Cassie Ramone seems to have it all. She plays music for a living, has a critically acclaimed album with her band Vivian Girls, and a rock star last name, but when I caught up with her on a rainy Tuesday morning in Brooklyn, it was all a little less glamorous.
“I’m kind of sick today, so I’m just hanging out at home watching YouTube videos. I wish I was doing the group YouTube, but I’m alone.”
Cassie is used to not living up to expectations. As the lead singer of an all female trio, people try to label the girls, convinced that three girls singing must be some kind of bet or strip show.
“I think that one of the greatest pitfalls of being in an all female band is that people can really write you off and I think that’s because of so many female stereotypes.”
“We don’t fit that: we’re not girls next door; we’re not sexy vixens; we’re not bitches; we’re not valley girls; but somebody always wants to find a stereotype to cling to, to pigeon hole you; that can mislead the public, or misrepresent us.”
One label that can be safely given to the band is ‘new’. They’re a fetus on the scene, forming in 2007, and taking only a year and a half to shock the pants off the underground world.
“We started playing shows in May in New York. It was easy for us to get gigs, because we come from a really supportive punk scene. We also have friends who put on shows at their houses. It’s like these dirty punk houses around Brooklyn, it’s really good, a good scene.”
Upon realising that their sound was being lapped up by the hippest of New Yorkers the girls rushed into the studio to record their self-titled album. However, drinking their way through a European tour meant the record was going to be done on the cheap.
“It was kid of funny, we were on tour before recording it, and we were running out of money. So we got back and only had 900 dollars to record it, so we only had three days to do it: recording on a shoestring. It was a little rushed; we did a lot of mixing ourselves. We just kind of locked ourselves in for two days straight, nearly losing our minds, but it came out well.”
Came out well is an understatement. Critics loved it, and the almighty Pitchfork writers managed to step down from their pedestal to name it the 16th best album of 2008.
Cassie admits that it was ‘amazing and unexpected’, but it doesn’t compare to the hidden delights of touring.
“We played a tiny show in Ohio recently, and it was one of the best shows ever. This hidden basement in Ohio, with all these punks rocking out and fighting, it was crazy. People were passing out, making out. You’ll never know what the show will be like.”
The band will be crisscrossing the USA and Mexico, before popping over to Europe for three weeks. In between this, they’re starting the dreaded second album, but Cassie is serene in her approach.
“I think we’re fairly sure that the 2nd will be better then the first. I think the songs are better; we’ll be able to spend more time making it sound how we want it. Like I said, the first album was rushed, but this time we can take it slower and get it right.”
Nice and slow was the best advice Usher ever gave anyone, and the Vivian Girls are smart to take notice. The band will hole up in an LA studio to record the follow up.
“The place we’re recording in LA, is called the Distillery and The Black Lips recorded there. It’s got this great analog equipment, so we’re really excited about that.”
And just like the late, great Big Kev, I’m excited too.
Check out the band at http://www.viviangirls.net and keep a look out for their album!