Published Jun 02, 2014Sadly, Calgary post-punk heroes Women ended acrimoniously almost four years ago, but in 2013, hope came in the form of a new offshoot called Viet Cong, featuring ex-Women Matt Flegel and Mike Wallace. The quartet dropped their debut last fall, a cassette EP that saw a very limited tour-only release and not enough supply for all of the demand. Since then, considerable interest in the band has given longing fans another shot at owning the cassette, thanks to boutique label Mexican Summer stepping in to reissue Cassette on July 8. The response, Flegel tells Exclaim!, has been surprising.
"It received way more interest than we anticipated," he says. "I figured we'd just make a hundred copies of the cassette, and I think we made 200 and sold out of them quickly. I thought that would be it for those songs, and then we'd focus on making a full-length record. But Mexican Summer wanted to put it out. And I'm not super excited about those songs at this point, but if they're excited and want to release it, then that's awesome. A lot of people want it still, so I don't know what that means."
Cassette works nicely as a precursor to what the band see as the first real Viet Cong release: their upcoming full-length, due out via Mexican Summer/Flemish Eye. Recorded last December in a rural Ontario barn by Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, Flegel says the album will surprise people by how different it sounds from the EP, both in fidelity and style.
"In my mind it's a little more focused, it makes more sense as a cohesive whole," he says. "The cassette was pretty ramshackle, and we didn't really know what we were doing. It kind of bounces from genre to genre. The new record is more of its own thing, its own entity. It was done fully on the same equipment, so it sounds a lot more consistent.
"It's also a little less pop and a little more doom and gloom, gothed-out '80s. That's just what I ended up doing as the songwriter. There are poppy moments too, but it's just gloomier. I don't know if there's a reason for it. I guess it could have something to do with me listening to the Cure for two years straight. I like Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography. Those are the Cure albums for me."
While the album isn't out until mid-fall, the band will embark on a North American tour in June. For the time being, though, they are currently defending their name, which they took from the now-defunct militant Vietnamese organization.
"[The name came from] just messing around in the garage jamming and talking about movies set in Vietnam in the '60s," Flegel says. "Mike said 'Viet Cong' and we thought it sounded good. We went from there and now we're getting a lot of hate mail from people about the name. I think people are offended because the Viet Cong did a lot of terrible things to the Vietnamese civilians. But I guess so did the United States military.
"We've gotten a few notes from people saying, 'My father was in a Viet Cong prison camp for six years…' But we don't have any affiliation with the Vietnamese communists from the 1960s and '70s at all. We just called our band that! We're not seriously backing those ideals or anything."
06/04 Edmonton, AB - The Starlite Room *
06/05 Regina, SK - The Exchange *
06/06 Winnipeg, MB - The Park Theatre *
06/07 Saskatoon, SK - Amigos Cantina *
06/19 Toronto, ON - Silver Dollar
06/20 Toronto, ON - Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
06/21 Chicago, IL - Wicker Park Festival
07/09 Washington, DC - DC9 ^
07/11 Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle ^
07/12 New York, NY - Village Voice 4 Knots Music Festival
07/13 Allston, MA - Great Scott ^
07/14 Burlington, VT - Signal Kitchen ^
07/15 Montreal, QC - Le Divan Orange ^
* with Chad VanGaalen
^ with TV Ghost