There have been legendary band names in the past few decades and one of the best of the past few years has to be Sandman Viper Command. The name somewhat defines the Burlington band’s indie garage rock sound and as this interview shows, it also displays their personality as rising musicians.
How did you come up with the name Sandman Viper Command?
Dan Reardon: I found it under a rock!
Rob Janson: Search our name in Google with the words “out” and “break”; it’ll all come together.
If Sandman Viper Command was a physical being, what would it be and what type of personality would it have?
Reardon: Space Whistler! We have to use Space Whistler! He’s this ever shifting cloud of cosmic space dust, lost in the…
Aaron Harvey: He’s not a cloud of space dust, he’s a mammal-like creature that travels the through space, propelled by the expulsion of galaxies.
When did you first get involved in music?
Matt Meyer: When I was six years old.
Janson: I remember playing/singing this original song, that was probably ripped off by a Kraft Dinner Lang song or something, at a school talent show when I was in grade 3. That must have freaked some parents out. I have no idea how or why I decided to write it. I quite possibly owe it all to Muchmusic Dance Mix ’95.
Reardon: My dad plays guitar…
Harvey: When I developed my ombacher before anyone else in my music class.
Which artists influence you the most?
Janson: As far as musically, that’s a question we find ourselves wrestling with quite frequently these days.
Reardon: There have been a few comparisons made that we can’t personally relate to, but when it comes down to it we have a hard time pinpointing our own influences ourselves, aside from the obvious 60’s sound.
Janson: Dan and I being impressionable teens, jammed a whole lot of Brian Jonestown Massacre, I’m sure a lot of kids did. Also, big ups to Burlington’s pop/screamo outfit Boys Night Out for teaching me to shred with minimal tapping.
Sloan or The Beatles?
Janson: Aaron, are you going Sloan?
Harvey: Yeah, I’m going Sloan. They’re really good, maybe they’ll listen to the album if I say it.
Reardon: That Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” sounded pretty good once.
Meyer: Absolutely Beatles over Sloan because they have undeniably timeless music.
Reardon: l listened to the album when I was stoned once and I thought it was pretty alright.
Janson: That’s always the tough one. In terms of our overall “vibe”, I’d say we’re just trying to make rock ‘n roll that can still be somewhat fresh and exciting when you hear it.
Reardon: In general our whole creative process and lifestyle is pretty organic and I think that comes out in the music.
Janson: We eat a lot of expensive cereal.
Meyer: Flax only.
It’s surprising you aren’t attached to a label, but do you think the band will ever get signed or is being unsigned a trait that defines Sandman Viper Command?
Janson: I don’t think that being unsigned is something that defines us, at this point the fact that we’re not attached to a label isn’t a conscious decision on our part. That whole anarchic “fuck you to the system” mentality doesn’t seem to really work in any business, let alone the music one.
Reardon: That being said it’s definitely an exciting time for independent bands in that for the first time you can be totally successful without the assistance of a label if you choose to go that route.
Janson: Not very many independent bands make it onto Jay Leno year in and out. We just want to do what we’re doing for as long as possible and if being on a label helps, then count us in. If labels become irrelevant in the next few years, you could probably count us out.
What’s one unique thing you bring to the table that other bands don’t?
Reardon: Matt’s middle name is Damon.
Janson: Musically, I suppose the fact that we don’t use pedals or anything on stage is relatively unique. Evidently there are a lot of bands out there who are way better at multi-tasking with their hands and feet than we are.
What was your reaction to being featured in The Hamilton Spectator? Do you think being included in such a large provincial newspaper is a bigger accomplishment than being featured in a national magazine?
Janson: Being in the Spectator was fantastic. I think everyone hopes to make into the newspaper when they’re growing up. Of course there are pros and cons to being featured in either a provincial newspaper or national magazine comparatively: the newspaper gets delivered to tons of people who wouldn’t normally seek out your band, but it’s only for one day.
The magazine on the other hand probably has a specific market which hopefully you apply to and probably runs for a hell of a lot longer. So while the paper is great in some aspects, conversely so is the magazine. As far as the accomplishment aspect goes, it’s hard to measure that. Both will probably end up on my parent’s fridge.
What’s been your favourite show that you’ve played and why?
Reardon: It has to be the Holy Fuck show we played at the Grad Club in Kingston, Ontario.
What cities/towns in Ontario do you guys wish you can play sometime soon?
Reardon: We’ve seen a lot of Ontario. At this point we’re itching to extend our circuits past the borders of our beautiful province.
What’s missing from the Canadian music scene and what does it need less of?
Reardon: What seems to be missing the in the Canadian scene is a lack of confidence in our own product from the industry. It’s a shame because there’s so much talent and a large group of people who want to hear it now or even don’t know it yet and would if they were just exposed to it. Canada just seems to have a harder time than other countries when it comes to connecting those dots.
Favourite place in Toronto to hang out at?
Janson: Our friends Paul and Jay have a great place to hang out at but aside from that, we don’t get out much aside from the venues when we’re in town. We will be playing C’est What every Tuesday in February though.
What does music mean to you?
Janson: Music means a lot to me.The amount of time I’ve spent procrastinating because of it – if it weren’t for music I’d probably be in school or working for decent pay. I owe it everything.
Reardon: It’s a good way to kill time.
Meyer: It’s my emotional expression!
Aaron: I was away for most of this interview because of my girlfriend, but music means smoking the odd joint and sleeping in til’ noon.
[What do you think of Sandman Viper Command?]