Portland synth-pop quintet Wampire dropped their debut album Curiosity back in May of last year. Comprised of Eric Phipps, Rocky Tinder, Cole Browning, Kevin Rafn, and Andrew Meininger, the band’s latest release is Giants — a psych-pop single taken from the debut. To find out what’s next, we had a chat with Eric Phipps to discuss touring essentials, tearing a water pipe by dancing, their thoughts on Curiosity, and they play two lies, one truth.
AMBY: Hey Wampire, thanks for speaking with AMBY. What’s the band been up to?
Wampire: Hey this is Eric here! Wampire thanks you for taking the time to feature the band. Oh man, what have we been up to?… We went on two back to back tours through Australia and Europe in the Fall to end a great year of touring around the US and the World supporting our first studio album, Curiosity. Now we have returned home to surprisingly dry Portland , Oregon (no rain this year?) to write a new album. It’s been an interesting year for us and now we’re planning on heading off to New York City in the Spring to record our 2nd album with Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. No promises on when the album will be finished, but we are very excited to hit the studio again.
AMBY: How would you describe each member of Wampire in one word?
Wampire: Rocky- Tender Cole- Brownsound Owen- Skooter Thomas- Debonair Eric- Phlerpz
AMBY: The band was recent on a rather large Fall Tour. What were some of the highlights?
Wampire: At this point, our Fall Tour is a distant memory, but the European Tour in November was amazing. Some highlights include opening up for our buddies UMO at the Electric Ballroom in London , finding and renting a 9 bed luxury apartment in the center of Prague for only 40 Euro, and playing our sold out Paris show. We had our debut showing of our video for The Hearse in Paris after our set, and the French film crew was in attendance. It felt like we had toured our asses off for a reason at that point. All in all, we had the best time in Europe and can’t wait to come back.
AMBY: Which three items could you not live without while on tour?
Wampire: 1) Toothbrush 2) My essential minimum of 20 pairs of socks 3) Swim trunks
AMBY: What’s the funniest thing to happen to Wampire at a gig?
Wampire: There are so many stories of weird/funny things happening at our shows, but the best I can think of at the moment happened in our early formative years in Oakland , California . We were playing in this dirty old basement of a warehouse or something, if I recall correctly. We were playing Orchards maybe? I’m not too sure where we were in the set, but I think we were only 2 songs into it when this dude (who was putting the show) got so pumped while he was dancing that he tore a water pipe out of the ceiling and soooo much water came crashing down near the end of the song. Gallons upon gallons of water started shooting out of the pipe like a fountain. When we finally finished the song (as quickly as possible) we grabbed every single piece of gear and moved it to a relatively safe place in the basement and, surprisingly, nobody or their gear got wet in the process. It’s times like these that you just have to laugh at the crazy shit that happens at shows.
AMBY: Your record Curiosity was released back in May. What are your thoughts on the album now, a few months forward?
Wampire: I feel good about the album in retrospect. It’s always hard as an artist to tell if what you are making at any given moment in time is relevant or desired by an audience. People’s taste in music is constantly changing, but I think that is the key to understanding today’s music environment. People are excited to hear new mixtures of sounds, and that’s what we enjoy too. We have been trying to create a “sound” while constantly evading a specific genre. I think that is what Curiosity was for the band–a kind of experiment to see what sounds we were really into. So now, we’re going to try and build on what we started with Curiosity on our next studio effort. After nearly a year of supporting Curiosity have moved on to the next step of writing and recording the 2nd batch of material.
AMBY: The video for The Hearse is really like a mini-movie. What kind of reaction did you expect viewers to have after watching it?
Wampire: When we saw the final cut, we were all shocked and thrilled by how epic the video was. I expected people to have a similar reaction to the one I had, which was a strange combination of emotions. The ending leaves you speechless, and everything from beginning to end is a crescendo to the final Stockholm Syndrome moment. It’s just wild. I didn’t know that the video was going to come out to be so rad. We were all really pumped on the lighting and the classic look of the video as well.
AMBY: Which other artists from Portland should we keep our eyes on?
Wampire: The Shivas have been on the road a bunch and have a pretty sweet album out on K records. Guantanamo Baywatch is great. I don’t actually get to see enough of Portland ’s music scene because I’m gone on tour so much and it’s always changing. Not to mention I’ve been hiding away and writing most of the Winter.
AMBY: If you could choose to have your music featured in any movie or show, which would you choose?
Wampire: Nightrider or X-Files
AMBY: What’s your favourite release of the year?
Wampire: I really am not a huge listener of brand new music unfortunately. It usually takes me a while to dig into a band that isn’t from the 70’s or 80’s or something. Maybe I’m trying to catch up on where the state of popular music is today, I dunno. I really liked the Foxygen record, “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic”. That is a 2013 album that was in constant rotation in my record collection this year. I mostly listen to Soul, David Bowie, 60’s psych, and German post-punk or electro-punk like D.A.F.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Wampire that nobody knows yet?
Wampire: What else is there to know? We got our start as a live karaoke band at a country bar. We also have two albums out under the moniker Sex Snake. We like B grade horror films. One of those statements is true; the other are false.
Thank you Wampire, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout