The Vacation

The Vacation

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Monday, 30 October 2006
INTERVIEW

American Recordings, home to System of the Down and Johnny Cash, recently signed The Vacation. President Dino Paredes leapt to sign the band comprised of fraternal twins Ben Tegel and Steve Tegel, Denny Weston, Jr, and Eric “Dutch” Suoninen after he saw one of their shows. Paredes felt they were a great live band who echoed a mix of T. Rex, The Stooges and early AC/DC. I discussed the band’s recent signing and success with frontman, Ben Tegel.

SB: Let’s get down to business… after you got your start here in Hollywood at The Kibitz Room, what made you run to do a blitz of shows in the UK?

BT: It’s a funny story actually, what happened was a guy who is like a pretty big booking agent from the UK happened to see us at the Kibbutz room, right? And he was like, “Oh you guys are great, I want to book you guys to play at the new band stage at the Reading and Leeds festival.” So we said, “OK, sure sounds fun.” It was a good opportunity, so it happened because of that basically.

SB: Then after that you got hooked up with Beck’s producer, Tony Hoffer?

BT: He’s friends with our manager actually, so he came down, saw us play and loved it.

SB: I saw that one of your greatest influences is The Jimmy Castor Bunch, so I had a listen. These guys are insane, with songs like, “Bertha Butt Boogie” and “Southern Fried Frijoles”… Please do explain…

BT: That was their big hit, we had that song on a 45, so we used to listen to that all the time when we were kids. Download that. It’s great. I liked them when I was little because it’s kinda’ funny and it’s also heavy. You don’t really have any control over what your influences are when you’re a kid.

SB: Exactly, I am so grateful that my dad had The Doors and Fleetwood Mac in his collection aside from Tiny Tim.

BT: My parents had Barbra Streisand and Chicago, stuff like that…

SB: Well, hey, I’m Jewish so it was all about Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand…I would be interested to see how Barbra Streisand seeps into your music.

BT: Ah…I don’t know…

SB: I know you’re also a big fan of Weird Al. What is your favorite Weird Al song? I think it’s easy to tell a person’s personality by what their favorite Weird Al song is, mine is “Sweet Melanie,” which is about stalking.

BT: Oh, we love that one…(singing) “Heh, heh…Me—–lanie”

SB and BT: (singing in unison) “Why won’t you go out with me?”

SB: Yeah he stalks her, watches her drop soap in the shower…it’s pretty awful.

BT: I like “Yoda.”

SB: Yes, hands down, classic Weird Al.

BT: We actually saw Weird Al play in concert when we were little. He played at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

SB: That’s awesome, I’m jealous. Moving on from Weird Al, do you guys have a specific songwriting process? How do you go about putting songs together?

BT: A lot of ‘em are just Steve and I sitting around, playing the guitar and I’ll just start singing. It’s different for every song. It’s weird, there’s really no formula, you just have to get your mind to the point where you’re open, so you stop thinking about stuff and let it happen.

SB: Your manager has referred to you guys as the “narrators of the Hollywood street” like the Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction, how has L.A. city life influenced your music as opposed to your roots in southern Illinois?

BT: It’s funny you say that, because we kind of feel that everybody kind of grows up in California. When you watch TV and movies as a little kid, you’re basically seeing Southern California. I can remember watching CHiPs and looking at the blue license plates they had back in the 70s. I think [Los Angeles] is so prevalent in popular culture that in a way, the rest of the world patterns itself after that. Where I grew up in suburbia is not that different from parts of Hollywood. It’s a bunch of strip malls and fast food. L.A. is America, in a sense. The only difference is the different kinds of people, cultures and languages being spoken. I like that after growing up in white, suburban America. I just wanted to get away from [there].

SB: I hear ya. I’ve seen a slew of photos from your stage shows, and it seems like you’re doing these hardcore yoga back stands…are you influenced by yoga? It looks like you’ve been doing it for years…

BT: I don’t know, somebody told me that’s a yoga move, I just like to get crazy. I end up doing crazy shit…pouring beer down my pants. No, I don’t do yoga, rock n’ roll is my only form of exercise.

Laughing

SB: Well, it certainly looks like it’s keeping you fit sporting those tight pants.

BT: Ya’ gotta wear the tight pants. Ya’ got to.

SB: Growing up with your brother, how did your family feel about you both pursuing music? Were they pretty supportive?

BT: You mean, moving out to L.A. to become rock stars?

SB: Ah yeah, which you seem to be doing alright…

BT: I don’t know man…I don’t really talk to my family that much. I don’t know that they understand it. They probably think it’s a little weird. We’re very different from our parents. If I had to say who knows the least about me in the whole world, it would be my parents. They know less about me than people who come and listen to our music. I mean there’s so little that people often tell their parents. Sharing certain things about your life with your parents…they almost don’t even know who you are and they’re still stuck in thinking of you as a kid. Moving to California was where we reinvented ourselves. I don’t think my family likes L.A. too much.

SB: I don’t think anybody does, even most Angelenos, I don’t know why, where else can you go for a hike, hit the beach then go out to a great bar or club at night?

BT: I know, I love LA. We were in Portland and people were asking, “Where are you guys from?” We’d say, “We’re from L.A.” and they [would respond], “Ooooh…you’re from…L.A.” “Well, you’re from fucking Portland, what’s so great about Portland?!”

SB: They’re just jealous, they would trade the rain for the sunshine, come on now.

BT: No kidding, if I never have to scrape ice off of a windshield again, that’s worth a lot. If I don’t have to do that again as long as I live, I’ll be happy.

 

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