Brotherly Love

The band pared down to a two-piece in Philadelphia. The result, the exact opposite of Austin, was stripped down harmonically with plenty of room for long distorted drones. They bought a couple of minidisk players to make it more interesting with a few sound effects and beats. The band only played one gig during their year in Philly – they attribute this to everyone in town hating them – everyone but the local rock bodybuilding legend they affectionately referred to by his band name, “Muscle Factory.”

They lived on South Street and seemed to wind up in an altercation each time they ventured outside. Plus, they were justifiably paranoid that the local scenesters thought they were on drugs. So they rarely left the house until a feud with their next-door neighbor made it impossible for them to practice and they wound up rehearsing in a scholastic book warehouse. As their savings dissipated, Michael found work at Whole Foods – where he got a number of compliments from customers who mistakenly believed his long beard indicated a commitment to eastern spirituality.

Though they weren’t active in Philadelphia, Vietnam was regularly gigging in New York throughout 2002 and developing a small dedicated following. When The Fiery Furnaces invited them on a bill at Northsix, they wound up reacquainted with old Austin friend Michael Foss. So blown away by the performance that he immediately asked if he could join their band, he was delegated to play drums. Michael II, as he will be referred to, immediately accepted despite a minor complication - he had never held a pair of drumsticks in his life. This didn’t bother Vietnam much because they didn’t want a drummerly drummer anyway. They found a floor tom in the trash near their house and Michael II began driving down from New York regularly to practice with them. They also gave him a tambourine to augment the tom. This Mo Tuckeresque setup, in conjunction with their distorted two-chord pop songs, is what earned them the obsolete Jesus and Mary Chain comparisons.



© New York Night Train , 2006