Rock ‘n’ roll has found its superhero – and it does not come clad in a cape or wielding a golden shield. Rather, it comes in the form of bike riding bandits destined to swoop in and save the world’s rock-deprived masses. It seems there is some trouble brewing and there is a dire need for these renegade rebel rousers who call themselves The Vicious Cycles Motorcycle Club.
This group of vigilantes did not set out to save rock ‘n’ roll, however, they have inadvertently grabbed music by the balls and are currently bearing the torch that will lead the bewildered from their lives of neglect. Hitting up live music venues to rescue the dull and letting the good times roll, The Vicious Cycles Motorcycle Club bring it hard and they bring it true. These cool cats are on top of all that. Conversion is not a choice, this gang of hard rocking bikers will reel you in at high speed on two wheels and your grin will be as big as the burnout left in their wake.
A common interest of motorcycles drew these mates from the garage and in to a jam space back in 2007. Sitting down at an East Vancouver dive bar with guitarist/vocalist Billy Bones and second guitarist/vocalist Skinny Tim, it quickly becomes apparent that these guys take their two-wheeled torpedoes almost as seriously as their music.
“For something to be real rock ‘n’ roll it’s got to get dangerous at some point. Where someone actually gets a little bit nervous. I don’t want anybody to be scared or whatever. But I would like it to feel like someone should be looking around to make sure they know where the exit is,” Bones says. “I would like stuff to get smashed just to keep everyone honest. There has got to be some sort of uncontrollable energy or it just doesn’t count.”
That is exactly the type of reputation these musical marauders have carved out over the years, sometimes to the point where overzealousness gets the better of many of the patrons in attendance at a Vicious Cycles show. As it goes with the territory, they tend to draw in other motorcycle enthusiasts and therefore it is not uncommon for an actual bike to crash the show, literally right inside the venue. That would certainly qualify into Bone’s version of rock ‘n’ roll and its dangerous capabilities. Skinny Tim tells of such a tale.
“We were playing an all ages show and this phantom motorbike dude rode into where we were playing and started burning out right in front of the band. In full dirt bike gear and everything. I thought for sure Robert or Billy might just get taken out.”
Over the years rock ‘n’ roll has become a vague term of sorts. It can take on many forms, and The Vicious Cycles encompass many of these. The band has been defined by their raucous combination of ’50s rock, ’70s garage, punk and just plain old-fashioned rock. Think of Operation Ivy (without the ska), Danko Jones, the Sonics, and Social Distortion as reference points – then add in a greasy twist. But that’s not all! These badass bikers also have a sensitive side that is shown through their country ballads, bringing in a bit of twang to balance out the mix.
The band is rounded out by Rob Wright on bass/vocals, J Rat on drums, and Norman McFuzzybutt on keys and theremin. The latter of which stellar ability on the theremin has given him the nickname “The Ghost Tickler.” He also just so happens to be the father of J Rat.
The Vicious Cycles first made their mark in 2011 with their debut album, The Strange and Terrible Saga Of. Touring this release brought them plenty of attention and even took them as far as Cuba as they took part in Edmonton based Solidarity Rock Movement’s historical seven-day historical tour of the country. It was definitely one of the highlights for The Vicious Cycles as they continue their ongoing quest.
“We ran around Cuba in this school bus. All the cars and motorcycles down there are from the 1950s or earlier. The whole vibe down there is about community. We got to experience this crazy community. They treat you like rock stars because no one ever goes to play there,” Bones speaks of the tour. “Rock and roll was illegal there up to a couple of years ago. So there is not a ton of bands down there. The people that lived rock and roll as a lifestyle while it was still illegal are just amazing. This thing is pretty real for them.”
And things aren’t slowing down in 2014 either. Fresh out of the Vancouver-famed JC/DC studios, their new record Bad News Travels Fast is set for release on the revamped Teenage Rampage label on April 1. It is a colourful palette of 12 rowdy anthems about the good things in life and a real inside look at the true things that make these guys tick. The opening track is a tune called “Good Times” and it is an absolute barn-burner with full throttle guitars going at max speed like a dirty bar punk anthem should.
“It basically covers what we like to do,” Skinny Tim explains. “We like to have a good time with our friends and we like to have a good time on our motorcycles and we like to play rock and roll.”
For the most part, Bones constructs the lyrical content and he puts it as such. “Motorcycles and good times, that is pretty much all we know. A lot of the songs are kind of cryptic. In my head, I’ll think about writing about a certain something, but I don’t really spell it out.”
Despite enjoying the time in the studio, the band is ready to hit the open road once again. With a Western Canadian tour this spring already booked, the band are also prepping a tour down to the West Coast and in to Mexico in the near future.
From top to bottom Bad News Travels Fast has got a classic grease ball groove that bleeds oil and swagger, with lead off single “I Roll The Dice” stomping and snarling like a burly girl at a show and shine on a rainy day.
“You’ll find the same diversity and mix of songs on the new record. We got a couple of ballads, a lot of rock songs, some fast punks songs and also a surf song,” says Skinny Tim.
It is time to gear up and get down. There is nothing to fear. The Vicious Cycles Motorcycle Club have everything under control. They mean business and people will take note, whether it’s the loud roar of their engines when they’re peeling through the streets of east van or through the face melting rock anthems that these guys have been slowly piecing together like a bike mechanic putting the final touches on his prize hog. So hop on, grab hold and prepare for impact.
The Vicious Cycles Motorcycle Club roll through Calgary on April 4th at the Palomino and Vancouver on April 25th at The Cobalt!
By Heath Fenton