The Vandals

Interviews | Nov 30th, 1998

I love the lyrics of your songs-what inspires your humor?
Joe Escalante: A lot of it we steal from television shows and movies that we watch, and a lot of it we make up. And some of it is better than the stuff we steal, so that’s why we started making tv shows and movies lately because maybe ours will be just as good.

How would you describe Orange County, your hometown?
We refer to it as God’s area. It’s one of those great places to raise your kids. There are no urban areas-it’s all small cities, some of them better looking than others, but it’s a great place. Right now I’m living in Hollywood. I’m a big sell-out.

And Hollywood’s changed from what I understand.
Yeah, Hollywood is undergoing kind of like what New York’s undergoing. It used to be the most disappointing tourist destination in the world-I used to feel sorry for the tourists. And now they’re really fixing it up. It’s becoming more like the Hollywood of the 1950’s when all the movies were made there and it was kind of a fun place and then a lot of the movie industry went to the Valley, where it was cheaper. And now a lot of it is coming back, and that’s where we are. So we make movies in Hollywood which is a kind of old school thing to do.

You guys are pretty popular in the UK-besides music, is there anything over there that you enjoy?
They have funny things like Monty Python and Benny Hill, and they seem to have latched on to our sense of humor. The main reason why we’re popular there, though, is because we love the place, so we keep going back to try to be popular there. And there are some places that we don’t try because we don’t want to go there that much-I mean the weather’s bad or it just doesn’t seem worth it. You can’t work on every part of the world, so you pick up places that we love and work on them-Spain, Italy, and England. Holland we became popular by accident. We didn’t necessarily want to go there because it’s cold, and we’re not in love with it, but then we started getting popular there for some reason so we started going there a lot. So if we get popular by accident we’ll follow up on it. And now we have a greater enjoyment of the Netherlands.

Any crazy groupie stories?
I was kidnapped once by a psychotic bisexual couple in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The guy was really strong and dragged me out of the club after all the band members had gone home and threw me in the car and they drove me away. They wanted to take pictures of me at their work-their clean office buildings. I thought at first it wouldn’t be that bad, but then I got really scared and so I ran out of the car at an intersection and they spent the next forty-five minutes trying to find me. And they were pissed.

So I heard you recently graduated from bullfighting school-what got you into bullfighting?
My dad’s Mexican, which makes me half-Mexican, so it’s always been a part of our house and our culture growing up, and when I found out you could actually learn it, I was amazed that somebody would have the nerve to teach bullfighting in San Diego.

What was bullfighting school like?
There’s two parts of it-one is learning how to act like a bull so you can train with other people, so you can pretend you’re a bull and train. You can’t train with live animals that often but we do a lot of training. We do train with live animals but not every week. Now I train in Griffith Park in Los Angeles-there’s a group of people that I met that have been training there every Saturday for thirty years.

Wow, only in California.
Someday there’ll be so many Mexicans and Colombians in this country, they’ll just take over and change the laws and bullfighting will be normal here.

It’s not legal?
It’s not-if it were legal, they’d do a run in Madison Square Garden. Not all the Latin countries do it-Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico.

When you get introduced in the ring do you get introduced as Joe from the Vandals?
No one has ever heard of Joe from the Vandals in bullrings-Jose Escalante. But if I have weird hair they think that’s weird-they’re like oh look at that kid in the ring, bleached hair.

What do you think of Courtney Love’s taking a stand against her record label and signing on to do a couple of songs with Epitaph?
On the one hand, those contracts are a little sided toward the record label, but she was sophisticated enough to understand that when she signed it. So it’s basically a tantrum.

What do you think of George W?
You can’t elect the most brilliant person in the world because he just gets ripped apart or he can’t get enough money, so you have to go with someone who can get things done and can get elected, and wants to do it. So if you want someone that can get something done, he needs a vision and a plan, and it might not be what you agree with, and it might not even be the best one, but at least it’s someone who has an opinion and is going to do it.

What’s the best burrito you’ve ever had? What did it have?
Super Mex in Huntington Beach. Beans and rice, beef, avocado, cheese, salsa, and that’s it.

Which actresses would you love to be cast opposite of?
I like Jennifer Connelly-she’s really cool, and Bjork.

Did you like Dancer in the Dark?
I haven’t seen it. I did interview her for a TV show for an hour. We played in Iceland once and she came-she was in the pits slam dancing. So a couple of years later, I get an opportunity to interview her for some video show and I was trying to tell her about that time-I mean how many American punk bands play in Iceland? She could not remember being there-she was moshing in the pit the whole time and I got my picture taken with her afterwards. She could not remember.

If foot-and-mouth disease spreads to the U.S. do you think we should start eating emo kids?
This is a question for Derek (their drummer that night). Derek: I’d start with straight-edge kids, just because of the lack of chemicals in the body, and start working our way back from there.

Is there anything you’d like to do as a band that you haven’t done yet?
I’d like to be on Conan O’Brien because it’s one of my favorite TV shows, and I was there from the beginning-people said it wouldn’t work.

What would your idea of a punk fantasy be?
Something that would involve a sandwich and the girls from Tsunami Bomb.

The Vandals are:
Dave Quackenbush- vocals
Warren Fitzgerald- guitar
Joe Escalante- bass
Josh Freese- drums