They are the reigning comeback kids of Oz (look out, Johnny Farnham!) and Nancy Vandal are at it again with their new album, Flogging A Dead Phoenix and tour announcement that includes – for the very first time – Soundwave Festival.
“Is there a John Farnham trophy for making comebacks?” Mike “Fox Trotsky” Foxall said.
“We’re pretty good at it, I reckon we’d be in with a chance at the title.
“We work by the model that the less you play the more popular you become… we try to play a gig once every four or five years or so, just so people remember who we are, and realistically there must be something in it because we’ve never been asked to play a national touring festival before.”
Foxall said the band’s latest album was a tongue in cheek reference to the band’s consistent resurrection since their initial ‘retirement’ in 2001.
“We’ve made references to the phoenix a few times in our mid to late career,” he said.
“It’s a good metaphor for the rise and fall of the Vandals as a whole.”
As folklore would have it, Nancy Vandal was formed in the early ’90s by Foxall and guitarist/bassist Jeff “JJ La Moore” Moore, when neither could actually play any instruments.
“We would draw album covers and design t-shirts, come up with ideas for band names and that sort of thing because we thought it would be cool to start a band, even though we had no bloody idea how to play anything,” Foxall said.
“Eventually we thought, ‘stuff it, we have all of these ideas, let’s just start a band so we can use them,’ and the rest is history, as they say.
“Basically yes, we did everything arse backwards.
“It’s the Nancy Vandal way.”
Staying true to the DIY punk ethos, Foxall created a crowd funding page on Pozible to support the recording of Phoenix, which exceeded the initial goal of $5,000 by more than $1,000.
“We really liked the crowd funding kind of model,” he said.
“It’s perfect for underground and small acts like we are.
“We might have been kicking around for a few years now, but we’re still very cottage independent in what we do; we still do all of our own art work, screen printing, merchandise and marketing concepts.
“The punk/DIY ethic is great, it cuts out the middle man and keeps the band very much in touch with the people who enjoy and buy the music.”
With much of the album recorded by former Vandal Jason “Jason Beers” Whalley, Phoenix brought together several members of the Nancy Vandal family.
“Jay used to play with us back in the day,” Foxall said.
“Obviously he’s had his own success now with Frenzal Rhomb, but we still have very close ties with him and he started his own recording studio (Dream Maker Studios) recently, so it was an obvious choice to go into his studio to work on this album.
“He also worked on the mix for us.
“We recorded drums with Russ Pilling at Damien Gerard Studios, the same studio we recorded the first three albums with, so it was really a two-part recording process over about six days in total.
“Jay also did some backing vocals for us, including an acoustic track called We Fucked This City On Rock and Roll, and our old buddy Craigums, a crazy American we worked with on the late ’90s tour, who sang backing vocals on Nowt But A Good Time.”
Along with making music, Foxall is also behind the band’s fanzine, The Vandal’s Voice.
“Back in the day, before the internet was around, we’d send out Aussie pamphlets of rock – mock news stories, gig dates and random stories and drawings that just became part of the Nancy Vandal cycle,” he said.
“When we started working on this album, we decided to do something pretty epic with the fan zine, so we put together a 92-page bumper edition.
“It was a bit of an ordeal, I spent a lot of time stressing as the deadline loomed… there’s comics, lyrics, stories, scripts… basically a hodge-podge of stuff that represents the Vandals.”
Foxall said the current tour lineup was still the last incarnation of Nancy Vandal.
“It’s pretty much how we left it in the late ’90s,” he said.
“I’m loathe to say this is the last time we’ll be on the road… we thought it’d be the last hurrah in ’99, then in ’03, then in ’09, so who knows?
“I hate to get all Farnsy on you again, but this may not be the last time.”
So is the tour going to be a dress rehearsal for Soundwave?
“It is now,” Foxall said.
“The East coast tour was going to be the only thing we did with this album, but that’s really small potatoes now.
“I’m glad though Soundwave wasn’t the first thing we agreed to do, there seems to be less pressure knowing we were doing this in aid of something of a smaller scale.”
So with the same lineup, what can fans expect to see?
“We will be playing a lot of the newer songs, but we will pander to the crowd and play older stuff as well,” Foxall said.
“That’s the beauty of being a punk band though, most of our songs are only one or two minutes long, so we can cram a lot of songs into a set.
“We like to think of it as quantity over quality.”
– Nancy Vandal will perform at Soundwave in February. For more information visit the official web site. You can also check them out at their Flogging A Dead Phoenix tour. Click here for dates and info.