This Tuesday, dirty-guitar-punk trio Vivian Girls released their sophomore album Everything Goes Wrong. Last spring, a day before they were to go on tour, as well as move out of their shared apartment, singer-guitarist Cassie Ramone, bassist Kickball Katy, and drummer Ali Koehler sat down with me (on the floor) for a track-by-track listening session via a laptop. They drank Diet Coke and offered me leftover pieces of Domino’s pizza. (I didn’t wan to ruin my dinner, so I declined.) Plus, I was more focused on their new jams. “More of the same perhaps,” but the Vivian Girls have done some maturing since last summer’s self-titled debut, with songs stretching beyond two minutes and a whole new interest in guitar arrangements.
1. “Walking Alone At Night” (1:41)
Singer-guitarist Cassie Ramone: It’s energetic. Also, all of all the songs on this album, this one was written first. Long time ago. But I didn’t play it for anyone until recently.
Bassist Kickball Katy: Of all the songs you’ll hear, I think this one would fit the best on the first album.
Cassie: The first two songs I think would fit good on the first album. But after that, it changes a bit.
2. “I Have No Fun” (1:27)
This seems longer. [Note: even though it’s not.]
Cassie: We weren’t trying to stretch this out, it just happened.
3. “Can’t Get Over You” (3:36)
Katy: This is going to be one of our singles.
Does this refer to a specific instance?
Cassie: I don’t wanna say [laughs].
It sounds like a great, lock-you-in-the-room high school break up song.
[All three laugh].
Cassie: Lock-you-in-the-room, huh?
You know-you don’t want to hear anything from the outside.
Drummer Ali Koehler: That should be a scene in our video. The girl goes back to a room and locks herself in.
4. “The Desert” (2:42)
I was concentrating on the guitar riff. What was the lyrical content?
Cassie: It’s about going on tour and missing someone at home. About how you want them to be there with you but he’s not, because he’s back home.
And you’re in the desert.
Cassie: Yes, you are. That’s where you are [all three laugh].
Yeah, that one is really fast and fun.
Cassie: Thank you. Kinda like all the popular girls in high school [all three laugh].
They are fast.
Katy: And fun.
5. “Tension” (2:30)
This is much darker. Has some tension.
Katy: Really? That is so profound.
Cassie: Good observation! Just kidding, sorry.
6. “Survival” (2:30)
Katy: This is our hardcore jam.
I feel like the old Vivian Girls would’ve cut that at the one minute and 20 mark.
Cassie: That’s true.
That groove could’ve gone on for 15-20 minutes.
Katy: With enough weed, sure [laughs].
Cassie: Maybe when we play it live, we’ll do that.
Ali: It would be a good idea to do that live.
Cassie: Make it go on forever? That’d be hilarious.
Ali: Make it the first song and play it for like 20 minutes.
7. “The End” (3:15)
That one had more subtleties in it as it drifted on.
Cassie: We spent along time arranging that song.
Katy: That song’s pretty complicated. We’re all singing for a part of it and our instruments are doing weird things too.
When did you write that one?
Cassie: I think maybe November or October. It’s about a bad breakup.
Hence the title.
Katy: The END.
Ali: It’s funny, because it’s the last song on the A-side, but its not really over.
Cassie: On that note, another interesting thing that I’d like to point about the album- is the first line of the first song is “It’s over now.” It’s really interesting. And the middle song is called “The End.” And the last song is called “Before I Start To Cry.” So, I think its interesting….nobody’s going to know where they are in the album. They’ll be like “I wish it’s over, I hate the Vivian Girls.” [All three crack up]
It’s a good thing I’m here to figure this out. Otherwise, people would lose so much sleep over this. Was this deliberate or was this not?
Katy: Oh, very.
8. “When I’m Gone” (3:29)
The vocals seem to be more in the forefront than the other cuts.
Cassie: Well, that’s because we were all singing the whole thing. I think it’s the only song we’re singing the whole way through.
Ali: “Can’t Get Over You,” the vocals are more in the forefront, too. The songs are all mixed differently, too, for what we felt was right for the song.
Katy: We mixed the first album very similarly. For this one, we mixed each one slightly differently.
9. “Out For The Sun” (4:13)
Cassie: This song is about a relationship-an unhealthy relationship, with a man. They’re both kind of following their dreams, but it gets in the way of being able to be together, kind of. And how it’s sad, I guess.
I’m seeing a theme throughout.
Cassie: what’s the theme?
That everything goes wrong.
Cassie: Hooooooooooooooo. You got it. [Collective laugh].
I’m not an amateur.
Ali: This song wasn’t originally meant to be epically shreddy.
Cassie: We had the main parts written.
Katy: We thought it was missing something.
Cassie: We were listening to Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.”
Katy: This is probably my favorite song to play live.
Ali: It’s headbanging and has some crazy rolls and shit. It’s fun.
10. “I’m Not Asleep” (2:01)
The vocals are more distant.
Cassie: I recorded the vocals on that song through this organ machine, and it was all vibrato-y.
Ali: It was the Leslie, right?
Cassie: Yeah, it was the Leslie-an organ motor thing that was run through a guitar amp.
Ali: We’re getting to be technical nerds.
11. “Double Vision” (4:20)
Why did this become the longest?
Cassie: I don’t know. Do you think it was too long?
No. It’s on par with a handful of the others.
Cassie: “Out for the Sun” is 4:16. This one is 4:27. [Editor’s note: The iTunes versions are now 4:13 and 4:20, respectively.]
Does someone have double vision?
Cassie: No. This song’s about letting your life be ruled by fate.
I don’t ascribe to that.
Katy: You don’t do that?
No. I wish I could though.
Cassie: That’s what I do. It’s about letting your life being ruled by fate, and I don’t know, sometimes your forced to make a choice between something, but you can try to make the best choice, and sometimes its not that easy-you end up going the wrong way for awhile, but eventually it all works out.
I hope that’s true. But sometimes it takes awhile.
Cassie: Sometimes it takes a long time.
Cassie: Like years. But it’s worth it, in my experience.
12. “You’re My Guy” (1:54)
Katy: It’s an angry song.
It is an angry song?
Cassie: It’s called “You’re My Guy,” but its actually pretty angry.
Does it mean “You’re my guy, I can’t believe it, I suck?”
Cassie: Well the “you” in the “you’re my guy” is you the listener. It’s about you.
Ali: It’s not directed at a boyfriend.
13. “Before I Start To Cry” (2:23)
It’s very shoegazey. And a slightly sad way to end the record?
Ali: That’s the point: to bum the shit out of everyone.
Cassie: On the last record, we ended on “I Believe In Nothing.”
So this isn’t too far a departure.