Be warned, this could be the end for two of Portland's finest, Viva Voce and the Builders and the Butchers
. Both bands are so hyped up about their Sound Clash at the Crystal Ballroom tonight, that they're threatening retirement when the dust has settled. I headed down to rehearsals yesterday to see how this whole shindig's going to work.
With two stages and four rounds, ably compared by supreme judge Ohmega Watts, The Red Bull Sound Clash series aims to pit differing musical styles against each other, and bring about some unique creativity (hence Erykah Badu shouldering up close to Shiny Toy Guns in Dallas, TX later this month). We'll see covers, attempts at different genres (oh yes reggae and country!!), and a Back and Forth Takeover, where each band takes turns to set the bar. We can reveal there will be secret special guests in attendance, and that both acts were already sounding delightfully raucous and on form (that country rendition is particularly worth listening out for).
To get the real dirt on our outwardly amiable contenders, WW
pumped them full of a well-known caffeine beverage and stirred things up a bit. The fighting talk of Anita and Kevin Robinson, and 4/5s of TB&TB, suggests this evening's gonna be pretty unmissable. [For clarity, the Builders and the Butchers' part of the interview is in italics, so hopefully it's not too hard to figure out. It just makes more sense to run the duel interviews next to each other. -Ed.
WW: So are you excited about the Sound Clash tomorrow?
Viva Voce: Yeah, never played a show like this before, it should be fun.
WW: Are you excited for tomorrow?
The Builders and the Butchers: Oh yeah it's the weirdest show we've ever prepared for. It takes a lot of preparation. We haven't been able to practice very much for this 'cause one of our guys is out of town, so we're missing our lead instrument player, first off. And then this one took a honeymoon, which took some time, how selfish. So I think we got three or four practices total to try and write a whole set...so they have a bit of an advantage.
How are you feeling about your competition?
VV: Good. We'll crush them. We will crush them sonically, and in every way, shape, and form.
What are your tactics for coming out on top?
(Anita) Sheer volume. Feedback.
(Kevin) They're very limp-wristed boys, I mean we have two girls in the band and I think we have more testosterone than all of them combined, so I'm not worried.
(Anita) We have the sheer power of our amplifiers, the sheer rockness. And the multitude of different guitars that we have to choose from, hopefully will give us an edge.
We've had some fighting talk from Viva Voce, they're suggesting you have limp wrists and they're gonna win, is there a reply to that? What're your tactics?
TB&TB: Well anybody can use a bunch of pedal boards and drum kits and win something, but it's just cheap. I think the people will know that, and honesty will come through.
What do you think is your biggest selling point?
TB&TB: Um, you mean aside from looks?
Well they've got girls.
TB&TB: It would be looks, and then also modesty. And the ability to win. Yeah that's our number one asset, our ability to win.
Is there anything about The Builders and The Butchers' playing that has you worried?
VV: Just err… No, just their really soft wrists. That's the only thing, I'm worried that I might actually have to touch one. But that's it really.
Is there anything about Viva Voce that has you worried?
TB&TB: It would be the girls. They're also married.
Aren't you married?
TB&TB: I am. But I don't have a band with my wife, that's somewhere I don't think I'd go.
What round are you most looking forward to?
TB&TB: I like the Styles round, it's really fun to change up our songs.
And which round are you most looking forward to?
VV: The Style Clash. I think it'll be fun to reinterpret our songs in different styles.
Oh yeah, and I'm looking forward to hearing them finish one of our songs and see what they can do.
How do you feel about being in the Crystal Ballroom?
VV: Love it. They're building two stages inside. It's all ages, and you'll still be able to drink.
Do you have any secret preparations lined up?
VV: Nude yoga. But that's what we always do, before every show.
Do you have any surprises in store that you think might swing it?
TB&TB: Gosh. I think crowd participation will help us in a good way. And they don't know that that's going to occur, so that's maybe a secret weapon that we can rely on.
Plus you've won awards already, you know.
TB&TB: Many, so many awards. Willamette Best Band, we can intimidate them! All we've gotta do is bring in someone's soccer statue from like 7th grade. Or that bowling trophy, and just say they were out of ones with guitars on.
Do you have any other shows coming up after the Sound Clash?
VV: (Kevin) This is the last one we've got on the books. I mean after this it's like, where do you go from here? You know, so, this is the high water mark, we're gonna go out on a good note.
(Anita) We're gonna open up a fried chicken restaurant.
(Kevin) We're gonna shoot fireworks out of our guitars and burn our equipment and walk off stage and retire.
Do they know you're going to be using pyro?
VV: They don't, and I'm not going to tell them. Really.
Viva Voce say this is the pinnacle of their career and they've not got plans after this, are you going to carry on as a band?
TB&TB: I don't think we'll be able to. I think that this definitely will break us. It's all down hill from here. It's all or nothing.
Well, that's actually not such a good thing.
TB&TB: Why would you continue? Quit while you're ahead. I bet you if the Beatles had had a Sound Clash after
Revolver, they would've called it quits.
It would have been Ovaltine Sound Clash back then though.
What if you were to lose though? I mean boxers only quit on a win, you can't quit after losing.
TB&TB: Mm, we'd probably do the Mike Tyson thing; get put in jail for sexual abuse, get our ear bit off, and then get a face tattoo. Everything that he did basically, and we'll write a book called “The Builders' Tyson Story: How to Succeed from the Pits of Despair”.
Red Bull Sound Clash, Thursday October 1st, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St. 7 pm. $10. 18+.
Photos by Jenny Booth