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In the blood

VulGarrity is humming on all cylinders
By CHRIS CONTI  |  June 10, 2009

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“We don’t have five dudes on stage pounding out power chords, so we need to find other ways to fill up all that space,” said Shawn Garrity, one-half of the multitasking siblings known as VulGarrity (sister Tracy is three years younger). “It forces us to think differently than before, and that’s proven to be a breathe of fresh air.

“Our live show takes a lot of concentration. There are three instruments on stage and only two of us and we switch instruments a lot, sometimes within the same song. It’s much harder but also much more fun.”

VulGarrity ( have drawn comparisons to the White Stripes with their loud-as-hell approach onstage, and while their 2008 debut album If You Sing It, They Will Hum . . . (at and iTunes) booms with aggressive beats and fuzzy, highly addictive garage riffs throughout, Shawn was quick to clarify: “The White Stripes comparison is definitely more visually-based than musically,” he said last week, prior to hopping the ferry for a show at the Block Island Music Festival.

“We saw the White Stripes when they came to Lupo’s years ago and I couldn’t get past the lack of  low end in their sound,” he said. “Tracy and I had previously toyed with the idea of a two-piece and I said to myself that night, ‘If we decide to do this, it has to sound big — bigger than this.’ ”

It came as no surprise when Garrity revealed that he was listening to “a lot of Rush and Faith No More, and Tracy was on a huge Joy Division/Queens of the Stone Age kick” while they were recording If You Sing It; the hook on opening cut “No Coin” is Queens-meets-KISS all day, and continues with killer cuts “From Underground” and “Plane In the Water” that reek of stoner rawk, with Garrity channeling Josh Homme with that howling, balls-out falsetto. “Midnight on a dead man’s road trip,” Garrity begins on “From Underground,” and by the time you hit “Boogeyman” and “Killer In the Back Seat” (the opening chug hits like the Hives) into “Zombie Town,” there’s a theme brewing. “Tracy and I are heavily addicted to horror movies,” Shawn noted.

If You Sing It boasts no filler, with later-half standouts “Just Tonight,” “Medicine Man,” and “Sunday Afternoon Stroll” (with Tracy on vocals) holding their own.

“We have this cheesy old karaoke machine that records on cassette tapes, and we filled three 90-minute cassettes of riffs and beats with no vocals,” Shawn recalled. “We each brought home copies and wrote lyrics to the ones we liked best. It worked out perfectly, so we’re taking a similar approach with the next album.

Bassist Angelo Grancpo, who had played with the duo since their stint in Rebecca Nurse, left the band last year citing the usual “creative differences,” and yet provided a key moment of clarity before recording If You Sing It, calling for a simpler, family-friendly approach.

“The family thing helps a lot, and creating music together is much easier than trying to create it with anyone else because we’re not afraid to tell each other when something doesn’t work,” Shawn said. “So the end result is something both of us are completely happy with, which has never been possible when other musicians are involved.”

Creating music together is one thing, but what about the thought of driving cross-country with your younger sister on a whirlwind, two-week tour from here to Los Angeles and back? The irony wasn’t lost on Shawn, who had dubbed the trek “The Sibling Rivalry Tour.”

“We got in a huge fight after a show in Michigan — I’m surprised no one called the cops,” he recalled. “If we weren’t brother and sister, we wouldn’t be in a band together right now. But, we woke up the next morning, talked it out and forgave each other, and drove to the next show.

“Everyone told us we were crazy to drive there and back in two weeks, but we did it and it was a blast,” he said, “We’re planning on doing another one in the fall.”  

ROUTE .44 + VULGARRITY + MILQUETOAST & CO. | The Blackstone, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket | Saturday, June 13 @ 9 pm | 401.726.2181


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