyable and accessible to listeners.
“There’s always a certain amount of positivity we try to incorporate, it’s definitely easy to be negative,” said singer Steve Ross, who writes most the band’s lyrics. “(We) try to write in a way that it’s applicable for someone going through a hard time.”
Ross, guitarists Newell Dunn and Drew Boyce, drummer Andy Simpson, bassist Mario Maynor and Minh Quan on organ make up the band. Quan’s addition to the band has added a unique dimension to the band’s sound since its first album.
“Now to be known as the band with the organ player, its’ kind of cool,” said Ross.
Individually and collectively, City of Vain exudes a humble appreciation for fans, shows, and the opportunity to play music.
“Practice is fun to me,” said Maynor. “The shows are the cherry on top, the tours are the cherry on top.”
When they talk about their favorite shows, they get excited when a band member reminds them of a really good one they’d forgotten.
Their favorite shows included ones played Sacramento venues Ace of Spades and Press Club, and a show in a remote spot stood out for Quan.
When they got Jamestown – a “ghost town” as Quan called it in Tuolumne County, he doubted the few people he saw who said they’d come back for the show.
“Sure enough, once we started playing the whole fuckin’ town came, and it got nuts,” he remembered. “They hadn’t seen a live band through there in six months. Keep a lion in its cage long enough it’s gonna get wild.”
“For us it really is about the camaraderie, and bringing that to new people and people reciprocating it. When it’s reciprocated, that’s a great feeling,” said Ross.
City of Vain is playing April 26th at the Blue Lamp in Sacramento. Show starts at 8:00 and cost $8
Words Kate Gonzales
Photos Melissa Uroff