Both the Beat Awfuls and Viva Viva (the latter being the get-famous vehicle — Vicini often refers to the former as being a “fake real band”) came together around the same time, during the winter of ’05-’06 as the Lot Six and Dirty Holiday were petering out. After a few months of living in Brooklyn, Vicini moved in with Warren and his girlfriend in Jamaica Plain. Warren: “There was this extra room, the green room, where it was always like three o’clock in the morning. No daylight would get in. Dave would write his songs in his room and I would write my songs in my room, and then one day we just started playing in the same room. Practice spaces are really stale — it’s a sterile environment, whereas at your house you’ve got your books, you’ve got your records. It’s where you’re comfortable. We didn’t have to set up a band practice or anything. It’d be like, ‘Dave, I’ve got a song,’ down the hall. ‘Yo, check it out.’ And that’s practice.”
Over the next two months or so they wrote enough songs to fill upwards of 20 four-track cassettes. Then, along with Burke and Cassanetti (who had been in the Lot Six with Vicini) and the Allen brothers, they recorded eight songs in Tulsa frontman Carter Tanton’s Allston basement, using a gallimaufry of dusty old analog equipment. The Beat Awfuls had previously recorded three songs there; Vicini put them together with nine home recordings and three live tracks for a homemade release called Let’s Get Lost. He told Warren he never wanted to record with anyone else. Viva Viva are using seven of the eight songs they did with Tanton for an EP called Art Sex Death and Time. They’re in the process of putting together 100 one-of-a-kind packages, some of which they hope will be ready for their next show, February 24 at Great Scott.
The songs on ASDT sound as if they could’ve been recorded in the late ’60s or early ’70s, with their bluesy Stones riffs, fuzzed-out organ lines and guitar leads, echoey vocals, and generous auxiliary percussion. Vicini and Warren have a way with words, both trafficking in a sort of druggy poeticism. On “Heartache and the Blood,” the poppiest song on the EP, Warren makes deft — and poignant — use of his parents to address his own fears and anxieties: “Maybe they were drunk and insane when they were in their 20s/They were probably afraid because they didn’t have no money.”
Earlier on the album, Warren and Vicini sing in harmony, “We don’t need rock and roll/We don’t need anything.” But talking with Vicini, you get the impression music is as important to him as food and water. “I suck at everything else. I’ll probably die a poor-ass broke bum. But I don’t care. I’ll totally be happy. I made that decision and it’s awesome. It has freed me from so much shit. I’m doing this forever, and there’s no turning back. It’s a beautiful thing, I think.”
VIVA VIVA | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Boston | February 24 | 617.734.4502