Viet Cong Shadow of Winter
Published Feb 05, 2015"I hope that people who liked that shit mix of songs will like this new record." You could say Matt Flegel is a little biased towards his new album. Despite a great deal of praise for Viet Cong's debut, a seven-song collection of early material titled Cassette the band first released in 2013, he doesn't exactly agree.
"Cassette was literally a mixtape we put together of songs," the vocalist/bassist explains. "It's all over the place, spanning different genres. Side A and side B sound completely different. It was pretty ramshackle, and we didn't really know what we were doing."
Flegel feels a lot more confident about Viet Cong's self-titled full-length. Although Cassette gained far more interest than the band ever intended when they threw it up on Bandcamp and released it on tape, they consider Viet Cong to be the band's proper introduction.
"In my mind it's a little more focused, it makes more sense as a cohesive whole," Flegel says. "The new record is more of its own thing, its own entity. And I think the new LP is just a cohesive piece of music."
Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace were previously one-half of late, noisy art rockers Women, a fact that very much defined Viet Cong at first. But as the band toured and built up their profile, the ties to Women have begun to fade.
"I've been doing a lot of press, and it comes up more often than not," he says. "But it's not the main focus of the interviews anymore, as maybe it was when I first started talking to people. I think after people have heard the new record, Viet Cong is now more of its own kind of thing; it stands on its own. Hearing the record gives it more of an identity. But I still get asked about it, which is expected."
From the sounds of their debut LP, Viet Cong and Women definitely share DNA, but as Flegel points out, "It's a little less pop and a little more doom and gloom, gothed-out '80s."
"I don't know why it's so 'gothed-out," he adds. "We're not 'gothed-out' dudes. I think once we started getting together as a group of four dudes, that was the natural direction things went."
These darker turns Viet Cong takes, like on the chiming, anthemic post-punk of "Continental Shelf" and the frenzied metamorphosis of "March of Progress" are direct consequences of living in winter-ravaged Calgary.
"At the time I was writing these songs I was working a pretty bleak warehouse job, and the city of Calgary in general is bleak, a big sprawl with construction happening everywhere," Flegel explains. "It all contributed in a weird way, if not intentionally then subconsciously making it a bleak record. And it's winter eight months out of the year there. In Calgary we don't really get a spring or a fall. It's just winter then summer and that's it. I find all of that stuff inspiring in the writing process."