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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Air at WBGU, WSVN

At WBGU Bowling Green Ohio last week, our new album Hammer Meets Fire cracked the Top-5 most played albums in the Punk Department for the week. (One step behind Flogging Molly, the sons-of-bitches.) Thanks to Matt and the guys!

And, our friend Eric at WSVN in Illinois get the new CD Hammer Meets Fire on the air, with the note, "ROCKIN' as usual.. thanks guys!" No, thank you, Eric. :-)

Other radio adds for the week -- Radio Crystal Blue in Brooklyn NY, WOZQ Northampton MA, Outsight Radio Waterford MI, WRSU Rutgers in NJ, Westcott Radio in Mattydale NY, and Radio DePaul U. in Chicago. Kick ass.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Binge

The video for our song "Binge" is currently in the OurStage Top 100 Hard Rock Videos. Big thanks to Ken Shadford who created that for us 2 years back now. Pretty great that as we release our new CD "Hammer Meets Fire", people are also discovering our older stuff. Yowza!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On Air at WESU

The new Victor Bravo CD Hammer Meets Fire just got added into the new-release rotation at Wesleyan University, 88.1 FM WESU in Middleton CT. We have it on good authority that the music director officially labelled the disk "two-piece kicking it like it's the 60's, 80's and 90's - for lovers of ROCK".

Yeah, screw the 70's!! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

VB Ends #8 in OurStage Punk

Well, the monthly voting ended at OurStage with our song "Into Debt" finishing at #8 in Punk (out of 295 or something like that). Of course, winning would be best, but it's still a Top 10 for Feb-2010 and we like that. Thanks to anyone who went and judged to help us out!

Friday, February 26, 2010

VB Tops OurStage

Today we're #5 in the OurStage Punk category with our new-CD release "Into Debt". That's a hell of a thing, because hundreds of people submit every month now. Over the weekend (between now and Mar-1) they'll choose the winner. If you like that sort of thing, go hit there and hit "Judge". You can't vote for us directly, but maybe we'll pop up in your random listening:

On Air at WBGU

Just got the new playlist from the Punk department at WBGU 88.1 FM, got played a bunch of times there last week. That's at the huge state university in Bowling Green, OH, thanks to Matt and all the guys there!

Friday, February 19, 2010

On Air at WCWM

Quoth the WCWM music director (90.9 FM, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg VA): "I love the album! We'll be putting it on rotation this Tuesday."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Live Paintings by Theresa Kasun

Our most excellent friend Theresa Kasun did some "live paintings" of us a while back (actually did the paintings while we were in action at our rehearsal space). We couldn't keep them to ourselves, so check 'em out!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tour Show 8 (Collin Solo Acoustic): Cincinnati

So Saturday night (Jan. 16) Dan got the night off, we put him up in the luxurious TravelLodge in Newport, Kentucky, right near the banks of the Ohio River and a stone's throw from the legendary indie rock venue the Southgate House (where, I'm told, the Tommy Gun was also invented). My friends Susan and Daniel put together a wonderful dinner and music party at Daniel's new house in Cincinnati. This was one of three last-minute bookings for the tour (the other two being St. Louis and Dayton, OH) and was the last performance of it for myself. The trip back East would start the next morning.

I can't really describe in words how wonderful and special that night was. It seems whenever I move in my life - and I have moved many, many times! - I intend to keep closely in touch with so many of the wonderful people I know there, and then when I get to my new hometown my life carries me away with all the activities, people and events I find there. My time in Cincinnati (I lived there from August 2000 to May of 2001 and from February 2002 to February of 2004) is and always will be very special to me. I feel like it's the place where I finally started to get my shit together as an adult and put my life on the right track. And the friends I met there were really provided the support I needed to do that - I certainly don't think I'd be where I am today without them.

But as I said like many of my moves, I lost touch with many of my good friends there, and as I also said the whole party was being thrown together at the last minute. So I had no idea how many people would be able to make it or how the night would proceed exactly. I was just trusting that it would be whatever night it needed to be, and it would all be good.

In fact it surpassed my wildest expectations...almost all of my closest pals from my days living there were able to make it, some with new significant others that I had heard about but not met yet. There were a few people - new friends of my old friends - that I had not met previously but who were a welcome addition to those gathered.

Daniel was the consummate host and had wonderful snacks for everyone, followed by an amazing lasagna dinner. He had his massive living room all set up perfectly with chairs for everyone to sit and listen to the music.

It was the first time I ever played a whole set acoustic. I have done some 2-or-3-song short sets at open mics in New York, and played a 3-song set to open a Cordova show in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania this past summer. It was a real treat. I don't remember the exact order, I sort of made the set list up on the fly. But here is my recollection of the songs I played:

Jagged Cross
Toxic Tornado
Name Today
Scary Mary
Alien Homeland
Beautiful Wanderer
Final Friend
Into Debt
Make the Escape
The Door

I suppose it's obvious, but it is quite a different experience to play the songs without the distortion, the amplifier, the screaming vocals and the thunderous crashing of drums. As many have said about other rock songs stripped down to acoustic, you do get to hear something different - the song and lyrics at their very essence, I guess. And it's nice to play and enjoy them that way. I love the full Victor Bravo experience, but I think the songs acoustically have a different feel that is great to enjoy as well.

Everyone was so attentive and appreciative, it really blew me away. I am really grateful to everyone who came, for their support and their expressions of appreciation. After many a night where Dan and I were banging away, seemingly just for the bartender and the sound guy, it was a real treat to have a room full of people locked in on every note and word. Special thanks to my friend Susan for helping organize it and to Daniel for being such an amazing host.

Sunday morning we left Cincinnati and drove to Harrisubrug, Pennsylvania, listening to the NFL playoff games on the radio as we rode. We stayed in a Motel 6 there, and then Monday morning completed the trip to NYC. I finally dropped our trusty rented Ford Explorer off at AVIS in midtown Manhattan Tuesday morning, and the January 2010 Victor Bravo Tour officially came to an end.

I feel like I could write about this tour for pages and pages. I'm really grateful to Dan for posting a photo and a summary after every show. I'm glad there's a good record here of what we did and all the shows we put on. I don't know what 2010 holds for us but I'm excited about the possibilities. I think we've grown to become a pretty damn good rock band that can put on one hell of a show any night, any place, any time. The shows were all great and special in their own way, but the Dayton show will probably go down as one of our best ever. It was certainly one of the most fun to play.

Thanks to everyone who helped us, came out to a show, took us out for dinner, gave us directions, recommended daytime activities, put us up for the night, bought a CD or T-shirt, gave us words of appreciation, support or encouragement. Thanks as always to all the venues that graciously asked us to play, all the sound engineers who worked our set and helped us sound great, all the door people who took the money and paid us at the end of the night, all the other bands who played with us and helped create a night of awesome rock music, and all our friends who helped us book the shows in the first place. We're grateful to everyone but should especially call out Trish and Abby in New York; Martin in Boston; JT and Louie ("Sticks") in Cleveland; Heavy Kev and Brian in Chicago; Moe in St. Louis; Brue, Xtina and Roe-K in Minneapolis; Ray, Russell, Angie and Eric in Dayton; and again Susan and Daniel in Cincinnati. We couldn't have done it without you all, and we thank you so much.

We've got some cool Atomic Shotgun shows coming up...this Sunday at 8pm at Otto's Shrunken Head in NYC. Wednesday Feb. 17 we're scheduled to play Fontana's in NYC with Plumerai from Boston and Brooklyn's Imaginary Friends. At the end of this month we're scheduled to begin recording with Atomic Shotgun as well, working with our good friend and co-producer Ian Love. We have a Victor Bravo show Feb.5 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and more news to come in the coming weeks, I'm sure. Let's all keep rockin'!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tour Show 7: Dayton

Last night we had a simply ecstatic show in Dayton, OH. You know, you play a lot of shows in a lot of different circumstances, and if you're lucky you get a night where simply everything fires on all cylinders and we got it Friday night here.
First I'll say we're lucky as outsiders touring around, I think it's immensely hard for anyone living in a given place to gauge exactly how strong their local scene is. Here's my insight to central OH: if I were a record label A&R guy I would just swoop into Dayton and sign everyone I could before anyone found out what I was doing.

So where we played was in a very cool part of town at a bar/restaurant/music venue called Oregon Express. When we first walked in, the place was full of people sitting eating pizza and we had one of our "oh, geez, look at this" moments. But when things got going everyone in the place was completely into the music, everyone packed out of the bar area to listen, just a really intense "we f***'in care about good rock music!" vibe. That's a real treat.

Before us went the Gem City Saints, who are seriously great and rocking harder every time we see them. We played with them last summer in Athens, OH, and they're the ones who got us on the bill at very short notice. Russell, Ray, and Angie completely roared in this place, it sounded like major acts in NYC venues. Russell's vocals on his newest songs remind me a lot of Superchunk, one of our favorite bands ever. They're all great guys.

Then we went, and it was flat-out our best performance of the whole tour. Hard to describe it more than that. The sound in the place was great, the stage was practically designed for our two-piece act, we felt immensely tight and solid and on time and everything. Really pounded the hell out of everything, almost hard to recall exactly what was happening at the time. Stupendous comments afterwards, we had a whole mess of people coming up to us afterwards with really great and well-informed stuff to say about what we were doing.

End of the show was Dark Backwards, who left the both of us completely slack-jawed. Just amazing. These guys are both incredible musicians and really have an enormous, big, hard, powerful sound that they're willing to just crunch on through the whole set. Fantastic guitar structures. Eric's one of the strongest rock singer's I've ever witnessed. They just bleed a love of real, old-school rock. If you told me these guys were signed to a major label and touring nationally I'd believe it. And to top it off they're great to hang out with -- put together the overall show and supported our act and couldn't stop complimenting our stuff. That's the kind of night all this stuff is about.

Random added notes: This is actually the last band gig of the tour, great way to close it down. (Collin has an acoustic-only gig at a friend's party in Cincinnatti Saturday night.) After the show, I got told that about half the people in the packed room were other drummers (!), and everyone was super generous with saying how impressed they were with my playing. (So glad I found out afterwards, because I consider Midwest drummers to be uniformly amazing.) Also, our sensational sound guy at Oregon Express was Tim Berger, who's won an Emmy award for scoring documentaries, and may be in the running for an Oscar in music this year. That's the kind of high-powered karma we seem to be producing these days; can't wait to play again!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tour Show 6: Minneapolis

Just got done playing the gig here in Minneapolis' Club Underground. Man, what a great space for us... cool vibe, perfect stage size, terrific sound system. Probably one of the most fun sets for us to personally play so far on the tour, most everything seemed really solid and really tight. We played between the Dry Heaves and Fuzzy Machete, both of whom are really interesting bands with lots of great stuff ahead of them, we're sure.

Enormous thanks to everyone in Grey Matador, who deserve a lot of love from us. Props to Brue for setting up the show and taking care of us on the business end, Xtina for letting us crash at her place for two days and taking excellent pictures, and Roe-K for yelling at us a bunch while we were playing. If you can get Brue to hook you up with a show then you're among the lucky on Earth. Hopefully we can have those guys back in NYC this summer sometime.

Now comes a 12-hour overnight drive back east to Dayton, OH for a gig tomorrow night with the Gem City Saints. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Travel Day

Today was another travel day, from Chicago to Minneapolis, about 7 hours of driving. As usual I was almost entirely unconscious (see a pattern?). Playlist was heavy on L7, Raconteurs, and Gruntruck (!!!). Tonight we're staying with Christina here in Minneapolis, who plays bass in Gray Matador. (We also listened to their last NYC show as we drove into town, great stuff.)

Yesterday when we were at the art museum in Chicago, we were visiting the gift shop. One of the items is a "Pop Quiz Math Clock" which I couldn't help but pick up and point out that it has two mistakes on it. The counter girl overheard me and was really surprised. Just travelling cross-country and disturbing people, that's my job.

In other news, at some point in the last few days we caught part of "Walk the Line" (Johnny Cash movie) with commentary during the ad breaks. One of the breaks had a comment like, "These guys didn't start using speed for some 60's consciousness-building experiment... they did it because it's so hard to get out of a show at 1am and drive all night to the next city for another gig." Huh, you don't say.

Tour Show 5: Chicago (Again)

This afternoon we were in Chicago with some time to kill, so we spent a few hours at the Art Institute of Chicago, most specifically in the Modern American wing. Some really great stuff there, spent some time discussing what it's like being artist... checked out American Gothic, Nighthawks, and freaky-ass stuff like Albright's Picture of Dorian Gray.

So tonight we headlined a show at Chicago's Elbo Room. Immensely cool rock venue, great atmosphere, fantastic sound system, very cool staff, great sound guy, etc., etc. If I lived in the area I could see myself actually spending quite a bit of time there. We went after T-Bird Magera and Mike Mains and the Branches... very impressive acts, Mike & co. were apparently missing two members but still very powerful, great musicians. We played pretty well, Collin in particular was really psyched afterwards and we got a bunch of great comments. Also, we had this whole set recorded, maybe we'll post a track or two from the gig later when we get the chance.

Thanks to Jen & Adrienne for hanging out afterwards and putting us up again tonight. Photos by Aaron, multitalented sound guy at the Elbo Room.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Travel Day

Yesterday we drove from St. Louis back to Chicago for a second show here. Tonight we're headlining at the Elbo Room on N. Lincoln Ave.

I was sleeping most of yesterday, too. There was a big long slice of Superchunk followed by the latest Dead Stars record playing in the car.

Hey, how bout that whole Leno/ Conan thing, huh?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tour Show 4: St. Louis

Now, the trip to St. Louis I (Dan) basically have no awareness of. I fell asleep in Chicago listening to Cordova, I woke up in St. Louis listening to Victor Bravo, that's about all I know. I'm told in the meantime there was also a 2-hour playlist of Goes Cube, who went to school in the area where we were driving (snow-covered plains of Illinois), during which Collin saw God or something like that.

Show in St. Louis was a benefit for 10-year-old Tommy who needs multiple organ transplants. We like to help out where we can, so we opened this show that had 13 bands playing! I'm pretty sure the number of bands have been doubling each show, so by Friday night we should be on a bill with about 100 bands or so. (One band here did a half-set if you're checking my math.)

Great, big venue in St. Louis called Fubar. Lovely, big sound system, really a joy to play on. Performance space so big I couldn't even parse it as a stage when we first walked in (compare mentally to teeny-weeny NYC spaces).

People like to talk about a "scene", and I'll go out on a limb and say that St. Louis has one of the strongest actual music scenes that we've witnessed. Really great for us, a lot of younger kids into punk rock, as well as a bunch of old-schoolers, all mixing it up together in these shows that we get to take part in. That's something you don't see in many other places. A lot of thrash/metal influences, too. Ridiculously crazy drummers all through the Midwest, it's a PhD-level education every time we come here.

We really went kind of apeshit on this show, took out a couple songs for a quicker set time, completely tore through them and it felt very badass. All the kids in the (very large) space came up to the edge of the stage and were dancing by the end of the set. Collin completely took over this enormous space, running like a lunatic while playing guitar, across the stage, behind me, smashing into the kit and cymbals, leaping off the stage into the kids, rolling around on the floor, etc., etc. I think even with all these hardcore bands around we do some stuff that's fairly novel and I don't see other folks doing anywhere, like the instrmentalist hanging halfway off the stage and playing the guitar hanging out in space, etc.

Couple random thoughts. In the past we've seen how life on the road as an indie band (packing, driving for days, playing, finding a place to crash, etc.) can tax people and wear them down physically. With what we do there's also a fairly high chance of injury/ muscle or vocal strain that can happen in any show. But as we've done this more, nowadays I personally feel just stronger and stronger after every show. Today we got done and I felt like we could set up and play for a few more hours if we had to. (I think the martial arts I've been taking in the last year help, too.) This whole business is endlessly fascinating, we both love being on tour and exercising all the different muscles involved -- some of which are the mental presence and courage you need to go into all these radically different scenes and put your guts out there on a whistling precipice not knowing if the local crowd will like it or not. (See: Bob Mould's "Hoover Dam".)

Anyway, show sounded great to us. After that there was a legion of bands, raffles for the benefit, circus-of-the-damned zombie troupe of stiltwalker, evil clown, devil guy letting you staple money into his body, uh, slam dancing, guy trying to set a bassist on fire while he played... um... a lot of stuff. Staying with Moe from Scene of Irony, who is enormously generous with his time and energy, and makes a lot of the local scene happen through sheer force of personality. Give them a listen if you can. Thanks too to Shauna for taking photos tonight!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tour Show 3: Chicago

So most of today's drive was chasing the sun as we drove west across Ohio and Indiana. Snow blowing as we drove into Chicago.

The show tonight was borderline impossible to describe. Great dive bar in Chicago called the Mutiny, for the annual birthday blowout for Heavy Kev of the band Donkey Punch. Kev and DP are themselves practically impossible to understand unless you see them live. Real, honest-to-god unhinged punk rock. Kind of amazing stuff, you really need to come prepared for stuff to get messed up right quick.

May I point out that this bar in Chicago decided to skip the idea of glasses and just hand each individual person a full pitcher of beer to walk around with when they get a drink? Yeah, just like that.

Anyway, it's an intense scene and most of the bands have been playing this event for 5 years running, we're told that lots of folks kind of beg and plead to get on this bill, so we're pretty psyched that Kev tapped us to join in. Lineup was the Burninators, The Natch!, Donkey Punch, Sons of Sanchez, and Fister. Some really fantastic players and instrumentation and intensity in all these bands. The ones we'll have to work hard to see again are the Burninators and Sons of Sanchez (the rest we'll definitely run into again). Then we wrapped up the show at the end. Honestly we're pretty jacked up on how we're playing at the moment. Some broken stuff and some blood on the drum kit (thanks, Andrew from B!), we're leaving everything we've got on stage these days.

The whole scene here in Chicago is just kind of mind-blowing, a "you had to be there" moment for us & everybody else. Big thanks to Trish Naudon Thomas for taking the pictures the last two shows.

School of Rock

Before we left town, Louie from Hot Ham and Cheese showed us around the West Cleveland area School of Rock. Very cool and glad we saw it - this is kind of a big deal in the Cleveland area, one sign of how dead seriously they take their rock-and-or-roll out here. While we poked around, there was a seminar of young teenagers watching and analyzing Guns 'N Roses "November Rain" quite seriously. Most excellent place.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tour Show 2: Cleveland

Okay, it's like 4:30 AM and the afterparty here in Cleveland is sort of partly wrapping up. Enormous gratitude to JT and Reggie for letting us crash at their fabulous pad where they run Jib Machine Records. They set up this terrific Jib Machine Holiday party here the week after New Year's... great crowd and great bands. They had us in VB, JT playing in Hot Ham & Cheese (who kick enormous quantities of ass, great new stuff, too), then fellow NYC-ers The Natch! (who rocked out; more with them tomorrow night in Chicago), then Johnny Mohawk and The Assassins (fabulous dirty old-school punk here in Cleveland). Everyone came back here to JMR to hang out and play records and more drums and stuff. We arm-wrestled over where everyone's sleeping and somehow Trish of The Natch! won the bed, I think I was distracted or something.

We've been here at the Symposium in Lakewood three times now, and this was by far our best show (we got a lot of comments to that effect, which is cool). One or two extra glitches that we didn't have at the gig in Boston, but still a pretty damn good show. Collin was thrashing all over the stage and threw in the extra-crazy spontaneous ending to Binge, which I was more prepared for tonight and did some stuff to go along with it. I got up and slammed the sticks so hard in the middle of MF that one of them shot out of my hand and hit the ceiling (I think). At the end, we got kind of desperate calls for more songs -- we almost never do encores (we're more in the "we'll tell you how many songs we're playing" camp), but this seemed really heartfelt so we threw in the old "Final Friend" at the end as a bonus. Pretty sweet.

In more in-the-car news (driving through snow-blanketed mountains of Pennsylvania today), Collin's got this simply genius playlist he put together on his iPod, that has me just expostulating "Niiice!" and "Brilliant!" over and over again all through the day when we're driving. We get to contrast and compare dozens of different guitar and drum sounds from all these great rock songs. Here's just one example that I hadn't heard in over 10 years and had me clapping with joy and playing it again: "Skydiver" from Schtum's 1995 album Grow. (This was a band from Northern Ireland helmed by Christian McNeill, whom I believe is now based in Boston). If you haven't heard it, listen to it now. THIS MEANS YOU! Seriously, I know you're reading this, I'm talking to you.

Tomorrow's a really big show in Chicago with Donkey Punch and more of The Natch! and like a half-dozen other bands. That's at the Mutiny on N. Western Avenue. Updates may be dicey, right after that we've got a drive to an early afternoon benefit show in St. Louis. Need to really jump off it tomorrow, ha!

Friday, January 8, 2010

VB on Huffington Post Top 5 List

Wow, Victor Bravo got a mention in the Huffington Post of all places. As part of their "Year in Review 2009 In Lists", we were included in the list of Top 5 Bands in Jersey City, included in the bullet-point "The Traveling Host of Rockers".

Thanks to Zac Clark of Rocker Tycoon for using his powers for good and not evil.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Music Meditation

One of the great things when we're on the road is that we get an opportunity to listen to other folks' music in-depth while we're driving. You know, we're driving for 5, 7, 10 or more hours in a day, and there's not much to do but listen to some new or old album, focus on nothing but the art and the scenery outside, then have a discussion for a bit about what we just heard.

I think all of our daily lives are a bit too busy to ever sit down and just meditate on a piece of music -- our touring life sort of doubles as a graduate-school seminar on music theory, performance, and recording. Not sure if other bands get that (who knows, maybe with more people someone's always irritated at someone else's choices), but it's a nice double-down, so to speak.

The other thing folks may not know is that Collin's, like, psycho-addicted to driving, while I (Dan) am a complete sleepy snoozehound any time I'm in a moving vehicle. So he drives all day, I nap a good part of the day, works out surprisingly well.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More on Boston Show

Collin here. Dan covered it well but I just wanted to chime in and add my own take to the mix. I really had a total blast playing Great Scott last night. It was great to see David from Daily Pravda again - the music biz can be so funny, sometimes I don't know when I meet someone if it will be the last time I'll ever see them in my life, or if I'll play another 10 shows with them someday. So it was an unexpected pleasure to see David again, he's such a great guy and I really dug his solo acoustic set. His band Daily Pravda is opening for Spacehog in a week or so, I'm so happy for them.

Martin from Plumerai had told me about The Brother Kite, they did a split 7-inch vinyl single with them a while back. I haven't been able to hear it yet, though, 'cuz I don't have a record player. Did I just alienate tons of indie rock vinyl enthusiasts? Oh, well, I don't have one. Anyway, I figured I would like them, but I was kind of blown away. They're one of those bands where after one song I wanted to buy every CD they've ever put out. They played a song they haven't released on a record yet, and it made me sad I couldn't get it to listen to it again and again at home. I was also wishing my sister Kelly and my girlfriend Sarah had been there to see them, I think they both would have really liked them.

If I wasn't my long-winded self I'd be out of words for how I feel about Plumerai. I've said before I think they're one of the best bands on the planet, and as I told their bassist James after their set, I kind of forget how amazing they are after I see them play. Then the next time I see them I'm like, holy fuck, how could I have forgotten? Their new drummer is really becoming a full team player and providing a very cool element to the sound. I've been fortunate enough that I've seen Plumerai live lots of times, and I was feeling really grateful for that. They put me in a blissful state I usually don't want to come out of. I feel like some people don't even get one experience like that in a lifetime, and I've been given the opportunity many times over. But last night was surely one of their best. James' bass was fat, dark and foreboding, James' guitar was crystal-clear and heartbreakingly beautiful, and Elizabeth sang like an angel come to give humanity the secret to its own survival. It's hard for me to believe sometimes that I can have an experience like that just as a course of living my life. It's pretty awesome.

I had a ton of fun playing our New Year's Eve set at Arlene's Grocery in NYC, and for me last night's show felt like a step up even from that. As Dan said, we were just off the hook in Spin Cycle, Alien Homeland and Binge. And the improvised altered ending of Binge is something I will definitely bust out (this time on purpose!) again. More people need to see that, and I want to do it again!

I feel like as rock musicians we're supposed to act all too-cool-for-school, like we don't care about what we're doing, we don't give a fuck, the promoters suck and the record labels suck and no one gives us our due, blah blah blah. I can still get like that in my mind sometimes, but after nights like last night it's pretty astonishing that anyone who gets opportunities like we do can have one single word of complaint about it. It's the most fun I've ever had in my life, and I get to do it regularly. And yes, our songs are chiefly about anger, rage, getting pissed off, things that are fucked up and not right, people fucking us over, etc. And we mean every word. But somehow we get to release all that shit in what is pretty much a joyous party-like experience for us. Not that I necessarily feel "good" or "happy" in the traditional sense when I'm playing and singing, usually if I'm singing a song about anger (also known as EVERY SONG WE PLAY) I'm feeling that anger at some level. But the show itself is still balls-out fun. Does that make any sense? Hope it does to somebody.

Anyway, I'm truly grateful to Plumerai and especially their guitarist extraordinaire Martin Newman for all the opportunities he's helped us get, including the show last night, to Great Scott, all its staff and Reed the sound guy for making us feel so welcome and treating us so well, and to each and every person who stuck around to watch us do our thing. And Dan correctly singled out our friend Theresa. Her support, along with her boyfriend John's, has been one of the greatest gifts we received, and we will always be deeply grateful to them.

Next stop: our 4th trip to Cleveland, Ohio. HELL YEAH.

New Show: Dayton OH Jan-15

Oh yeah, we also just added a new show to the tour this afternoon. Friday Jan-15 we'll be playing in Dayton OH at the Oregon Express. That's with Dark Backward and our completely insane guy-rock-crushes in the Gem City Saints. 9 PM, $5. If you're in that part of Ohio, it'll be a great show.

Tour Day 1: Boston

Tonight we played Boston (Allston) at a very fine bar/music venue called Great Scott. First time for us, we've heard of it before... really cool sound system, great sound guy (Reed), worked well for us.

We were headlining after the David's (from Daily Pravda) really cool opening solo acoustic set, The Brother Kite's 5-person sonic creations, and of course our most excellent friends in Plumerai. As always, they massively bring it.

Good show for us. Getting to set up to our satisfaction & do a full sound check is kind of like mana from heaven if you get the opportunity. Frankly, we seem to be playing really awesome at the moment. We're playing probably tighter than ever before and any surprises just seem to make the show even better. Collin kind of lost his mind in a really awesome way in at least two places (opening to Alien Homeland, last verse of Binge). Near the end of Binge he just put away the guitar and started shrieking the last verse over and over, and I (Dan) had to follow along for the ride and hope I could guess what was happening next. At one point the sound guy Reed dashed onstage to fix a drum mic, just as Collin started body-slamming into the drum set and cymbals. I was trying to wave off Reed, like "You have no idea how much danger you're in!" but didn't quite get the message across with everything else that was happening. Injury-free for the night #1.

Big props to one of our biggest Boston fans, Theresa S., for roadying and taking pictures and putting us up for the night. "That was crazy! I really wish someone had recorded that!" was her opinion afterwards. Thanks to Martin & co. of Plumerai for setting up the show.