VLA was a band that moved along the night shadows of expectation and desire. Playing shows throughout Los Angeles in the mid 1990's, they were something unique and special. "The first time I saw the band VLA, I was 17 years old. The year was 1994, and it was at my favorite local club. A place where my friends and I would hang out to see bands, as well as perform ourselves. As VLA took the stage, they were older, which made them separate from us, just by their height. This produced a feeling of expectation; they had to be good. Before any sound hit the air, the singer (a tall neatly dressed man with the look of a slightly mad-professor) raised a television onto his shoulder. The image that appeared was a video version of himself, with thick rimmed-glasses, a curious blend of the weird and the wacky. The T.V. version shouted to the audience: "one, two, three, four..." then the singer threw down the T.V. and the band erupted into their first song. What an opening! This was no ordinary band. VLA was started by two brothers from Milwaukee; John (Vocals) and Steve Gripentrog (Guitar). They were joined by Pablo Baza (Drums / Backing Vocals), Tarik Kader (Guitar) and Linnea Ahms (Bass). Ahms was later replaced by Carlo Bufano. They were an Art-Rock band who incorporated the sounds of Punk and Ska, Beatles, The Pixies, Talking Heads and Tin Machine. A big sound that would have been enough by itself. But, there was more. In the midst of singing, Gripentrog would gyrate around the stage giving himself over to trembling fits that sometimes led him to flop all over the floor. A wonderful and exciting visual, especially when he flipped off a 4 foot stage, and shook in between the legs and bodies of the people in the front row.They were electrifying and they blew any other band in the city away. Sadly, the band were never able to capture the intensity of their live performances onto a recording. Looked over by every major label, the band seemed to miss the opportunities that other bands got and took for granted. Looking back, I just think they were over the heads of the men and women in suits, even the ones who wore blue jeans. I traveled across the city to many shows by VLA, most of them attended by only a handful of people. Most of their fans were musicians, who gathered like those who would sit for a mystic in a village. They were a huge influence on my early days of listening to music and developing my own ear." - coL




Undiscovered Demos '96 (2014)



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