The Vice Rags’ 2017 EP, ‘Hope The Neighbours Are Lookin’’, was a wonderfully raucous affair. Its five songs drew from a few classic styles, taking in some full throttle garage rock (‘Shut Up & Love Me’), overdriven rock ‘n’ roll (‘Out On The Street’), and even massive love for The Replacements (‘One Heart’), each track cutting loose in a superbly trashy style. Their self-penned material showed a lot of spark, but it was a supercharged garage punk rendition of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ that suggested that this was a band who’d be able to go all out on their follow up release.
The origins of this EP go back a long way. All the way back to 2003, to be exact. New Jersey power poppers The Blakes recorded some demos and had plans to form them into a fully fledged, fully finished release to follow their debut EP…and then they split. The Blakes’ vocalist/guitarist Paul Rosevear and bassist Gay Elvis subsequently formed Readymade Breakup, a great band that adopted a few more alternative rock traits and, as the years passed, The Blakes became an ever fading memory.
That’s how New Jersey garage rockers The Vice Rags choose to introduce themselves, playing up the fact that making cool music should often have a feeling of camaraderie and also, that unless you’re the spoilt talentless son of a media mogul or know the Arctic Monkeys in person, there’s no such thing as overnight success. Both guitarist/vocalist Paul Rosevear and Gay Elvis (bass) are members of the on/off garage rock/power pop trio Readymade Breakup; Elv also played with punkers Kid With No Head, who opened for The Offspring, blink-182 and the mighty Bad Religion; drummer Joe Chyb has links with The Anderson Council and guitarist Jack Roberts played with Prunella Scales, a much overlooked band fronted by Skid Row’s Rachel Bolan, as well as having been a long-serving member of Mars Needs Women, with whom he shared a stage with Cheap Trick. With all that behind them, you could say that The Vice Rags have something of a cult pedigree.
Readymade Breakup’s third album – their self-titled release from 2011 – was, at the time of release, their best to date. It was still a little hit and miss but the good material far outweighed the bad, while the band’s newly found tougher sound was clearly a step in the right direction. Time passed. A follow up never came and the band seemed to lose the momentum built up by the release. Their drummer moved away; their bassist, Mr. Gay Elvis, put out his own EP in 2014 and with an ever expanding gap between the present and their last release, by the end of 2015, it seemed Readymade Breakup were done.
Gay Elvis is the long-serving bassist with New Jersey based alt-rock/power pop band Readymade Breakup. In between work with that band, he’s tinkered with extra-curricular recordings, the first fruits of which surfaced as a free download track ‘Morning Cigarette’ in 2012. Since then, he’s embraced fatherhood. Various songwriting sessions since then yielded the bones some thirty or so songs, but by the musician’s own admission, those songs tackled the same topics repeatedly – how it sucks to grow up, how growing up can turn you into a loser and ultimately how growing up is inevitable…and cool. No matter how the tunes sounded, the sentiments were always pre-occupied with maturity. In this sense, he had hoped that his solo release would “be [his] ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Abbey Road’”. Things don’t always turn out as planned and after shelving lots of incomplete material for a later convenience, the result is this three song EP. Judging by these songs, it’s a shame we didn’t get just a little bit more…