Fireworks and jumping around – Plague Vendor vocalist Brandon Blaine explains setting the mood for the band’s shows

Brandon Blaine sings from atop the crowd’s heads. Photo: Vicious V Photography

Plague Vendor’s Brandon Blaine is hyped for the band’s new EP which is released the same day that I speak to him – their first physical release since parting ways with their previous record label and becoming a truly independent band once again.

“It’s kinda like a cowboy or a bank robber, you know? I think that anybody that is in a band these days, especially an independent band, I can’t help but feel like you are going against the general flow of society. Especially the older we get.”

The six songs on their Rougher Than Rough EP continue the group’s brand of rock that has elements of dirty blues with menacing punk tension laid over swampy bass that sounds best from a late night dimly lit club. Released in tandem with a limited batch of themed coffee by Fuzz Coffee, Blaine describes the vinyl release as a home to some of the band’s recent singles.

Since forming in 2009, Plague Vendor has made a habit of making an immediate impression with their live shows, where Blaine struts, flips, climbs, writhes and otherwise owns not just the stage, but any available space within the vicinity of the room.

“I have my own routine that I do before we play. Like lighting off fireworks, jumping around,” Blaine says, ensuring an energy to maniacally take over the room for the band’s set.

“Sometimes we get offstage and I don’t wanna go. If the show’s really good and the crowd’s really good, if the energy is there, I don’t ever wanna leave the stage. I’d rather keep playing until the last person’s there.”

The group formed in Whittier, California, a town on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Blaine describes the four members knowing each other from living in the town and taking part in a scene that was based less around being pigeonholed into a specific style and more around the appreciation of all types of music.

“No one really cared. I’m friends with a lot of cholos, punk kids, nerds. That’s just kind of the vibe in Whittier. Everyone was pretty different but everyone really loved going to see live music, no matter what genre,” Blaine says.

He describes the band’s earlier days, being added to play backyard and garage parties and practicing out of a house in an area where no one seemed to care about there being a band playing at all hours.

“I don’t really remember cops coming that much honestly. I think the cops maybe came once. We had a house in Uptown and we’d have some crazy parties – kegs inside the house, we’d have bands playing in one room, a DJ dance party going on in the other room, a bunch of people outside. But the area that we were living in at the time had some people that were fresh out of jail living there too, so I think the cops were busy with that…”

With several appearances at Las Vegas’ Punk Rock Bowling Festival under the band’s belt, the group will be returning to the Memorial Day Weekend event and playing one of the nearly three dozen club shows that go on once official fest let’s out each night.

Blaine mentions seeing Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In and Mars Volta, and it leaving him thinking that a front person could go absolutely crazy on stage. That, along with watching of James Brown, Iggy Pop and Jello Biafra, sparked what would ignite Blaine’s performances.

“I just have a lot of energy, and I love bending the rules. And when you’re onstage, you get away with anything.”

After 15 years together, Plague Vendor still plays regularly, and Blaine shows absolutely no signs of tempering his energy at the band’s live performances. He says his lyrics usually stem from the synergy of the group getting together to record, where he often heads with nothing penned, and rides off the energy of the four friends in the studio together.

“It’s all based off feeling. When we’re in the studio together, that’s when the ideas come to me. Most of the time it’s just us in a room and the songs just come together. It’s like if a kid has a new pair of shoes or a new band shirt and he goes to school that day, he’s unstoppable. It’s kinda like the same feeling with us, the more songs we write, it’s like ammunition! It’s like, ‘hell yeah, we’re about to unleash this tonight!’

Plague Vendor’s new EP, Rougher Than Rough, is available on vinyl – limited to 300 copies total – from Fuzz Coffee.

The band will also appear at one of the club shows at the upcoming Schellraiser Music Festival in McGill, Nevada from May 30th-June 1st.

ABOUT Shaun Astor

Picture of Shaun Astor
Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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