By Taylor Benjamin Burgess
For the past year, Vampires have been racking up bigger and bigger live shows, including the past two Element Sircuses and the always-packed Cabaret! at the Standard. When this guitar-and-drum duo plays, they navigate some sweat-drenched territory between southern rock and Interpol, whipping the crowd into head-swinging and dancing. And if that isn’t enough, Josh Butcher and David Dobbs stop in the middle of their set, trade instruments, and keep on going. After building a local following, they’ve gotten around to recording, with the help of Jeff Patteson of Home Street Recording and some new rented gear. Stylus eventually wrangled a 15-minute phone call out of David Dobbs.
Stylus: How did Vampires come together?
David Dobbs: I’ve always been in bands, and I love music like Mogwai and Do Make Say Think. Pretty much any music that makes the heart go “whoa.” I moved into the Mansion [a housing co-op on Wellington Crescent] on March 1, 2008, and four or five months later, this guy named Josh Butcher moved in too. He had just left the Absent Sound, so we started smoking weed together and listening to music; he loves Led Zeppelin and the Doors…
Stylus: What, you don’t like Zep or the Doors?
DD: I don’t discredit anyone, but tell me about the bands playing in the clubs in 1971. No one’s talking about those bands! That’s the kind of music that I want to be talking about—it’s hungry music, it needs to be fed. No one loved them just because they sold a bunch of records.
Stylus: All right, all right, so back to Vampires.
DD: So yeah, Josh and I were talking about stuff. Around Christmas time, ’08, I took a flight to L.A. seeing local venues and local bands, like the Smell and the Mae Shi. Try think of the word shameless, but with no connotation of the word “shame”—it was just happening so fast, it was take it or leave it, it was nothing I’d ever seen before. And I was like to Josh, I have this will and this desire just to be free. We approach this band open hearts. There’s nothing really to call us, no genre, which is kind of the beauty.
Stylus: What kind of show are you trying to put on? What are you trying to do with your music?
DD: Well I guess I’ll tell it the way it was told to us after one of our friends saw us play—he said it’s like we bypass influence and go straight for the good stuff. I don’t know what we’re doing but, in some kind of cliché way, we’re trying to involve people in things that they’re involved in.
Stylus: Why wouldn’t they know that they’re already involved in it?
DD: Because it’s been forgotten and put aside.
Stylus: How do you mean?
DD: I’ve seen so many people pay rent for their little spot by the stage and then just sit there and watch the show. I remember shows where everyone was running around—and it was about where you were for six hours, just having a blast. I like to put on shows where the band is fodder for the night. I really get off on seeing people dance to a band. In L.A., they had this thing that I call “the clap,” and they would do in the alleyway, they would do it in between bands, people would clap anywhere they wanted. It was awesome, because anyone can clap, and we can do it all together, if there’s some group understanding.
Stylus: So it was like a slow clap?
DD: They did it in a number of different ways. Someone might be coming in from having a smoke, they would clap, and then it would spark five people to clap in return. I thought, “There’s a revolution happening here. I gotta bring this back to my home town.” I felt a bit of duty.