We started playing small clubs in Chicago pretty regularly once or twice a month and nobody really liked us. We were extremely irritating, extremely loud, extremely shrill, extremely cacophonous. We thought all our songs were like these really great tuneful classic rock songs, but once you added the extreme volume and distortion that we thought was somehow effective it just turned to a wall of shit. It was basically just so harsh, like no one wanted to listen to it. And we were dicks. Our whole concept was trying to be the most debauched rock idiots we could, and we were really trying to do that image-wise as well as sonically -- we were trying to push everything to the most stupid, extreme parody of male rock aggression. It wasn't slick, but I thought it was pretty funny. So, we used to do things like have costume contests against the other band members -- we would show up at the shows and try to outdo each other in terms of costumes. We basically had a huge wardrobe of garbage clothes that we would sort of rifle through and put these really insane outfits together. Our bass player was named Jesus Maria, our guitar player/singer was Cho-Yun Li, I was Johnny Holocaust and the drummer was Lawrence "Larry" Pomeroy. We also used to make huge full-size body shot posters of ourselves which we would go up in broad daylight on 20 foot ladders and paste in the middle of Wicker Park, right at the corner. We would literally spend an hour in front of cops, in front of everyone basically vandalizing buildings and putting up huge full body shot posters of each member of the band, right next to each other. And no one would come to these shows. We didn't care. We were all about the action and the documentation of doing it. Every show the band ever did was videotaped, although the videotapes have gone missing. I mean, we did more photoshoots than we did gigs I think. We would get dressed up and we ton of photoshoots. We probably did like 20 photoshoots.
One of the concepts behind Vanilla was that we were an unfortunate band of tools who were owned by a Japanese multinational called the Taigkyo Corporation, which was a division of the even larger Nipponese Americorp. We were signed by accident in the grunge explosion, and now we were being turned out by this corporation to be their American emissary pimp grunge/pop band. The idea was that we were extremely unhappy with this and were being basically used like tools so our unpleasantness had to do with the fact that we were being forced into rock slavery. So there was this whole conspiracy theory about the Taigkyo Corporation threatening to kill us all the time and we worked that into our shows and lyrics and our propaganda.
We did a few demos in '94. Then in early '95 we went in and recorded a studio album, which you're listening to right now. in '95 there was a single pressed with two of the songs from the album, but we didn't really sell or distribute the single or make cover art for it. There are a few makeshift covers for it in very low runs, but it was never really distributed or made public. I think there were might have been 300 or 500 copies pressed, and they were just not sold or distributed. You might have gotten one if you went to the show or your a friend of ours. Other than that, I don't know what happened to them or anything about it. We never released the album, we never really had any momentum because no one liked our band. By the end, people were sort of vaguely interested but we had a lot of internal fighting and we kind of petered out in '95 after switching bass players.
The people in the band stayed in touch, and I still consider Cho-Yun Li to be one of my best friends and a creative genius. When we were doing this in Chicago there was a big scene and there was a lot of free time, and it was a totally different milieu than now. Even though no one really liked our band and we didn't really release our record, it is still to me very pertinent because we were part of a social tapestry in Chicago in the mid 90s. People that don't even like us or can't remember anything about us have heard of that band if they're from Chicago -- they remember it. I think our function was just to be in the time, and not be so obsessed with career or a document or anything. We were just really crazy and we hung out a lot and we got really fucking crazy ideas and we actually did them. They weren't well received, but they were really well received by us -- we really thought we were geniuses, and we thought what we were doing was the most amazing shit of all time. I certainly don't have any regrets about it.
-- Weasel Walter, 1.8.2013
Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Vanilla.
Vanilla LP (Taigkyo/Pukekos)