The Virgins - Losing Their Virginity
Their name might conjure up images of innocence, but as 3D’s John Morrison discovers, New York City four-piece The Virgins are another in a long line of swaggering, sexy, rock n roll bands to emerge from the dark edges of one of the world’s finest cities.
Now, though, the band spend the majority of the time away from their home – they tour, and tour, and tour some more just for extra fun. “To be fair, not much has changed,” says drummer Wade Oats. “We were touring a lot before the album came out; we’d been touring the same songs for two years. Our album coming out in America has really made an impact for us in different countries – we go to places that we’ve never even heard of and they know our songs, and the album’s not out there. That’s cool.”
Naturally, the band are eager to stretch their creative wings, return to the studio, and see what they can come up with a second time around. For the meanwhile, however, they’re merely messing with their existing songs.
“We’re always changing the songs we have, instead of making new songs,” he says. “We had an EP [before the release of the album] and it had a lot of the same songs but they were arranged differently. We’ve still been doing that to keep ourselves entertained with the same songs – if you come to one show every six months then the songs will sound different.”
It must be surprising for a lot of the new fans of the band who haven’t ever seen them live, and are expecting the songs to resemble those that appear on the album...and then get something completely different when The Virgins take the stage.
“I think people are excited [by it],” he believes. “I’ve been going and seeing bands and been friends of people who love to see bands, and I think everyone’s number one complaint when they see bands is not that they’re bad – I think every band is pretty much good live at this point. Now everyone’s really good live, so our fear is that we would sound like our album. It’s more fun to make it up as you go along on stage, and have a different stage show to your recorded group of songs.”
When it came time to make their debut self-titled album, the band hit the studio with producers S*A*M and SLUGGO, who have worked with everyone from The Academy Is to Mandy Moore, from Roger Daltrey (The Who) to Metro Station. With a wild variety of production credits, it’s interesting to know what they bring to the studio, what impact their production techniques have upon the songs.
“It’s weird,” he says, “because we had a bunch of people thrown at us as producers and almost all of them were these pseudo-hip[sters], who were going to take [the songs] and make a dirty, downtown record. That seemed so not genuine. They wanted to produce a lo-fi album, which is an oxymoron. If we’re going to make the production and have money behind it, let’s not make it sound like it was recorded in a basement – let’s get the guys who really know how to make a big sound out of simple songs. For better or worse, that’s what we ended up with. It’s really random, but they were really nice and have a lot of great ideas.”
Working on the album itself, and working on songs that they’d been working on for two years, coming up with a definitive version of the songs themselves must have been quite the challenge and experience. Settling on what they wanted to do, and giving the songs a set place, seems to go against the very nature of what Wade talked about earlier, where the songs are flexible rather than set in stone.
“We had recorded the songs at the point that they were in their shape-shifting. We had all the songs in their original form on the first demo, and then they were worked on and worked on, and they ended up on an album in one stage, and some of them have been worked on since. I don’t know if we’ll record them, but it’s fun to keep on changing, and keeping yourself entertained.”
WHO: The Virgins
WHAT: The Virgins through Atlantic / Warner
WHEN: Out now