Viet Cong Out of Cowtown

Former Women Members Leave Calgary Behind for POP

Viet Cong have been taking their rattle and clang across North America for the new band’s 50-show tour.

There’s nothing like a 50-show tour to put a new band through its paces.

Viet Cong has rattled and clanged through half of the tour supporting Victoria shoegazers Freak Heat Waves, which takes them through the United States, across Canada and back.

It’s a daunting proposition for a band less than a year old, but Viet Cong isn’t exactly composed of a bunch of fresh-faced teenagers—all the members are around 30 years old.

“The idea is to jump into it,” said Viet Cong singer and bassist Matt Flegel. “It’s hard to feel like you’re doing anything when you’re stuck in Calgary playing the same venue over and over again. We needed to get out of there.”

The band has the rhythm section of Women, the now-defunct post-punk prodigies of Calgary’s music scene.

Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace are joined by guitarists Scott Munroe—who Flegel had played with in the Chad VanGaalen band—and Daniel Christiansen, who Flegel had played with in a Black Sabbath cover band.

In Viet Cong, Flegel and Munroe take main songwriting duties, their sound ranging from fuzz-laden drone to straight pop. Their self-titled cassette surfaced online a few weeks ago as a collection of mismatched home recordings, leaving impressions of the punk and shoegaze their old projects are known for.

For Flegel those songs are just the orphans of the Viet Cong sessions, and the band is currently sitting on a cohesive debut record—they just need to decide who they’re going to put out the album with.

The new material also adds more synths and drum machines beats into the mix.

“We’ve been bringing that into the fold as the tour goes along,” said Flegel. “This is very much testing the waters.

“Monty [Munroe] is playing synth on almost all of it; it’s becoming more of a lead instrument.”

Even with the new sounds, however, Flegel believes his generation’s time has passed. According to him, all the best music in Calgary is coming from the 20-year-olds.

“It seems like it’s getting better culturally in Calgary in general,” he said. “It hasn’t always been that way, it’s been a kind of bleak place as far as culture for a while.”

But for those who do stay, bands like Women, and now Viet Cong, show that it’s possible to make it as a band in Cowtown.

“The young dudes probably look up to us, but they don’t know how much we respect them already,” said Flegel.

Viet Cong // Sept. 26 // L’Escogriffe (4467A St. Denis St.) // 9 p.m. // $10