Detroit’s Koffin Kats bring non-stop psychobilly tour to Blind Bob’s
By Gary Spencer
There’s an ages-old saying that suggests there is “no rest for the wicked.” If that adage is indeed true, Detroit punk-gone-psychobilly trio Koffin Kats must truly be evil. Formed nearly a decade ago in the Motor City by upright bass guitarist and vocalist Vic Victor, Koffin Kats have become a touring machine both in the States and abroad.
“We started back in June of 2003,” Victor told me via email. “After playing for some time in local Detroit bands, I wanted to be in a band that could tour … I certainly got that – over 1,500 shows performed in North America and Europe. For the last four or five years we have been touring the majority of the year in North America and the countries in Europe you can go to without getting beheaded. We have been to Europe twice this year and after the new year we will be doing our eighth tour over there. By the end of this year we will have been on the road nearly 10 months.”
Without a doubt, Koffin Kats have earned their fan base via their live show, and that’s where Koffin Kats feel the most comfortable. “There is energy with live music that can never be recreated on a recording,” Victor said. “You have to be there to feel it. I think it’s sad that more and more people these days would rather watch shows online or not go out versus actually attending a show. We like to have a good time with the crowd at our shows. We hang out and shoot the shit with people until it’s time go to the stage. We like to think of our shows as one big party and we have never been a band to shoegaze.”
But this isn’t to say that Koffin Kats are slouches in the studio or on wax. On the band’s newest full length album Our Way and the Highway, out on Sailor’s Grave records, Vic Victor’s pulsing stand-up bass riffing is joined by the pulse-quickening, punk-influenced guitar riffs of six-string axeman E.Z. Ian and the insistently upbeat skin pounding of E-Ball on the drums. Koffin Kats’ songs are short, fast and furious, accented by vocal harmonies, catchy choruses and Vic Victor’s vocals that often echo the crooning pipes of The Damned’s lead singer David Vanian. (And given that I am a huge fan of The Damned, this a huge plus to what Koffin Kats brings to the musical table.) With all that said, Koffin Kats both acknowledge and tend to defy their somewhat obvious musical categorization.
“It’s easy to pigeonhole us into being a rockabilly/psychobilly band considering the use of a stand-up bass, but we don’t write our music with catering to any genre really,” Victor said. “Whatever we come up with and dig … we go with it. Granted, we don’t forget the formula that got some people into us in the first place. You should never forget your roots as a band.”
Koffin Kats also try to thwart certain stereotypes of psychobilly music by writing about subjects that touch upon their real life experiences. “I used to write more sci-fi inspired themes but the older I got and the more I was introduced to the real world, I found many other things to write about,” Victor admitted. “I can relate to real life lyrics better than I can ones about blood and guts. Our more recent material has focused on things such as boozing, heartbreak, drugs, death and travel.”
As for the future of Koffin Kats, Victor seems to have a grip on what’s next for his band. “We’re just going to stay on the track that we have for as long as we can,” Vic explained. “We have no plans in slowing down. As long as there is interest in us, we’ll keep releasing music and touring as much as we can. Next year we will release our ten-year (anniversary) album and staying true to what we have done in the past … it will be another step of progress for us. I don’t ever want to feel that we’re putting out music and not trying. You have to take risks with the music you write to avoid becoming stagnant.”
In the end for Koffin Kats, their primary influence and inspiration is the highway and everyone they meet on the way. “Traveling, performing and partying … that is what drives us more than anything is to be able to have the opportunity to go out and live in a shuttle bus and play Rock n’ Roll for people and to be able to pay the bills doing it,” Victor said. “It’s inspiring to be told that (our) songs mean something to someone. That right there makes me want to continue writing music.”
Koffin Kats will perform on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth Street. Cherry Lee and the Hotrod Hounds and Red Hot Rebellion are also on the bill. Admission is $5 for 21 & up. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information please visit www.koffinkatsrock.com.