KYLE- When did you first stat to get really into music and start to want to play an instrument?
VIC- I was into piano pretty early on- like 4 or so, but not serious.
KYLE- Did you always want to play bass?
VIC- Once I knew what the bass was- recognised it in some song- I have wanted to play bass! I'm really into its funtion, sort of like holding up the whole song on its back.
KYLE- Have you always wanted to make music your career? If not what was the first thing you wanted to do?
VIC- The first thing I wanted to be was a surgeon and I was really into it! I had a copy of Grays anatomy, I readmedical literature...the reason I didnt become a surgeon was because, at age 13, I still had at least 13 more years before I could study medicine, and i wanted to do something IMMEDIATLY! Music won. From what I heard from a friend in medicine, I think I made a good descision.
KYLE- When did you first get into ska and what band turned you on to it?
VIC- The SKatalites turned me on to ska and The Scofflaws turned me o to them! Mike Drance (Now the vocalist of The Bluebeats, but then singer/sax player of The Scofflaws) had all the records. Since I was already a fan of jazz and reggae, the attraction was strong.
KYLE- When did you hook up with The Scofflaws? Were you a founding member?
VIC- I joined The New Bohemians in 1988. I wouldn't call myself a founding member, but I was definantly the first one to stay longer than a month! Most bass players didn;t get it and didn't enjoy it.
KYLE- How long were you with The Scofflaws?
VIC- Seven wild years!
KYLE- Why did you leave the Scofflaws?
VIC- Well, a number of reasons. One is the fact that I have always been sort of freelance. I like the variety, and as Scofflaws got busier, I began to miss sessions in New York. Also, by the time I left, it was no longer the same band I joined- everyone was in The Bluebeats by that point!
KYLE- Is it true that you played bass for Desmond Dekker and The Aces? How was that?
VIC- Yeah! I owe that to Mike Drance for booking The Scofflaws with The Aces in '92. In the middle of the tour their bassist had to go back to England, so I played for the Aces for like 4 weeks. What a blast- my first time out to the West Coast, and we were playing in places like Fresno with Lets Go Bowling
KYLE- What was the first record you produced?
VIC- Either "Oolooloo" (Pietasters) or "Better Late Than Never" (SLackers).
KYLE- How did you start producing? Did you learn it on the way or did you actually know how to use the various knobs and things before hand?
VIC- I definantly am still learning it on the way! My earliest exposure to studios was playing bass for anybody since i was 16 or so. I asked the engineers alot of questions all the time.
KYLE- What are allt he records you have a producing credit for?
VIC- I'll fax you a discography...
KYLE- Is there a certian record that youre most proud of producing?
VIC- Thats difficult to say...probobly mine since its mine and it took so long to get done.
KYLE- How did the New York SKa-Jazz Ensemble come about?
VIC- Rick Faulkner and Fred Reiter, in the Toasters at the time, were the first to move on an idea that had been talked about for a while by many musicians. They picked the band, scheduled everything, paid for everything with Buckets help and got it out fast.
KYLE- Are you a fullt ime member of Ska-Jazz or do you only play on the records?
VIC- I'm no longer playing with them. My last gig was the New England Ska Fest. Sheldon Gregg from the stubborn all-stars swapped bands with me.
KYLE- I saw Ska-Jazz about a year ago with Laurel Aitken. Will they ever come back to cali anytime soon?
VIC- Actually, I think they've been there since for a minute.
KYLE- How did you hook up with The Stubborn All-Stars and the whole Django/Ska Mob thing?
VIC- I first met Django in '89 when The Scofflaws played with Skinnerbox in NYC. We would do more gigs together and get to check each other out. There was always a mutual respect so when he came up with the idea, he gave me, Vic Ruggiero (Slackers), Eddie Ocampo (The Insteps), and Taggiog-I-forgot-his-last-name a call to play those rhythms on the Olds Cool 7"
KYLE- Do you play on the Stubborn All-Stars- "Nex Music" album? I haven't gotten it yet.
VIC- Yeah, I had a bigger hand in this than in the past records. Agent Jay did alot of mixes- this record is totally different fromt he first two, production-wise. More like a Prince Buster record!
KYLE- I also havent been able to get ahold of your new solo album, although I have heard about three songs from it and theyre amazing. Who are the musicians who play with you on that album?
VIC- Mostly Eddie Ocampo on drums, Agent Jay on guitar, Vic Ruggiero on organ, Dave Hillyard on tenor, Buford O'Sullivan on trombone, paul Gebhardt on alto, Rolf Langsjoen on trumpet. Rocker T sings one!
KYLE- How do you like the Version City studio?
VIC- Well, it's pretty nasty down there. When I go there, I use my time well, because its not a place you would choose to hang out in. Ive been working there a long time, and I am really crazy about the sound there. There Adjusters were there with me all last week, 12 hours a day...also I dig how close it is to my home- 6 blocks away! Its right in the middle of everything andmusicians know how to peek their heads in if they see the door open.
KYLE- How owuld you compare the east coast ska scene to the west coast?
VIC- I really couldn't be to objective- in a general sense I guess everything on the west coast seemsto be more expanded- shows are bigger and fewer. The gigs on the east coast are relatively smaller and and occur more often. The scene in NYC right now is spread around a few clubs like The Cooler, Brownies, Wetlands, Raven Bar, Black STar, Lions Den. These last thee have weekly parties.
KYLE- Are there any newer ska bands that youve met and played with or watched play while you were touring or whatever that you are really digging right now?
VIC- I really dig the Radiation Kings. They've been fucking things up for sometime now, so theyre not exactly new.
KYLE- Which do you like better, Moon Records or Stubborn Records crew?
VIC- I really like working for both lables. Django has given me keys to a creative space and made my record possible. Bucket was the first to hire me to produce, helped me alot in that path.
KYLE- How did the Stubborn All-Stars recent European tour go?
VIC- It was great, there was alot of American bands over there at the same time and we kept crossing paths with our buddies- The Slackers, Hepcat, The Skatalites, Ednas Goldfish. I went to England for the first time and Laurel Aitken came down tot he show in Camden London. Bought me a pint he did! It was really great seeing him again. We were absolute rockstars in Postonja, Slovenia on saturday night...
KYLE- I guess thats about it. Is there anything youre working on that you'd like to plug, like something youre producing or recording or writing or anything at all?
VIC- The new Adjusters record will take a while to come out, as will brasiz-punkers White Frogs. I'm really psyched about "Age of the Insects" by Vic Ruggiero.