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Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band [rank: 1953]

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"Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band is a rock quintet from Seattle, Washington. The band features Benjamin Verdoes as lead vocalist and guitarist, Traci Eggleston on the keyboard, various percussion and back vocals, Marshall Verdoes as the drummer, Matthew Dammer on the guitar and Jared Price on the bass. Starting their public appearance with comical PSA videos instead of music they eventually signed with Dead Oceans, released their first LP and started touring North America."

[reproduced or excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band" and its use is thus licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License]


Bandega Interview with Benjamin Verdoes of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band (January 2010)

Smile with the family that is Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band.

Q: How have your shows changed over the years? Has your perspective on performing live changed?
A: We try to put every bit of energy we have into every show. Hopefully over the course of the last year or two we have gotten better at harnessing some of our chaotic energy and directing it in dynamic energy. Now we’re beginning to perform our new record and the songs move differently and evoke a different mood in us when we perform. Also, as Marshall and Traci continue to hone their skills, our performances will keep evolving. People who attended our early performances have had the opportunity to watch significant growth.

Q: Describe the most memorable live show you've played.
A: Our first show was definitely the most memorable. We called it our "World Premiere" and spent six months promoting it. We rehearsed every day. It was an exciting time for us and the show turned out to be a great success.

Q: What venue do you consider to be your "home", where you feel most comfortable, with the crowd and the place itself?
A: Neumos, in Seattle, is certainly the venue we consider "home". The room is great, the sound is wonderful, and we have played there more than we have played anywhere else.

Q: Describe the most enjoyable show you've ever experienced as a fan.
A: Perhaps my favorite show was Par Corliss at the Sons Of Norway Hall in Bellingham, Washington. (Par Corliss was an instrumental band from Seattle. During their short career they released only an EP and a live record. Their music became a significant influence on my own.) It must have been in 2001. I had never heard them before and it just blew my mind. There were only a handful of people there, and it wasn’t even a proper venue, but there was something magical and life changing about it. I bought their EP and listened to it constantly. Someone made a recording of the show and I got it a year or so later. The recording only confirmed that it was amazing.

Q: The family dynamic in the band has been written about quite a bit, but that's only because it's downright fascinating. Benjamin Verdoes and Traci Eggleston are married. Benjamin's step-brother, Marshall, the drummer, is under 16 and is, for the most part, being raised by Benjamin and Traci. How does this closeness, how do these relationships, affect the music that MSHVB creates and performs? What are the potential or realized drawbacks of this tight dynamic?
A: Our band dynamic certainly is unique. Most of the time playing in a band with my wife and younger "brother-son" is a source of great joy. We share almost every aspect of our lives together and there is an intimacy and closeness that comes out in our music and our performances. The level of trust and freedom that we experience probably exceeds that of most bands. I feel like I always have their support. There is a great deal of security that goes along with that. The fact that our band is simultaneously about our music and our family gives us important dose of perspective. Jared and I enjoy playing music with Marshall and Traci because they are not your typical "band dudes". They have nothing to prove and their contributions go beyond what you might experience with four people who have the same approach to art. They are musical lambs: innocent and pure.

At times touring can be difficult and I have to ask myself if I am inflicting unnecessary pain on my loved ones. Of course they are willing accomplices, but sometimes I feel responsible for their discomfort. Overall, I think that the strain of me touring by myself or with another band would far outweigh the frustrations we encounter in MSHVB. There are times I feel bad for Jared having to put up with a teenager and a married couple. He is a great and patient friend. We consider him a family member.

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