City of Vain may just be six guys with a few chords and a truck tanker full of frenzy on stage, but recently they’ve reached out of the Sacramento Punk Rock scene to share their talents with some other folks who bring their own kind of passion and grit to their field…literally. Some might be surprised to learn that Sacramento has their own soccer team. Some might also want to bash me for not knowing about it sooner. The Sacramento Republic Football Club joined the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division in 2012, their motto,”Urbs Indomita,” which means The Indomitable City. The Sacramento band, City of Vain has taken the spirit of that motto and fleshed it out into a fight song for the young team and things are going to be kicking off soon for both groups.
I sat down with some of the guys at our respective home computers and smart phones to talk a little shop about rock, penalties, and balls:
For someone that’s new to the Rock n’ Roll scene in Sacramento, how would you describe who City of Vain is as a band?
Drew: We were just five guys that has been out of music, which was our comfort zone prior to the hiatus. being away from the scene for so long put our intentions with any new project in perspective. We really just approached the first practice like we do now… How can we fuck up what our favorite influences already perfected.
Newell: Just five dudes who want to have fun and bring our friends along for the ride.
“Prior to Hiatus” does that mean a lot of you guys were in other bands over the years? Anything folks out there would be interested to check out on Myspace or Angelfire?
Steve: Well Drew was in the Whiskey Rebels, New Rock Militia, and the Amityville horror. Mario was in Hoods and Vomit Minh was in the Street Vendors and Spin 45, Newell was in Contenders for the Crown and Longway. Andy was in Leisure Sports, Doublethink and the Subject of Us, and I was in the New Rock Militia, and the last incarnation of the Steady Ups.
For me, it felt like City of Vain really hit the ground running as a band. Basically as soon as I had heard of you guys, you already seemed to have a devoted following and were being looked to as a up-and-coming band out of Sacramento. When did you get together and start playing and do you see your rise within the musical ranks as a meteoric one or did it feel slow and organic?
Drew: Organic-luck. that’s all I got…
Steve: Not sure it ever occurred to us that there was a devoted following since many of the people that came to the early shows were simply just friends. If anything it was a testament to how lazy we were. Meaning we spent more time hanging out when we could’ve been writing music. Any success, we have been so lucky to enjoy, is really an example of people taking care of us and just throwing us some love as good friends.
What city is the City of Vain? How does the love/hate relationship (you may or may not have) with Sacramento fuel the band.
Steve: Well…(10 minutes later). How do I put this delicately? uhm, yeah Sacramento is the City of Vain…or at least in the time I was writing the first group of songs I was heavily influenced by what I was witnessing as an outsider to a scene, and town, that had progressed while I was away starting a family. There was a little bit of tongue and cheekiness related to all of this. I’d like to think that it is somewhat ambiguous so as to not single out any specific scene or culture…but we are all guilty of taking ourselves too seriously.
It’s pretty well documented that most artists struggle with where they’ve come from. Do you guys think that desire to change or awaken your hometown is what guided you towards a Street Punk style attack?
Steve: Street punk was what we were comfortable with, we are struggling now to breakout of that specific genre. We will never fully leave it, but would like to broaden our music landscape as far as the band goes. Think Clash. Maybe not a direct copy of the Clash, but the essence of what they were doing. Changing it up.
There aren’t many who adopt that style in Sacramento, were there any other bands, in a similar vein, over the years that you guys looked up to?
Steve: I always looked up to bands like Red Tape w/ JD on drums and Mark on second guitar, Hanover Saints, The Roughnecks, Steady Ups, and even newer bands like Bastards of Young. Really like to draw inspiration from all types honestly.
Before we get into the song in question, how does a City Of Vain song come together? Are there multiple song writers amongst the group? Is one guy in charge of his song or does someone bring an idea nugget to practice and then it goes into the band blender?
Steve: Its hard to say that I am the sole songwriter. I guess there is a vision or ambition with every new phase of the band, and we really try and keep it moving forward, So I basically bring as many ideas as I can nearly complete to the band, then we as a band pick it apart and rebuild it to fit each others specific talents. Each new recording we are always trying to get away from where we started…to keep it fresh, to keep it new and to keep it fun.
You guys have written an anthemic fight song for the Sacramento Republic Football Club. What was the inspiration for beginning the song writing process? Did you start out with a goal in mind or was what’s happened been a welcome surprise?
Steve: Honestly, it was a joke.
City Of Vain has a big day coming up this April 26th, what can you tell us about what’s going to happen that day?
Steve: we have been working hard to switch it up a bit. There will be even more people on stage with us!!!! And they aren’t getting paid either. I suppose our vision was a modern day punk disaster version of the E st band. I’m a huge Springsteen fan, this was our circus act of an attempt to do so. It will be fun or funny…either way it will be hard not to notice!
Drew: We simply wanted to bring enough musicians to field our own squad and it took nine of us to figure out the national anthem…
So the Republic really embraced it and not only have they adopted it as their fight song, they’re also building you a stage for a pre-game performance right?
Steve: Well, to be clear, there is no official licensing of the track from the club, the supporters have definitely used it to chant at games and have embraced it whole heartedly. There are some other things in the works with the club, but they haven’t been hashed completely out yet. The club has rallied behind this song as they would for any local artist who wants to promote this city and all that is great about it.
There is a show planned for the preface on the 26th, that is correct. We will also be playing an after party and birthday party at the Starlite Lounge the same evening. It is a free show.
What was is about the Republic that sparked the song? Are there soccer fanatics in the band?
Steve: I knew that Minh and Newell were huge soccer fans, and I really wanted to do something fun for them. I sat in my closet and wrote the song in about an hour…recorded it and emailed to them. I had no idea it would turn out the way it did. Once they heard the song, it immediately felt like we should have fun with this. More importantly we have always held our hometown close to us and use it as inspiration for many of our songs. After I wrote the verses I really was happy and excited for our other soccer fan friends to hear the track. We were encouraged for about a year to take this to the club. I never thought they would care, I was wrong, one of the few times it felt good to be wrong…
Please visit http://cityofvain.bandcamp.com or http://www.cityofvain.com
Matt Crap started playing live music in front of people in 2007. Everything from 3 piece punk outfits and a honky tonk duo to a karaoke-tribute-band super group and one show wonders. So he’s still new enough to be excited and energized and hasn’t yet become bitter and jaded.