Vile Creature’s biography on Facebook reads “two members, one dog, six cats, and a whole lot of amps.” And that’s really just a little bit of what makes up this happily married Hamilton couple with multiple gigs and multiple outlets for living.
Musically, Vile Creature are a heavy duo with a lot to say about music, life and living an amazing LGBQT+ life.
The duo’s new album Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! gets released on June 19 and showcases their first music video for You Who Has Never Slept. We spoke with them late last month.
How are things going for you guys?
VIC: Pretty good. Just got off work at our grocery store.
KW: Yeah. Busy.
VIC: And our dog just got home from daycare and she hasn’t seen her dog walker in a few weeks. So she was super, super excited. It’s very cute.
KW: She’s very happy, which makes me very happy.
What kind of dog?
VIC: She’s a shepherd mix. So she’s a big dog. She’s about 80 pounds.
How’s the grocery store going along for you?
KW: Good. It’s really busy. We own a vegan bakery, grocery and deli right here in Hamilton. And we’ve been doing curbside pickup and home delivery only since the first week of March. And it’s just the two of us and one other staff member now where we usually have six staff. It’s been really, really busy, but there’s no staff. So we’re both working a significantly higher amount.
KW: So it’s good because it’s busy and we’re providing a lot of people with food, but it’s definitely a joke that we’ve been saying that after the quarantine’s over, we really want a quarantine since we haven’t had a chance to sit down and rest.
Your new release Glory, Glory! Apathy Take Helm comes out in June. It’s an odd time to release a new album because you won’t be able to play it live.
KW: The original intention with releasing the record Friday, June 5th, then we had a whole tour booked. We were supposed to have been at Road Burn in April in the Netherlands and play some shows in Europe and then our first ever West coast tour with a few festivals. And then, like we said, playing Windsor and then a Toronto release show that was supposed to start the end of next week. And yeah, once everything went down and everything got kind of cancelled, we had a long conversation with our label and they just pushed the release back two weeks. But we were all pretty adamant that we still wanted to get it out in the world. And it’s weird to not… No one will be able to play the songs live, but it’s very relieving knowing that they’ll be able to be out and we don’t have to hold them to ourselves for much longer.
Tell me about Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! and what this album means to you.
VIC: It means a collection of thoughts finally feeling like they have more of a solidified foundation and these ideas that we’ve had with dealing with apathy in ourselves, they kind of have an emotionality. Is that a word? Emotionality? With music along with it.
KW: I’m just excited to have it out in the world. That’ll be really nice to have people be able to hear our thoughts made musical.
VIC: Yeah, for sure.
The recording sounds a little cleaner than Cast of Static and Smoke. Would you consider the new album musical growth?
KW: It’s definitely like we started the band just under six years ago and I feel like it, literally, was us learning to play together with starting the band. And as we’ve continued to write and play and become better musicians, we’ve tried doing different and more varied things. And we’re both the type of people who I wouldn’t say we get bored easily, but we like changing things up in a way that keeps both of us interested and engaged. And that’s not just music, that’s kind of everything in our lives.
I feel like it’s a logical step forward and as far as the recording goes, it’s the same Adam Tucker who recorded the record and is the same person who recorded Cast of Static and Smoke. The only difference was that instead of going to his studio in Minneapolis, he drove 15 hours from Minneapolis to Hamilton and recorded us here at Boxcar Sound, which is a lovely studio here in Hamilton.
It was very comfortable recording the record and working with Adam has always been a joy and [Sean] who owns Boxcar was a part of it as well.
KW: It’s really fun to be able to work with people that we trust and respect. And also they trust and respect the way we work.
VIC: We put out an EP called Pessimistic Doomsayer, and we work with this lovely person named Laurel, who is an amazing vocalist, multi-instrumentalist. And so Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm, the song, it’s in two tracks. KW and her wrote that together. So it was a logical step forward as a band to collaborate more with people we know and trust.
There’s also your first video, and tell me about it and how things went filming in Fergus?
KW: It was fun. Raissa and Dave, who are the husband and wife duo. Raissa was the director, Dave was the camera wizard. They edited it together as well. They live in Hamilton. We used to own a food truck together, Vic and I own a food truck. And then that turned into the store that we currently own as well. They came to the food truck four years ago and knew who we were from our band. And they just mentioned randomly that “If you ever want to do a music video, we’d love to do one with you.” They both work in the industry and Dave’s been a part of this year, he filmed Super Bowl commercials and was a part of the camera operators for the last season of Baroness von Sketch Show.
So they’re real true pros. And I feel like they relish any opportunity that they have to do something that’s super-creative together. So when we did the record, Prosthetic asked us to do a music video. And we started coming up with ideas, and we hit up Raissa and Dave and said, “Hey, it’s time let’s do this.” And they were super game. We came up with the concept and then they just took it and ran with it. Raissa, found the theater in Fergus. And we brought all of our friends and we just spent 14 hours locked in this hundred-year-old theater in Fergus and just made that video.
VIC: Yeah. It was nice working with Raissa because she had a lot of connections with finding locations and working with stunt person, Anita, who used to be a ballerina or is ballerina. She’s working in a lot of stunt work these days.
KW: She’s the stunt coordinator for the entire Stratford Festival.
She’s fully full-on amazing. And she came into it just really into the ideas we had and was very excited to get creepy, which is, when someone’s like, “I’m stoked to get creepy.” It makes me very happy.
VIC: Watching her dance all day was very magical and hypnotic and her skill level was so amazing. But in the video it was like the ballerina skills were transformed into something demonic. So it was interesting to see that kind of mesh with the ballerina skill.
KW: When I was talking with Anita and she was asking us about dance styles, I think almost verbatim what I said to her was classical ballet, but with really hard right angles. And she locked in on that sense and was said, “I got that.” And then the first day she started doing it. I felt like, “Oh yeah, she knows what I mean, I don’t need to give her any notes. She’s phenomenal.” And she took my really stupid, far out there comment and just really jumped in my brain, understood. And then jumped out and did it on stage.
There are a lot of firsts this time out. You have a website now. Does having a video, website and a new album make you feel like you’ve climbed up a rung on the musical ladder?
VIC: I think it’s just more so doing ideas that were in our brains that now could actually see the light of day, like in KW’s weird ideas with a website, he just wanted to do something totally stupid. And we, luckily, have friends who are really, really awesome designers, but then you’re like, “Ah, could you make this really dumb GeoCities website?
KW: It’s really fun asking a totally professional like Adam [Willis] who is a friend of ours and a legit web designer, an incredibly beautiful, beautiful web design and ask, “Hey, can you forget everything you’ve ever known and go back 20 years and design a site that you’ll be embarrassed of?” And for him to just be like, “Yes, let’s do this.” We had a great time doing it.
I don’t know about climbing a rung on a musical ladder. Vic and I are really fortunate.
The artwork is quite dramatic. What’s going on there?
VIC: Ooh. Lots of surrealist elements that we had a really bold idea for, and like a lot of things that we’ve been doing, we’re really grateful for the ability to collaborate with people who are really talented. So having someone like [Danica] to take our vision and create it with beautiful lighting and backdrops and our wonderful model for being totally game to put worms in her mouth for the sake of this weird vision that we had.
KW: And if it’s okay to hop in, I was going to say, we were sitting on the same couch that we were sitting on now coming up with ideas. And I love illustration. Vic loves photography. Our first record and the first EP we did after that were both photo album covers. Our last record was purely illustration and we were debating it and decided to meet in the middle on it. And we had a night where, when we were going over it, we quickly snapped one, two, three and came up with the ideas.
And the final album cover that you see now is exactly what we crudely drew up on that night. And I feel like the idea that we came up with was teetering on a line that very easily could have been cheesy and weird or really surreal and beautiful and kind of gross in a beautiful way. And I’m so thankful for Danica and [Brie] who are the two people mainly involved. Brie’s the model and Danica was the photographer. I feel like we were able to pull off teetering on the good side of that line and we’re really proud of it.
Fans have been recreating the album, the cover, with the pictures of themselves. That’s flattering for sure.
KW: It’s really wonderful. It was a dumb joke that I put up on Twitter at one point and we got multiple dozens of people. We saw everything from multiple different types of pasta. People, instead of worms, doing multiple different types of pasta. We got one with hockey pucks.
VIC: Auxiliary cords.
KW: Auxiliary cables, guitar cables, a hairbrush.
KW: There’s one with radishes. It was really fun to see.
How about the title – It represents two songs on the album.
Why did you choose those two songs for the title?
KW: Well, it’s like one. So it’s basically, the last “two songs” on the record are really one track. It’s just split into two. Because some people are really impatient and want to skip a seven minute-long slow build. And we’re known at this point for writing very, very, very long songs.
VIC: Also with the decision to cut it into two tracks was that the first part is strictly guitar and choir. And then the second part is when it actually comes in with the drums. So I feel like they are really distinct pieces, but together they do make a whole.
KW: And the album title, it wasn’t like we took the songs and made it the album title. We had the album title and then once everything was done, we sat down and realized that those songs or that song was, the thesis statement for the record.
How did you guys meet and form the band?
VIC: Well, we’re married.
KW: But we weren’t when we started the band.
VIC: I mean, we weren’t always married.
KW: Yep. We met on OkCupid.
VIC: Shout out OkCupid.
KW: Vic messaged me.
VIC: Yeah, I guess we did share, I don’t know how much metal I knew about or cared about back then, but I feel like we did bond over our love for heavy music.
KW: Really, we bonded over when it came to music that guttural feeling inside of your stomach that you get when something is so epic and building and emotional, you can’t help but have a physical reaction to it. When we started sharing music with one another the thing that we found in common was that all the stuff that we both enjoyed from each other was stuff that you kind of just had a real physical, emotional reaction to.
We started dating and it was wonderful. Vic wanted to learn how to play an instrument, specifically drums. I said, “If you buy a drum set, I’ll teach you how to play it.” Vic went and bought a drum set. And the only way that I know how to teach is by writing. So we just started playing and fortunately Vic was meant to play drums. And three months later we had our first record written and that’s literally the first record that we put out, three months into Vic learning how to play drums, which amazes me to this day.
You talked about apathy earlier, am I right in saying that the apathy battle really means a lot to you?
VIC: It’s something that we think about a lot and I think of existential problems like most people. So figuring out a way to not be so caught up in doing the right thing or just impending doom that we feel every day. So we just like figuring out little ways in our own lives, whether that’s a creative thing or just petting a cat. Just doing things to not fall victim to a stupid thing called nihilism. Not that bad. I feel like we’re pretty content people, but you know, at least for me, I don’t know where I’m going.
Tell me about growing up. When did you know that you weren’t straight, was there a specific moment or did it always feel like there was something different? You know, everybody has their own unique experience.
VIC: Yeah, for sure. Xena.
KW: It was Xena for you, eh?
VIC: Yeah, 100%. I don’t think I actually came out as queer until I was in my 20s, so I think I just had a lot of fear around being different and not seen as straight. It took me awhile.
KW: I’ve been gay since day one.
KW: I don’t know a time when I wasn’t queer and it has been a defining…
You’ve just always known?
KW: No, that’s not even where I’m going with it. I’ve been queer as long as I can remember, and my mother and sister who are wonderful people have known I was queer since as long as I can remember. It’s never been something that’s been an issue with my family or any of that, which is great.. It’s not like, I am not solely defined by my queerness, but my queerness definitely is my navigating factor through life.
VIC: It could be to see the world through.
KW: That’s a good way to put it.
VIC: But it definitely doesn’t define your whole reality
KW: It’s not my sole character trait.
Now metal and hard rock music, at a glance, almost seems like an anti-LGBTQ music form, but what drew you to it?
KW: I don’t know if I would agree with the statement. Metal, hardcore has always been a thing that is bashed against whatever the system is. And metal, if you’re talking about founding fathers of metal, you’ve got Judas Priest right there at the front of the conversation, which is… You can’t get any gayer than that. And I say that with all love and respect to Papa Halford. I mean, if I look at hair metal in the 80s, there is nothing gayer than hair metal, period. And it’s wonderful. I see like there’s a lot of macho aggression in aggressive music. I just like the expression of heavy music.
VIC: It could definitely seem uninviting, but I feel like being part of a different subcultures there. I feel like there’s not really a collective, unifying feature to this music just because there are pockets of geographic areas of people participating in it. So I guess it depends on what you are accustomed to and what people you know that have defined what that music means for you. So there’s biggots everywhere. And I don’t think that people who have the loudest voice in those genres should really be able to define it. If that makes sense?
KW: Yeah, it does.
You mentioned Rob Halford, he’s one of my favorite metal interviews that I’ve done from Judas Priest.
VIC: Oh, that’s so fun.
I’d have to say he’s an early pioneer of the metal world. Not only for music, but, as you said, for his expressing his sexuality. Do you think it must be easier for you because of pioneers like Rob?
KW: Yeah. In every group, the elders paved the way to make it easier, you know? Rob Halford made it a lot easier to be me, as I identify as a male. So a queer male in heavy stuff and I’m in my early thirties. I grew up in South Florida in the ‘90s and early 2000s as a queer person, which was definitely not as easy as it would be today, especially because the lexicon and verbiage and visibility of our queer and trans siblings wasn’t prevalent back then. And I feel every generation paves the way and helps set the precedent for what’s coming after it. And that’s really important in music and in life in general, which is, I feel why our music, whenever we talk about our politics, as people were pretty political, so it finds its way in for music. We try to make sure that we don’t shy away from it because it will be in some small way, without a delusion of grandeur, helps me moving forward for other people, right?
VIC: Yeah. Going off that too, we didn’t want to make this illusion of grandeur around us. Because I don’t want to talk over people who might have different experiences, you know, like with our privilege, I don’t want to take up too much space. So we kind of just comfortably make our point.
VIC: Our point, and then move on and then try not to have the loudest voice so we really appreciate getting any platform to speak about shit. So we’re just hoping to not be totally obnoxious, you know?
You have so much going on, you have your grocery store, your music and, and you mentioned the tattoo parlor that you run. So tell me what Hamilton means to you and how it works as your musical base.
VIC: I feel like just having a secure sense of home really helps us feel like we now have a home base, so then we could take care of our work life. And then once that work life situation is on lock, we have a lot of time to focus on other things like music. So I don’t know, being in Hamilton is really cool lately because we finally got to do some recording studio stuff with Boxcar Recording.
KW: I like Hamilton. It’s a really lovely space. We moved here just under three years ago. We were in St. Catherine’s before that and I love Southern Ontario. I really don’t see us leaving Hamilton for a long time. We really love it here and it’s definitely become home.