Seattle punk-rockers Vendetta Red enjoying major-label treatment
Seattle Times staff reporter
When last we checked in with Zach Davidson, he revealed he and his Vendetta Red bandmates were so committed to their music, they would sometimes go hungry, food-banking it to fill their growling bellies. Now, he's homeless ... although his living situation is by choice, as his Seattle band has been touring so much, he spends most of his time on the road.
"We live in our van, mostly," Davidson said last week from Boise, where the Warped Tour began. Vendetta Red was back in Seattle in May, but not long enough for Davidson to get his own place.
"I usually crash with Justin (Cronk, the VR guitarist) — he lives in Capitol Hill — because I'm a total freeloader."
He's also been freeloading off Epic Records, which is footing the bill for a big touring bus — a big step up from the van, even if VR is sharing the motel-on-wheels with fellow Warped band Vaux.
Today, Epic hopes its investment in Vendetta Red starts to pay off, as copies of "Between the Never and the Now" arrive in record stores around the country. (While it's being touted as a "debut," Vendetta Red released an album with many of the same songs on Seattle's tiny Loveless Records in 2000.) Epic seems to be high on the band, pushing the album with an ad on MTV.
After an aggravating wait for the long-completed record to be released ("It's very taxing — all you can give people is EP's. They're like, 'Man it's only got four songs!' "), things seem to be lining up quite nicely for Vendetta Red, which is getting the full major-label treatment:
• Big summer festival tour? Check — Warped, hitting more than 40 cities between now and August, stopping at the Gorge on July 5.
• MTV video? Check — "Shatterday," which has played on MTV and MTV2. Footage for it was shot April 1 at Graceland, which Davidson said was a shaky show. "I wasn't singing that well because I'd done so much caffeine — me and Joseph (Childres), our drummer, did liquid caffeine shots. My voice was, like, quivering — it was great but I don't recommend doing it before going on stage. We're caffeine freaks, but we kind of went too far that time."
• Buzz press? Rolling Stone called the Vendetta Red single an "awesomely huge singalong, which is like Fugazi invading the Top Forty." Vendetta Red made Revolver's "Bands to Watch in 2003" list, Alternative Press said the band "serve up a wicked wicked power-rock punch," and CMJ was even more glowing: "The Seattle band's third full-length is the perfect amalgamation of rock's majesty, emo's reflection and punk's insolence, encompassing a dizzying dynamic range."
So you can see why Vendetta Red is pumped about its Seattle record-release show, a free concert at 5 p.m. Friday in the Tower Records parking lot (500 Mercer St., near Seattle Center).
In the past two years, Vendetta Red has broken out of Seattle clubs to play more than 40 states. The band has maintained its original lineup of Davidson, Erik Chapman, Cronk, Michael Vermillion and Childres — who once lived together in a two-bedroom apartment.
"We're all the same members, but we're a lot dirtier," Davidson cracks. "We're a lot tighter — we're getting pretty damned good, we're doing so many different things."
Vendetta Red usually plays a short, 30-minute set on the festival tour. For its homecoming/record release show, Davidson hopes to go at least twice that long. In addition to the potential-hit "Shatterday," the dark mini-epic "Seconds Away," "Caught You Like a Cold" and other material from the new album, he plans to sing new songs "Gloria" and "The Great Castration."
Davidson and the Vendetta Red core moved from Central California to Seattle five years ago, and now feel deeply rooted here, proud to be part of the Seattle music scene. Asked what local bands he likes, the Roger Daltrey-esque singer quickly rattles off a list: "You ready? Himsa, Pris, The Lashes, Ruby Doe, the Blood Brothers (also recently signed to a big label), the Catheters, Pretty Girls Make Graves, the Postal Service ... there's so many bands. It's a great town to be from."
Though there will be great temptations to party it up on the summer tour, Davidson is trying to be responsible — for fear of ruining his voice.
"Now that I have the money to, I try to see this operatic (voice coach) in L.A. whenever I can — he's very good at that, how to preserve your voice. ... When your voice goes, it's like losing your penis. ... If a singer loses his voice because he's been partying too much or doesn't take care of it, he ruins it for the whole band, and they hate him."
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