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Interview- July 2005

            The triumphant-psychedelic-rock-polka scene never had it so good. Its newest (and only) spokesmen, Seattle rockers Vendetta Red, continue to grace Sony’s Epic Records with their self-proclaimed genre and a full-length album due in late August.

            We’ve caught up with this promising quintet’s frontman Zach Davidson, a young Roger Daltrey’s spitting image with classic mic-swinging abilities to match.


The Dominant Allele: A quick background for those new to Vendetta Red, please.

Zach Davidson: We started in 1998, and we were all heavily into drugs, especially acid. We kept writing music and practicing in the basement. When we started writing good songs, we quit doing the acid. Eventually our sound got better and better, and here we are today.



            But that’s only an abbreviation of the band’s seven-year saga. The unabridged version includes numerous full-lengths and EP’s, two record deals with Loveless Records and Epic Records, respectively, and enough lineup changes to declare the fact that Davidson is the only original member left. Bassist Michael Vermillion and Justin Cronk jumped on the bandwagon in 2000, and current drummer Burke Thomas joined the crew in 2004. Other musician swaps also ensued.


TDA: How did you feel about the lineup changes—replacing Erik [Chapman] with Leif [Andersen] on guitar and keyboard, and parting ways with Joseph [Childres, former Vendetta Red drummer]?

Davidson: Really good! We’ve finally reached a lineup of fantastic musicians, and our sound is our best so far.


TDA: Why did Erik leave so suddenly?

Davidson: He just didn’t want to tour anymore.


TDA: Are there any hard feelings?

Davidson: Not at all! We’re still really good friends with him.



            And there was no better time to replace a guitarist/keyboardist suffering from chronic tour exhaustion. With a 40-plus strand of dates across the U.S., Vendetta Red’s July-September headlining tour with Bayside and Schoolyard Heroes will proceed with great fanfare.

            The lengthy escapade is the proper strategy to promote the group’s upcoming disc “Sisters of the Red Death” due August 30th; it’s a concept album and the band’s first release with all-new tracks under Epic’s nurturing wing.



TDA: Please explain the story the album tells, in a nutshell.

Davidson: It’s about a woman named Gloria who organizes an army of women to take over the world. (Pause.) Yeah, that’s about it.




TDA: That’s an awfully small nutshell.

Davidson: Okay, you want a bigger one? Gloria was born in a nuclear holocaust, and she has certain powers. She can fly, castrate men with her mind, and she turns women into harpies. [Note from TDA: A harpy is a mythical, undesirable creature that is half woman and half vulture.] She organizes this army of women to take over male power figures and drive men to the brink of extinction. Her goal is to form this new age of women holding the power and authority.


TDA: That sounds pretty intense. What made you choose this theme?

Davidson: The album pretty much wrote itself, actually. It’s a societal and political reflection in response to the judgments and what have you made by male authoritative figures today. It would be great to see how women in power could change these mistakes for the better.


TDA: In conjunction with the world domination theme, you get to rule one country in today’s society. Which one and why?

Davidson: I would choose America. If I were in charge, I would certainly pinpoint problems and errors. I would find someone better to take care of the country’s issues than those who do today.



            Although the record’s content applies to modern issues, its general idea originates from a Japanese cult from the 1700’s. Gloria and her minions’ saga emanates from this central focus, and links past to present with a grand societal jihad.

A concept album such as “Sisters of the Red Death” is often considered risky for album sales, but the members of Vendetta Red (How can this be put metaphorically?) march to the cadence of their own world dominatrix.

            Determined patrons of three separate California studios, the group entered the first recording facility exhausted by the search for a producer but reassured by their improvements and eager to impress the folks at Epic.


TDA: Were there any confrontations in the studio?

Davidson: You know, there never were any. By the time we entered the studio, we were confident in ourselves and what each other was going to do.



This confidence is especially evident in the band members’ down-to-earth attitudes. Before and after their set at nearly every stop on a tour, no matter their order in the show, the boys of Vendetta Red can be found selling merch at their table and graciously accepting fans with (yes, literally) open arms.

            Similar to their female spokesmonster, the talented quintet is rapidly gaining legions of devotees.


TDA: I heard that the dedicated Vendetta Red fans have formed a new street team. How’s that working for you?

Davidson: Our friend Sam started the team for us, and it’s gone pretty well so far. We’ll have to see after the headline tour!


TDA: What’s the strangest thing a fan has said to you?

Davidson: Sometimes people ask me to marry them. It’s especially weird when it’s another guy, because, well, I’m not gay.


TDA: How do you respond to fans when they ask you that?
Davidson: I tell them to get in line! (Laughs.) Nah, I just tell them I already have a girlfriend.


TDA: Interesting. Do kids ever bring you presents?
Davidson: Yeah, they bring us stuff! They especially like to bring us cookies for some reason. We’re so lucky.


TDA: With all this success that’s sure to snowball, where do you see yourself in ten years?

Davidson: Hopefully still on the road, headlining 1,000-people clubs and just having a great time.


TDA: To conclude this episode, I’d like to ask a relatively random question out of pure curiosity. Do you still forget the words to “Por Vida”?

Davidson: (Laughs.) Yes, yes I do. It’s one of our oldest songs and it’s a rare moment when I get all the way through.



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