May 2006:


After crashing for a couple of months in the South Williamsburg storefront where they currently reside, the trio upgraded to a four-bedroom Victorian house. The catch was that the house was in Selinsgrove. Just in case you’re one of the few out of the know, you can find the little berg on a map deep in rural Pennsylvania. The two-story house was only $500 per month and included an attic and basement. Another advantage was the important fact that Joshua’s parents lived nearby as well – offering the opportunity for frequent free culinary forays. For the first time the boys had found their little Walden Pond – their Big Pink – their stab at the pastoral American dream.

Of course Selinsgrove didn’t quite turn out to be the mythic garden of their collective imagination. Michael got a job selling Persian rugs and Josh found employment at a prestigious roadside business named “Adult World.” Following the trend set in Philadelphia, the boys were once again hated in Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, despite never making it into the hearts and minds of the townies, they had plenty of time and space to practice, lived cheaply, and fulfilled their dream of living on High Street.

Vietnam finally hit the road for real in November/December of 2004 on a mismatched Sparks-sponsored Vice package tour with Death from Above 1979 and The Panthers. The shows had their ups and downs - culminating in New York - the last night of the US leg . As the band prepared to take the stage, Vice told them that they wouldn’t be accompanying the other two bands to Canada. Apparently DFA insisted that the label remove Vietnam from the bill. They were unable to get a straight answer as to why but heard that it had something to do with a member hitting on one of DFA’s girlfriends – an accusation that they dispute.

Stranded in New York with no money, the baffled and angry band told the company that, , since they already had contracts and guarantees set, they’d complete the tour anyway to collect their money each night. The next day Atlantic, Vice’s parent label, notified Vietnam that they were officially removed from the shows. Counting on the money from Canada and without even enough for gas to get to Pennsylvania, they went to their Vice's office to hit them up for a loan. The label misunderstood the visit as a threat and an altercation ensued that thereby ended Vietnam’s already tentative relationship with Vice.

In January the band’s merchandiser for the tour, the Ghost Exits’ Ivan Sunshine, played bass with them at a show with Blood on the Wall and Psychic Ills at Todd P’s ill-fated new performance space. By Valentines Day Sunshine was a fulltime member, joining them on a successful six week run around the states with highlights that included the Noisepop Festival and South by Southwest.

This lineup remains the current configuration of the band. Sunshine, whose eclectic taste tends to lean towards no wave and other late 1970s/early1980s New York art, noise, and dance musics, was the missing piece – not only merely providing an anchored low end, but adding harmonic sophistication, geometry, and booty. By this point Foss, now with a full-kit, had metamorphasized into the ideal soulful minimalist drummer in the most classic sense. Joshua came into his own as a lead guitarist - taking the songs to the next level by building on sophisticated weeping Southern blues rock runs. Finally Mike toned down a few of his Dylanisms and found his true natural voice - which dynamically fluctuates from a soothing full-bodied whisper to a gritty howl. After years of poking around, Vietnam, as a four-piece, finally located something that most bands never find - their own sound.

go back to p. 5, music concrete | go forward to p.7 , no sleep 'til brooklyn




© New York Night Train , 2006