“Didn’t I see you at Werribee mental facility?” 15 minutes into my interview with THE VASCO ERA drummer, Michael Fitzgerald, he stopped midsentence as he was approached by a lady on the street trying to figure out where she knew him from. Michael, very politely, pleaded ignorance to being institutionalised, and the woman went on her way.
What happened to a vague “you look kind of familiar”?
Well, I can vouch for Michael, he didn’t seem insane – not even an ounce of angsty, tortured, penniless indie/rock artist vibe.
Regardless, a slightly loony air may be working for them with their latest single Child Bearing Hips getting heaps of air time on triple j. Interestingly, the song’s namesake originates from lead singer Sid’s body shape. “Sid’s been told for years by me and other friends he has ‘child bearing hips’ and that’s where the line came from.” There is a touch of wider social commentary at play too; “You go to a party sometimes where people try and make themselves look really intelligent, and try and pay you out because you aren’t dressed using the right gear; I guess we’re making a comment on that as well.”
Unusual for a band, the trio all live distances apart, but it’s no biggie because, “We don’t rehearse anyway,” Michael explains. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen us before, but we’re not one of those flash professional bands.”
I have seen them before, you may recall them from GTM a couple of years back, and they certainly have a stage presence. In fact they’re so engaging live, their new self-titled album aims to recreate that very energy. “It really is just us playing,” he says fondly. The emotions definitely come through, with the vibe fitting the array of track atmospheres perfectly.
“You always learn something off the people you watch,” Michael notes, and as the band has crossed paths with Wolfmother, The Hold Steady and The Black Keys as well as playing many festivals including Southbound, The Great Escape and Falls, they’ve picked up some serious skills.
Their encounter with The Violent Femmes was a lesson in professionalism, but not where the band wants to end up. “It was strange with The Violent Femmes, it was at a time when there were all these disputes going on between them about songwriting credits. They weren’t friends…it was a really awkward situation.” However Michael recalls how they pulled it together on stage. “They were still amazing,” he remembers. “We got to get on stage with them too – it really was inspiring to see how they came together.”
Good news dear reader, the boys are headed this way, co-headlining with another top Aussie band Papa vs Pretty. Canberrans have the privilege of being this tour’s cherry-popping first stop, complete with naked mud wrestling, drummers hanging from the ceiling and a bearded lady to draw you from your TV sets on a Wednesday night*.
Still thinking about the psych facility question, I asked Michael if what he was wearing was some indicator; black jeans, a tee-shirt and a “blue suit jacket thing”. Hmph. He did say he was growing his hair out and working on a beard. Perhaps it’s just in an awkward growth phase?
*This may have been fabricated at the talent’s request, and may or may not eventuate.
The Vasco Era will be playing the ANU Bar with Papa vs Pretty on Wednesday October 26. Tickets are a grand total of $21.90, through Ticketek.