Colin Johnson of Vampire Hands, plus chiaroscuro
For several years, Vampire Hands have been reaping a lion's share of critical and popular acclaim in our Siamese cities. With their 2008 release of Me and You Cherry Red ending up on multiple short lists of outstanding local releases, growing national repute, and a month long coast-to-coast sojourn in 2007 with Thunder in the Valley, they occupy the crow's nest of our musical vessel.
Colin Johnson, who shares vocal duties with Chris Beirden and percussion duty with Alex Rose, spoke to Gimme Noise about the new album, SXSW, and the advent of a local music renaissance.
Word is you've finished your next album. What's the plan? Where did you record? Tentative titles? Leaked tracks? A release date?
We're putting the finishing touches on it right now and will be totally finished up at the end of this month. It's being released in a limited vinyl edition of 200 with all handmade recycled covers (what a mouthful!) on the Secretly Canadian specialty imprint St. Ives. They've released a lot of really cool stuff by bands like Animal Collective and The Microphones, so it's pretty exciting to be in such heralded company. It will also be released digitally via itunes at the same time, so don't fret if you don't happen to get your hands on one of the records. We're calling it "Hannah in the Mansion" and is largely comprised of stuff that we wrote right after getting back from tour this fall. It was recorded in our "studio" Friendship Road and done mostly live; definitely a looser and rockin' feel than "Cherry Red." We're shooting for a May/June release date so just in time for people to burn it and cruise to it. It's a pretty cold ass sounding summer record.
Your myspace page mentions another trip to SXSW this year, followed by another US tour. Who are you touring with, where are you headed, and for how long?
-We are indeed heading down to sxsw again this year and are going to attempt at being considerably more focused and responsible than last time. Hopefully more shows too so we don't have as much free time to, uh, "network." Then from Austin we're heading out on tour with Wavves from San Diego; they just signed to Fat Possum and are awesome (see how that rhymed). We're doing the whole country again and will be out for a total of five weeks.
It seems that there is a great renaissance of Twin Cities music in the last 3 years. What's it like to be a prominent participant in what may prove to be a golden age of Twin Cities music? Why here and now?
It feels pretty great to be friends with all of the bands you love and be able to see or hang out with them on a regular basis. If this turns out to be another "golden era" I know we'd be pretty damn honored to be a part of it. Not to toot this generation's horn, but I think there are bands that haven't even begun to prove themselves yet and their best stuff is still on the way and hopefully they will be as lauded as the Replacements or Husker Du.
As for here and now, well, I think it could attributed to the fact that we're relatively isolated geographically and it really kind of fosters a different kind of attitude about creating stuff. It seems a lot of my favorite music from around here tends to exist out of time and place, and that seems very Minnesotan to me.