These creatures of the night aren’t thirsty for blood. Rather, they come out of hiding regularly on stages across Winnipeg with their grungy, oft-fuzzy dirty dance riffs thirsty for one thing only – sweat.
“We like to get people dancing. I feel like we’re doing our job right when we’re sweaty within the first couple of songs,” said VAMPIRES frontman David Dobbs over the phone from a courthouse in Toronto last week. But don’t worry, he’s not in trouble with the law: Dobbs is a respite aid for a prominent Manitoba lawyer.
The death-pop duo, rounded out by co-frontman Josh Butcher, started hashing out their off-tempo guitar ‘n’ drums riffs in the early days of 2009 after Dobbs caught the fever of Los Angeles’ energetic music scene.
“I went down to L.A. for Christmas in 2008 and saw a bunch of groups playing there,” recalled Dobbs, 24. “I came back with this great feeling on how to make music.”
It didn’t take long before he and Butcher played their first gig – a fast and energetic set that saw them both switch instruments halfway through the show – in the basement of their Wellington mansion under the moniker VAMPIRES.
“We just thought ‘vampires’ was a real great word that encapsulates a lot of feelings. Vampires have an unwilling centre of attention; they know how to conduct themselves,” Dobbs said. “In our present day and age, we’re all consuming to live. Sometimes we can’t see our own reflection because life gets in the way. The name is just a big word to sum up life, ironically.”
Packing equal parts meaty riffs and abrasive growl, the band’s sound and minimalistic approach to music is not only restricted to their economic setup. Since their inception, VAMPIRES has handed out home-recorded singles at all their shows, featuring custom handmade CD art. But in the spring of this year that may change. That’s when VAMPIRES hopes to release their first proper EP.
Recorded with producer Jeffrey Patteson at his studio – the Home Street Recording Company – the five-track disc will be the result of experimenting with multiple guitar amps at once and trying to capture the band’s raw, unrefined sound.
But in the meantime, the band will keep on honing their trademark live performance.
“We like to come out strong, but somewhere in the set we’re going to drop it down and make you sway back and forth,” said Dobbs. “And then we’re going to see if we can get you sweating with us.”
Published in Volume 64, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 11, 2010)