“I know it sounds lame, but I actually did come down here [to San Diego] seven years ago to follow my dreams of grandeur,” says Ambient Bob, bass player for the Vulgar Herd.
What was the dream? “To be a rock star,” he confesses. “Met a lot of great people, did a lot of great things, and it all fell through. I didn’t play the kind of music I liked then, in hopes of getting rich quick. Ended up taking a lucrative yet brief stint in the mortgage business. We all know about that one. The way I see it now is…I may as well like what I do.”
“Loud and unapologetic” is how the Vulgar Herd describe themselves, “a cross between groove, 7/8, metal, funk…” A blogger at dirtbagsdelight.wordpress.com, discussing a show at the Ken Club, called the band an “odd mixture of Pretzel Logic–era Steely Dan and Europe, of all bands.”
The Vulgar Herd is a five-piece. Trash Arch (guitar) and Ambient Bob provided answers — Theo (keys), Chris (guitar), and Vaughn (percussion) remained quiet.
Thrash Arch: “My electric is an Epiphone 335 DOT semi-hollow body that is relatively new. I bought it a few years ago. Because it’s semi-hollow, it really picks up a lot of sustain, and I swear it’s getting a warmer and warmer tone the older it gets. The wood just picks up so much ambient vibe because it’s hollow — it’s like playing an acoustic but with more guts. It’s kinda cool to think that most of that guitar’s sound is really just the empty space between the front and back.”
Ambient Bob: “At the ripe age of 21, after a dismal settlement with Wal-Mart at the cost of my back, I walked into Guitar Center. I had frequented the place for a couple of months prior in expectation of a settlement. They had a fretless, five-string Music Man Stingray at the very top of their bass room. Just like Wayne [Wayne’s World], I knew it would be mine…‘oh yes, it would be mine.’ After I got paid I had $2000 to invest in a guitar — $800 less than the guitar’s list price. I walked up to the first person I saw and acted like I could afford to buy the entire store. I had them get the ladder, grab my axe. I told them that I wanted the Boss GTB-6 effects pedal, a hard case, a mike, a mike stand, and all the cables to make me show-worthy. He asked if I wanted to play the guitar before buying it. I arrogantly said ‘no.’ The gentleman rang me up and said that the total was going to be $3900. I had my $2K in cash and pulled it out. I said, ‘I’ve got this to spend; I’m getting more money next week. I know you make commission. Give me your business card, and I will make sure you get the amp I buy next week.’ Essentially I got everything for what I brought in and have never since walked into that store.”
WHAT SUCKS WHEN PLAYING LIVE?
Ambient Bob: “Anticipating the other bands that are on the bill and the soundman’s perception of what we are supposed to sound like. Not to say that either is the problem, but sometimes we have been stuck with bands in different genres than what our style is. Also when the soundman thinks that our mix should be one way, finds out that our emphasis lies somewhere else, and does a lot of live mixing. A great soundman is crucial, as is getting on, or making, a bill that fits within the same genre. We have played at Humphrey’s a couple of times, had a great time, but I don’t know — if I were on vacation, in my elder years, would I want to hear a bunch of progressive-type music?”
Thrash Arch: “Not getting drunk before we go on.”
Ambient Bob: “Best: Riverside, playing at a costume party where we represented the future. Every band had a specific timeline that they represented. There was a band called Hobo Jazz that definitely lived up to the old rail-hobo mentality…whether we really are the future is yet to be told. Worst show would have to be at Scolari’s Office. We set up really early and had some time to kill. Arch lives in Encinitas, so I figured I would be hospitable and have him over for ‘a’ drink before the show. Two bottles of cheap wine and a couple shots of Jim Beam, we stroll back to Scolari’s — we don’t remember the rest of the show.”
SEXIEST LOCAL PERFORMER?
Thrash Arch: “I saw a solo cellist perform with the San Diego Symphony last year at the Embarcadero, and seeing a girl put that much passion into an instrument was sexy as hell.”
Thrash Arch: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” — Mark Twain.