the VINDICTIVES Biography

In the late Fall of 1990, Joey Vindictive posted a MUSICIANS WANTED flyer at the local guitar shop (Guitar Center). Shortly thereafter, Dr. Bob contacts Joey, and the two of them immediately click. Joey and Bob get together twice weekly to run through song ideas that Joey records at home on His Tascam 4-Track – but the Holidays slow things down…and a search for additional musicians doesn’t begin until early Spring 1991 when Joey gets the referral for multi-instrumentalist Johnny Personality by friend Ben Weasel. The first rehearsals are held in Dr. Bob’s garage with Johnny on drums, Bob on Guitar and Joey on Lead Vox – (Johnny switches to Bass after Ex-“Gore Gore Girls” Drummer, Erik Elsewhere is recruited as Drummer). Desiring a larger more dynamic sound – Joey begins the search for a rhythm guitarist. Ben Weasel offers his services and the VINDICTIVES are whole by early Summer. They record 8 songs for their debut self-titled 7” and follow up 7” “The Invisible Man” (both on VML Records 1991) with this lineup at Acme Recording Studios. Shortly after their first few gigs P.J. Parti replaces E. Elsewhere on Drums. They spend the rest of that year performing. (“Putting the VINDICTIVES together fell in place totally effortlessly – I always felt like it was meant to be – keeping it all together was a different story entirely.” jv)

In the Spring of ’92 The VINDICTIVES are back in the studio recording 10 songs for 2 more 7” records “Assembly Line” and “Ugly American” (Both on VML Records 1992) as well as 2 extra tracks “Dummyroom” and “Pervert at Large” which would be released on separate compilations. “Pervert at Large” released on the Fallen Upon Deaf Ears 10” comp. (Skullduggery 1994) And “Dummyroom” on the “Achtung Chicago Zwei” compilation (Underdog Records 1993).

In the Summer of ’92 the VINDICTIVES return to the studio to record 2 “SEX PISTOLS” tunes for a SEX PISTOLS tribute compilation that is never released… Their versions of “Seventeen” and “No Feelings” are later released by the Skullduggery label on a limited 5” single later on in 1994. (“I was still co-producing with Blaise Barton at that time – who had worked with Dylan – I’d always felt that his unique understanding of where words belonged in a song brought the best out in Me, lyrically speaking”. jv)

In the Fall of 1992 the Vindictives were signed to Lookout! Records, Billy Blastoff replaces Ben Weasel (who has reclaimed his frontman duties in the newly reformed SCREECHING WEASEL). The Vindictives spend the rest of that year performing. In the Winter of that ‘92/’93 THE VINDICTIVES went back in the studio to record 18 more songs. They are released on the “This is my Face” EP (VML Records ’93) and “Disturbia” EP (VML Records ’93) and “Rocks in my Head” EP (Lookout Records ’94). The remaining songs from that session would appear on the compilations Punk USA, “I’m in Trouble Now” (Lookout! Records ’94) and the Teenage Kicks 10” “You Know Who you Are” (Custodial Records ’95). Later released from that session is the “Left for Dead” b/w “Alarm Clocks” single on (Lookout! Records ’95) and a 7” picture disc featuring the songs “Johnny Where are you?” b/w “Eating Me Alive” (Lookout! Records ’95). (I really enjoyed the way we recorded material in those early days – as the songs began to form – we’d set a date and go in and record them. We had no idea where they’d end up. Singles, EP’s, compilations, it didn’t really matter. I was trying to capture the urgency of the songs – recording them while they were still fresh and exciting. Interesting. So often the best version of a song will be performed at a rehearsal. jv)

After spending the Fall & Winter performing – In the Spring of 1993 the Vindictives return to the studio to record “Partytime for Assholes” a limited double 10” inch compilation of cover songs, released on Selfless Records in 1994 (and later self-released on CD in 1995 on VML Records). From that same session the Banana Splits cover “Two Ton Tessie” was recorded for the Banana Pad Riot 7” for The Skullduggery Label released in 1995. (The inspiration for “Assholes” was born from my admiration of Circle Jerks “Golden Shower Of Hits” and My love of the Punk Rock tradition of putting your own twisted spin on mainstream Artists work. I sincerely enjoyed most of the material we covered and honestly just wanted to make a really fuckin’ good party record” jv).

In the Summer of 1993 the band practiced new material for their first full length album for Lookout Records entitled “Rat-A-Tat”. Plans were derailed when Joey was injured in a severe auto accident, leading to further medical complications. (“That was the worst time, you’re trapped in bed – you can barely move – but, your brain is working overtime – you want to work so badly – but, you just can’t – the psychological damage ended up being far worse than anything physical” jv). After Joey’s long recovery, plans to go back into the studio that Winter to record “Rat-A-Tat” were once again thwarted due to Dr. Bob’s lifelong substance abuse problems. Plans for the “Rat-A-Tat” album were put on hold.

In the early months of 1994 the VINDICTIVES rehearsed songs for their entry into the RAMONES Tribute series. The VINDICTIVES “Leave Home” tribute album (Selfless ’94) would be released later that year and is considered a classic reinterpretation of the often covered Ramones. (“The Ramones “Leave Home” is one of my favorite albums of all time and getting to dissect and remix those classic lyrical phrases & chord structures was a true gift. Repurposing that material and squeezing it through the VINDICTIVES filter forced Me to appreciate what the VINDICTIVES were doing and allowed Me to really hear the VINDICTIVES from a bystanders viewpoint. jv”)

In the Summer of 1994 rehearsals began for what would be the very last 2 shows featuring the VINDICTIVES “classic line-up”. A double set at the Crawlspace on June 5th 1994 and alongside THE QUEERS, SLOPPY SECONDS and The TRASH BRATS at the Oak Theatre June 25th 1994. (“that final show with Dr. Bob on the stage is a surreal remembrance. That entire night had a feeling of doom looming overhead. I couldn’t put My finger on it but the sense of heaviness was unmistakable – I knew something was ending.” jv)

Shortly after that Joey, Johnny and Billy formed The Flim-Flams with Jenny Gee (Joey’s mate since 1990 – and Dummyroom Record and Video Store partner) and Allison Vunderlandt. The Flim-Flams would go on to record 2 well reviewed Garage/New Wave LP’s.

In 1995 Lookout Records released “The Many Moods of The Vindictives” a double LP containing the band’s first seven releases, remixed with additional backing vocals and guitar overdubs. It’s gone down in history as an integral part of any Pop-Punk fans collection. “(I was never really prepared for the acclaim with which “The Many Moods” was received. Being on Lookout Records brought us to an entirely new audience. For someone like Me – growing us as such a fan of music – to whom music had been such a life changer – there’s nothing that compares with knowing that you have been able to create a little bit of that magic for other people. I know it’s a cliché’, but it’s an honor unlike no other” jv).

From 1995 to July of 1996, Joey, Johnny & Billy wrote and practiced new material with Mike “Geek” Byrne on Guitar (formerly of the GEEKS and currently with Off Broadway/Kurt Baker & Dan Vapid & The Cheats) and drummer Tres’ Quatro. This version of the VINDICTIVES (aka” the Vendettas”) never recorded – and only performed together once. On Monday July 15th 1996 practice sessions with this line-up ceased due to Joey Vindictives ongoing Mental & Medical problems.

For the next couple of years Joey and Jenny would work on various Music & Art projects with Johnny P. and run VML Records and The DUMMYROOM Record Store together.

The VINDICTIVES sprang back to life in 1998 with drummer Angel Ledezma and recorded “HYPNO PUNKOtm ” (Coldfront Records ’99). (Hypno-Punko was an idea I had been toying with for years – most of it was written in my head – in the “looney-bin” – I wasn’t sure if the Punks were ready for a concept album, I guess I wasn’t sure how much pot the punks were smoking at the time, ha-ha. jv).

In 2000 the novelty X-Mas single “Nuttin’ For X-Mas”/”Jingle Bells” was released by Stardumb Records. In 2007 a cover of “Ice Cream Man” was recorded for a Van Halen tribute album.

In February of 2003 the Vindictives Lead Guitarist “Dr. Bob” passed away from a heroin overdose. (losing Bob was and is still difficult for Me – I felt like being in a band was similar to being in battle – it was a very military-like experience for Me – sharing a stage – y’know – it creates a complex relationship unlike anything else – an unshakeable sort of closeness. jv)

2004 saw 4 new Vindictives releases. “Original Masters” (an early singles collection), “Curious Oddities and the Bare Essentials” (a singles compilation of never before released on CD singles/ep and bonus tracks), “Muzak for Robots” (all instrumental “krautrock” inspired versions of VINDICTIVES songs) and the all-acoustic, the VINDICTIVES “Unplugged” on(Teat Prods, ’04). (“hell yeah – I would love to perform the entire UNPLUGGED album from top to bottom – live, a nice little 4 piece chamber orchestra, fuck yeah – that would be a dream come true. Recording that album was probably the best recording experience I’d had up until that time – (other than when producing other peoples work) – when we started to record that record – I was a mess – by the time we were completed – I felt healed” jv)

In March 2004 Joey, his wife Jenny and Johnny P manifested an underground artistic space called “The 1901 Gallery Theatre” which was operated with much love, admiration and success until June 2013. They built The 1901 literally from the ground up with their bare hands, transforming an empty 6-car garage into an intimate performance gathering space with large curtained stage, dressing room, audio visual booth and even a small office. With killer sound & lighting and seating for 50, the monthly shows were packed with regulars and people that came into “the know” and featured “Goth Erotic Burlesque” Revues, Standup Comedy & Variety shows, Gallery receptions with performance art, nude model Sketch Club and Gothic Craft Faires.

During the early days of The 1901, Joey, Johnny and Jenny recorded several heavy-rocking, psychedelic-inspired cinematic soundscapes as a band they called FAERIE WUNDERPUSS. In 2006, the trio recorded the first ep titled “Equals Minus Zero” and released small quantities on cd with handmade collage-stitched covers. In 2010, FAERIE WUNDERPUSS released a limited vinyl split LP with Chicago psychedelic rock band ALLA.

In 2012 Joey and Johnny revisited their punk rock sounds, and by the end of the year “Mono-Flexi” 7” was released on Sexy Baby Records.

UPDATE by Jenny, as of October 2013:
The guys have been in the studio working on numerous projects ever since, one of them being a new VINDICTIVES release “Jerk-O-Lantern”- a Halloween tribute to Vincent Price featuring “Triskaidekophobia: the Fear of the #13”. It was recorded on Friday the 13th in the year 2013 and featured 13 Halloween homages clocking in at 13:13. The band self-released this medley as a surprise seasonal release on digital format only during the month of October through their website. They hope to release it on vinyl next year.

In November of 2013, after 14 years of Joey’s entire early catalog being in the hands of a third party, The Vindictives were LIBERATED with the rightful return of ALL their songs. A huge and heavy weight has been lifted off their shoulders. It was a long legal process that was made entirely possible by Attorney Nathan Larsen of Chicago’s Butler, Rubin, Saltarelli & Boyd LLP* who worked entirely pro-bono. Joey is forever grateful and relieved to have his titles back.

(“For years I had to push all of the lying, stealing, business and legal bullshit out of my mind so that I could focus on my art and just live.The thing that pissed me off the most was that everything that people were listening to was all 2nd 3rd & 4th generation copies of our catalog” – jv)

To celebrate the return of his music, Joey had 36 of their earliest songs professionally remastered by Grammy award-winning producer Blaise Barton at Chicago’s Joyride Studios. All of their songs that were originally released between 1991-1997 are now re-released (in order of appearance) as The VINDICTIVES “Songbook: Voliums I, II and III” in December, 2013 on digital download. The guys hope to release this on vinyl in the near future.

Currently, Joey, Johnny and guest musicians are deeply involved in recording their upcoming VINDICTIVES album titled “Fuckunicorn” which will be released in 2014 – stay tuned for all the details!

* Artists: need legal help? We trusted to help us out and get the job done, and so can you! THANK YOU, Nathan Larsen & team!