“I think it’s easier to do anything anywhere other than New York,” says Jared Micah, guitar/vocalist for Vomitface, who recently relocated from NYC to Toronto, Canada. “But Preetma [Singh, drums] is a Canadian-born citizen, we’ve played shows here before and we’re pretty enamoured with it as a town, as a scene, as a community. I’ve also always been antsy about New York, but we’re just grumpy people. We moved more for our personal welfare and sanity, but the band will obviously benefit – you have all those artist grants and there’s a lot more opportunity to be able to do it without having a trust fund or anything.”
If you couldn’t tell from that quote or their name, fiercely intelligent noise-rockers Vomitface – completed by bassist Keller McDivitt, and who have termed the music they make as “black surf” – are a band who very much tell it like it is. Formed almost by accident and inadvertently in 2012, they got their name before they were even a proper band, when Singh made it up on the spot after some someone asked what the musical project she was working on was called. After seeing that person’s response, the name stuck. They released a self-titled EP in June 2014, another EP, Another Bad Year, the following May, with then their debut full-length, Hooray For Me, coming out in August. Don’t be fooled by its title, though – the band are still just as dissatisfied and fed up as ever.
“Hooray For Me is actually probably more of a downer than Another Bad Year,” says Micah, “although it maybe lacks some of the desperation. That EP we wrote in a very short time and under a lot of duress at probably some of the poorest moments of our lives. Whereas for the LP we were maybe coming out of it, but it has the same kind of poor attitude in general.”
Yet Vomitface aren’t provocative without purpose. While the trio promote an attitude of nihilism both with their songs and their approach to life as people, there is, ultimately (and somewhat ironically), a point to it all. The record – which was recorded by Steve Albini – is a collection of noisy, atonal, slightly grungy songs which are a reflection of and reaction to what Micah terms the “self-satisfied and web-validated American narcissism” of millennial culture.
“It’s not very productive,” says Micah, “and I would almost promote nihilism over the self-congratulating positivity and general entitlement my generation always wants to be surrounded by. I don’t necessarily think we need to fight it with negativity, but I do feel like we need more self-awareness and self-criticism. It’d be great if America had the clarity and intellect to carry nuanced conversations about that without it having to be ‘Are you with me or against me?’ all the time. Because I don’t think, as a band, we’re pro being against anyone really. We’re more just against ideas, and I think the record really just tries to put a really ugly funhouse mirror on ourselves as far as the things we think are okay about ourselves, as well as caricatures our worst qualities. We’re not perfect and we’re not really owed anything.”
Clearly, as full of reckless abandon and punk rock pessimism their songs are, Vomitface are a band who use their music as a vehicle for their ideas – they obviously enjoy playing and creating something together, but it extends way beyond that, and serves as an increasingly valid commentary on increasingly worrisome times in the USA. More than anything else, it seeks to turn the USA’s imperialism on itself through the medium of art.
“We haven’t written a fucking manifesto or anything like that,” chuckles Micah, “but I’m American-raised and Preetma was in the country since she was 12, so there’s a lot of Americanism in it, in the sense that it’s very fascist. Like, ‘You should think like me and fuck you for not thinking like me.’ I’d love to change people’s minds about things, and we’d love to do that. I’m not sure what we’d want to change them to, however. I’m not going to be so arrogant as to say we’re spokespeople or a voice of a generation or anything like that. We’re a very humble band playing for a modest audience.”
Vomitface’s debut album Hooray For Me is out on August 26. For more information, visit their Facebook page.