Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Last of The Methadones: An Interview with Dan Vapid

(originally from June 5, 2010)

Recently I had the chance to interview the legendary Dan Vapid for this year’s Insubordination Fest Zine. While he has had a lengthy career with numerous bands, I decided to focus the questions on his band The Methadones as he broke the news to me that Insub Fest would be one of The Methadones final shows before breaking up. Look for a print version of this to appear in a few weeks in the Insub Fest Zine, and a big thanks to Dan for participating in this.

Dave: So The Methadones have decided to break up, what lead you guys to this decision?

Dan: Lots of reasons but mostly I think the band has run it's course. The Methadones have played consistently for 10 years, which is more than any band/project I've been a part of. We had our share of problems but were always intent on working past them. For the last 5 years every member has gone through a period of giving a shit and not giving a shit, all at different times. It got to the point where I felt like we were just going through the motions and forcing it.

Dave: Will Insub Fest be your last show?

Dan: Our last show will be in Chicago sometime at the end of the year.

Dave: Can we talk about the very start of the band? Most people don't know that you initially formed in the early 90s and quickly disbanded. What happened in that brief time period of formation and initial break up?

Dan: The Methadones formed in 1993 as a side band. I was playing in Screeching Weasel and was writing songs that I felt didn't fit Screeching Weasel and wanted an outlet for them. Due to previous commitments and not being able to solidify a line-up The Methadones broke up.

Dave: Was the first line up the same that would later play on the first album, you, B-Face, and Dan Lumley?

Dan: No, the first line-up had Pete Mittler (our current bass player) on guitar, Pat Buckley (ex-Vindictives) on drums, and a bunch of unknowns that came and went. Dan Panic played with us for a brief period as well.

Dave: When you resurrected The Methadones in 1999 did you pick up where you left off in terms of whatever material you had, or did you start from scratch?

Dan: Started from scratch. All the songs that were originally Methadones songs became Riverdales and Mopes songs. Except for a track called "Revitalized" which is on Career Objective.

Dave: Which Riverdales and Mopes songs originated as Methadones songs?

Dan: "Back To You", "Outta Site", "Make Way", "My Heart Won't Bleed For You", and "The World Don't Revolve Around You".

Dave: Why did the rest of the band leave after the first album?

Dan: I was living in Alexandria, Virginia at the time and was trying to get something together. I was writing songs and wanted an outlet for them. I didn't know anybody in the DC area so I asked Dan Lumley and B-face if they would be interested. They had just done The Mopes with me. The material I was writing didn't fit The Mopes, it was darker and I wanted to go in a different direction. I asked if they wanted to make a record with me under the name The Methadones, and they agreed. Since Lumley lived in Indiana and B-face in Boston it made them becoming full time members impossible. Not long after that recording I moved back to Chicago determined to make The Methadones work.

Dave: That album was released on A-F Records, which seems like an odd pairing considering most of the bands on their roster are more political and hardcore based. How did this come about and why did you only put out that first album for them?

Dan: It was an odd pairing but it worked out. I was shopping the record around at the time and nobody was biting. Mass Giorgini from Sonic Iguana Studios had played the recording for Anti-Flag and they liked it and wanted to release it.

Dave: Speaking of labels what happened with Thick Records? Did you ever end up getting paid by them for the releases you did?

Dan: Nope. No statements, no royalties, nothing. Zak Einstein moved to Los Angeles and nobody can get a hold of him. Mike Soucy and I have sent him approximately 20 emails about payment/statements and we have never got a reply back. We used to number each email and eventually lost track. When he lived in Chicago the typical story was The Methadones were on the verge of breaking even. There was always some math that magically ended up in his favor. Complete bullshit. This was about 5 years ago, and we're still waiting. We'll never see a dime. We got screwed. I know in my heart and soul that Zak Einstein is a liar and a crook.

Dave: You've said that The Methadones 2004 album Not Economically Viable was largely based off of the movie Falling Down, are there any other songs you've written based off of movies or literature that wouldn't be apparent to most listeners?

Dan: No, but movies and literature have a strong influence. I love the way Charles Bukowski and John Fante write. I love the simplicity and depth of their writing, I love how they speak volumes by saying little, I think that's amazing. Recently, I've been watching re-runs of the show "Six feet under" and it inspired the lyrics for a new song called "Radiate".

Dave: A few years ago at Insubordination Fest, The Methadones were playing as a five-piece band. Did you dislike/prefer/were indifferent to not having to sing and play guitar at the same time?

Dan: We kinda sucked as a five piece.

Dave: Why did you decide to play 21st Century Power Pop Riot in it's entirety for this years fest?

Dan: Mark Enoch (Insub Fest organizer) asked if we wanted to play that record for a set list. It sounded like a fun idea.

Dave: Do you feel any guilt that sales of the album pay royalties to Gary Glitter?

Dan: We don't sell enough units for him to make anything. Funny you ask, when's the last time you heard "Rock and Roll Part 2" at a sporting event? It's been a while.

Dave: I remember a lot of football stadiums made a conscious effort to stop playing it after his latest exploits a few years back. I know the Patriots now play a U2 song every time they score a touchdown, for better or for worse.

Dan: I think I heard something about that, too. The Chicago Bulls used to constantly play that song but not anymore.

Dave: Will there be any additional dates between this and your last Chicago show?

Dan: I don't think so. That should be it.

Dave: Now that the band is about to end are there any particular moments that stick out as high and low points? Do you have a favorite/least favorite show that you did, or album or song that you recorded?

Dan: I really liked The Methadones from about 2003-2005. I think we were getting to be a pretty good live band and then it just seemed to fizzle. We tried to recapture that but could never get back to that place.

Dave: So is it too early to ask if you could see a Methadones reformation happening some time years down the line? Will this show be the definitive final show?

Dan: My goal is to play a last show and move on. I hope to have a great band experience for these last two shows. I think the other guys would agree. I'll continue playing with Screeching Weasel, Riverdales, and Noise By Numbers.

Dave: I have one quick Screeching Weasel question: in Jughead's semi-true/semi-fictitious book about the band he alludes that Bark Like A Dog was supposed to be released for Epitaph but Rancid got it nixed because of a beef they had with Ben. Do you know if this is semi-true, semi-fictitious, or is it something that will be addressed in the upcoming Screeching Weasel documentary?

Dan: Even if there wasn't a documentary coming out I wouldn't want to speak for Ben or John. You should ask them.

Dave: Do you have any last words up your sleeve for the end of The Methadones, like an "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Dan: Nah, but we will be putting out a last recording with outtakes, b-sides, and 5 new songs. Look for that before the end of the year.

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