It wasn't hard to convince Rocky Tinder of Wampire to join me on a road trip to Enchanted Forest—the hobbled together, fascinating and beautiful amusement park just north of Salem. Not only is Wampire playing there August 6th as part of a brand new music festival called “The Great Idea,”* but Rocky has an appetite for fun that bridges the gap between sincere and ironic. Enchanted Forest is right up his alley.
Though Wampire is perhaps most locally famous for stripping down to their undies on stage, this trio (Eric Phipps, Rocky Tinder and Cyrus Lampton) generates electricity on stage and plays some of the most beautiful, original music I've heard come out of Portland in a long time. Unafraid of being too soft or too hard—or sticking to a genre, for that matter—every time I see this band, it gets better.
This interview was conducted on the big pink stage at the top of the mountain in Enchanted Forest, most famous for its multiple daily performances of Hansel and Gretel. It's also where Wampire will perform this Friday, August 6.
Kat: What's your favorite debut album?
Rocky: Weezer's blue album. That's one of my favorite albums ever. Or Is This It?
by The Strokes.
Favorite childhood cartoon?
I was super into Rugrats
when I was little. What else? Rocco's Modern Life
is a good one. X-Men
The animated series?
Did you identify with any of the characters on Rugrats?
I always wanted to play Tommy if they had a live action version.
Best tombstone you've ever heard of or seen.
Favorite monster: Frankenstein, Dracula or a Werewolf?
Definitely Michael J. Fox as the teenage werewolf. That's my favorite. Him dancing on the top of the van? Amazing.
Do you have a favorite TV show?
, for sure. I want to be Jack Donaghy.
Who doesn't want to be Jack Donaghy?
Which word is funnier: crap or turd?
Turd. Easy. Turds way better, cause you can burgle turds, but you can't burgle crap.
What's the largest picture on your wall?
None. I don't decorate my room. I like the sterile look. Sterile like my heart. I didn't decorate the rest of the house, and there's just pictures of birds and cats and stuff around. The cat ones are my favorite.
Do you live in a big house full of people?
There's five people that live in my house. It's not very super big; only a three bedroom, but we converted some of the rooms into bedrooms. I think we're going to make it a six bedroom. Double it up.
Have you ever had an accident involving fireworks?
When me and my brothers were little we got super into making Piccolo Pete bombs and then it kind of accelerated. As we grew bored of those, we started getting CO2 cartridges and filling them up with gunpowder. We'd buy industrial-sized wick at the gun shop and then we'd go and blow up phone books, but we never really had any accidents with those.
Coolest bong you've ever seen?
Coolest BONG? It's hard, I've seen so many bongs in my day. Hmm…Probably the six-foot bong with the wizard and the dragon on it that Fake Drugs raffled off at their show. That was pretty amazing. Or the four foot ice bong I saw once…
Ice bong?! It was made out of ice?
Oh, my little heart wishes it was true! No it just had an ice chamber in it, to hold the ice so the water would be cool.
Duh… don't you know your bongs?
I guess I don't. But I think an ice bong—a bong made out of ice—would be a really awesome.
Oh my God. Yes it would.
What was the last record you were listening to?
Last night, when we were making dinner we were listening to Sam Cooke Live
and it was pretty great. Sam Cooke's the man.
Patrick Swayze or Kurt Russell?
Swayze. All the way.
What's your favorite Swayze movie?
. Which is a little hard to watch now that he's gone. But still amazing. Or Dirty Dancing
. What else has he been in? He's done so many good ones.
He was in Point Break.
, oh my God. Yeah, that's a good one. Sticking with Ghost
though. Best Swayze film.
It has Whoopi Goldberg.
How's Whoopi Goldberg? I don't know.
Thought you said “How's Whoopi Goldberg”?
Nope…Star Trek or Star Wars?
I always get bored when I watch Star Trek
, so Star Wars
. I just watched them all again recently. Pretty amazing.
All the way through the Jar Jar Binks series?
Oh no. I don't count the new ones. They're bullshit.
What's your favorite vegetable?
Broccoli. Gotta be broccoli.
Cooked. In everything. I love broccoli. What's your favorite vegetable?
Um… Eggplant or pickles.
Eggplant! Pickles! I don't really like eggplant. Pickles are cool though.
Pickles are pretty awesome.
Do you make your own pickles?
I have. I pickled some jalapenos a couple weeks ago. We had a pickling party, and they came out really well.
A pickle's not a vegetable.
It's kind of a vegetable… a vinegarized vegetable…
Ok. But you can call a lot of things a pickle.
Yes, but you can't really pickle fruit. You can pickle eggs, though…And pickled eggs aren't really a vegetable…
What's the best personalized license plate you've seen in a while?
I was watching Pete & Pete
last night and the dad has “KING O FROD” [King of Road] on his plate. That was pretty good. What else was good? I don't know! A lot of these questions are hard because I have a horrible memory. Whoops!
If you were a circus freak, what kind would you want to be?
Bearded lady. I think. Or the guys with the gangly hands. Wait, I don't know! What else is there?
No! Bearded lady.
Would you be a lady, or would you be a man pretending to be a lady? With a beard.
Yes! I'd be that one! The bearded lady that's really a man, but nobody knows. Except the bearded lady's lovers. Oh, how romantic!
And surprising! If you could collaborate with anyone—alive and still making music—who would you choose?
I've always thought it'd be fun to jam with Dan Deacon, but…I don't think it'd be very exciting, though. I don't know…Who would you jam with?
Well, I don't play music professionally, so I think I'd just choose someone who it'd be fun to hang out with…and that might be…Willie Nelson.
Bill Murray! Does he play music?
Okay. Bill Murray. I want to hang out with Bill Murray.
What does your mom do for a living?
She's a nanny. And she's awesome.
Does she take care of small children or one specific family?
One specific kid. She cleans their house and cooks food for them and what not.
What if my mom was dead?
Then that would be an awkward question and I would cut it out of the interview. What holiday do you enjoy celebrating the most?
Halloween. It's strange how when you become an adult most holidays are really just about drinking…but that one's cool, because it's also about dressing up. And everybody has a really funny vibe on Halloween—like they all want to get buck wild. I like it. It's a good night.
Did you dress up as something last year?
We played at the Wonder Ballroom with Starfucker and I dressed as The Mummy. I wanted to dress up as that guy who plays trumpet on the [Hawthorne] Bridge, but I couldn't find a tux or Mickey Ears or anything.
That would have been an awesome costume.
Yeah. I think I'm going to save that one for this year.
You're already laying claims on it and it's still the summer. I think that costume is yours.
October 31st. This year. Look for me! The guy dressed up as that guy.
SEE THE GUY DRESSED UP AS THAT GUY:
Wampire will be playing as part of Enchanted Forest's “The Great Idea” music festival on Friday, August 6. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door. This includes admission to the park (but not rides). Advance tickets are sold exclusively at Ranch Records in Salem. The music starts at noon and goes until 8 pm with electric acts (like Wampire) starting at 5 pm. Look for them on the big pink stage at the top of the hill with a candy cane cage and a gingerbread house.
Video of a Piccalo pete bomb exploding. Damn…
Wampire Cut of the Day, 2009
Photo by Bobby McHugh.
*[PS. I can't stress enough how fucking cool this festival is going to be. If you haven't been to Enchanted Forest yet, (or even if you have) this place will blow your mind! Seriously one of the most amazing places I have ever been in my life. Roger Tofte, who hand-crafted this amusement park piece by piece and continues to into his '80s, is an artistic genius. Seeing so many fantastic bands here is going to be epic! Other performers include Typhoon, Sons of Huns, Skeletron, Reporter, The Peculiar Pretzelmen, and Ghost to Falco.]