An Interview with The Village Bicycle
Written by Miles Purdy on May 7, 2017
By: Miles Purdy and Alice Leach
After getting lost in Cleveland heading from Melt Bar & Grilled, Alice Leach and Miles Purdy headed over to see Eskimeaux at Mahall’s. Right before Eskimeaux took the stage, they caught up with Elizabeth Kelly and Karah Vance of The Village Bicycle in Mahall’s the bowling ball nook.
Miles Purdy: Hey, I’m Miles, this is Alice, and we’re with two members of The Village Bicycle tonight, Liz and Karah. So, let’s get this show on the road.
Alice Leach: So the first off we wanted to ask you was were you guys get some of your main inspiration for your music, since every musician has their own pool they take from.
Liz Kelly: That’s a good question! I think it started out inspired by my personal experiences with Cleveland music and Cleveland artists and songwriters. My mentor is a guy named Ben Gmetro and he was in a band called The Dreadful Yawns. And we really started off more in the Americana, more mellow, kinda chilled-out.
Karah Vance: We were much more mellow than we are now.
Miles: Yeah, it’s picked up quite a bit.
Liz: It really has, and a lot of that is due to Karah and I getting into 90’s female-fronted music together like Breeders, and Elastica, and The Julie Ruin, and all of Kathleen Hanna’s projects. And of course, 80’s punk like Minutemen, so that’s kind of where we started to move more into the vein we’re in now.
Miles: And you guys actually released a new album last year, and as I was taking another listen to it again, what was the best moment while recording, and what was the most horrid not-fun thing that happened?
Karah: Ooo, well.
Liz: That’s more of an interesting question than you probably think. Because we actually started recording that album in 2012.
Liz: So some of the older songs on there like Interstellar and – what are the other ones?
Karah: Fresh Meat’s never been recorded, but it was in that era.
Liz: Those were written many years ago, even ‘Panic Song’. And we had a different lineup; our rhythm section was totally different. And I was a really horrible car accident, and it interrupted the recording process pretty significantly. The rhythm section went their own way, and Karah and I stayed together.
Karah: It was like a three-year time span of recording that.
Liz: So the recording process and reteaching the songs to this new rhythm section who we’re with now, Devin and Ty took quite a bit of time. So I’d say probably the worst part was losing half the band and being in a horrible car accident.
Miles: That’s kind of significant!
Liz: Yeah it was pretty significant! But the best part – I think it was the actual recording.
Karah: Once we got everything done it was quick.
Liz: Yeah, we did it in one day. We did it live with our friend James Harris.
Karah: It was like a song every five hours, it was like bam-bam-bam.
Liz: It was even less than that. The actual recording process was really fun, working with James, and working together in a live setting in somebody’s living room. It was a huge bonding moment I would say and it was a good way for us to learn each other as musicians, even more so than we already had. Anything to add to that?
Karah: And we just recorded in New York, so super happy times. That album will probably be coming out probably in late fall.
Miles: Sweet, looking forward to that.
Alice: Now, another one of our questions is that every artist seems to have a song they really love and really hate. And we were wondering if were there any songs that you guys made that you love doing and loved that you made, or if there are any that you’re kind of iffy about.
Liz: Like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, right?
Karah: Or Octopus’s Garden?
Karah: Sorry if anyone likes those songs, but, ya know.
Liz: I like those songs but I know John Lennon haaaated Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
Karah: What was worst song to record or…?
Alice: Anything that gave you trouble, or maybe weren’t super hyped about.
Karah: Panic Song is really exhausting, that was one of the songs on our tape. It’s always really exhausting when we do it. It’s not that I hate it, it’s just you have to find the right moment to play that one.
Liz: We opened with that song recently.
Karah: It was exhausting!
Liz: It ruined the whole set. Like that whole time we were totally exhausted, trying to catch our breath between every song because we opened with Panic Song, so that’s not a good opener. So my favorite song is End of Days, which is what we opened the set with tonight. I love playing that song. That’s the song where our songwriting is going, it’s one of our two most recent songs and it really feels good to play it. It feels exciting. And you’re not really supposed to say you’re inspired by your music, but I’m kind of inspired by that song. I feel like it’s the way I want the music to go.
Karah: Yeah, we felt so much more together after playing that song and recording it.
Liz: And then my least favorite song– there’s so many! You kind of evolve you know as an artist, you know.
Liz: There’s one song we never recorded, and we never really played live and it was called Bonnie and Clyde.
Liz: I love it in some ways, I don’t necessarily hate it. You know it’s fun to look back and…
A taller man with a drink walks up to Liz.
Liz: This is an original band member. Hi Eric, we’re being interview, you wanna join in?
Eric: I quit!
Liz: He did! Actually, Interstellar, one of the songs on our album, Eric wanted to call it – I don’t know if I can say this on the radio, interstellar handjob or Eric Quits. And then he quit! And I was like alright fuck you!
[Laughs all around]
Eric: I was not joking around dude.
Karah: He also hated playing Hot Mom, and we absolutely loved playing that song most of the time. He was like ‘I’m not playing that song ever,’ and so we kicked him out.
Liz: So there’s always those few songs were you like it write it and you come back to it later and you think ‘argh this is terrible’.
The sounds of bedroom-poprock from the main stage informed everyone that Eskimeaux’s set had started. Alice and Miles caught back up with Liz after Eskimeaux’s performance.
Miles: And we’re back just saw Eskimeaux right then, was a lot of fun.
Liz: Oh they were wonderful.
Miles: So you were just talking about adding on to one of our earlier questions.
Liz: Oh yeah, I wanted to talk about one of our songs. I guess it’s negative now that I think about it, but I hate playing ‘She’s a Hero’. That’s all.
Miles: Oh really?
Liz: Yeah I hate playing it. It’s really awkward for me to play. So I felt like I didn’t give you a straight answer before, and I feel that answer makes it more clear.
Alice: We were also going to ask about that name.
Miles: On my show at BSR I take listener questions, and they were wondering how did you guys came up with the name?
Liz: The name, The Village Bicycle. Yeah well, you know it has a…a connotation to it.
Alice: We knew it was a slang term, we didn’t know if that was what you guys were going for.
Liz: We kind of were at the time, and I don’t know how well your listeners know us but we are a feminist rock band. And so I think it’s sort of a tongue in cheek idea of what the role of a woman is.
Alice: Sort of like reclaiming the term.
Liz: Absolutely. It is, it’s taking the term back a bit. We as women have to deal a lot of preconceived notions of what our roles are, and also what our roles aren’t. And I feel like the village bicycle kind of speaks to what our roles shouldn’t be. Like how a woman is supposed to behave, how a woman is supposed to conduct herself sexually and socially. The Village Bicycle is us kind of flipping the bird and saying F-U to the idea preconceived gender notions.
Miles: I like that, it works very well considering your lyric style as well.
Liz: Thank you.
Alice: Also our last question has to with my radio show at BSR where I talk about sad songs and mental health. So I was going to ask you what your go-to sad song. Like when you’re moping and need to listen to something.
Liz: That’s really a difficult question. It’s not necessarily traditionally sad, but it’s called ‘Better Son Better Daughter’ and it’s by Rilo Kiley. It’s not actually sad. It’s definitely steeped in that feeling of hopelessness, but it’s more like a fight song. It’s like you’re having a really bad day and you’re telling yourself all these things like ‘I can get through this’ and ‘I can do this’. But the tone of the song is pretty heavy and sad. And yeah, it’s ‘Better Son, Better Daughter’ by Rilo Kiley.
Alice: Awesome, thank you!
Liz: Absolutely! And really quick, I appreciate that you have a radio show dealing with mental health. I’m just about finished with school for music therapy, and so that means a lot to me as a future mental health professional.
Miles: And with that I think we’re done.
Liz: Thank you guys so much!
Miles: And thank’s for being on for Black Squirrel Radio!