Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Night I Will Never Forget

We played Arlene's Grocery last night and had such a fantastic show. We paid a pretty penny to have the video staff at Arlene's videotape (do we say "tape" anymore when everything's digital now? Ah, I dunno) the entire performance, and I'm so glad we did. My hope is that we will have the full performance available for people at some point as a DVD, and that we have a song or two from it up on YouTube fairly soon. We had a great crowd of so many fans and friends come out, and I am so grateful to everyone who was there. The happy moshers got their thing going I think right from the first few notes of the set opener, "Jagged Cross", and although the lights are pretty dim on the audience at Arlene's, I saw bodies flying and careening into each other all night, with the occasional face emerging from the darkness with a smile that could light up the Empire State Building. It is a pretty special, amazing thing to be able to be a part of something like that, and this morning I am simply aglow.

There's no way I can some up in a few paragraphs what my journey has been like since the first Victor Bravo rehearsal in Boston in the fall of 2004. We've gone through line-up changes, recorded four records and released three so far, we've played Boston and Lowell Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and throughout the Midwest U.S.. People have come up to us personally at shows, sent us e-mails from Arizona and Hong Kong, written us MySpace messages from Kansas City and Canada, bought our CD while living in Germany. We've had more rehearsals in Allston Massachusetts, Staten Island, the Lower East Side and Midtown Manhattan than anyone could possibly count. I've had so many hours, days, weeks, months and years of fun and joy from this experience it's almost overwhelming to think about.

We're not exactly sure what the future holds for Victor Bravo at this point. I will be working on my solo musical work, and both Dan and I will be heavily involved in our new band Atomic Shotgun. We have finished recording and mixing the Victor Bravo record after Hammer Meets Fire, so hopefully we'll be releasing that somehow, some way in the not-too-distant future. Make sure you're on our e-mail list (you can as always sign up at and we'll be sure to keep you posted.

Before I go, I want to take some time (I know I am legendary for my lack of brevity as a writer) to thank everyone who has made this band and all these amazing experiences over the last 6 years possible for Dan and myself. I have had more fun doing this than anything I have ever done in my life. I know none of it would be possible without Dan and myself having the courage to create music we like, and that we feel healthily proud of, the way we wanted to make it. It took us writing, recording, rehearsing, touring, promoting, keeping track of expenses, and working our day jobs to make sure we could pay for everything, in order to make the amazing thing that is Victor Bravo possible in the first place. But at the same time, none of it would have happened without the love, support, assistance and appreciation from our friends and fans. Many of our fans are people we knew before we started the band, but so many are also people we could only have met through the band. I celebrate the courage and kindness of people who took the time to listen to our music and come to our shows, and to express their appreciation for our music and how we play it. I celebrate the selflessness and generosity of everyone who lent us a helping hand, to help us make our dream of creating a kickass rock band possible.

I won't be able to mention everyone here, but I feel the need to call out many individuals who have been so important in the journey of this band. I want to thank all of the following people personally, and this public way, to in some small part express my profound gratitude to them.

My sister Kelly, the original lead singer when we were just starting out and rehearsing in Allston, Mass., for making the excitement I felt on the day of our first rehearsal possible. Dan's long-time girlfriend, and wonderful human being in her own right, Isabelle Garbani. I have to call her out especially because from day one, I'm not sure there's been anyone who has repeatedly believed in Dan's and my talent and ability, and specifically my songwriting, as Isabelle. From the very first few rehearsals, Isabelle has been a fan, a photographer, a CD package/poster/sticker/T-shirt/flier designer, an amazing sounding board for ideas and direction. She was there last night cheering us on, just as she was years ago before we had recorded a single song or played a single show. Our friend and old bandmate from college Scott Mason, who basically put "Shut Out the Sky" together for us, traveled from San Francisco to see us play in New York, and has never been more than a phone call away whenever we have needed advice or another brain to work through a challenge.

Our first two bassists, Kelly Lannen and Abby Hennesy, who allowed us to begin becoming a real band. The person I will always consider the "real bass player" of Victor Bravo, Dani Read, who wrote, rehearsed and performed with us our first seven months of shows, for bringing her energy, spirit and creativity to two "old guys" she barely knew at the start. Two more bassists, Mark Wheeler now of The Mess Around, and Suzanne Sterne of Ruby Bullet, who played shows with us while we struggled towards a new identity as a band. Our fan in Kansas City Victoria Scrivo, who found us on MySpace all on her own when barely anyone outside New York City had even heard of us, became a hardcore fan on her first listen, and has stayed in touch with us rooting us on ever since. First our fan and now our dear friend (and bandmate in Atomic Shotgun) Scott Holcomb, the first New York guy I saw at several VB shows in a row, for his undying love and support of us and our sound.

Our awesome "landlord" Pete Vassil from Ruby Bullet, who has not only rented his phenomenal rehearsal space in The Music Building in Manhattan to us two nights a week for the most reasonably rates in the city, but has helped us with technical questions, obtaining gear and equipment, and just about anything we could think of without a moment's hesitation.

Our friends in all the New York bands we have been privileged to get to know and play with - everyone in the old Don Pedro "family" - Ken "Lemon Cookie" Shadford from Runny (who also directed and co-produced the amazing video for "Binge"); Greg Gassman, Juline "J-Lo" Koken and Matt Dundas from the Whores; and George Michael Jackson and Merica Lee from The Naked Heroes.

Corynne Wilder, who we are now privileged to be bandmates with in Atomic Shotgun, but who also came to tons of VB shows, booked shows with us while she was fronting the amazing band Afterdawn, and designed the fantastic cover for Sky Full of Messages pro bono; also Steve Station and Matty from Afterdawn; Saysha Heinzman (now in The Jamies) and Ryan D'Angelo (now in No Shirt No Shoes No Dice) from Stewart; CT Tamura, Kira Leigh and Frank (now in The August Infinity) from Shadows Lie; David Obuchowski, Kenny Appell and Matt Frey from Goes Cube; Keith Bloomgarden from Redbeard, Jeff Moore and Dead Stars; Colin Simmons and Imaginary Friends; Nick Smith and Crowds and Power; Shen and Prison Pretty; CT Thomas and Paris Mancini of The Natch!, and a special thanks to Trish Naudon Thomas of The Natch!, who took amazing photos for us, and put us in touch with some great bands in the midwest to help expand our touring; Eric Richter (now in Golden City) and The 101; Jason and LD Catastrophe from Glass Doll; Jamie and Demetra; and Marla Hooch.

I wish I could write a special sentence for each person that follows, but sadly space and time won't allow it. So I'll go by group here:

The bands who have played with us, hung out with us, put us up for a night (or two) and set up amazing shows for us across the country:

In Massachuestts - Martin Newman, James Newman, Clara Kebabian and Elizabeth Ezell from Plumerai; Meredith Shantz and Hayburner; and Brian and Wendesday Night Militia.

In Connecticut - Drew and Chris Trudeau from The Stick.

In Pennsylvania - James Alex and The Cordova Academy Glee Club; and Chris and Paris from The Horrible Truth About Me (special thanks to Casey William Gallagher for putting us up in Allentown).

In Ohio - JT and Louie aka "Sticks" from Hot Ham & Cheese and Jib Machine Records in Cleveland; Russell, "Radar" Ray, and DJ from Gem City Saints in Dayton; Eric Purtle and Dark Backward in Dayton; and Cara, Chandra and Jessica from The Revulvas in Athens/Columbus.

In Chicago - Heavy Kev and Donkey Punch.

In the Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa - the kickass punks in Negative Edge.

In Saint Louis - Moe and Scene of Irony; and Jimi and Jessica from Girl Jimi.

In Minneapolis/St. Paul - Brue, Xtina and Roe-K from Grey Matador; and all the guys in The Dry Heaves.

Our amazing, wonderful, loyal, dedicated, hard-happy-moshing New York City fans: Jenny Gibson Schechter & Rob Schechter (who first fell for each other at a VB show - true story!), Sarah "Queen of the Mosh Pit" Valeri, Matty "Best Band in New York" DiSimone, Theresa "Sniper" Kasun; Mike Wamser, who came to shows, brought people to shows, and screamed and moshed his ass off; Jake Vogel, who not only supported us, but did several incredible shows with us fronting The Stick, recorded our MySpace single "Nuclear Palin" for us, and shot the awesome "Hammer Meets Fire" mini-documentary; Billie James; Mary "M-Unit" Lopez, who played great shows with us drumming for Prison Pretty, shot many amazing photo for us, and continues to treat us like world-famous rock stars no matter how well she gets to know us; Sara Marie Heinze (now living in Philly); my former day job cohort and guitar-talk-guy Larry Ochs; the lovely Gisela; the brash, outspoken and totally sweet Kelly Jo Johnson; Kristin Sidorak; Dani's tried-and-true pals Jeannette and Vince; Kate Evans; Jeff Grow; Jesse Teeters; my dear friend and rock Julianna Tassone Forlano; Bob "Mac" McMaster; Kate Doblick; Matt Logan; Kate Kolendo; Leslie Dock Muenzen; Justin Tatum; and my good buddy and fellow indie rock addict Aaron Simms.

To our also-amazing, also-wonderful, and also-dedicated fans across the U.S.:

In Maine - Laura Lavoie, her husband Glen and their merry band of music-loving friends; Kathryn Strand for her heartfelt support; and my cousin and good friend to both Dan and myself, Dave Nicholson.

In New Hampshire - another solid MySpace supporter, Carrie Hayward; my former day job coworkers Karen Collins, Karen Andersen, Kathy Layman, Ellen Fecteau, Rori/Justin/Jacob Boyce (who helped put the cover for Sky Full of Messages together), Mike Smith, Mike Walsh, Christian Sablock, Phil Dupuis, Tina Waterman, Kathy Hebert, Steve Sobo, Jay Desmarais, Jack Calabrese, Shea Rose and Rick Decost; and my fellow couldn't-live-without-music-friend Amanda Fratturelli.

In Boston - John Scott and Theresa Singleton, who I just can't say enough about - they feed us, they put us up, they come to the show, they cheer and holler, they listen to everything we record and interview us like they were Rolling Stone and we were Led Zeppelin - thank you, thank you, thank you both SO much; also Carrie Gill; my cousin and friend Devin Worster; and Steve Wade.

In Philadelphia - Maureen Hans, who saw to it we had an amazing night at The M Room.

In Washington, D.C. - my dear friend David Johnson, for constantly listening to all our live CD's I send him.

In the Cleveland area - Lauren Smith; and Mia and Rex Radabaugh.

In Cincinnati - my dear friends John Apanitas, Keith, Ron, Susan, Daniel, David and Cher.

In Loveland, Ohio - my former day job coworkers Sandra Ko, Joyce Taggert and Sheri Neuss.

In the Marietta/Athens, Ohio area - Tasha Dill and Leslie Taylor.

In Chicago - Kristen Williams; Emily Dugan; and Lindsay Cummings.

In the Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa - Shawn T. Eldridge and his girlfriend Casey.

In Saint Louis, Heather and Pete Escobar, for giving us the most luxurious touring accomodations we STILL have had to date.

In Kansas City - Jeremy Trezwodek and Led Astray; Emily Lopez; and Victoria Scrivo's friends Nia and Patrick.

In Miami - Dawn Ashley Cook.

In Dallas - Christine Williams.

In Mesa, Arizona - Cheryl and Spencer Kesson.

In Idaho - Elaine Spencer.

In Washington state, my old buddy Erik Melver,who continues to send encouragement by e-mail from wherever in the world he's living at the moment.

In Ontario - another MySpace dieheard Stevey Field, for his undying enthusiasm not only for our band and punk rock in general.

All the rock club and music venue bookers who have treated us so well:

Julia Darling - Arlene's Grocery, Walter - The Continental/Trash Bar, Jake Noodles - Don Pedro, Dayna Blitz (now in Florida, but who booked 3 of our first 5 shows at Kenny's Castaways in NYC), the truly one-of-a-kind Frank Wood, Cenk & Volkan at Hangman Booking, Abby Blanchard, the entire staff at The Mission Theatre in Kansas City, and everyone at 119 Gallery in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Our two favorite internet music dudes in New York, who have supported us 100% since we first started out, Dan Herman at Radio Crystal Blue and podcaster Arthur Bouie.

All the folks behind the scenes who have helped make the magic possible: Joel Chassan in CD production in NYC, publicist Jory White in San Francisco, web marketer Sarah Cerullo in NYC, bookkeeper Susan Laurenzi in L.A., and business advisor Peter Pamela Rose in NYC.

Our now dear friend and collaborator we are so lucky to have met and continue to get to work with, our record co-producer and recording/mixing/mastering engineer Ian Love.

Special thanks as well to a few key musicians we never met who have been so inspiring and influential to us - Bob Mould of Husker Du and Sugar, Julianna Hatfield, Mac from Superchunk, Robert Poss and Susan Stenger from Band of Susans, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novaselic from Nirvana, Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Ben McMillan from Grunttruck, and Courtney Love from Hole.

And most of all, I want to publicly thank my bandmate, drummer and good friend Dan Collins, for taking the leap and going on this journey with me. It's been one hell of a ride, we'll see where it goes from here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

All the Radio

Interesting times for VB. We've had our new CD, "Hammer Meets Fire" played on several dozen college & internet radio stations around the country (and world!). Check 'em out below, they're all great sites. CD available at, iTunes, CDBaby, etc.

"Hammer Meets Fire" has been played on -- Radio Crystal Blue (Brooklyn, NY); WSVN Radio (Thornton, IL); Hussieskunk (Columbus, OH); Westcott Radio (Mattydale, NY); WBGU Bowling Green State U. (Bowling Green, OH); WOZQ (Nothampton, MA); WHCL Hamilton College (Clinton, NY); WITR Rochester Institute of Tech. (Rochester, NY); WTSC Clarkson U. (Potsdam, NY); LUVeR (Berkeley, CA); NeverEndingWonder Radio (Portland, OR); Outsight Communications (Waterford, MI); (Asheville, NC); WESU Wesleyan U. (Middletown, CT); WUNH U. New Hampshire (Durham, NH); WRSU Rutgers U. (New Brunswick, NJ); WLVC Lebanon Valley College (Annville, PA); WCWM College of W&M (Williamsburg, VA); WMBR Mass lnst. Technology (Cambridge, MA); Radio DePaul (Chicago, IL); BearCast Radio U. Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH); AiiRadio (Azusa, CA); (Chicago, IL); KULT U. Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA); and Nekkid Radio (Hastings, New Zealand (!)).

Thanks, all!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Web Site

Did you notice that we've got a brand-new website in honor of our new CD? Killer design by Isabelle & New free tracks. Links to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot (PLEASE add us!). Plus, the new CD, T-Shirts, and stickers are available there, too. Check it out now:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Live Video Show Sat. May-8

We've mentioned it passing before, but just to highlight it -- We've got a cool plan to video our entire live set at Arlene's Grocery NYC, Saturday May-8 at 8pm. We'll have about 3 video cameras going to catch everything. We'd love everyone we know get down there and mess stuff up. Mark yer calendar!

(If you can't wait that long to see us in person, we've got the show next Friday April 16 with Atomic Shotgun, 8:30 pm at the Delancey; benefit for Ann Arcuri. See you soon...)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Other Bands that Rock

Collin here - meant to mention that I've seen several really good bands here in NYC lately. Last Wednesday I went to Arlene's Grocery and saw a band called Harvard from North Carolina, and a band called Hotel of the Laughing Tree from I'm-not-sure-where. But they were both really good, I highly recommend checking them out. Then last Thursday night a saw another amazing band from Montreal, called The City Streets. I ended up talking to those guys and hanging out with them all night, I had a total blast. I also caught their shortened set (long story) at Lit Lounge Friday night and their set at Shea Stadium (no, the little DIY art/music venue, not the baseball park which no longer exists!) in Brooklyn before they had to head back to Canada for a couple shows up there.

Dan and I went from The City Streets' gig over to Trash Bar to catch The Brooklyn What, who closed out the night with the last set of the evening. I had seen them once before at Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn, and last Saturday they were even more amazing. They had a great crowd that was as into their music as any I've seen in NYC in a long time, played incredibly well with shocking energy throughout, and left everyone out of breath and in awe. I give them a "Well, done!" and encourage people to check them out.

Last night I was at Arlene's Grocery again (damn, I love that place...can't wait to play it May 8!) and saw a band I liked called Waves & Legs. It was a cool show to watch, because there were lots of of the two frontmen/singers/guitarists and the bass player were reading notes off music stands for the songs (not the first time I've seen that, but it always throws me a, learn your songs, maybe? I paid, um, 8 dollars...?). One of the frontmen (the one reading notes) broke his B string in the first song and didn't have a back-up, so the soundman ran down and handed him a Tele. Then the other frontman's guitar strap broke, and the only other one he had was too short for him, so he played the rest of the set cradling the neck of his guitar against his own neck, and playing the fretboard a few inches from his chin. But it was cool music...they used a lot of two-part harmonies, had some clever a cappella sections, and had a jammy streak that wasn't too self-indulgent and pretty much rocked. I'm also not wild about their band name, but I wouldn't mind seeing them again. They write good songs and have a great vibe on stage. Oh, I should mention the drummer was frickin' incredible, one of the best I've seen in NYC in a while.

Last night we had rehearsal for our other band Atomic Shotgun and worked on some new songs we're really excited about. I keep listening to the record we just finished with that band this past weekend and losing my mind - it sounds so good!

I'm scheduled to see our old friends in The Whores, The Naked Heroes and Runny at Trash Bar tonight. It's been a long week and I'm pretty tired. We'll see if I make it and if I do how long I last...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Acoustic Set, Live DVD Show and Hammer Meets Fire Release

Hey Collin here. Just wanted to say I had a great time rushing out after Victor Bravo rehearsal and playing the acoustic night at Common Ground in NYC last night. I played "Spin Cycle" and "Scary Mary" off the new VB record Hammer Meets Fire, "Make the Escape" off Sky Full of Messages, and then was joined by my Atomic Shotgun bandmate Scott Holcomb for yet another different version of "Beautiful Wanderer," which will be on both the next (post-HMF) Victor Bravo record and the forthcoming debut LP from Atomic Shotgun. The sound system at Common Ground is just amazing, and the people there were super-friendly. I had a really great night. I also enjoyed kickass sets from Matty D, whose song "Private Ryan" is a new favorite of mine, and Scott Holcomb, who was generous enough to play "Lookout Mountain," one of my all-time favorite Drive-By Truckers tunes, and a guitar/viola set from two very talented ladies who closed out the night.

Dan and I are splitting our time these days between Victor Bravo and Atomic Shotgun, and it is so much fun to be in both these outfits that are both going full-blast. Atomic Shotgun finished recording and mixing the last 3 songs (of 10 total) for our debut LP this past weekend, and I am so pleased with what we've done. I feel like I want to thank our engineer and co-producer Ian Love every day for the rest of my life, for being so amazing at what he does, for understanding what both bands were about nearly instantaneously, and helping us sound our absolute best on these records.

On the Victor Bravo side, Dan and I continue to burn it up in rehearsals, preparing for some yet-to-be-announced touring in the April/May/June-ish timeframe, and our big blow-out show on Saturday, May 8 at Arlene's Grocery in New York City. Arlene's is one of our all-time favorite places to play and we will be filming the performance for a live DVD. We need everyone in the 5 boroughs, everyone in bus/train/driving distance of New York, and everyone who can afford to fly into Newark, LaGuardia or JFK to come into town and get to Arlene's for this one. It'll be one for the history books.

Finally, our new record and first full-length LP, Hammer Meets Fire, will have its official physical release one week from today on April 5. We are really excited to get this puppy out into the ears of the world. If you're someone we've sneak-released it to and you dig it, please help us spread the word. I checked the cover of Rolling Stone this week again and we're still not on the cover. I don't know what's wrong with those guys, they definitely need somebody to give them a head's up. :)

Until next time keep rockin', you know we will.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

OurStage Quarterfinals

Doing pretty well at Ourstage at the moment. "Into Debt" off the new album is in the Top 100 Punk list for the month, with quarterfinals voting starting now. If you like that sort of thing (listen to two random songs for a few seconds, pick which one is better, rinse-and-repeat) consider going to vote in their Punk category and you'll see us at some point.