It’s not every day that a small noise-rock band from Brooklyn gets flown out to play a gig instead of having to drive hundreds of miles. That’s some superstar treatment, right there. “Yeah, you shouldn’t treat bands called Vomitface like this,” says Jared Micah, the singer and guitarist for that band, an agit-noise trio whose members are split between Brooklyn and Jersey City. It’s the morning after Vomitface played the ArtPrize Festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Micah still isn’t quite sure how they became worthy of such treatment. “It was a chain of connections, but we have a reputation for being willing to play anything if you give us lunch,” he says dryly.
“Grand Rapids was unexpectedly cool,” he adds. “There’s just as much variety in the music here as there is in Brooklyn — everything from experimental to noise to indie to punk. But it isn’t as competitive as New York. The community here seems tightly knit and very supportive.”
After barely a week off, Vomitface’s return to NYC has them playing a slew of fall dates, beginning at Aviv on October 1 and continuing with at least three CMJ shows. “We might be doing two more,” says Micah of the weeks ahead for him and his bandmates, drummer Preetma Singh and bassist Keller McDivitt. “It’s a good thing if you like seeing us a lot,” he quips.
Unless you’ve heard the band’s music — an angular noise-rock blend with melodic tangents of surf and thrash — their name is going to be the thing that sticks. It’s not for the weak of stomach. Yes, there is shock value in it, but it wasn’t the product of days of deliberation; it came to them by inglorious accident. “It was a joke!” Micah recalls. “We were at a party, in one of those boring conversation circles, and this douchebag asked what we were called. Preetma joked straight-faced, ‘We’re called Vomitface,’ and the guy was like, ‘Woargh, crazy.’ We were pleased with his reaction.”
It is a bit of a fuck-off handle, but Micah reminds that there’s far worse. “Anal Cunt is probably the worst. Then there’s this band in L.A. called Fartbarf. At least we use the proper medical term: vomit, not barf. It’s quite sophisticated, really. Also, when no one knows who you are, you make money selling merch. People are more likely to respond to a T-shirt with ‘Vomitface’ on it. Crusty punks and metalheads are disappointed once they hear our music, though.”
In the couple of years since they formed, Vomitface have released a couple of EPs, the latest of which, the dourly titled Another Bad Year, came out in May. The threesome spent some of their summer in Chicago, recording their first album, which was engineered by Steve Albini, Shellac’s ax man and the engineer behind Nirvana’s In Utero. This is something you’d think would be all good news, but here comes Debbie Downer: “As soon as we wrapped recording, our label folded,” Micah says. “So as much as I hate the term, we’re hoping to shop the record at CMJ. That makes me cringe just saying it, but we’re sitting on a completed record — like, ‘Here it is with a bow on it.’ ”
Deliberately, the album, which is as yet untitled, was recorded in single takes with barely any reverb on it — the last thing Vomitface wanted was to sound like a “washed-out shoegaze band from Brooklyn,” says Micah. “We wanted the sound of the room.”
If the album is anything like Another Bad Year — especially tunes like “Never Make It” and “Did She Come Alone” — it will nod to Nineties grunge and the decade’s experimental bands like Six Finger Satellite. Micah says Vomitface’s name embodies the band’s aesthetic: “We’re dissatisfied with literally everything right now. It’s all so dumb. We’re twentysomethings, but we like to detach ourselves completely from the millennial generation. I’m an old soul.” He laughs.
By old soul, he means he’s more in tune with Gen X. He and McDivitt grew up “on metal” in the same small Tennessee town, just outside Memphis. “It was like the town in Gummo,” he says, referring to the Harmony Korine film. “Preetma grew up in Canada and moved to Phoenix when she was twelve. Even though I knew Keller, it was an accident that we ended up in a band together.”
Perhaps it’s his Southern upbringing, but when asked to name one thing he loves, he immediately blurts out, “Jesus Christ, my personal lord and savior.” “I love Jesus,” he deadpans (or not). “Let me throw this out to the band,” he says, and yells out for them to name one thing they love. As quick as J.C. came up, an unequivocal voting goes to the schlocky reality-TV show Teen Mom. “Yeah, Teen Mom 2, actually,” Micah says, “because the second series has good casting.”
Vomitface play Aviv on October 1. For ticket information, click here. Vomitface are also playing various shows over the course of the the CMJ Music Marathon October 13–17.