The Von Bondies

by Mike Huberty
May 2008

Detroit's Von Bondies in Maximum Ink in May 2008

Detroit's Von Bondies in Maximum Ink in May 2008

Hitting the mainstream with their single, “C’mon C’mon” in 2004 (used as the theme to Denis Leary’s popular TV show, Rescue Me.) They also appeared in the popular and controversial (due to the actors’ naughty and real sex scenes in a love story set between live-music performances) 9 Songs. THE VON BONDIES rode the Detroit garage rock wave (even getting their first record, Lack of Communication, produced by The White Stripes’ Jack White) to success in the early part of the century. On the way, they lost a few members (the only original ones being vocalist/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer and drummer Don Blum.)  Stollsteimer got in a highly-publicized fistfight with the aforementioned White, and the band went into hibernation. In 2008, with a sans record label they are getting back into touring. They’re self-releasing two EPs in preparation for a full album in the fall. The first, We Are Kamikazes, is only available from the band at their shows.

As for why they needed to stop for a little while, Stollsteimer says, “I wasn’t up to the task. We toured for three years, the drummer and I. We were either going to stop playing music or take a break, so we took a break. We kept on writing music, we just stopped playing live. After three years of touring on our own dime, it just became too much for us. We needed a break and it helped, we ended up writing the best songs we’ve ever written…it helped, it saved our band. It might have lost us a few fans, but those people weren’t fans then. I ended up getting a divorce because of me being away. I don’t think either of us have been able to keep a relationship because of touring. And then on top of that, you can only play the same city so many times with the same records. I felt bad making people pay the same amount of money to hear the same songs again they heard two years ago. That’s one of the things you do when you’re on a major, you keep on playing the same songs to promote the record that’s out. That’s one of the main reasons we didn’t want to be on a major anymore, which were not. Right now, it’s just us.”

As for how he feels when it comes to going without the support of a major label, he says, “I get a kick out of it, there’s no rules. People still pay to come to shows so you have to play certain songs. It’s a great feeling, we’re not anti-big record labels, it just wasn’t right for us. I feel a lot safer now than I did ever being on a major. We were always worried that we weren’t a big enough band to stay on the label. After the first year, I thought even if we sold a million records, it wouldn’t be enough. I feel the most safe I’ve ever felt. If it fails, it’s on me and I can deal with that. But if we fail because some guy in an office says, ‘we don’t hear a single,’ that’s bullshit… that’s terrifying. Fans come to a show because they want to be entertained and they buy your record because they like your band. True fans don’t come for one song. Major labels push one song and when they’re done with that song, people don’t come again.”

You can hear Stollsteimer’s buzz about the new music as well. “The EP is there to show the people that know our name that we’re still making good music,” he says, “Most people download records, we’ll probably have bonus songs if you buy it not online. When we were on the major label it didn’t matter if you bought it from a store, we ever saw a dollar. If you buy it from our show, it pays for our gas to get to the next show. I’d have people listen to ‘The Pale Bride’ to hear what we’re about right now. The crowd always reacts to it, and we just had the songs up on Myspace and there were at least 10-15 kids in the front row singing along and I remember being 18 and 19 years old and doing it at shows. We used to get so excited about a band and listen to mix tapes. I’d know the song before the band came. It was exciting to see that working.”

As for what the crowd can expect from their upcoming show in Madison, he says, “We’re a high-energy live band, if you wanna get your money’s worth you gotta stand up front. If the crowd’s a good crowd, we’ll get involved with them. We invite everyone up front to enjoy it with us… Whether or not you know all of our songs, it doesn’t matter you’ll have a good time.” Make sure to get there early to hear Madison’s awesome APPARENTLY NOTHING, as well as New Zealanders, DIE!DIE!DIE!, who are supporting this leg of the tour.

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Von Bondies Online:

Von Bondies
CD: We Are Kamikazes Aiming Straight For Your Heart Record Label: Phantom Sound & Vision
Purchase We Are Kamikazes Aiming Straight For Your Heart on Amazon