Generally a sound a band chooses to make reflects the location from where the band hails from or resides. Coming from a place like Kentucky, one does not associate it with dance-punk, electro or French house, but for VHS or Beta they are making the middle American state shake it with their unique sound. I first came to listen to VHS or Beta when their full length Night on Fire was released in the fall of 2004. I loved the name of the band and album and decided to give it a listen and was very impressed, from there on in I was hooked. Night on Fire became the soundtrack to my nightlife. The band's follow up 2007's Bring on the Comets was a more commercial record but very fun to listen to. I have seen the band twice, once opening for Scissor Sisters and then DJing last year at Lollapalooza and both sets were not only impressive but just the styles and passion they put into what they do emulates on stage and behind turntables. As the band works on the follow up to Bring on the Comets, I had the chance to speak with bassist Mark Palgy about the band's hometown, new album and how popular the band's post show DJ gigs have become. Check out my interview below...
1) How does a sound that is very New York City, very LA, very European come from Kentucky?
Mark Palgy: We've always loved a wide variety of music from around the world. Kentucky isn't as backward as many people think. We have great local record shops here that cater to every genre imaginable. So things like french house singles were available as well as indie rock and other underground things.
2) What were your biggest inspirations in wanting to create such a diverse style of music being where you are from?
MP: We didn't consider where we came from to be such a huge factor. We just discovered music together that we thought was very exciting and decided to pursue it full time.
3) It has always seemed that DJing plays a big role in the band during downtime or when you are on the road. Why is this?
MP: We began DJing in wherehouse parties. After many years we began getting national and international interest in our DJing (when the band started to have a strong buzz). We feel that the night doesn't have to end once the band stops. In fact, most kids need to take the partying even later into the night. If they want to hear us DJ, then that is a compliment as well.
4) I have read that VHS or Beta have been in the studio, what can you tell us about the new material?
MP: We are recording singles for release by the summer. All I can say is that it will be very electronic, fun, and aimed DIRECTLY for the dancefloor.
5) All of your albums; Le Funk, Night on Fire and Bring on the Comets are all unique in their own way, yet so similar. How do you decide what to change and what to keep when recording in order to have the music and material as a whole be different, yet still sticking to the formula that is truly yours?
MP: We like what we like. If it ends up being what you described above, then it's just from sticking to what we love.
6) In the beginning you used to tour with The Scissor Sisters. Did you ever pick up anything from them and their fans while on the road?
MP: Their fans were wonderful. The band was wonderful. We picked up many amazing memories and friends.
Thanks to Mark for the interview! I look forward to the new album!
(Above: Video for "You Got Me," from Night on Fire / Below: Video for "Can't Believe a Single Word," from Bring on the Comets)