By Michael Lara
“The world ‘talkin’’ ‘bout the world belongs to you. It belongs to yo. The world. I know I know I know… Belongs to me… It belongs to me.” Okay, 1979’s disco classic, “Ready For The 80’s,” from the Village People is not what you would immediately associate with Slough, UK’s emerging Viva Brother, but hey now, hey now, both were on the same bill with countless others for Creativeman’s epic multi-genre and generational Summer Sonic 2011, and seamlessly and buoyantly delivered the same embracing, no fear message. While in different ways and from vastly different generations and more, both equally delivered their magic on those gathered to drop off all that’s been weighing them down, and to seize the moment and moments.
Viva Brother (credit: Pennie Smith)
Prior to both of their weekend sets (VB doing both days in Tokyo), I was able to catch a few minutes with Viva Brother’s Frank Colucci (drums), Lee Newell (guitar and vocals), Josh Ward (bass) and Sam Jackson (guitar) in the Universal Music offices in Tokyo. We covered a lot of territory in our short time and discovered together the inner truth of this brotherhood who are determined to sail all seas positively and hopeful to return to Japan this December:
THIRSTY: So, going down the line, alright…do you guys like the Muppets?
All: Yep. Love the Muppets!
THIRSTY: Okay, okay, so state your name and favorite Muppet character.
Frank: Oh, um, my name is Frank and my favorite Muppet character is Animal
(drawn out calmly and coolly).
THIRSTY: Animal, okay.
Frank: On the drums…(slight smile)
Lee: Well, he’s the drummer (eyebrows up).
Lee: Um, I’ll tell you who my favorite Muppet is, my name is Lee and it’s the little guy that doesn’t really make much noise, “me-me-me-me-me.”
THIRSTY: Oh, oh, Beaker!
Lee: Beaker! (Excitedly)
Frank: With the science guy…
Lee: Yeah. (Big grin)
Viva Brother (credit: Pennie Smith)
THIRSTY: Yeah, he always gets blown up.
Lee: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! He’s my favorite one.
Josh: I’m Josh, but I don’t remember a single name of any of the Muppets, I’m sorry.
Lee: Ah, come on, Miss Piggy?
Josh: Well, yeah.
Sam: What about the frog?
Josh: Ah, alright, I’ll go with the frog. (sheepishly smiling)
Sam: I’m Sam and my favorite is Gonzo with the curvy nose.
THIRSTY: Oh, yeah.
Sam: My cat’s name is Gonzo.
THIRSTY: Oh, you guys are proficient with the chopsticks!
Josh: I’m actually not that good with them, but I’m trying to get the best.
Lee: Josh used to be a stabber, but we’ve been trying to get him to be a grabber. He’s been killing people (big grin and laugh with all).
THIRSTY: So, we’ve got only a few minutes. I know you guys have to get some eats and everything else.
Lee: Eatsy! Eatsy! Sorry about this (grinning).
THIRSTY: No, no. So, this is a big lineup and I don’t know how Creativeman does it, rotating Osaka and Tokyo.
THIRSTY: It’s a massive undertaking. Now, what I want you to do is…they’re all sorts of items in here and each one of you pick an item. We’ll just go down the line here. You pick the item and I have the question for it.
Frank: Oh, cool.
Sam: I’m intrigued.
Frank: Am I allowed to look?
THIRSTY: No, don’t look, just pick whatever.
Lee: This is what makes interviews fun. Hello!
THIRSTY: There we go!
Frank: For Bauhaus Lovers.
THIRSTY: This is a limited edition (book). A friend of mine works in publishing here. And, of course, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus is playing Summer Sonic.
Lee: That’s so cool.
THIRSTY: So Frank, if you were to have any book on your bookshelf…
THIRSTY: About a band, whatever, what would you want and why?
Frank: Well, I dunno…I’ve got a really cheesy answer for this question, but I could think of a cool answer.
Lee: What was the question again?
Frank: If I could have any book on my bookshelf, only one, which would it be and why? Um, well, I could… okay, I just read a book called The Alchemist, which is really good. It’s sort of made me look at the world in an entirely different way.
Lee: He’s the modern day Plato (wide smile).
Frank: And it’s to make the best of bad situations. Achieve what you want to achieve. So, yeah, no, I’m going to go with that one for now, because it was good.
THIRSTY: And writers are notorious drunks, as you know (all having a laugh), so what beverage would you have while reading it?
Frank: I’m partial to a White Russian actually (slight smile).
THIRSTY: Yeah! The Dude drink…THE BIG LEBOWSKI…
Frank: Oh, yeah, or either that or a gin and tonic for contrast. It depends on which mood I’m in.
Lee: It depends on if you want to lose weight or gain weight. (Smirking)
Frank: Yeah. Alright cool. Thank you.
THIRSTY: Okay, next one!
THIRSTY: What’s he going to pick?
Lee: I got…
THIRSTY: Ah…the Fuji Rock documentary…
Lee: Tents & Bugs & Rock N Roll - 2009.
Frank: I’d like to watch that!
Lee: That’d be wicked. Is that in English or in Japanese?
THIRSTY: It’s in English. My mate…actually, I can put you in touch with him…send me a mail and he’ll send you a copy.
Lee: Really? That’d be amazing!
THIRSTY: Jon. He’s a good friend of mine, so what documentary would you want to see on who, where and why?
Lee: Good question. Let me have a think about this…
THIRSTY: Do the Elvis with the chopsticks!
Lee: Do the Elvis? (Laughing) Um, what documentary would you like to see? Oh God, this is one of those questions where I’ll answer and then two days later I’ll say it’s like this. Alright, okay, I’ll tell you something that is intriguing which would never happen is a documentary, a real documentary on Area 51 and stuff like that, you know.
Frank: That’s a really good idea.
Sam: That’d be wicked.
Lee: I’d like to read what happened on 9/11 and stuff like that you know. A documentary about going through all the files, you know, to get the actual truth.
THIRSTY: Well, some people think about that with what happened with the earthquake and tsunami.
THIRSTY: There’s a lot of speculation about how the hell that happened and that explosion that suddenly happened in Fukushima.
Lee: Yeah. Someone else mentioned that because the government have kept it real quiet, haven’t they? The news coverage is really quiet.
THIRSTY: Yeah, they have.
Lee: Yeah, so maybe we could swing by there.
Sam: And go down there with your friend who made this documentary (director Jon Helmer), we could make some documentaries of our own (eyes determined).
THIRSTY: Yeah, yeah.
Lee: I’m sure, I’m sure that the governments around the world will be more be than happy to give away all of their secrets (cheeky grin and eyes looking up).
THIRSTY: Yeah! (Wink and a laugh with all) Alright. Next!
Josh: I want to go for something soft.
THIRSTY: Ah, yes, Samurai Blue! Of course, Nadeshiko, they, of course, won the women’s World Cup and Samurai Blue (Japan’s men’s national team), they beat South Korea the other night. I’m a big football fan myself.
THIRSTY: So, “Spirit of the Samurai”…what’s the spirit of Viva Brother and yourself?
Josh: What’s the spirit of us?
Josh: Um, I dunno really… We’re just always positive, you know. Failure has never been an option with us ever.
Frank: Um, we’ve had a lot of bad luck. In a sense…
Josh: I think we know where we want to be and we’re heading in that direction, but there’s a lot of hurdles to cross.
Sam: Take the music seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Josh: Yeah. We do that as well, yeah. I said to Sam the other day, that our lives have been, like…like driving, driving up like, a bumpy volcano, but in a Bentley (all chuckling).
THIRSTY: Going in style!
Josh: It’s like the hardest thing you could possibly do in the easiest way.
Lee: In a most comfortably way…in the back of a Rolls Royce.
Frank: Where we go around is very far from a Bentley.
Josh: So basically the spirit of Viva Brother is sex and drugs and sausage rolls.
THIRSTY: So wait, what would be the sauce with the sausage rolls? Or would you have it just clean?
Lee: I’d go with Tabasco. Sam is a big, big condiment man. He has a condom pouch.
THIRSTY: So he’s Captain Condiment? (All laughing)
Lee: Yeah, exactly. His alter ego.
Josh: His alter ego.
Sam: I forgot it on this trip, but it’s pretty handy. I needed some pepper the other day and straight out of the condiments. I had some sandwich in America and thought this kind of sucks, so I had some hot sauce. Done.
Lee: And then?
Sam: It was still rubbish.
THIRSTY: Alright, last one, as I know you guys gotta go.
Lee: I’d love to stay.
THIRSTY: Now that’s the program from the first Fuji Rock I went to.
Sam: 2000, Johnny Marr & The Healers.
Sam: It says here Johnny Marr’s Healers.
THIRSTY: Yeah, it’s a mistake.
Frank: Who’s else on?
Sam: Blankey Jet City?
THIRSTY: Yeah, they’re a famous band in Japan.
Sam: And Foo Fighters, Ian Brown, Primal Scream, Elastica, Sonic Youth, Rollins Band, Toploader…
Josh: This is amazing.
THIRSTY: So, last question, for you, Mr. Condiment, Captain Condiment, what’s most essential to put into the program?
Sam: The lineup (big cheeky grin).
THIRSTY: But wait, this is perfect, what are the best condiments of a festival? Dijon mustard?
Lee: Dijon Spencer Blues Explosion!
Sam: Well, really clear stage times and just a clear schedule you know, and a nice map.
Lee: And a naked picture of the Queen...(grinning)
Sam: And a good layout of the festival. Sometimes it’s a nightmare and it’s really annoying when you can’t find a bar. And it’s really annoying when you can’t find somewhere to piss.
Frank: Lee was saying that maybe the program should be in Japanese style.
Lee: It’s a right-handed world, Josh.
THIRSTY: Ah, well gentlemen, I hate to cut this off.
Lee: So are we.
THIRSTY: But you’ve got marching orders now. Eri’s waiting (from Universal Music Japan).
Lee: Well, could you write in this interview at one point that Lee says, “I want to see a picture of the Queen Mother’s tits.”
THIRSTY: Okay. Well, definitely send me a mail and I’ll put you in touch with Jon (Helmer, the filmmaker behind Tents & Bugs & Rock N Roll - 2009).
Lee: Thanks. I love music documentaries. I’d also like to see a year with Morrissey documentary.
THIRSTY: When are you coming back?
Lee: Maybe December.
Lee: It’s looking that way.
THIRSTY: Oh, good, hopefully so.
Sam: We’re talking to those Creativeman.
Keep tabs on this brotherhood born from Slough, UK: