Pat Vogel interview

These are highlights from an interview I did with Pat back in late 2005, I believe, to promote a Tradition Dies Here show.   Pat’s a good interview and a self-effacing man and I’d like to interrogate him on the record again one day.

Pat is universally admired, even beloved, in D.C.  He is a rare dude of whom no one speaks ill.  I honestly can’t think of anyone else with that status in the “scene.” 
But Pat ain’t yr typical  backslapping “nice guy”  If anything, he’s kinda gruff (rarely, for example, laughing at my hilarity).  Pat does not suffer fools and if what you’re saying strikes him as stupid, boring, or BS, you will know it ( not that I’d know), which is awesome.  This world is drowning in bullshit and bullshitters and there are far too few people like PV around to let you know when you’re being boring/stupid. He is absolutely crucial in more ways than one.

Pat drives a funny-looking van which runs on veggie oil.   He lent me $40 once. Another time, he drove me to pick up a book from the Chevy Chase home of acclaimed New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer.  And he doesn’t even like me.  Typical Vogel.  Did you know that the mixing board at the Corpse Fortress is actually Vogel’s?  Typical Vogel – buyin’ something and letting everyone use it.  It is difficult to believe that a man of this caliber has survived for over 30 years in this pathetic world.

Vogel has been in many bands and everyone knows that he personifies everything worthwhile about punk.  Sick Fix is his current incarnation. 

Tim: What’s wrong with traditional American values?
Pat: …It seems to me a traditional American value is to not really care what we waste, just to make money, spend money, buy, have the most toys, have a fulfilling life by having everything you can ever want.
I see a huge problem with that.  I don’t feel fulfilled by having nice electronics or clothes.
I feel more fulfilled by friendships and relationships and people, getting things done and helping people and being part of a community where we’re working together to get things done.
In a traditional society it seems harder and harder to stay afloat sometimes, when these forces are pushing us to buy things that we don’t need, to eat things that we don’t need and to eat more.  I remember what a large soda used to look like…
One of the things that I think about a lot is my personal consumption.  I think I eat too much.  I’m not happy with the way my body looks and I want to eat less so that I lose weight – I guess to fit a more traditional standard.  And that’s a problem in itself.
It’s a traditional thing to want to be skinny and attractive.  I wish I could say that I didn’t care about that.
…. I want to do it so that I’m healthier – that’s why I eat a vegan diet.  I haven’t gotten sick in a long time.
As far as traditional American values, we’re made to feel like we need a lot of things that we don’t – most people in the world don’t have these things and they’re fine.  They’re happy.  Or just the opposite: They’re starving and they’re dying and they’d kill for a scrap of what we have.  And it’s sad to think that people could live off of my trash.
I try not to throw anything away that’s usable.  That’s a conscious effort.
That’s another aspect: not caring about what we throw away and who else can use it.
… I keep buying things.  I guess I’m kind of a pack rat.  I have way too many clothes and six guitars and amps.  I need to start letting go of some things.  I feel like I should be happier with less.

Are you anti-capitalist?
To a certain extent, yes, but we sell t-shirts and CDs.  People will tell you they’re anti-capitalist and sell you t-shirts.  To exist in this society you have to play that game. I would prefer not to. I prefer to give people things for free if I can. I like to share and I like community. People have faulted me because I’m too community-minded. I don’t remember what was wrong with that (laughs).

What was the best part of being in Crispus Attucks?

Playing shows, traveling, meeting new people. There were really no problems with it. Everything we did was fun to me. I was very satisfied with everything I did with that band.
… It’s a lot harder for me to sing and play guitar at the same time. I’m kind of learning as I go.
I like challenging myself.   Look at all the stupid pedals I have.
I just want to make music that I like and that doesn’t sound like anything else. I don’t want to sound like any other band.
We get kind of locked into punk rock, so we definitely do sound like other bands, but I want to keep it as different as I can.
…I feel like I can always do better.  That’s why I keep playing in bands, because it’s a challenge and I will never be fully satisfied with it.

What kinds of things does TDH argue about?
We don’t really argue too much.  The problems we have are my fault, lately, with scheduling, because I work an odd shift.
We don’t really argue.  I feel like I let them down a lot because I can’t give them the time that I need to.
They probably don’t know this, but I spend a lot of time writing songs and recording.  I’m sure he’s not too happy that he recorded the drums in August for a new recording and it’s still not done.

What was the impetus behind deaDCity?

I forget who came up with the name.  This guy designed a shirt that said “deaDCity crust.”
I just took it as a name for our scene and ran with it.  I had already built a server that I wanted to share music on and that became the deaDCity server, so now we host a bunch of sites.
Any band that we know that wants one can have a website.  I think I gave your band one.  We want to help people.  For the past year there’s been a deaDCity Arts Collective — I don’t have much to do with it. There’s going to be a deaDCity music fest in December.

Please explain the dichotomy between your kind, laid-back personality and your intense, screaming music.

Just because I’m easygoing doesn’t mean I don’t get upset and have other feelings.  I don’t want people to worry about me, but it’s an outlet for me to deal with my frustrations and problems.  Even without the vocals and me screaming my head off it’s very abrasive music.  But I like the melodies behind it.
I have problems that I want to address and things to say.  It feels good to play.  It’s therapy for me.  Same thing with the lyrics and screaming. …

What is crust and are you a crust band?

Crust is a sub-genre of punk.  It’s just dirtier-type music and dirtier-type people and places.  It’s a certain aesthetic that’s pretty popular now.
I don’t really know what crust is – I don’t really care what crust is: I don’t consider us anything besides a punk band.

What about hardcore?
Hardcore and punk, to me, are pretty much the same.  Some people like to make a distinction.  I don’t.

What does punk mean to you?
Thinking for yourself, being who you want to be, looking out for yourself and your friends and your family.  Caring about the world I live in and trying to make it a better place.  There’s a lot of things we can change. That’s what I would like to do.

It seems like there’s at least two punk scenes in D.C. There’s a total disconnect between deaDCity bands and bands that play the U-Turn.
That’s not necessarily true – we’ve played the U-Turn.  Nobody really came, but I don’t have a problem playing those kind of shows.  I feel like I’m not very welcome.  I like some bands that play there, but I feel like that’s not really our scene … [some of those people seem really] disrespectful, just because they seem very apathetic to things that I care about, or they seem very disrespectful of people, just in the language that they use.  And that stems from other things.

What was opening for the U.K. Subs at the Black Cat like?

I hate playing on big stages.  Every time I get up there I can look down on people: I don’t like that.  I don’t want to feel like a rock star.  I don’t like rock stars or want to be one.  I guess if I got to the level of Fugazi or something we’d have to play a venue like that just so that people can see you, and that’s good, I guess.

Do you want people outside of your community to hear you?
Yeah, sometimes I feel like we should make our music more accessible so that people who aren’t into punk might appreciate us, ‘cause I feel like we might be limiting ourselves by screaming and playing very loud, but at the same time, normal people wouldn’t understand it or wouldn’t like it.  But as far as most people go it’s not very nice or pretty.  It’s in your face and frustrated for a reason.

Ever feel like yr preaching to the converted?
Definitely.  That’s one of the things that I don’t like about punk.  Everybody’s heard most of it before.  I try to think up new ideas or just offer solutions: Everybody will tell you what’s wrong, but who will tell you how to fix it?  So I guess if you’re offering something new you’re not preaching to the converted.

Do you like any popular bands?
Sure. I don’t listen to the radio or anything, but I can appreciate things. Do you want me to list bands?

I like some old U2.  Queens of the Stone Age.  I don’t go out of my way to listen to popular bands.  I liked Rage Against the Machine.  I like Jimi Hendrix and some classic rock, but not so much what’s popular right now, like nu-metal or Green Day.  Just, like, Rage Against the Machine.
They’re a really popular band, but does anyone understand what they were saying?  Maybe they weren’t preaching to the converted, but it seemed like their lyrics were vague.  It seemed like it could be taken that way, but it was also rhetoric.
My brother liked it because it was loud and aggressive. They put out these songs that were abrasive and confrontational, but did they back them up?  I saw them once and it was just a bunch of jocks trying to kill each other.  Just like some punk shows.  Some people are there to hurt people.  It’s pretty unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.

What’s the worst thing about being a D.C. band?
I can’t really think of anything aside from there being so many small facets of the punk scene.  It’s very hard to get everyone together.  It’s very hard to get a band like Fugazi that will draw thousands of people.
Then you go to a regular punk show – you’re lucky if there’s a hundred people there.

Certain people don’t go to certain shows, certain people’s bands won’t play with other bands?
I don’t mind playing with bands I don’t like –  I’d like reaching out to more people.  The hard thing about being in a D.C. band, just like a lot of places now, is that there are so many different kinds of punk.  Now it’s like, “are you playing a crust show or are you playing a hardcore show?”
…I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.  I don’t play music that would make us any money and I don’t want to.  I guess I could start a metal band and try and get big.

Do you like metal?
Yeah.  I take a lot of it with a grain of salt because I don’t agree with the lyrics or they’re ridiculous, but I appreciate it, hearing different styles of music or the way people play differently or different styles of songs.  It’s a lot more technically proficient than a lot of punk bands.  I’m interested in learning different things.

How important is activism to you?
Very important.  I’m not as much of an activist as I should be.  It’s very important to stand for things and help people.
I definitely consider myself an activist even though I’m not out on the streets every day trying to do things.

What’s the most fun time in your life?
Just being on tour.  We went on four full U.S. tours in Crispus Attucks and that was great.  We toured Europe for a month and that was even better. Spending time with my friends and my girlfriend is equally as good.

Is your band part of a tradition?
D.C. has traditionally had a lot of politcally-minded punk bands …

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