Vibragun creates fuzzed out & reverb loaded pop songs, reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, accompanied with stylistic nuances from 90s grunge and early 2000s alternative rock. In celebration of the release of their debut self-titled record, they’re currently on tour scheduled to travel along the West Coast and Japan. Joel Bergstrom of Vibraguntalks to us prior to their LLW Presents show at the Witch Room (Oct. 13 at 8:00PM!) with Mondo Deco, Black Market Sunday, and Mike Diaz & the Removed. We talked about the beginnings of Vibragun, the debut self-titled record, having their record released over seas, and more!
Can you tell me about Vibragun and what you’ve been up to lately? You’re currently on tour and your first self-titled record “Vibragun” just came out a few months ago in January.
Yeah we’re out on tour right now to promote our record. Basically, we haven’t been out. We did a tour a couple years ago for the EP and now we’re getting out and playing some new places. We’re also going over to Japan next month. So we wanted to play some shows in the West Coast to get ready for that.
I noticed your record came out on the shoegaze / dream pop Japanese label Hands and Moment. How did that end out happening? It must feel exciting to get your physical record out there overseas.
Yeah that was awesome actually. The lady who runs Hands and Moment, her name is Mitsuko, reached out to me after we put out our EP online. She was doing an internet thing and she was interested in putting our stuff out with her project. A little time went by and she developed the label to be a little bigger to where they could do distribution and printing over in Japan. She’s been releasing records from other people as well and she approached me about releasing the Vibragun full-length in Japan. It was awesome. They do things a little different over there with releases. There are bonus tracks accompanied with the Hands and Moment release of the full-length.
Has Vibragun ever played Japan before?
No. It’s kind of been my dream to go over to Japan period. I’ve never really been there so this is our first time playing overseas. We’ve never been outside the country as a band.
I read online on your band bio that your debut record chronicles your experience living around the world and finding your “identity and redemption in your adopted home”. Can you talk about a little more?
[laughs] Yeah that does kinda sound a little dickish. I grew up as a missionary kid and my dad worked for a Christian Evangelical Organization. We lived in Asia, Phillipines, North Africa, and the South Pacific. So i grew up outside of American culture. When we flew back to the U.S. it was kind of hard for me to figure out who, fitting back in and learning what being an American was and stuff like that.
I moved around a bit and lived in Santa Cruz and Chicago. When I moved to Seattle it was cool because I met a lot of people and friends that affected me in a positive way. Doing music is a part of that and so this record talks about those experiences. I felt I should explain that since my lyrics aren’t as straightforward sometimes.
Since you moved around a lot when you were younger, would you draw musical inspiration from countries you were living in or were you mostly influenced by what your parents listened to? How did you first discover music?
My dad had a pretty cool record collection with stuff from the Beatles and the Velvet Underground. That was my first impression of American culture. I loved it. I remember the first time I heard Led Zeppelin it felt like strange music to me. Also I’ve always been interested in music from places I’ve lived and popular music. It was the mix of the two but mostly it was mostly my dad’s record collection that formed my opinion on music.
How did you discover My Bloody Valentine and other late 80s / 90s sounds? How prevalent of an influence does David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine have on Vibragun?
David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine were mostly my discoveries. My dad’s stuff was mostly from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I started finding these underground artists on the way on my own. Bowie has a lot of different stuff like Ziggy Stardust and then there’s the later art-rock stuff. I went from there. I think My Bloody Valentine is pop music done in a very unique way. It appealed to me because i’ve never heard a guitar sound like that before. I liked how the noises of that had elements of non-western sounds. Like in Arabic music uses semi-tones that a lot of American pop music don’t. It just made sense. That’s the kind of stuff I discovered on my own.
You met one of your band members while playing a T. Rex tribute show?
T. Rex is that kind of music that when you meet somebody and you both like it you know you’re going to get along. That was Amber. She loves T. Rex, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop.
What kind of music were you playing before Vibragun?
I started out in bands playing bass. I was in this experimental goth band. Then I started playing guitar and doing my own thing. I’ve played in a few bands with different kinds of things. Some of it straight ahead, a lot of it had a different element. That’s what attracts me to seek bands is that they have that one little element that’s not quite like anybody else.
You guys are halfway through your tour?
Yeah this is the midway point. We have a few more shows, Boise, Portland, Sacramento. Then we play a couple of times in Seattle then we’re doing shows in Japan.
Are you doing a label showcase of a show or two in Japan or doing more of a bigger tour?
The way they put shows together is different over there. We’re kind of not doing big shows but we aren’t doing punk/diy shows either. We’ve got four shows booked. We’re playing Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya while doing some stuff for Hands and Moment as well.
Do you have any last words or shout outs?
We’re playing Witch Room with Black Market Sunday. Who I’ve known for a couple of years, they used to live in Portland. Mike Diaz and Mondo Deco is playing as well. I want to shout out to Laura who does the LLW Presents she really helped us out booking the show.