Interview: Viet Cong’s Scott Munro on broken bones, recording in barns, and lessons learned in previous bands
Merging a vintage style of post-punk with abrasive noise and distortion along with a tinge of ’60s-era psychedelia, Calgary quartet Viet Cong have been making quite a name for themselves with both spectacular live performances and jagged-edged releases. Earlier this year Viet Cong released their pressure-packed self-titled debut via Jagjaguwar, a record that was able to keep the focus on the music despite some publicity detours into the quartet’s controversial moniker.
In Boston with the frequency’s of the NHL’s Flames, Viet Cong play the Sinclair in Cambridge Tuesday night (June 16), so Vanyaland had a chat with guitarist and synthmaster Scott Munro (popularly known as Monty in some circles) about the band’s crazy performance at March’s SXSW, making their self-titled debut in a barn, going analog, and all sorts of other shenanigans.
Rob Duguay: This past March at SXSW, you guys had a performance that left people talking with drummer Michael Wallace playing the entire set one-handed while his other hand was wrapped in a sling. How did Michael injure the hand and were you guys prepared at all for playing with a one-armed drummer or was it very spontaneous?
Scott Munro: He broke it on my birthday by hitting it on the floor tom rim. We didn’t actually realize that it was broken until the day of the first SXSW show. We literally thought that we were going to have to cancel the rest of the tour until about five minutes before we started. Wallace just said, “I think I can play with one hand” and we went for it!
During the making of Viet Cong’s self-titled debut last year the band recorded the album in a studio converted from a barn. What made you guys pick such a unique place to create your first full-length?
Mainly it was our friend Graham who co-produced the record with us that suggested it. He’s recorded a few other records there and thought it would suit the project well, it was a great space to get work done but also live in too.
Was there analog equipment being used during the recording & producing process? You can definitely notice a vintage sound throughout the album. If so, what do you think are the advantages that analog has over digital when it comes to the audio quality of a record?
Yup, at my studio we used a Fostex 8 track tape machine and at the barn we used a Studer 24 track one. I personally like analog mainly because you’re listening to the music instead of looking at it on a screen.
Viet Cong rose from the ashes of a breakup that both Matt Flegel and Wallace were a part of in Women. What was the transition like going from the demise of one band into starting another a few years later?
It wasn’t really a thing because we’d done a bunch of stuff in between that. Although all the touring that we’d done definitely helped with knowing what not to do in this band.
What does Viet Cong have planned for the rest of 2015? Can we expect any new music next year?
Mostly we’re just touring this year but we’re headed into the studio in a few weeks to try to record something new. Hopefully we’ll have some new songs to start playing live too, we’ve been playing the ones on this record for a while.