Vee Dee are among the growing crop of good bands to come out of Chicago in the past few years. Their debut album Furthur was the soundtrack to all of our summer parties here at Fungus Boy headquarters. Their sound has been described as everything from sixties psych to 77 punk rock to even comparisons to the Misfits. We were lucky enough to book them a show in Lawrence, Kansas on August 5, 2004. Before the show we sat down with the guys to get the scoop on Vee Dee. Interview by Michael Fungus, photos by Jeff Fungus.

VEE DEE is Nick --vocals, guitar, Dan --bass, & Matt --drums

(pictured left to right above)


Fungus Boy: Tell me about the origins of Vee Dee.
Dan: Nick and I meet about four years ago.
Nick: Yeah, Dan was in a band previously, The Brides, they did two singles for Rip Off. We met up and we had a lot of similar influences, we were into Garage Rock, and there really wasn’t much of any of that going on in Chicago. We had a different drummer when we first started named Nathan, and we played for about a year with him and it was kind of off and then we just met Blaze--Matt.
Dan: AKA The Don.
Nick: He actually wasn’t a drummer but we asked if he could play and he said he could, so we got together and we just kind of clicked as far as personality…
Dan: At the time he was in a Beach Boys tribute band, so we had to let him know that we were very serious. So when that ended, the tour of Hawaii, and then he was ours and now he’ll be ours forever.
FB: Have you been playing these songs for a while before you actually went in to record the album?
Nick: Uh, yeah, most of them, yeah. Some of them, there’s a couple that were probably only a couple of months old when we recorded them. But overall probably about a year of gigs or so before we went into the studio.
Dan: We had like two sets that like we don’t even play any more.
Nick: Probably, we’ve gone through quite a few songs that didn’t make the album that we still play.
FB: Lets talk about the album artwork. A lot of people have commented on the cut & paste--almost a feeling of old D.I.Y. ‘80’s….
Nick: Yeah, that was interesting because that’s something that’s totally not intentional. I did the artwork at Kinko’s.
Dan: Very rushed.

Nick: Yeah, I mean we love it. The back, the lettering I actually got of a Shadows Of Knight compilation album that I photocopied. I kept doing it to get all of the letters to make all of the song titles, each letter, and then shrank it and did all this and reversed the image and all that, and of course after I did it people were like, “You could have just done that on a computer”. The cover is just an eclipse of the sun that was blown up a million times from a National Geographic, it really wasn’t that intentional. It looks how it looks but I like it, it’s kind of like a rough first album.
Dan: It’s a polished turd.
Matt: We didn’t put much time into it, well Nick put in time to the cover.
Nick: In the end it was pretty simple, and I wanted it to keep the cover simple, you know.
Matt: Let speak for its self.
Nick: We’ll have a real artist for the next one, maybe use color or something.
FB: Nick you write all of the lyrics?
Nick: Yeah.
FB: Tell me about your whole writing process. I read though all of your lyrics today and you have a lot of references to the sixties. You talked about Altamont, Water Gate, and I get the feeling some of the songs are about Vietnam. You could get that idea by the cover of the Blood Zombie single as well.
Nick: We actually have like a whole Vietnam trilogy, and the first song is Kaleidoscope Deathray.
FB: So I’m not off target then?
Nick: Yeah, well Kaleidoscope Deathray is about….
FB: Napalm?
Nick: Yeah, well no, I have like a love/hate relationship with the sixties, you know, that’s where my Dad and Mom came from, and I think there was a lot of extraordinary music that came out of that, I grew up on Punk Rock and everything but as I keep digging you start to find a kindred spirit in some of what was going on. I think the reason why I sing about a lot of that stuff is because Vietnam was so fucked up and we’re almost gonna do it all over again right now, if we not haven’t already started. So you know bring up the past so you don’t repeat it.
FB: What about Midwest Tet, is that like a calling out of the safe Midwest?
Nick: That is like…
Matt: That’s the second song in the Vietnam trilogy.
Nick: That’s the second song. The third song is a song called Chrome Rainbow, which is actually also about the apocalypse, we’re probably gonna do it on the next record. Tet Midwest is like the Tet Offensive in 1968 in Vietnam was like the North Vietnamese, the Communists, rose up, it was during their new year when Americans just assumed across the board that they were gonna take the time off during their sacred holiday but they didn’t, they all rose up. Even in like Saigon the American embassy got shot into, basically they didn’t know who the enemy was. The idea (for the song) was sort of like putting those kind of people like us that are kind of like in the subculture, they’re not quite the mainstream, sort of like Vietnamese, in the Midwest we could rise up at any time. I just don’t see the Midwest as this land that time forgot, you this kind of like this middle America where people don’t necessarily think of something new or exciting.
FB: I’m normally not one to play a lot into lyrics, but most people assume the Midwest
is safe and nothing bad ever happens, but look at Oklahoma City.

FB: Your sound has gotten a lot of reviewers confused, you guys have been compared to different bands in each review that I read. That’s probably a good thing to have though.
Dan: Yeah, I think that’s good too because they can’t really put their finger on it. A lot of bands keep popping up like you know Misfits…
Matt: It seems like we remind people of what they’re already listening to.
Nick: It depends on people’s reference points. I mean what I listen to--like I try to listen to music that doesn’t necessarily have a weak sound sonically, sort of like a melody, and also I try and not say well I’m going to write a song like this band or this band meets this band, you know? It’s sort of more like, I’m going to play something that I would probably not normally play and then try and make it work and I think we all just kind of feed off like whatever, just trying to do something different.
FB: One thing that grabbed me about you guys was the way that you sing your vocals. The first song that locked me and solidified me to whole album was Undertaker.
Nick: Thank You.
FB: How do you feel about the current crop of Chicago bands? There is so much variety now, The Functional Blackouts, Tyrades, you guys. You guys should be in the next Blackout line up, have you been considered for that?
Dan: We’ve kinda been snubbed like the last few years, but we’re not that keyed in on it, or like that focused on it. I don’t know because we put on other shows and then bands that we like from Chicago are like this band the Mannequin Men we’re all pretty much diggin’ their sound.
Nick: Plastic Crime Wave Sound is a really good band, that’s Steve Krackow who does this zine Galactic Zoo Dossier, it’s like really crazy psychedelic…
Dan: Lawrence, I think his last name is Stevens is actually from Lawrence.
Nick: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, he plays drums.
Matt: A lot of the bands, everyone is just kind of starting to focus on their own thing, going on tours, bands are depending on each other less and less now. It’s becoming a really good scene.
FB: You guys have played a few of those festivals right? When I was there in May I caught the one with George Romero. You guys have played some of those?
Nick: Yeah, that’s an old friend of mine Rusty Nails who does those. I like doing stuff like that because I like…
Dan: The Movie Side people.
Nick: I kinda like to do stuff where we play weird venues or for a different crowd, just because otherwise you just start playing to the same people over and over again.

FB: Are you guys big movie fans? I love to hear bands that say that movies influenced their song writing. You have a song called Blood Zombie….
Nick: Yeah, I guess, God what movies have I seen?
Dan: Dawn Of The Dead
FB: You played the Troma Film Festival?
Nick: Yeah.
Dan: Mark Borchardt was there.
FB: He was there at the Romero deal, it was Mark and the other guy, what’s his name?
Dan: Lloyd Kauffman?
FB: No, his buddy Mike Schank.
Dan: Mike Schank, that guy’s awesome.
FB: He played a thirty minute guitar solo.
Dan: Yeah that was rad. That guy shreds, we were like, “Mike shred”, (imitating Mike) “You gotta just give me a guitar man”.
FB: A lot of people thought that American Movie was a fake documentary but when you see those guys you know it’s the real deal.
Nick: Yeah, that’s like that same kind of passion that he has, regardless that he’s kind of a weird guy, that’s like what I mean with Tet Midwest. I say celebrate the Midwest, might as well.
FB: You mentioned in the liner notes “U.S. Beer Company Fuck You!”, that’s a venue in Chicago?
Dan: (laughs) Yeah, they fucked us over and only paid us, first of all forget the money, the show sucked terribly and that were all fuckin’ like frosted hair jocks, and they were such dickheads to us. They paid us twelve dollars, I think it was, it’s basically a sports bar, it was just the wrong…We were really mad.
FB: The only reason I brought it up was because of the live set that I downloaded from your website you mentioned that you would be playing there and I had to find out what happened.
Matt: It was the staff, a really bad staff, they treated us real horrible.
Dan: The money was just like the icing.