Brian Robertson & Vincent Walker - Suburban Legends

July 18, 2008

Photo Credit:

Tell me a little bit about Suburban Legends.

Brian: Suburban Legends is a six piece member band.

Not a seven piece anymore?

Brian: No, itís six right now and we try to do it all and weíre very entertaining. We do a stage show where weíre totally exciting. We make sure everybody is having a good time.

You guys have a horn section and you play the trombone right?

Vincent: No, I used to play trumpet in the band but Iím singing now. He plays trombone.

Brian: I play the trombone.

But sometimes you play though.

Vincent: Yeah, I actually do when weĎre recording stuff. I play the trumpet. But live I donít play.

What made you go from being the trumpet dude to being the singer?

Vincent: Well, I left the band for a little bit to finish up school and then when I came back, it ended up that I decided to try singing. I always wanted to sing and it was just a perfect opportunity in my favorite band.

So you decided to go to school and then decided you want to be in a fucking rock band.

Vincent: Yeah, I went back to school and finished up. The band was going through some changes and we put it back together and it was this lineup right now that weíve been going strong with for the last two years.

What did you study in school?

Vincent: Marketing and a minor in music.

What about you? Whatís your education?

Brian: Iím still working on it. Iím working on a Bachelor in Arts.

We have educated people here. Does anyone else in the band go to school?

Vincent: I think a couple of the guys did but right now our focus is on the band. Weíre basically putting our entire lives on hold to do this band. Weíre not even putting it on hold. Weíre putting it in play and then all the other aspects can wait.

Wait a minute. Your life is the band.

Brian: Exactly. Everything else outside the band is on hold.

You guys are described as pop, funk, and third wave ska. Tell me a little bit about third wave ska. This is something that started in the 80ís.

Vincent: 80ís and 90ís. Kind of in the rock vein like punk rock. Reel Big Fish is a great example of that. So is Less Than Jake. Weíve been compared to that but we do a lot of disco and stuff. We have all of the influences like pop influences that seem to shine through when we play that seems to throw off everybody. They donít know what generation of ska we are. They know that we have it in our roots. It draws them in. Theyíve rejected us at the same time but then they bring us back in. Weíre that smelly sock or or a dirty piece of underwear that they smell and go ďwhoa, what is that?Ē They smell it again and again and think itís great.

Brian: You keep coming back to it even though youíre like ďwhoa, what is that?Ē

Youíve toned down your ska a little bit.

Vincent: On the last two albums we did disco kind of rock and pop influences. Thatís the music that we really enjoy. Weíre not ashamed to listen to Aaron Carter or Hannah Montana but at the same time we listen to Motley Crue and the Wu Tang Clan. We have so many different influences but we like cultural popular music so we try to put out songs like that and we still did that with this last album we put out, LetĎs Be Friends, but we threw in some more ska stuff because we grew up on it and it was a lot of fun. We really enjoy it and I think our fans too wanted to hear a little more ska.

I remember when disco came out because I was a kid at the time. I was really heavy into KISS and Alice Cooper all that. I remember when disco came out and then it disappeared and was a really short-lived thing. Itís kind of funny to hear younger kids talking about having a lot of disco influences. Maybe there was something to be had from that.

Vincent: We all had a lot of cock rock influences too because our guitar player is a metal guy. Heís friends with all those guys. He knows KISS and all of them.

You guys are performing a song called ďRump ShakerĒ again in your live show.

Vincent: Yeah, Rump Shaker is our first album and weíve always incorporated it. Weíre not the type of band that just plays all the new stuff. Like we have a new album so thatís all we play. Or we forget about a lot of old stuff except for stuff that we donít want to play anymore. We still play stuff from Rump Shaker. We still play a lot of our old stuff because itís who we are.

Well yeah, itís like here are a couple of new songs and then hereís all this other shit that youíre familiar with. You do it the way youíre supposed to do it.

Vincent: Yeah, weíre certainly proud of the music that weíve done in the past. When we put together the set, we mix in all kinds of stuff that weíve done throughout the past.

So you donít have that one record that you made that you want to hide in the back of the closet someplace?

Vincent: No, not really.

Thatís awesome.

Brian: Yeah, I donít think so. I mean thereís some stuff thatís older than old that we didnít even record like the first songs that weíd ever written that were terrible. We donít even play those but I think they probably know about those.

Vincent: They know about those sometimes more than us.

Because they somehow find that stuff.

Brian: I wonder if you can download that stuff online?

Vincent: Yeah, you can download it on Hot Wire and all that kind of stuff. Stuff that we recorded when we were teenagers on a terrible microphone in someoneís garage somewhere in his house but they love it because it sounds like that. The kids tend to love anything youíre playing raw as raw can be.

Itís got that raw sound to it. You guys have had a large number of lineup changes. Are things pretty settled now?

Vincent: Oh yeah, I think itís more than settled. Weíre like family right now. This group has been solid for the last few years.

Brian: Life comes at you when you least expect it so to say that member changes will never happen again, thatís a silly thing to say. You never know what can or will happen.

I understand you had a death in the family a few years back and have also had your van set on fire and been robbed. Youíve had some bad luck. How do you handle stuff like that?

Brian: We were a little stressed out about it. When youíre in a band for so long a lot of stuff happens. You canít help that. And then sometimes it comes in a way or it happens when you least expect it. I think we always try to press on regardless. We still enjoy what weíre doing.

Does any of that come out in your music?

Vincent: I think with this new album, definitely. There are a couple of songs on there I think it came out in. It comes out not sometimes in the music but our personalitites too. When weíre on the road talking to people who are kids who come to the shows, we talk to them and they see that. Theyíre always in awe that we kept going. Theyíre always fascinated by it.

Brian: Granted on the new album there is a lot that came out like certain personal things that we had dealt with. In general, we usually donít bring super personal things into our music. Or if we do, itís very in the back like metaphorical and subtle but flow all over it so that nobody knows what weíre really talking about. But we try to keep the lyrics as positive as we can in our music most of the time.

Vincent: Most of the time weíll try to have a good time.

Brian: Yeah, I think thatís what our main focus is.

Vincent: Whenever that stuff happens, itís basically like get a van, get this, get that. We were really stressed out but once we played the show we were fine.

Brian: We usually try to get back to whatever we were doing as quick as possible. I donít know. Maybe in order to get past that element of that stress of that lameness of life. That situation. The van catches on fire. Okay, put it out. Sold that van the next day for scrap and then the next day you fly your lead singer three states away to get a van. You drive it for 15 hours straight back to where weíre at. You have a tornado going on outside. Then we all drive directly from there another 12 hours to get to the next show. We got on stage right as we were scheduled to play. We only missed two shows on that. When the van got stolen, we missed four shows on that one. That was more difficult because with the burning of the van, okay it burned and now we have to get rid of it. But when the van was stolen, now the police have your van and itís like well now do we wait for the van?

Vincent: You can junk it and they were actually going to pay out with insurance. I was like okay great, but then once they found it, thatís what took so long. If they hadnít have found the van then we probably would have gotten back out in two or three days.

If only they hadnít found that damn van.

Vincent: Actually Iím glad they found it. Itís like our baby.

Oh, so you have it back.

Vincent: Thatís the one that got stolen. Right after we got it back, something blew in the engine.

It went through a very stressful time. It just had to blow up.

Vincent: That must have been it.

I would think you guys have a black cloud over your heads with thunderbolts shooting out but youíre all smiles.

Vincent: It seems that way sometimes but right now everything is running smoothly. Stuff happens. Big D And The Kids Table for goodness sake, on the two or three weeks that theyíve been on this tour, theyíve had three vans that have broken down. Theyíve broken their trailer twice. They finally said forget it, theyíre going to get a bus. Thatís incredibly bad luck. I guess weíve been pretty lucky.

Brian: Yesterday I think one of the members was actually riding around in a beige bus. Itís nutty. When youíre on the road and youíre traveling so much, shit happens. You canít stop it. There are too many elements involved in getting from place to place.

I guess thatís what makes it so adventurous.

Brian: Itís the great American adventure.

Not to mention the gas prices.

Vince: That partís hard.

Since gas prices have gone up so high and I know that buses and vans use a hell of a lot of that shit, do you find yourselves having to economize a little? I donít think people realize how expensive it is to go on tour.

Vince: Yeah, we put in a lot. We fill up at least $200 every day. Itís very expensive. We used to tour and weíd play shows in front of five people every night and we might make $50 or less. That was five or six years ago. We wouldnít be able to do that nowadays. I donít know how bands nowadays would be able to do that kind of stuff without paying out of pocket. We went and paid out of pocket back then. We were actually able to sell the bandís merchandise to put gas in the bus. Nowadays I donít see how thatís possible.

I find myself covering a lot less shows lately and I think a lot of that is because there arenít that many people coming through.

Brian: Iíve heard the promoters are having a tough time getting bands. Not only bands but kids that come out to the shows.

Itís like am I going to drive all the way from Oklahoma City to Dallas to see Suburban Legends and Less Than Jake.

Vince: Well, presently the kids are coming out to the shows. Itís been so awesome.

Itís kind of scary. I hope we donít wind up in a situation where people canít go out and have fun anymore because they canít afford it.

Vince: Well, I think they can. Itís just got to be different. There are always ways to have fun. It just has to be outside the scope of driving. Thereís the Internet. The Internet is always fun.

You can do concerts over the Internet.

Brian: Weíve actually done that before. We did a live broadcast from Vegas and it was a lot of fun. Itís actually part of our DVD. They actually do stuff while we were playing. We were chatting. That was pretty cool. They told us we were cool or we sucked and we would respond.

Especially when people told you, you sucked. You guys went through a lot of different band names. How did you settle on Suburban Legends?

Brian: I donít know. We had this big meeting and we decided on Suburban Legends. Before that we were just a band playing and I think the name Suburban Legends definitely steered us in a direction. Itís not as exciting as the tale about our RV.

I like the Less Than Jake one about the band being named after a dog. That rocks.

Brian: Literally weíre all from that sort of background. Weíre all from Orange County and Huntington Beach. Weíre all legends. There you go.

You guys did a lot of work with Disney. You did a lot of shows involving Disney. How did you get hooked up with that?

Vince: We still do a lot of shows with Disney. Weíre doing some when we get home in August, September, and October. We auditioned in this room. Very American Idol style. Three people sitting in chairs almost like a talent show. Three people, imagine them 50 to 100 feet away, in a gymnasium type setting. It was the back stage of Disneyland. They had us play. The one guy would walk around the table to us and say ďokay guys, we just want to hear two or three songs. Go ahead.Ē Heíd walk back to his place and then walk back and say ďall right. That was great. Do you guys know any covers? Play a cover maybe?Ē Then heíd walk back. Weíd play the cover and then heíd say ďokay, weíll talk to you guys later. Thanks for coming by. Appreciate it.Ē Somehow we got the gig.

And youíre wondering if you got the gig.

Vince: At that point there was a paid audition that we did in the park. It was a show with about 100 people. I canít remember what year. After that we did another show at downtown Disney. We did so many shows there. We did an entire summer there. We did two entire summers there. We did one summer where we were playing seven days a week, five shows a night. Then we did the California Adventure where we were a parade for an entire day. It was seven shows a day. It definitely helped us get to the point where weíre talking to you.

Thatís really cool. Itís great when you get to hook into something like that.

Vince: Oh, itís cool.

It gets your name out there.

Vince: Yeah, itís so nice to play there a lot.

Howís the tour been going so far outside of blowing up and all that?

Vince: Itís been great. The tour has been awesome. This is like a summer camp. Everybody is really nice and friendly. All the bands are really awesome. The reception from the kids has been incredible. I couldnít ask to be on a better tour. The whole band is loving it.

Itís interesting. I talk with a lot of these newer bands and theyíre always having fun and getting along. I remember back in the 80ís when I was in my 20ís and all these bands were traveling together for a whole year and they wanted to fucking kill each other.

Vince: Yeah, we havenít experienced this. I think everybody doesnít realize that everybody has their own vehicles and they have their own spots. Iím sure giving them space helps a lot. If we were with each other all the time Iím sure weíd be in each otherís neck. When youíre out on the road you have to be somewhat easy going.

Letís go down a couple of beers.

Vince: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, you know.

Itís such a big difference from back then and now. Of course you guys do shorter tours now.

Brian: Yeah, the tours are shorter than they were.

What got you interested in playing a trumpet?

Vincent: I started playing trumpet when I was in fifth grade. I switched. I was playing violin but my sister played violin and she played better than me. So I said I guess Iíll play trumpet. I started playing trumpet for a long time. I wanted to be like Miles Davis and all these jazz guys. I picked up a guitar and thought I wanted to be a blues guy and started playing guitar a lot but I always played trumpet in the band. I still play on the albums when we record them but not on this last album.

Did you think growing up that youíd be able to use that skill in an actual band?

Vincent: I wasnít sure how it was going to happen. I never really expected it. I didnít think it was going to be this kind of route. I think the main thing was because I was doing it with my friends.

Having six or seven people in your band is pretty huge.

Brian: It used to be eight. Six is a really good number right now. We had a lot of people in our band. It is tough. I think the smaller the number, the easier it is to communicate. Weíre fine with six right now.

What do you guys have planned after the tour?

Brian: Weíre going to play a couple of Disney dates. Two in August and then three in September. And then weíre doing a little short tour in October on the West Coast. So maybe weíll be touring a little bit in October.

You guys put out a record called Letís Be Friends. How is that doing?

Brian: Right now itís doing great. Weíre really independent. We basically distributed it ourselves with CD Baby so I think weíre going to have it on iTunes in about a month or two. Itís selling great on the road. Weíve been getting a great response so weíre really proud of it. Weíre really happy with the way it turned out.

Do you feel you better doing stuff on your own than if you were with a label?

Vincent: Thatís hard to say because there are certain things that we canít get to like certain marketing. Itís really hard to say. Weíre doing pretty well right now. Itís definitely hard to say. Weíve never been in that position where weíve been with a label. Weíve seen other bands on labels and they both have their pros and cons.

Are you guys looking to hook up with somebody?

Vincent: If it feels right, possibly. Weíll see. I donít know. Nobody wants to touch us.

Brian: Theyíre all scared to. They donít know what to do with us. They love us. They come out to the shows and tell us they enjoy them so much. They donít know what to do with us. Weíre too exciting for them. Thatís a good excuse, right? Better than not being exciting.

Tell me a little bit about Letís Be Friends. What went into making the record?

Brian: Letís Be Friends. We did it in two months. We wrote 24 songs in one month and then picked about 17 of them and tracked them all. We recorded them the next month and then narrowed it down to 13 after that and then put it out. Now we have it on the road with us. Itís good. It was fun. Itís like you could take every single album of ours from the last couple of years and mesh it into one album. It really showcases a lot of the stuff that weíve done over the years.

Is it hard to determine which songs are going to eventually wind up on the record?

Vincent: It is. On this one it wasnít too hard because we donít have people telling us donít put that on there or maybe you should change that. Basically it sounds like all sorts of stuff. Disco, ska, rock. There are so many different elements in it. Itís definitely an eclectic album. It wasnít actually too hard on this album. This album came together fairly easy.

I like it when I get a record that has a bit of variety on it. People are so pigeon-holed. Itís got to sound just like this.

Vincent: And if it sounds just like that then the rest of it has to be cohesively like that.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Brian: Just remember to pick up our album, Letís Be Friends. Keep an eye out for us on our fall touring. Hopefully weíll be back in the area.

Suburban Legends