Kat scratch fever

. January 21, 2014.

How could a band with so much energy ever stop?

Vic Victor had his head under the hood of a Jeep when Current called him. He called us back a minute later, apologizing and  saying and that we’d just caught him tinkering with an old motor. The Metro-Detroit native was giving his humble new ride a tune-up.

Trusty transportation has been crucial to the sustainability of the Koffin Kats. Recently surpassing the 10-year-mark, Vic’s punk-inclined rock trio released their seventh album, Born Of The Motor. That’s fitting: the band’s from “the Motor City” and is known for tireless touring schedules (220 shows in 2013 alone). Their live show could also be akin to something combustible, or maybe the relentless punch of pistons, so that motor motif fits.

Getting the sound out

“The fact is,” says Victor, “we wouldn’t be where we’re at, no one would know who we are, if we’d just relied on throwing songs up online and posting: ‘Hey, listen, listen!’ None of this would be possible if we didn’t get into our touring vans and drive them until their wheels fell off.”

As Victor sees it, this band came about through hitting the road and living in vans. So there’s inherent urgency to the fast tempos, fervent riffs and electrified quaver in Victor’s wild crooning style. Exhibited on Born, a record that finds them trying out heavy rock n’ roll, the band has evolved beyond their spastic punk origins.

Victor started the Koffin Kats with guitarist Tommy Koffin in 2003. Like most bands, they busted their collective asses in small clubs for small returns (sometimes just for free beer). Victor’s motivation was unshakable, instilled in him from one of his earliest concert attendances: the influential and insanely energetic live outfit from punk: Reverend Horton Heat. “It blew my mind,” says Victor. “I decided: ‘Well, this is what I want to do for a living!’”
Playing for a living

Making a living in music is the trickiest part for bands in the post-internet age. It involves an all-or-nothing commitment to the road, as demonstrated by the Kats. “Our lives can be 80%-band and 20%-everything else, but we have a great support system behind us with our family and friends.” Five years ago, as their tours grew longer, both in duration and distance, Vic, Tommy and drummer Eric Walls, realized they’d have to take that leap of faith and make the major push towards life on the road.

It worked. They’re now a functioning, tax-paying pack of working musicians. Tommy has since moved on “to start a more normal life,” Victor says of the amicable split. Guitarist EZ Ian now rounds out the band,  as Victor continues to furiously slap and lean upon his upright bass with Walls back on the kit.

How did  they make it this far and this long? A.) Touring. B.) Fans. “We can get up there and jump around like monkeys all day but if nobody’s responding then it’s gonna stop. The crowd eggs us on as much as we egg them on. And we’ve been able to grow with our fans, these ten years; it’s a really cool thing.”

Koffin Kats will perform with The Gutter Ghouls and Break Anchor.
Thursday, February 21, 9pm. $10.
Woodruff’s 36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti. 734-985-6804.
woodruffsbar.com

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