L.A. has always been a hot bed for music. Past are the glory days of Hair metal, however, Vie Jester is blazing new sonic paths.
Los Angeles, CA trio, Vie Jester, recently released their new EP, Etches In Aether. Cliff, Kyle, and Jaime sat down for a month or two for us and a few very soul searching questions. Follow National Rock Review as we hold their feet to the fire on the new album, biker bars, and the evil camel spider!
NRR: The new release, Etches In Aether, tell me about how it came about and what it means to the band?
Cliff Conway: Etches In Aether is our band’s second professionally recorded EP. We got the opportunity to work with a local recording college to record multiple songs as a workshop for the school. We tracked everything there and finished the remainder of the album at our usual studio, Revolution 9 Studios in Hollywood, CA. This album was the natural progression of our sound that we have been developing for over a decade. We’re happy the way it came out, and we still want to grow on our next album which is going to be done next year sometime.
NRR: You came together from friendship and in-laws. What is the dynamic like between the three of you as far as being in the band together? And how did the name come about, is there anything special behind it?
Kyle Guerrero: Cliff and I were school friends from a very young age so the musical dynamic we share is almost precognitive. Jaime has been family since the earliest VJ demos and is very in-tune with our style. The challenge we all have right now is trying to step outside of our usual patterns to create music that is uniquely accessible, while still holding weight to us as artists. As for the name, Vie Jester, it is a social commentary similar to Rage Against the Machine or System of a Down. Vie means to compete against higher opposition, and Jester is that wise comedian who acts like a fool to get away with saying things that you normally couldnâ€™t. In the end itâ€™s all about raising awareness and not being afraid of being politically incorrect.
NRR: You are starting to make a name for yourselves in the LA area. For those that don’t have the SoCal scene down, give me how you see your style and, what are the influences that gave you your musical vibe?
Cliff Conway: The style I usually describe as alt-rock/metal. We are on the cusp of many genres, all being heavy-ish rock. There are many bands in the LA rock scene that are hard to pigeonhole. There’s no distinct LA rock sound right now, but there are surprisingly a lot of heavy bands around in it. Here are a few of our influences: Tool, Alice In Chains, Meshuggah, and even jazz fusion of the 70s! The list could be hundreds of artists long.
NRR: Take a minute and go through how the band writes. Is it one person doing the lion’s share or does the process involve everyone from the very beginning?
Cliff Conway: Most songs start with an idea that Kyle comes up with. He frequently brings forth a handful of sleek and unique riffs. We’ll tailor a song around that and the rhythm technicalities and feels come shortly after. Many different vocal melodies are experimented with until one stands out and satisfies us. There’s no one set way/blueprint when we write, but over time, you get familiar with different processes and avenues. We have become quite good at refining ideas into complete songs in my opinion.
NRR: Tell me about the EP versus LP problem. Was it a question of having enough songs or simply and purely about the difference in money?
Kyle Guerrero: We record EPs for their effectiveness. Cost, time, material, and listener attention are all factors. The main idea is no different than demo tapes: you want a product to make some money with but one that wonâ€™t kill you to give away to people who can network it. And if thatâ€™s the case, why spend money recording 12 songs when someone only needs to listen to half of the first track before they decide they love it or hate it?
NRR: You guys aren’t new to the road and touring. What band or artist would you drop everything for to see a tour with them and why?
Cliff Conway: Man, there are 100s! Opening for a band like Queens of the Stone Age looks like it would be fun. Just the first one that popped in my head. Or a reunited Led Zeppelin! Whooaa, that’d be sweet!
NRR: What has been the hardest lesson to learn firsthand for the band since you started?
Kyle Guerrero: Networking is everything. While it is true that the cream always rises to the top, there still has to be a connection for good art to get recognized. Fans are always the most important, but itâ€™s the promoters and producers that can really give you the big pushes.
NRR: Every band will collect stories over the course of time and touring. Are there any Spinal Tap/hilarious moments that come to mind that you would share with a few thousand readers?
Jaime Salas: We played a show in Lancaster, CA; a little biker bar called, The Trap. We got the attention of the one and only, some local named, Macho, who was front row early in the set! He shouted requests DURING original songs, and told us each excitedly to “Take Off!” on our instruments exclaiming “You Cold, You Foul!”. It caught on! We all quote Macho now! We played a two and a half hour set that ended in a karaoke takeover by some crackhead and his nice mother. YOU FOUL! That’s not really Spinal Tap-ish, but you do meet some memorable people on the road.
NRR: Which would you rather have, one record that goes down with the Nevermind’s and Appetite for Destruction’s that are monumental releases and break up, or a long string of good records that only have moderate success but stay together as a band for many years and why?
Cliff Conway: Well I’d rather have a combination of both with out the breakup part! Is that cheating the question? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to have a band break up because Vie Jester means to much to all of us. But I definitely wouldn’t want to kill myself after a heroine binge. And also, I wouldn’t want Kyle to go solo with 2 other guys we never knew and take 20 years to make a new “Vie Jester” album.
NRR: You get the dream letter from an adult beverage company wanting to sponsor you. What is the spirit of choice for the band and why?
Kyle Guerrero: This is probably the best question Iâ€™ve ever been asked about the band, hypothetical or not! Without a doubt, Old Rasputin. Each of us loves dark beer, and nothing is darker than that mystic dude on the bottle with the lazy eye and creepy hand trying to hypnotize you into thinking youâ€™re okay to drive home or start talking to the old redhead biker chick at the end of the bar.
NRR: What creepy crawly bug/animal will make one of three grown men scream like a school girl until it has been removed forcefully from the scene?