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Vigilante Interview with Dave Immerz

We catch up with Vigilante frontman, Dave Immerz for a chat about their highly anticipated upcoming debut album "Quality Of Life", the state of Australian hardcore at the moment and the decision to donate band money to a homeless shelter.

 
As this is the first interview we’ve done on Vigilante. Can you give us a lowdown on how the band came together, past histories, football teams supported etc?

Jake had some riffs and ideas for some new Bad Blood songs but we finished before we could start using them beyond a rehearsal or two. Jake joined Ill Brigade after we finished Bad Blood in 2009 but those ideas didn't really fit with what they were doing but were too good to leave, so we talked about doing another band. We knew Jim was down after he finished with The Deadwalk and was living in Sydney so I called up Mick Anderson to see if he was keen to jam and we hit Zen to go through some of Jake's ideas. Earlier that day Mick got hit by a car on his bike so he wasn't feeling great, but he just got on with it and didn't complain. A couple of days later Mick called and said he wanted to focus on his new band Homeward Bound. I think Jake suggested getting Dean and Coyle but I didn't think they'd wanna do both Ill Brigade and Vigilante. I'm so glad I was wrong.

Dean and Coyle were in Right Idea and did some other short-lived bands in the late 90s and then Ill in the mid 00s which evolved into Ill Brigade. I can't keep up with Coyle's other recent bands, I find out when a new demo tape turns up on our merch table! He's currently drumming for Cop Gestapo as well. Jake played in Urban Mayhem in the mid 90s, Strength Within for a while before they broke up, Bad Blood and Ill Brigade. Jim did a few different bands in Newcastle but I guess the most notable one was The Deadwalk. I did Last Nerve and Bad Blood from 02-09.

Jim and I are religious football fans. Jim supports Chelsea in the EPL and Newcastle Jets in the A League. I support FC Augsburg in the German 1.Bundesliga and am in the contentious process of changing my A-League allegiance from Sydney FC to Western Sydney Wanderers, for birthplace reasons, being a genuine westie and constantly frustrated with most of what Sydney FC do on and off the field. Any club who has had Terry Butcher, John Kosmina and Frank Farina within a few years will not get my support. Jake's been to a Boca Juniors game in Argentina which is probably the equivalent to an Altercation show at CBGBs but with more people going to the toilet in front of you, not sure if he still follows them or not? Coyle is a Melbourne Storm fan but that's not football. I sold a lot of records and all my bass gear in 2011 to fly to Germany for a football game if that's any indication how much I love my team.
 
Vigilante marks a return to the mic for you after playing bass in Bad Blood for its existence. Pretty sure you swore never to go back. What changed this decision for you?

You're right, I didn't want to sing in a band again. I liked playing bass but wanted to do other things I neglected while doing bands when Bad Blood finished. Jake asked me to do it and I thought the opportunity was too good to pass up because the music was great and the line-up was better, so I wrote some lyrics. When we went to record the demo, I wasn't that confident and told Jake beforehand if you're not happy with it, get someone else. They haven't kicked me out yet.

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Given most of you guys have been going to local shows since the 90s and have experienced the growth of hardcore first hand in Australia, what sort of differences are there in terms of being an active band and supporter of the hardcore scene?

This is tough to answer. Change is inevitable so we just have to deal with it. It's all far easier and more immediate than it was, mainly due to technology. Waiting for bands to tour and releases to get to Australia was a big deal then for me and still makes me happier when I think about it.

Nowadays it seems like there's a lot more bands and shows and as soon as a release is out, within days the focus is elsewhere. I personally think this has also watered hardcore down because there are multiple bands that sound very similar.
 
Is the hardcore community, community-less or does the flame still burn?

I think it's divided and always will be but that's not a bad thing. Someone recently told me there were crews in the scene and I thought that was cute. From when I started going to shows I noticed there have always been cliques but it's usually with younger kids. It does change as you get older, either you embrace it for what it is, be bitter about it or stop being involved. My outlook is simple. Get involved if you've got something positive to contribute, if it's watching and enjoying a show or playing in a band. If you can't contribute, why bother wasting the time?

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If people have seen Vigilante live before then they probably have seen the sixth member of Vigilante, Felipe Gonzalez playing as well. What’s the deal there exactly?

Felipe is our Chilean brother and he has filled in when either Jim or Dean couldn't play. I've never known of a band with an additional member who not only plays well but is a certified dude who offers valuable input to a band. It would be weird with three guitarists but he's there for us when we need and we're so grateful.

Close to a two-year gap between the demo release and “Quality Of Life”. Why so long to head back into the studio again?

Work, life, moving, weddings, holidays. It was almost two years to the day we started both recordings but I think the demo was solid and once we added the song we recorded for the Split Scene comp and a couple of covers to a set, we had enough to mix it up. We also didn't see the point of rushing.
 
So is there more of a laid back approach to Vigilante perhaps in comparison to bands you’ve done in the past?

For me, yes and no. Last Nerve and Bad Blood were never too serious for me, they all had to be fun and we always wanted to do our best with whatever we released or whenever we played. Vigilante has been the slowest recording and playing wise but it doesn't seem to be an issue and I like having the time to process what we're doing.

“Quality Of Life” is also getting a US release through Six Feet Under records. How did this come about?

Coyle emailed Dave SFU and he had our demo and was into it so Coyle mentioned it to Graham at Resist and the rest is history. No releases from our previous bands were joint releases in the USA so it was something new for us to try as well. Bad Blood played a few shows with Blacklisted when they toured here in ‘08 and Dave seemed like a good guy and I like The Boils so I knew it was a good decision.
 
Great idea to donate proceeds from the pre-order to charity. Was this a reaction to all the rampant consumerism that seems to go hand in hand with preorders in hardcore these days?

That was part of the reason. When I see hardcore bands with pre-order items that are part of pop culture, it seems so contradictory, but maybe that's what it has become? We threw around ideas but they all seemed like a gimmick. We wanted to do something different and we'd never seen a band do that before, not in Sydney at least. That's hardcore punk to me.

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You’ve chosen Sydney charity The Station, one that you already donate 10% of all merch sales too from the Vigilante webstore, why this charity in particular?

If the lyrical content was going to be influenced by social justice issues, why not try and extend it to promote a worthwhile cause? It was tough finding a charity in Sydney without any political and religious affiliations. I stumbled across The Station Ltd and whenever I drop off a donation, it's fantastic to see how they're helping and how other individuals, organisations and businesses are contributing. So many people in undesirable situations are there because they were dealt a cruel hand in life. They shouldn't be dismissed and eliminated from society and deserve recognition.
 
A lot of the lyrical content on the demo seems to be a personal reflection on some of the more negative sheepish aspects of society. Judging by the artwork it looks as though this theme is carried over with the new record?

It's definitely not a personal reflection, more a personal interpretation. I figured if I was going to sing in a band again I'd better find something to sing about. One of the first records I heard was AF's ‘Cause For Alarm’ LP and I always liked the social justice angle of Roger's lyrics. After working at a couple of places that dealt with the absolute negatives of the world, I had a lot going through my head. The theme will always be a part of Vigilante but it's not literal. That goes for the artwork on “Quality Of Life” as well. We all have problems and they're all relative to our own lives, some extreme and some superficial.

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What about the song “Violence” you have been playing a bit live lately? What’s that in relation too?

I used to read court reports at a previous job and so many were related to mindless violence, often ending in manslaughter charges or chronic abuse. It made me think a lot about how the lives of the victims and the perpetrators can be ruined. We all have bad days and it's cliche but violence solves nothing but sometimes we can't control ourselves. The violent option is usually the easiest, especially if we're a little confident or safe in a crowd. It's a message that's so easy to say from my privileged position but I feel it's better that it is being said. Don't get me wrong though, I love ‘The Eliminator’.
 
“Quality Of Life” was recorded with a guy perhaps best known as a folk-rock musician in that of Jonathan Boulet. How did this all come about and what did he make of you lot?

One of the guitarists from Snake Face was talking to Coyle and Dean at a show in 2010 about the Snake Face recording and told them their bass player (Jono) recorded it in his garage. He hooked us up with his contact details for the demo and it was the easiest recording I have ever done and that goes for “Quality Of Life” as well. We didn't have a lot of options at the time either. Jono's so genuine, creative, honest and talented. It was always fun getting to hang out while we recorded and even better seeing him play live. He's not your stereotypical musician who is simply good at everything. He gets everything as well and makes it seem so easy. I thought he'd cringe when we wanted to record the Altercation cover but it just goes to show my perception was the problem.
 
Rumour has it the studio’s smoke alarms had to be disconnected due to guitarist Jake’s shredding lead breaks?

No smoke alarms, just some melted faces. The last track made us all a little hungry.

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Having travelled interstate a few times now and recently been a part of the Hardcore 2012 line-up, what other bands around the country have impressed?

Mindsnare. And out of fear of forgetting someone, these newer bands I saw for the first time in the last year really impressed me: Frozen Over, Reincarnation, Outright, Crisis Alert, The Others, Survival and Boneless.
 
What covers have you guys played of late and how hard is the decision process on what gets chosen?

We've had the same covers for a while, ‘Breakaway’ by Straight Ahead, ‘Crazy But Not Insane’ by Warzone and ‘Blind Justice’ by AF. We also recorded Altercation's ‘Vigilante Song’ for the “Quality Of Life” 12" which we've played live a couple of times but not too many kids know it. That's the only tough part about choosing a cover. Do we play something kids know or something we think kids should know?
 
What’s on the radar for Vigilante once the record drops?

We'll definitely play a launch show in Sydney, probably with a surprise or two and hopefully we can get Iron Mind up to play. We'll try and do some shows around the country this year as well but not much more is planned at this stage.
 
Any final words / plugs / thanks?

Thanks for the interview and to anyone who has caught us live and pre-ordered the new record. Visit www.vigilante-sydney.com for news, merch, shows and more.

PreOrders of the "Quality Of Life" LP through Resist have now sold out. Black copies of the LP will be available on March 1st.

Check out some footage of Vigilante recently at Blackwire Records.


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