Sunday, November 1, 2015

Vic Bondi / Teenage Time Killers series

Vic Bondi rages with Black Theory in Seattle. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy

Vic Bondi took a sip of his martini and placed the glass down on the counter at the Five Point Cafe in Seattle last Friday afternoon. As he fidgeted with the container, the ice jiggled while his eyebrows lifted and he began to share his "transcendent" experience at the Teenage Time Killers mega-gig on Sept. 12 at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.

The bearded barkeeper appeared to be interested at one point, hovering above us even though we weren't in need of refills. Bondi was clearly full of life and still intoxicated on the positive vibes and hard-hitting tunes that the musicians and attendees put forth that evening.

The gig featured about two dozen musicians and 50 tunes, ranging from TTK numbers to the players' songs from their own bands to crucial cover songs that influenced the whole damn project, which was recently released on Rise Records.

When it was Bondi's turn on stage, MC Pat "Adam Bomb" Hoed informed the crowd that Bondi "put Chicago hardcore on the map" with his band Articles of Faith. With some Chicagoans in the crowd surely nodding their heads in approval after Hoed's intro, Bondi and the backing band ripped through a pair of TTK songs, plus AOF's anthem "What We Want is Free" and the Stooges' classic "TV Eye." During the AOF song -- which was handpicked by TTK mastermind Reed Mullin -- Bondi said there were rousing cheers from the Chicagoans.

While Bondi noted that the TTK and AOF tunes went over well, his eyes lit up like a rock band's towering stage logo when he recollected the band's crushing version of "TV Eye."

"I played guitar on that one, which turned out to be a really good decision, cuz that combination of me and Mick (Murphy) playing together was fucking awesome, man, because we both were playing that riff (he hums it and air guitars along) -- it was smoking," Bondi said. "The way the energy level worked in the night, you sort of do these step function lifts... that was the first step function lift."

Bondi met Murphy 24 hours earlier in rehearsals, they hit it off instantly and that vibe carried over into the gig. (Corrosion of Conformity's Mullin drummed and Derik Envy played bass during Bondi's mini-set.)

"It was perfect, it was brilliant. Mick was awesome... Mick Murphy played 50 fucking songs. He played 'em all -- without a break. He didn't go off stage to take a piss. That guy was such a ferocious talent," Bondi said.

Iggy would have surely been proud of the TTK guys that night, as would have Bondi's teenage daughter, who plays guitar.

He brought the TTK/family bond to the forefront: "Because my daughter is learning to be a musician, I keep telling her there's three stages of musicianship: stage one is learning how to play your instrument and getting good at that; stage two is learning how to play with the other guys; stage three is learning how to play with the audience, and being able to work off that vibe and generate that energy with something completely new... and at the Teenage Time Killers show, that was 'TV Eye.'"

Bondi became involved with the TTK project after Mullin connected with his old friend from the days when AOF and COC shared myriad bills, including an epic gig with the Dead Kennedys in front of 1,500 to 2,000 people at the Camden University Field House (New Jersey) in 1985.

"There must have been 300 on stage. It was insane. Top five I ever played, for sure," Bondi said.

When TTK was in its formative stages, Mullin thought of Bondi.

"I hadn't talked to Reed Mullin in 30 years and he pings me up out of the blue on email, and he's like, 'Yo, bro, I'm not pulling your chain or anything, but I always thought you were a great singer. I got this project, would you do something with it?'" Bondi said with a laugh and a smile.

Mullin sent Bondi the raw tracks, which TTKer Dave Grohl had titled "Bleeding to Death," and Bondi sat on the floor of his home, wrote the lyrics, recorded the vocals in his home studio and fired the song back to Mullin in about a day.

Bondi discussed the lyrics: "'Death by a thousand cuts, first they cut the eyes,' cuz it actually turns out that that particular form of Chinese corporal punishment actually did work that way. So the way the emperors would punish you, if you had been condemned to death by a thousand cuts, they would cut your eyes first so you could never feel the next set of cuts coming. And it made your agony that much more profound. You never knew where they would slice you next. And so that's the first line.

"To me, also, that was the political metaphor for the knuckleheads in the red states that continue to let the rich guys fuck 'em over, and they never see what's coming, cuz they're so goddamned blind. Since Reagan, it's been death by a thousand cuts for the middle class of America."

While Bondi -- whose band history aside from AOF includes Dead Ending, Black Theory, Alloy, Jones Very and Report Suspicious Activity -- enjoys his TTK track, he's also down with Matt Skiba's "Barrio," Neil Fallon's "Crowned by the Light of the Sun" and Mullin's "The Dead Hand," which he sang backup vocals on at the gig. (At the show, Bondi also sang lead on Jello Biafra's TTK album song, "Ode to Sean Hannity.")

Those are his faves, but, "I really, really like the record because it's like a smorgasbord of heavy music," he said.

And the gig was the topper, with all the musicians enjoying each other's company on stage and off stage. New friends were made as TTK tunes were brought to life in a pivotal live experience.

"It was a great night, and the next day, everybody was just floating on this high," Bondi said.