Welcome to My Room

Two events around Y2K mark the genesis of Vietnam. First, Michael Gerner, at the time of Grand Mal and The Witches, and formerly of Texas underground bands like The Primadonnas (he was Julius Seizure), Tune in Tokyo, 100 Watt Clock, Carbomb, and Minority, started spending a lot of time in his room mustering up the courage to write and sing his own songs. Secondly, Joshua Grubb, who also did time at Michael’s alma mater, the University of Texas, began coming up from Philadelphia to jam with Mike.

Michael was also playing with another UT friend, the Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger, and occasionally her brother Matt. When the Furnaces set up their first gig at Enid’s in Greenpoint in the Summer of 2000, Eleanor encouraged Michael to also break the barrier and play some of his songs publicly. He immediately assembled a few friends to back him up – a motley crew that included a member of their current management team, a cannabis aficionado, yours truly, and, most intriguingly, a saxophone-blowing new media executive who drove to practice on a motorcycle with an eight-ball, a half-full bottle of Makers Mark, and an ounce of weed on his person - who could regularly be found on the phone ordering flowers for his probation officer. Michael came up with the name High Society in haste. As the band parted a Cheech and Chong-worthy smoke curtain to fall out of the broken-down van – the folks outside were no longer uncertain as to whether High Society was a group of aristocrats or merely a bad pun. The Enid’s show is historically important because it was the first in which either Mike or Eleanor sang their songs in public – they filled the place and got quite a response for a first go-round. Both the Fiery Furnaces and Vietnam continue to perform some of the songs from that first show to this day.

That same summer, Grubb, then a student at Temple University, began driving up - first on weekends, and then for weeks at a time. The two became inseparable, staying up all night playing guitars, sleeping all day, and scheming to start a band. By New Years 2001 the two had returned to the town where they initially met – Austin, TX. In addition to the easy job leads and quantity of amazing musicians in their circle, the main reason that Vietnam made the leap was to save money to begin recording and touring – something they found impossible in New York.



© New York Night Train , 2006