Vic Victor’s upright bass is always dressed to impress. For the past few years, the front man of Koffin Kats has traveled around the country with his sticker-plastered orchestral instrument and performed hundreds of concerts. In the process, however, he damaged his beloved musical companion.
Understandably, the 28-year-old brought his upright bass to a music shop to get fixed. But aside from the standard restoration, Victor also decided to strip the instrument buck naked. Apparently, it won’t stay bare for long. “I’m putting stickers on it again,” the bandleader claims. “Anytime I have a major repair, I usually re-paint it and make it look all nice for a month … until it all gets beat up again. That upright bass has been through hell and back numerous times.”
Now, with a working upright bass dazzled in a fresh new coat of paint, Koffin Kats are ready to turn heads with their sixth full-length “Our Way And The Highway.” Throughout the 14-track offering, the Detroit, Michigan-based punk trio show immaculate songwriting growth by creating an entertaining punk cabaret inspired by the road.
Koffin Kats - "The Way of the Road"
In particular, pulsating records “A Terrible Way,” “Riding High” and the leadoff single “The Way Of The Road” are a testament to the band’s craft as the rockers elegantly weave punk’s varying sounds and melodic structures wonderfully into each individual composition while maintaining its identity.
There are many other standout efforts like “Choke,” where Victor slides some of the vocal duties to new guitarist EZ Ian, “Locket Of Sin” that details a poisonous story of two lovers, and “The Devil Asked,” which comes across as the psychobilly version of Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”
“One thing we’ve always tried to do is branch out to audiences that are not familiar with, say, the sound of the upright bass and what it can do in a punk rock band. The upright bass in modern rock will always lean towards some sort of ‘billy” -- like rockabilly, psychobilly or whatever,” Victory explains. “I am a fan of psychobilly. It was one of my favorite types of music when I was younger -- still is one of my favorite types of music. I don’t probably look at us as a psychobilly band, but we definitely help bring attention to the genre.”
This also marks the first time they recorded a full-length since the departure of original guitarist Tommy Koffin. A member since he founded the band with Victor in 2003, Tommy Koffin helped the ‘Kats grow into an international act and co-wrote their previous five studio releases.
Although the Detroit trio’s reputation was growing, he decided to hang up his guitar and call it quits at the end of 2009. “The main reason was because of our touring schedule,” Victor explains. “He’s been there since the beginning, and when you’re trying to start a normal life and thinking about having a house, a dog and a family, and stuff like that, this job right here is not the most ideal job to have.”
Koffin Kats - "Choke"
“He hit the point in his life where he couldn’t be out on the road nine months out of the year, so he just bowed out,” Victor continues. “It was actually his idea to have our buddy Ian join because Ian was a friend of ours from an earlier tour and we knew him quite while.”
Victor and drummer Eric Walls continued on with guitarist EZ Ian, and immediately dropped a split LP with 12 Step Rebels entitled “From Our Hands To Yours.” The motivation behind it was simply to have something on wax with their new member and to have something new to sell at shows. After all, they hadn’t released anything since 2009’s “Forever For Hire” two years earlier.
Due to that, and more specifically their grueling tour schedule where they flip-flop between continents, Koffin Kats are earning enough money to where they can concentrate solely on the music career.
“We finally hit the point where we’re breaking even, we’re able to pay the bills at home and support ourselves on the road,” Victor explains. “But the one reason we tour so much is not only are we gonna take advantage of the time we can while we’re young and don’t have families and stuff like that. We need to stay out on the road because if we’re not on tour, we’re not making money and that means we have to go back to normal jobs.”
"We’re paying the bills doing rock ‘n roll."
“We’ve been fortunate,” he continues. “Now we got the lockdown on Europe and the States so we can do a run of the States, then go back to Europe, come back to the States, do that again and go back to Europe. We’re definitely staying in that schedule now where we don’t have to go back our normal shitty day jobs. We’re paying the bills doing rock ‘n roll.”
Things are looking up for these ‘Kats. The punk rockers are happy with their new label home over at Sailor’s Grace Records, living comfortably off the road, excited about “Our Way And The Highway” and earning more recognition than ever before. Perhaps the only thing Victor needs to be concerned with is not damaging his upright bass. After all, he has an unforgiving knack for destroying his instrument.
“I have another upright that lives over in Europe that is equally beat up. I got it new and two days later, I already broke the neck off it and had to repair it,” Victor says with a chuckle. “It’s one thing about having that instrument. You stand still and it looks cool, but it looks way cooler if you throw it around.”
- Vic Victor – Lead Vocals/Upright Bass
- EZ Ian – Guitar/Backup Vocals
- Eric “E Ball” Walls - Drums
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