Victims Family (USA)
Formed in Santa Rosa, California, generic in 1984, Victims Family made an indelible mark in the Punk and Indie scenes with their mad tempo changes and flirtations with Hardcore Punk, Jazz, Funk and Noise textures and satirical and poignant lyrics. In an era when Punk devolved into metal they went in a direction uniquely their own.
The original line-up of Ralph Spight (Guitar, Vocals), Larry Boothroyd (Bass) and Devon VrMeer (Drums) caught the collective attention of the underground with their 1986 debut release “Voltage and Violets” (Mordam/Konkurrel), an angry brew of off-kilter rhythms and cut and paste histrionics. On 1988’s “Things I Hate To Admit” (Mordam/Konkurrel), they stretched out further from placid instrumentals leading to furious diatribes about the late 80’s cultural miasma. In a live setting VF was a well-oiled machine, a tight and relentlessly challenging barrage of Devon and Larry’s syncopated attack and Ralph’s alternately musical and noisy approach to both guitar and singing.
After Devon’s departure VF roadie Tim Solyan was recruited to fill the drum chair and the resultant 1990 album “White Bread Blues” (Mordam/Konkurrel) was a roller coaster ride through a flaming funhouse. Produced by No Means No drummer John Wright, the album made Victims Family a headlining act throughout Europe and North America. Wright was also brought into produce “The Germ” (Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel 1992). After splitting for a time in 1992 they came back in 1994 with “Headache Remedy” (Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel) and 1995’s live set “Four Great Thrash Songs” (Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel). Then after ten years and six albums VF disbanded or so it seemed.
Back in California Larry formed Saturn’s Flea Collar with Austin TX transplant Jason Christian and, needing a guitarist, called on Ralph. The trio explored effects laden sci-fi acid punk on the 7″ single “Stretch to Activate” (Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel, 1996) and the full length “Monosyllabic” (Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel 1997), toured Europe and the U.S. and disbanded.
SFC begat Hellworms which carried the VF torch through “Crowd Repellent” (1998, Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel)and the “Glamorous Drug Problem” 7″ (Very Small Records, 1999).
With the departure of drummer Joaquin Spengemann, Ralph and Larry decided to revive the Victims Family name as an umbrella under which to play both old and new material from all three bands. After months of frustrating drummer auditions and false starts, David Gleza (ex-of My Name) was recruited and the trio began writing and recording an album entitled “Apocalicious”, (Alternative Tentacles/Konkurrel, 2001). After several tours and a split single with Fleshies (Alternative Tentacles,2001) Gleza left the band to return to his native Washington State. Frustrated with their inability to keep the band together,Ralph and Larry called it quits. Ralph forming The Freak Accident and Larry formed Triclops with memebers of Fleshies, Bottles and Skulls and Lower 48.
In 2004 Victims Family regrouped for two marathon twentiweth anniversary conerts in Northern California with Tim Solyan, which also featured Ralph and Larry’s other groups The Freak Accident,MeowMeow and the Meow Meows,Saturn’s Flea Collar and Hellworms. This began a sporadic regrouping of the classic line up of the band with Solyan on drums. When they were approached in 2008 by Gerry Stumbaugh of their hometown’s Saint Rose Records to re-issue first three records, now long out of print in North America, they agreed, and began playing concets concerts in support of the release. The release of the White Bread Blues re-issue (Saint Rose Records,2010) the band began playing live shows in earnest again, supporting No Means No at Petaluma’s venerable Phoenix Theater and Alternative Tentacles 30th anniversary show at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall.
An invitiation from the band Sabot to play a festival at their arts center in Tabor, Czech Republic led to the upcoming 10 shows in 10 days swing theough Europe in April-May 2010. The band plans to continue playing live shows, with possible new material in the works.