AARON LEE TASJAN

1.0 – Can you describe the Enemies debut EP in 10 words or less?

Drink bottle of cough syrup, light self on fire, relax.

2.0 – What’s your favorite track on it? 

“Summer Of Legs” because it makes me think of spiders which makes me think of gummy spiders which are SUPER fun to eat.

3.0 – The recordings include several members of the Madison Square Gardeners, is it a continuation of the band but with a new name? 

No. The MSGrs will play again at some point I’m sure.  I play with a lot of the same guys because I think they’re the best musicians out there.  That’s the way it was in the Gardeners for sure.  I was just inspired to do something else musically this time around, that’s all. The music is different…But I’m not really the type of guy who says, “oh I’m going to write this type of song or that type of song,” I just write whatever sound I’m hearing in my head at that moment. I like to play all kinds of different music.  To me, it’s my guitar playing and weird lyrics that tie it all together.

 4.0 – In this day of meta tags and keywords, how important are titles in helping to define a bands image and audience?

Probably somewhat important…I don’t know though…to me it always starts with the music, the music’s gotta be good and it needs to really grab someone’s attention.  I mean is someone ultimately going to become a fan of my music because I played with the Dolls or Pat Green covered one of my songs or BP Fallon and I opened for The Kills or had our song produced and played on by Jack White? I don’t think so.  Maybe somebody hears about you that way or something but it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll ultimately like your music.  People are going to like what they like and you have to make your music in the face of that.  It’s not a bad thing really.  Music is magic and you can’t explain it to someone…not even with a nifty meta tag or keyword.

5.0 – What led you to pick up the guitar originally?

My family moved to Southern California when I was kid and I wasn’t allowed to start school for a while…I’m not sure why, I just wasn’t. We were grocery shopping and I saw a sign in the next door music store window that said, “Guitar Lessons: First Lesson Free.” So that seemed like a pretty good idea.  I loved the guitar so much.  I’ve no idea why, I was just drawn to it.  I bought a guitar a couple weeks before my first lesson…I wrote a song on it that day, recorded it on a tape deck and sent it in the mail to a friend of mine.  I suppose more than anything else, I wanted to write songs…then I heard Buddy Guy from my Dad and thought, “I need to learn how this thing really works.”  I should note that I still have no idea, but luckily no one ever asks me. :)

6.0 – Do you care about amps?

Um sure. I mean, I like to play through one that sounds good.  I’m not a “gear head” or anything.  I like things to be simple…I like Marshalls, Vox’s and Fenders.  I think if you’re doing anything, you should give a fuck.  Not caring in order to appear cool is like making sure you remember to take your swimming trunks to Christmas dinner.

7.0 – What’s your worst stage nightmare?

I don’t really have one.  To me, getting to play my songs for people is a dream and it’s always a sweet one.

8.0 – What’s your favorite guitar solo of all time?

Well, there are a few…almost any solo Luther Perkins played certainly, George Harrison’s solos are always great…I think Gary Clark Jr is really a fantastic new guitarist whose going to go far.  If I’m going to say favorite of all time though, I’d have to go with J Mascis’s solo from “On The Way” off of Dinosaur Jr’s record Where You Been? I just love it so much. It’s very primal and it’s imperfections are enhancements.  Just simple, brilliant, blood and guts twangerama.  My favorite!

9.0 – How did you hook up with The New York Dolls? 

Years ago I was playing in a band that BP Fallon was managing…co-writing most of the material with the singer and playing lead guitar.  BP brought Steve Conte from the Dolls down to see us and Steve and I really hit it off personally.  Anyways, I’d left that band about a year and a half later and one day the phone rings and it’s Steve and he’s saying, “My wife and I are having our first child and I don’t want to miss it, would you fill in for me with The Dolls?”  It was pretty simple really but man did I feel lucky.  Here was this guy who could’ve called anyone he wanted in the whole world and they naturally would’ve jumped at the chance and he called me.  It was a pretty heavy gig for me at the time because I was only 23 or 24.  It was my first real gig and SO much fun.  David and Syl are just two of the very best guys out there and I was honored to work with them.

10.0 – If you could have a one word rock star nickname what would it be?

Kevn, spelled just like that. With no “i.” If you know, you know.

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tafka VINCE

1.0 – It strikes me that the title to your latest CD, “On Display”, kinda sums up your approach; in your face. Is that fair? 

That’s fair. When we play or people here the music I want it to be noticed. Love it or hate it, but not background noise you can ignore.

2.0 – One may hear more New York or Detroit than Chicago in your rock, who are your musical heroes? 

Good ear you have. Big influences, The New York Dolls, The Ramones (70’s NYC punk in general), Stooges, MC5, Bowie, T Rex and coming back home the earliest influence is still Cheap Trick. The city of Chicago is a big influence. I love my hometown, the city and it’s music and people keep inspiring me.

3.0 – What track on the new disc are folks reacting to most? Is it your favorite too? 

“Laser Beam Precision” gets people dancing, always a good sign. “O” is another one of my favorites; it’s all drama and suited for the stage (like me).

4.0 – How do you write? does it start with a riff most often?

That varies. Sometimes I strum some chords or play a riff and build from there. Other times I have a phrase that is a great opening line or chorus hook and figure out how to build on that and add the music

5.0 – Who is playing and singing on the disc and what are your guys plans as a band?

On the record, Me-vocals & guitar, Lauren Kurtz-vocals, Brian Chinino-drums, Chris Geisler-bass with guests Ed Anderson(Backyard Tire Fire)-guitar, Aaron Lee Tasjan(Madison Square Gardeners)-guitar, Vee Sonnets(The Sonnets)-keys & guitar. Produced By Tony SanFilippo. Live we have Christopher Elam on lead guitar.

The record recently came out online and we should be receiving the LP’s soon, so we plan on playing as much as we can, wherever we can. Hoping to hit NYC again before the end of the year and possibly down to SXSW in the spring. Also trying to figure out how to get someone to pay for to go play in Europe.

6.0 – When did you settle on the moniker “The Artist Formally Known As Vince”? Do you feel it affords you more freedom to not be ‘Vince’?

I’ve had the name since the mid 90’s. I needed a name to put on a flyer for a solo show around the same time the other guy, whose name rhymes with mine, was using formerly and a symbol. Thought it would be funny yet a homage to one of my favorite musicians. I quickly made the adjustment to “Formally”, I liked the play on words, and it stuck. So I have actually stayed Vince all these years!

7.0 – What is the best guitar ever made for rock & roll and what is your favorite stage guitar?

I am partial to Les Paul’s especially Junior’s.

On stage I tend to play a Gibson Flying V that I had customized with a single vintage P-90 so it sounds like my Junior.

8.0 – Do you still believe in radio?

I do. I still listen to it in the van. I think you can still find new music on radio but you need to go to the college and community stations or listen to specialty shows on commercial radio to hear the interesting new music.

9.0 – Any new Chicago clubs or bars area rockers should check out?

LiveWire, is a cool new small rock club. It’s in my neighborhood, Avondale. A couple musician friends of mine run it. They like the Rock N Roll music. I love playing there. Late Bar is great for late night drinks. If out on a Tuesday night stop by Lucky Number, I sling the drinks and pick the tunes.

10.0 – It’s your ‘Dream Gig’…… who are you opening for? when? where and why? 

If I dream it would be going back in time to downtown NYC to open for The New York Dolls at Max’s Kansas City or The Ramones at CBGB’s, I think we would fit in the glam and early punk days, or close to home and open for Cheap Trick at The Brat Stop. Even these day I dream of opening for Cheap Trick or The Dolls anywhere anytime.