Sonny Vincent “Bizarro Hymns”

You might know ex-TESTORS SONNY VINCENT better if you live in Europe rather than in the US as he’s been regularly touring the old continent these last years.
This new album “Bizarro Hymns”is out on German record label Still Unbeatable Records both on vinyl and CD. The NYC punk rock spirit is still alive in SONNY VINCENT’s music as you can hear in opening song “Don’t Give a Fuck” or in songs like “Forgive You Forget You” and “Pushing Up Daisies” but you can also hear other influences on this new album like 60s garage (“Sink Hole”) or surf rock (“The VooDoo Box”) while the previous records sounded more straight punk’n’roll.
The STOOGES influence is still noticeable on “Till There Was You”, “Tears For Rwanda”, “Spin Out” or “Nitro”. Actually the bio says that Scott Asheton plays on one song but I can’t tell you on which one exactly as I only got the downlable version.
“Bizarro Hymns” sounds like the band just turned on the mics in their rehearsal room and recorded in order to capture the energy, but this is not a bad thing at all since the result sounds raw, but live. Songs like “Picture Album” or “Cristal Clear” would have deserved a different production though as they sound more poppy.
Check SONNY VINCENT out live in France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland this month and in June./Laurent C.

Sonny Vincent

The French version of this interview was published in French ‘zine Slime a few months ago. Here is the English version for all of you non-French speakers. Sit tight, get a coffee and get ready for Sonny Vincent’s incredible life and rock’n’roll stories…

Interview by Slim Buen.

Hello Mr. Sonny Vincent, let’s start with the beginning. Can you tell us about your childhood and first tribulations outside the family home?

SV-I was born in New York…..Hmmm… family talk… hmmm…childhood… let’s just say there will be a few people from my ‘family’ burning in hell for eternity and a few floating around heaven. As for me I will probably spend time in both areas till they figure out my category. My actual parents died in a car crash when I was very small. We had no relatives, well there were a few but they were very elderly so the court appointed a ‘family’ to take care of me and I was sent to live with them. I was with them till I was 13. They were really terrible people. I have scars, lets’ leave it at that. I quit school and left home at the age of 13, grew up on the streets of New York City and lived a life on the road. To be honest that’s where my fun and personal growth started.
I began to meet people in Greenwich Village, on the art scene there, people who I could relate to and who were open minded. I had lots of fantastic adventures and also some challenging stuff to deal with. I slept at Andy Warhol’s factory on a silver couch and I also slept in Central Park on the grass. There were so many insane situations and experiences during these times. You tend to get around being on your own from the age of 13. God when I look at a 13 year old now I can see they are not fully grown! They have small hands and fingers!! I thought I was already a man and I went everywhere and anywhere. I can’t believe I was out and about then, but that’s the facts of life. I don’t regret it, I learned a lot.

And later?

SV- Basically throughout my formative years I traveled by way of hitchhiking. I had a sort of ‘life on the road’ crisscrossing the U.S.A. At one time I lived in St Thomas, Virgin Islands for two years and that was quite lovely. Crystal clear water, beaches and lots of tourist girls to take care of me! All through this, I had a guitar and I would play on it, writing songs. Many of the experiences were joyous and inspiring, especially meeting those ‘one in a million’ types of people I met on my travels.
But there always was often the down side, the negative aspects of not living in a safe home. I had many encounters with the police and authorities, they were always plaguing me and ruining what was good.
I spent an inordinate amount of time in reform school ( jail for underage ‘minors’) and when I was just about to turn 17 I got busted for drugs so they put me in the U.S. military.
I think jail would have been better… but eventually I got that opportunity, I made it to adult jail as well!

How did The Testors got together? What other bands or artists inspired you in those days?

SV- I was living in NYC in the early 70’s and playing shows anywhere I could, I was pretty young and they would give me playing jobs sometimes opening for some blues act or some ‘folkies’ but it was tough times and difficult to find venues. Mostly during this time period the clubs wanted cover songs from ‘cover’ bands and there were no more clubs like they had in the Hippie times. No places to play ‘original’ or experimental presentations. Yeah so…my early days looking for places to play, that was quite hard. It was a time where everything was ‘commercial’ and there was not much support for young artists and musicians. Sometimes we would organize a show ourselves, or find some place that would let us play. I remember a show I did with one of my earlier bands, (Liquid Diamonds) we played a show together with the band ‘Suicide’(Alan Vega and Marty Rev) on St. Marks Place in the ‘Village’.. but there were not many people there. Like around 30 or so… Anyway eventually I became frustrated with the situation and I left NYC, moved to Florida.
I bought myself a 4 track tape recorder and kept myself active by writing my songs and recording them with that tape recorder. Then after a while in Florida I met a very excited and wonderful guy named Gene- a real ‘go getter’. Although he was a little bit ‘nerdy’ I noticed a lot of fire in the guy, this must have been early 1975. I gave him guitar lessons and one day I bought a music magazine at a 7-11. It had an article about a new club that had opened in New York City, called C.B.G.B and that a group called the ‘Ramones’ were actually playing there… a week later I moved back to NYC and brought Gene with me . That became the start of ‘Testors’. We eventually got a rehearsal room on 22nd street and we were playing Max’s Kansas City and C.B.G.B. with groups like the Cramps and Dead Boys.
In terms of inspiration, it was all around. The atmosphere in New York City was mercurial and sparking. There were many inspiring bands with incredible music. I really liked Television at the time. Their live performances had this transcendental effect where you could almost lose yourself in the weaving of the guitar interplay. Patti Smith was also very good, always almost too good to believe.. At times seemingly not from this earth or any planet for that matter. This might sound grandiose…. but I telling it straight. Patti and I took some walks around the city together, and I discovered that her ‘way’ was apparent off stage as well as onstage. A very dedicated person. If she loved an artist/musician/poet she devoted her love through every cell in her body and every breath, it was awesome to be around. Fuckin uplifting and inspirational! She really adored the 60’s icons like Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix, nearly to the point of worship, but in some ways she surpassed them. Patti didn’t need a whole structure or system of the music biz accoutrements behind her to express herself and perform.. she could blow your mind doing her thing on a street corner. I remember actually getting goose bumps and a profound thrilling feeling at some of the performances. It was all new and everyone was trying to get to the core of expression and performance. Some were even into anti-expression or anti-performance. It’s was very edgy. Also I like Richard Hell, he was even rebelling against his own bands. He was kicked out for being too good and stealing the show! Very talented.

Some of the songs sounded very hard and fast with a rawer sound than most bands from those days… I’ve read somewhere something like “Sonny Vincent, father of Hardcore.” What made Testors special to you?

SV- Testors was a very serious band, we thought we could change the world. What was mainly important to us was being ‘real’ in the songs. Our songs were more angular and faster than a lot of the other bands. Also the subjects were not the usual, we made songs about death and society that were far from the soft stuff on the radio. A lot of the other bands on our scene were also angry and a lot of the bands in our scene were also dissatisfied with the way the system and society had developed but with Testors we captured it. It was not a warm fuzzy group that you could wrap your arms around and feel good about the world.

There’s also some songs with a more distorted sound, like “MK Ultra” and its “noisy” guitar parts… Do you think the band could have taken a different musical direction?

SV- We had no interest in any other direction then the one we were on. Eventually people all around us were selling out and writing crap. We had no interest in trying to please anyone else beside ourselves.

You played with Cheetah Chrome in Shotgun Rational. Did you meet him when you played with the Dead Boys? Did you get along with Stiv Bators’ band as soon as you met them?

SV- Yeah I met Cheetah when we played shows with the Dead Boys, actually met him before that. Cheetah was and always will be a wild colorful character. Years later after we met he joined my band ‘Shotgun Rationale’ for a while. He came to live with me when I moved to Minnesota, he flew out there and joined the band. Along with some brief touring Cheetah is also on some of my albums.
Stiv Bators was a special guy, contrary to the stage image, Stiv was a very sweet conscientious person. One time I was going through some real heavy problems and Stiv bought me a pack of guitar strings and took me to Coney Island to drive bumper cars. You know those cars at the amusement park where you crash into each other? A great person Stiv was. And what a performer!! The Dead Boys live was something the world was not ready for. Incredible!

Can you tell us about the conditions when playing in NY club in those days?

SV- At first there were only two clubs- C.B.G.B. and Max’s Kansas city. Later there was the Mud club, the Ritz, Hurrah’s etc. But at first only the two. They both had great sound systems. And Max’s even had a stage curtain, a black velvet curtain across the stage that would be opened when you were ready to play (you don’t see that much anymore in clubs). C.B.G.B was a wonderful graffitied mess and Max’s was a fancy sort of chic dark ‘night club’, like a Mafioso Las Vegas motif. The main element was the audiences, very excited and cutting edge. The audience consisted of artists, prostitutes, students, dancers, taxi drivers, outcasts and crazies.
There was an atmosphere of something ‘special was happening’. This atmosphere was all around town , on the streets in the clubs, in the air. The way we dressed was new and actually shocking to the general people. Playing these places and being in a band put you at the center of it all, No way to describe the excitement. It was cool. Although getting paid was not so good. It always seemed that no matter how packed the clubs, no matter how many people attended the show they only gave us 90 dollars!!! I remember once at Max’s they fired nearly everyone on the clubs staff, they were all stealing from the club, the door people, the waitresses , the bartenders and even the management. So they got rid of nearly all of them!! We played there after the shake up and I went to the office to get paid. I was a little bit drunk and didn’t care much about the fuckin’ 90 bucks they usually handed me. Suddenly the guy counts out 600 dollars into my hand. I went into the dressing room, tossed the money in the air and said to my band “This is what we were supposed to get all along!!!”

You left NY in 1980 when the CBGB was witnessing the punk/hardcore explosion. Were you interested in these new bands the same way you were in the previous generation?

SV- I left NYC because the scene changed and a lot of the people in the Punk scene were turning into junkies…. it wasn’t about music anymore but about which party you were attending that night and how much drugs were there ( well.. actually there was some fun in that.. but that’s’ another story!!). BUT worse than the ones who turned into junkies were the ones selling out and making shitty more ‘palatable’ music.. They were calling it ‘New Wave’ . Now that was some real bullshit.!! Water down Punk!! Some new ‘industry’ word to make it easier to sell. Take the anger out Rocknroll and call it ‘New Wave’!! I could name some of the groups who took the bait but I think you know the ones, the ones that eventually got big hits on the radio. NOT the Ramones, NOT Television, NOT the Dead Boys. But the more ‘Pop’ stuff.. they still call some of these New Wave ‘Pop ‘bands ‘Punk’ in books and media stuff but that is just a lie. It’s not some of the bands faults in some cases, it was simply a case of the ‘industry’ picking the most melodic and radio friendly out of the crowd of bands and producing them in the studio for mass consumption. Anyway the whole creative atmosphere in NYC changed….I figured “Fuck this shit, time for me to leave!!!”. It was really getting somehow ugly in my opinion and I felt the scene had lost some of the resolve.
On the other hand while this was going on there was the emerging hardcore scene, now that had a LOT of resolve!! But the hardcore thing was a bit different from my group. They were focusing on a lot of the same themes as ‘Testors’ , like anger, desperation and dissatisfaction. And I thought a lot of it was quite good, the lyrical content as well as the music. I liked Bad Brains , Minor Threat, Black Flag etc ..all that…and more… but some of it was mainly ‘macho’ like as if a bunch of U.S. Marines got a band together. The good hardcore bands were the ones that had their own issues/struggles with the world and society as they saw it, they expressed it in sound and lyrics. The shitty hardcore bands were just as if they were some bullies wanting to fight. Those were the boring ones, like watching WWF Wrestiing or Jerry Springers. But as I have said, and don’t get me wrong, a lot of the hardcore bands I viewed as valid artists , even poets, but some were just dumb thugs. Henry Rollins and Bob Mould agree with me on that. And anyone who doesn’t agree with me, I will have to punch them in the face! Haa!! Haaa!!!

Then you moved to Minneapolis. How was the scene when you first got there? What differences did you notice compared to the NYC scene?

SV- It was very inspiring at first in Minneapolis. Bands like Husker Du reminded me of early Testors. Seemed like the bands there were excited and had something to say. It was a good place for me. I did have some time adjusting to the slower pace of living there. Back then moving from the heart of New York City to the mid of the Mid West was a bit of a cultural difference. It was a lot., lot slower back then in Minnesota, so I had to adjust. Mainly the people were nice though and that was also a shock!! New Yorkers are famous for being snotty and pains in the ass, to go from that to easy going neighborly people was very pleasant!!! I had a 1959’ Cadillac that I loved to drive back then. It’s the one with the fins and rocket tail lights. That’s a cooler ride than a subway anyday.

You formed Model Prisoner with Bob Stinson (The Replacements) at that time, and then Shotgun Rational (Greg Norton (Husker Dü) later joined you.) How did you get to play with the two most important bands from the city?

SV- They were attracted to my pointy shoes!! No, I met them and we hit it off musically and personally. Bobby Stinson became a dear friend. Greg Norton was a really nice guy who turned into a vicious hungry animal onstage!! I did one tour with Greg, but with Bobby I did a lot of projects.

Then you spent some time in the movie industry, producing “Mannequin World”. Were you seeing this as a new start? Were you still playing at the same time? Who were your favorite producers?

SV- Well it was more of the ‘underground’ movie scene. Although I did have some museum and television screenings of my film ‘Mannequin World’. It wasn’t a new start, but more something new to discover and express themes within. I was still playing concerts and clubs across America.
Also at that time I was involved in multi-media installations using lights, sound loops, film projections, and sensors that were motion sensitive, triggering timers to initiate elements to turn on and off different phases of the installation. Later I saw a lot of the early stuff I did used in techno festivals Although the message and themes of my installations had nothing to do with dancing to a repetitive beat.
My favorite producers were Rod Serling, Luchino Visconti, John Waters.

Do you see an obvious link between music, cinema and literature?

SV- Sometimes. Although I think some films are better without music. Some do benefit greatly from the music and score. BUT some have the music as a sort of utilitarian aspect. “Oh here is the scary part” or “Bring in the violins, this is the sad part” or “ make the music fast because this is the chase scene” All that can become tedious at times. Do you ever see the ‘Grapes Of Rath’ no music, black and white, Great.

Let’s get back to the Shotgun Rational years when you played with Moe Tucker among others… How many albums did you release? Was this when you first started touring in Europe and started to meet European musicians?

SV- Well I was too complicated back with Testors to even listen to a major record company executive blab their ridiculous bullshitt blab . I really honestly felt the big record companies were the kiss of death for anything vital and honest. Back then it was mostly only majors, this was all before independent labels like’SST’ and ‘Slash’ records, stuff like that. So I didn’t actually have an album out till ‘Shotgun Rationale’ in the 80’s (The material I recorded with Testors on our own in the 70’s did eventually come out , but way later!) Anyway … somewhere in the 80’s my pal Mort got us a pretty sizable budget to record our album under our own terms and I wanted to get a Producer to guard us against any impure influences that might be lurking in the studio (like the engineer, etc). I felt we needed someone to help us hold the line and to make sure we could achieve at least part of what we were after in the studio. My first thought was “Iggy!” but he was on tour so I didn’t even try to contact him.
My second inspiration was “Maureen Tucker !” from the Velvet Underground. I was listening to her sing ‘After Hours’ and ‘Sticking With You’ and I figured from her voice and sound that there was no way in hell she would allow anyone to make our music ‘Metal’. This was our biggest fear, We were rough, we were loud, we were raw and wild but NOT metal. And sometimes in a big studio with a million tracks and a guy wearing a heavy metal t-shirt in control of the sound at the board….. well we were nervous, so we got Moe to produce it!! And that was a great team. After Moe produced that album (“Who Do They Think They Are?”) she invited me to be her guitar player on a European tour she was thinking about doing with the band Half Japanese. But there was a ‘situation’/story to it all. Firstly you need to know that Moe is fiercely independent. O.K. you know the word ‘fierce’ fiercely independent…. well…Jad Fair had proposed that Moe come to Europe with him and his namd Half Japanese and they would serve as her back up band. The concept being that the show would be split into two parts-Moe singing her stuff and Jad his, During Jad’s stuff (the Half Japanese songs) Moe could play drums. And on Moes’ parts Jad would play’ untuned guitar. Moe liked that to a point. But as I said she is really really independent and also proud of her ‘Velvet Underground’ heritage. She told me she didn’t fancy being ‘in’ Half Japanses as a band member.. so she added me as her guitar player to mix it up so it would be -Moe and Half Japanese and Moe’s Punk guitar player!! Complicated huh? But that’s Moe for ya’. So we did the show with around 7 people onstage. It was a lot of fun and subsequently I played in Moe’s solo band for 9 years after that!
And yes this was my first time touring Europe, I loved it. For me being a former street kid and then to be suddenly walking around European cities…. well…it was absolutely captivating to be in Europe, exciting and cool. I had seen a lot of my friends’ photo books that they made after their University graduation and traditional big trip to Europe. Also some of the Warhol and NYC arts crowd people I knew had been there many times. I would look in amazement at the pictures in their collection books of Notre Dame, Big Ben and various photos of Germany, Spain etc. But I figured I would never get there. Andalucía? That was for the others not me. Well I did see it all and it is thanks to Moe! She brought me everywhere.

How did you first get in touch with the Detroit scene (Scott Asheton, Scott Morgan…)? Is playing with musicians you’ve enjoyed listening to important to you?

SV-I met the Detroit people when I was on tour there. I did a show in Detroit with ‘Shotgun Rationale’ and a lot of the people from the bands were there at the show. At that early Shotgun Rationale show I met Rob Tyner and Scott Asheton and I eventually sent Scott some of my songs. We got along and certainly I wanted to play with him. I usually play with people who I believe can do justice to the songs. Many went on to become friends but the first contact was music with the Detroit ‘Bruthas’.

When looking at all the things you’ve done, we tend to associate you to people like Jeff Dahl or Nikki Sudden with the itinerant bluesmen way of life, a kind of punk Chuck Berry! What do you think about these comparisons?

SV- I like Jeff Dahl his music and his commitment. He gave the ‘Shotgun Rationale’ album it’s first review back in the day and I will always remember that. It made us feel that there were comrades out there. He said something like “Folks this is a serious Radio Birdman alert!!” I didn’t even know who the fuck ‘Radio Birdman’ was at the time but it sounded nice!! Yeah Jeff is a real good guy. You hear it a lot from other people who know him or have met him. And I also liked Nikki, saw him live many times. A real gentleman, good songs and great clothes!! I don’t mind comparisons in the sense that we are ‘underground’. The music is quite different though. And I always had way more pointy shoes than either of them !!

Do you think it’s easier to deal and work with a European band than an American one?

SV-No, its all hell!

I suppose you don’t always know the people you’re touring with very well at first. Have you met any problems/difficulties in the past? How many musicians have you played with?

SV- Yeah-I played with a lot of people, generally I can tell from the start if they are decent people or not. There were some crazy guys on board a couple of times and that created a lot of stress, it’s tough enough , you know? One guy cut off his own toe with an axe because he had taken an overdose of some drugs in Switzerland. In his delirium he believed he was the son of the devil.. or that’s what I think he was saying. He was foaming at the mouth and removed his clothing. We were staying at a beautiful chalet type hotel on the Bodensee and he got into the gardeners tools and fuckin chopped his own toe off!! He was screaming “For Jesus, For Jesus!!”. He really scared everyone. Then I had a Spanish line up from Bilbao and the guitar player brought along a girl roadie.. he didn’t tell me he was in love with her.. but as the days went by it became all stress and tears and fighting , problem was she didn’t want him. Eventually it heated up to Shakespearian proportions and we had to send the guy home, it was soooo much stress!
Anyway she wound up playing guitar with us after we sent him home.. Really!!! The guy that went home invented some crazy stories and posted them all over the internet! He was saying we had him beaten by Slovenian gangsters. It was really too much. In the end the truth came out. But for a while there I looked like a real mean guy on the internet!!!

Your favourite European clubs?

SV- Sonic Ballroon in Köln, Germany, Mars Bar in Zurich, Switzerland, anywhere in Halle Germany. But there are cool, places all over France and Italy too.. I tend to like the smaller to medium places a lot. I really hate tall stages where you stand there and peoples’ heads are even with your feet. Also I abhor smoke machines. But there are many cool clubs in Europe that don’t need smoke machines!! The problem with the smaller places is that they often have shitty P.A. systems. Also some don’t have a dressing room and that really sucks bad. One time we were on tour and we pulled up to some autonome squat house place where we were scheduled to play. They didn’t have a dressing room. A huge place with a bunch of lazy Punks!! I couldn’t figure out why they never got the motivation to build a nice band room….. anyway …we took our van and went to a building store , bought some wood, screws, nails, hammer, a jig saw and a screw gun . In 3 hours me and Scott Asheton built them a dressing room! It cost around 180 bucks including the tools. Thinking of all that. I can say I generally like medium sized nightclubs with very good P.A. systems and a dressing room, wherever they are!!

Do you often go back to New York? What are the most striking changes there for you?

SV- I go back sometimes, we just had a ‘Testors ‘ reunion show there last May. The most striking change is how they gentrify the neighborhoods. Also they turned Times Square into a tourist Disneyland. Back in the day it was all pimps, guns, drugs, danger and prostitutes. Some of the neighborhoods that were very dark and scary are remodeled and have become the nice chic places for the NYU students to enjoy. Back in the Punk era a large portion of the city was violent and dangerous. Now they cleaned it all up. There are still cool bands in Manhattan as well as Brooklyn. But it’s all cleaner and nicer for the most part.

Are you still in touch with some people from the old days there? Can you give me the name of 3 persons who are very important to you there?

SV- Yeah I keep in touch with some of the people who are still in NYC. Richard Hell, Ivan Julian, Bobby Steele.

What jobs did you do in your most difficult times?

SV- In former times I worked every unskilled job imaginable. Factories, shops, building boats, working in a lab, selling vacuum cleaners, delivering laundry, serving food, cooking food, selling illegal drugs, painting houses, fixing gardens. cleaning hospitals, building/construction, carpentry, You name it… with no formal education you are forced to work in anything you can get. The worst job I had was in Ohio when I worked in a factory that made tires for cars. It was hot with lots of smoke in the air and fire pits. -Do you think that family life can’t really work with the touring musician one? SV- I think family life can work. It’s all about the commitment and passion.

I’m a big John Reis fan, and you album with RFTC is really good… He released The Testors anthology on his record label Swami Records. Is that when you met?

SV- The first contact I with John was through an email he sent me. He asked me if I had ever heard of his group (current at that time) Rocket From The Crypt. The email went on to say he and the band were big fans of my stuff. After a few emails between us he sent me a package which included their new album with a note “ We used a lot of ‘Sonny-isms¨ in these songs and lot’s of ‘Testors-riffs, please listen and let me know if you can hear them!” I had not heard of the group (sorry!) but I gave the album a listen and I did hear some of my influence in there but it was mixed in with their own incredible force and dynamic. It’s very refreshing for me to receive sentiments and compliments like John’s. He was influenced a little bit by my songs but he was not ripping my ass off and stealing my whole fuckin thing like some do, and in addition he let me know that he appreciated me. John is really a passionate music maniac and he has enough of his own originality to include some influence in his music and present it as an homage.
Anyway I thought that was all very cool, BUT as I began to say there are a few people out there who actually try to duplicate me and then they never say anything about it to their fans or anyone. Some bands sort of steal my style and play for people who never heard of me and claim it all as their own thing. That is easy trick for people to do to me since I am so under the radar and unknown in so many markets, Not so easy to do that if they copy the Ramones or Hendrix. And claim it as their own…it would be too obvious to too many people… but with me it’s been done a few times!! They often get some mileage out of it for a while but it’s not as authentic.
John Reise is not like them, in fact later John invited me on a Rocket From The Crypt tour where I opened for them and they were my back up band. We played Testors songs and a few SV solo things. And then they played the RFTC show. We went on a long tour together, after that we recorded an all original album together. Me and John even do a friggin’ duet!

Will you work with him again in the future?

-SV- We did have some plans to put out some more Testors material but at the moment his label is on hold.

What’s your main occupation when you’re not on the road?

-I’m a lion tamer at a big circus. Also I do some underwater electrician jobs. Hee! Hee!! No, I haven’t had a normal type of job since the 80’s. I am really busy with the music and films. But I don’t mind normal work. I never had difficulties with the jobs or the bosses for example. I was usually giving them more then their money’s worth, and we got along fine. If I didn’t like a job I walked, if I agreed to work hard , I worked harder. Sort of a supervisors or bosses dream, it had benefits for me as well, this style. They often lent me cars, boats, gave me advances and let me have time off to do shows. In terms of how a society is structured I never had difficulties being in the work force. It was the limitations of freedoms by conservative rulings and the fucking police that I often had trouble adjusting to.

What do you think about the bands that try to sound 1977?

SV- Mixed, I like a lot of the new bands that go for the sound and I always appreciate bands that dress up a bit. Weather its styled or sloppy. I always like ‘image’, I don’t wanna see people onstage who look like they got their clothes from their uncle… although there are exceptions, there some cool ‘uncles’ out there!! Musically and stylistically some have their own original twist and sometimes I like it. It’s an interesting area to talk about I suppose. I guess some bands consciously get together and try to construct sounds that duplicate a ’77 vibe. But I’m sure some people are so into music from that era that it is ingrained in them and when they get together to play that’s just how it comes out naturally. In Testors we just played, there was no conscious ‘shaping’.

This year in Paris, I’ve met a young American guy who told me that The Testors was his favourite band. Do you think that everything goes in circles in rock?

SV- I also am discovering that there are more and more fans out there for the early Testors stuff. I think they are like archeologists! Search and ye will find!!

There’s been a lot of books about late 70s punk rock lately but they all talk about the same things… Are you still interested in reading about the “golden” CBGB days?

SV- I read some of it and I sometimes like to be reminded of stuff I forgot about. It’s nice to read from someone else’s perspective.

Kevin K got his autobiography released in France two years ago… Any chance to read a Sonny Vincent one?

SV- I will write a book one of these days. But first I have to learn how to spell! Just kidding of course! Yeah, Yeah, writing a book…. Yeah.. Cool!!! What an interesting concept? I can laud, applaud and praise my friends, and all my own accomplishments ! I can also skewer, roast, mutilate and burn some fuckers that deserve it. I think I will get started right away!!!!!!!!!!!