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Stage Buzz Q&A: Sponge

PHOTO: TRACY KETCHER

PHOTO: TRACY KETCHER

Hello, My name is Vinnie

IE: What are you most excited about with the new album (Stop The Bleeding)?
V: I’m just excited about the sheer fact that it’s an album. We had kinda written off the idea. And of course everyone talks about how it’s a single-driven world now, how people just pick apart albums through its singles on iTunes and stuff. But lo and behold, we have a full album here. We’re still amazed.

IE: Where does it fit musically with your past releases?
V: It reminds me most of our third release, New Pop Sunday, because of our attention to detail on that one. We really took our time and focused on the details there, and we did the same with Stop The Bleeding. Plus that was an album we recorded with Tim Patalan (producer then, bassist now), and we got to work with him again on this one. So the two releases are really cut from the same cloth.

IE: Who are your biggest musical influences?
V: Well back when we started, it was mostly whatever mainstream rock we were exposed to – bands like Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, MC5, Iggy Pop. Then there was Bowie and all the British stuff like The Clash and The Sex Pistols. All that stuff remains strong influences still today.

IE: Do you think the music business has changed much since the 90s?
V: Yeah it has definitely changed. Period. I think as the big record companies switched from releasing music on vinyl to CD, and figured out how to do the big widespread releases, they ended up having money not just for the real big-name artists, but also for the groups who sadly today wouldn’t be released on a major label. I think about acts like The Breeders, Shudder to Think, even Jeff Buckley – those guys should all definitely be on major labels. But there’s just not the infrastructure at record companies for that today. On the other hand, the advantage that new young acts have today is that they can much more easily get their music out there and even be discovered, thanks to the Internet and YouTube. So that’s a big advantage over what we had back then.

IE: Besides just the lineup, what has changed most in your band since the early days?
V: Well we’ve had our current lineup for almost a dozen years now, so we’ve just learned how to do what we do a lot better together now – learned more about touring, making records economically, and all that. And looking back, I’d say it actually was just not as much fun back then as it is now.

IE: Why was it less fun back then?
V: I think because when we were first starting, it just felt like every single day, your neck is on the line. So much pressure to deal with. And then of course you succumb to all the “extra-curricular activities” too. But then you find yourself asking one day – “how come even partying isn’t as much fun as it used to be?” Nowadays, some of that pressure is still there of course, but I guess we’ve just learned how to deal with it a lot better. And to have more fun with it all. But you gotta learn how to balance all that like on the head of a pin.

IE: Do you still have as much fun touring on the road?
V: Yeah I love doing the live shows, I really do. It’s still a ton of fun. The travel itself is always still tough though. We were back on a bus for the first time in 10 years over the summer on the Summerland tour. And of course we fly when we need to. But I prefer to travel in a van – you can see a lot more, stop when you want, and all that. Overall though, it is less exciting doing the actual travelling than it used to be. And the knees get a lot more sore in the van than they used to.

IE: Do you hope to keep recording & releasing new LP’s with Sponge?
V: We are definitely thinking about it. But right now of course we gotta stay focused on promoting the new record and putting all our energy behind that. And we’re really excited to partner with The End Records out of Brooklyn—they’ve got some really great acts on there. But beyond that, I’m constantly recording stuff. I love working on a couple of the side projects I’ve got, and I hope to start recording some new stuff with one of those in January.

IE: What else are you excited about right now?
V: Definitely our website (spongetheband.com). It’s become super important. And I love it because it’s really fan-built. The fans can get on there and contribute their own stories, photos, videos, and all that. So I really wanna encourage our fans to keep using it.

Vinnie Dombroski and Sponge appear December 14th, tomorrow at Mojoes in Joliet with Spacehog.

- Carter Moss

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