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.


1.0  As an artist, what’s important to you?  Love, truth, soul.

2.0  Tell us about recording your new CD, “Something New.” I worked on it for a couple of years. Most of the time was spent thinking about it rather than doing it. In that time, I spent maybe 40 days in the studio. I wouldn’t change a thing about the CD, and I’ve never been able to say that about any of my previous recordings. This may have a lot to do with taking that time to sit with the tracks and play with them until I was satisfied. I worked through lots of material before settling on the twelve songs on “Something New.” Also, I have a great band, and I played with some really talented guest musicians. That helped a lot.

3.0  What is the title song about? Boredom, stagnation, lack of motivation. The demand for overstimulation. The need to be entertained. The feeling of being left out. My distain for pop culture. Also one of my common themes—the search for something more. I wanted it to be like “Satisfaction” for the 21st century.

4.0  What is your favorite track on the cd? My wife kept asking me to write a song about her. I avoided it for a long time because, in past relationships, this hasn’t worked out so well for me. I try for brutal honesty in my lyrics, and that can create problems. And of course, you’re measured against “Layla” or “Alison,” or “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Anyway, I gave it a shot. The result is “Lucky Guy.” I tried to explore the light and dark sides of our (or perhaps any) relationship, and I felt like lyrically, I really got to the heart of it. I think it’s a fun, but also soulful song. I love the chunky rhythm section. I love the horn section. And my wife likes it, so I am a lucky guy.

5.0  What comes first for you when writing, a lyric, a melody, a riff? Since lyrics are important to me, the first thing I get is a concept or phrase, most likely the song title or the words to the chorus. Then I build a set of changes for choruses and verses. Next I flesh out the lyrics and maybe write a bridge. I’m slow and methodical, and I might revisit the lyrics many times. I love having written a song, but I hate actually doing it. It’s painful for me and requires huge amounts of concentration and introspection. Some guys write a song in an hour. That will never happen to me. For me, it’s a grind.

6.0  How did Ed Stasium’s involvement with the project come about? Ed had worked on a project for a friend of mine and he introduced us. Ed was obviously a big time engineer/producer in the eighties and nineties, and he sort of dropped out of the New York scene, moving to Colorado and setting up a studio out there. I sent him a few songs and he liked them, so he accepted the project. Ed brought a lot to my record, and it was a privilege to work with him. I had been very close with the songs, and it was really great to let someone with objectivity (and talent) step in at that point.

7.0  Do you have a philosophy when it comes to entering the studio? Just to make sure everyone is working towards realizing the song as opposed to making a personal statement. It’s common to work with players who view verses and choruses as things to tolerate or riff through on the way to a solo. It takes maturity to look at the bigger picture, play in the spaces, and choose just the right parts to make the song work. After that, I just go for a rhythm track that’s right in the pocket. It doesn’t make much sense to build on a foundation that’s not solid.

8.0  Any secrets to nailing good lead vocal tracks for you? Whiskey. And when I record a vocal, I think of it as a journey with no road map and no set destination. I don’t think too much, I just try to dig as deep as possible, looking for raw emotion. It’s hard to describe, but I’m sort of in a low-level trance. This can be a hit or miss process. It helps to have a good engineer or producer to guide you through it, because loss of perspective is part of the trip. That may also have something to do with the whiskey.

9.0  Growing up, what artists were your biggest influences? Can you still hear them today on “Something New?”I always liked the soul singers—Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison and I tried to channel them even though I’m not in their league as a vocalist. I love 60’s music for its freedom and creativity. Love the Stones. Love Punk. I’d imagine you can hear those influences, but I could’nt tell you where. When I’m writing or recording, I don’t listen to other people’s music because it confuses me. And I’m confused enough already.

10.0  How do you react to criticism of your music? I’m sure what I’m doing isn’t for everyone, and I don’t care. It’s obvious that these days successful pop music is generally disposable, catchy shit. I try to be more than that, possibly to my own detriment. Baring your soul takes balls, and you can’t be afraid to look like a fool. I like what I’ve done. If you like it, great. If you don’t, I can live with that.