A few weeks back on a Friday night, the beer was pouring out of the bottle and onto the chest of lead singer Ben Tegel of The Vacation, as he bent backwards on the stage of The Knitting Factory in Los Angeles. The girls were screaming and sharing their cold, hop flavored beverage with the band that had stopping off in their adopted hometown as part of their headlining tour with The Sun and The Shy.
There was no doubt that this gritty, rock ‘n’ roll band was loved and ‘caused many a sexual fantasy for this fanatical crowd. The four members, Ben, Steve Tegel (guitarist), Eric “Dutch” Suoninen (bass) and Denny Weston, Jr. (drums), were more than happy to keep it all flowing in and out like the tide off Venice beach.
In these hills of Hollywood, it was plain to see that the next generation of music lovers are embracing the sweaty, old-fashioned rock show that made Sunset famous decades ago. As the frontman of the group, Ben writhed and taunted the audience, teasing them with a prowess not see in quite some time. In the middle of a song he even grabbed the sun glasses off my head while I was shooting pictures. On another part of the stage, both Dutch and Denny were taking every opportunity to extend their manhood through the manipulation of wood, wires, more beer, and a loud hardcore invasion.
Whether intentionally or not, The Vacation is reinventing the ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll that was at the core of American music. More than a scene out of the movie Almost Famous, the sa-weet icing on the cake is seeing their shows, which retain all the vintage sloshing, showmanship and abandonment of morals that make up a fucking good time.
Replying to a few questions on email at 2-something in the morning, Ben is a man of few words, probably because he expended all his energy on stage. But at least we know he’s a fan of Dr. John’s musical poetry.
Kaffeine Buzz: What music did you and your brother listen to growing up? What were your parents into?
Ben Tegel: A Fifth of Beethoven, the disco song, the Grease soundtrack, “Troglodyte” by the Jimmy Castor Bunch, Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic.
KB: How was it working with producer Tony Hoffer and how did he impact the crafting of your songs on your album?
BT: He head no impact on the songs, they were already written and ready to perform.
KB: How do you think your jump over the pond to appear in the big British festivals impacted your exposure in the states?
BT: It was very fun playing those festivals in Britain. Britain has nothing to do with America.
KB: What is the story behind meeting Rick Rubin?
BT: A guy came up after a show in NYC and said he loved us, that Rick wanted to work with us, and so he did.
KB: At the show you mentioned your Vegas gig with a bit of remiss. What happened or didn’t happen there, good? Bad?
BT: We happen to know the sleaziest drug dealers in Vegas. They love our band. They make things fun for us. We like drugs like any band does.
KB: Watching your show felt like a modern day scene from Spinal Tap or a concert from Def Leppard’s early days. Are the ladies pouring beer on you at every show or is it just the LA girls that are particularly overt?
BT: I know nothing about Def Leppard. I don’t listen to them. People in LA know we like to get messy so they help us out. I like that.
KB: I wasn’t able to stay for the “after party” upstairs. Were you guys hanging out and if so, did anything interesting happen?
BT: A woman took my picture smoking crack and put it on myspace. Welcome to 2006.
KB: How was the Leno show? Had you been on there before or any other shows like it, like Conan or Carson Daly?
BT: We’ve never been on Leno. TV is a way of life.
KB: What is your favorite line from a song or a book?
BT: “I walk on gilded splinters with the king of the zulu”
KB: After this tour is done, what do you have planned next?
BT: Go into therapy.
Therapy will have to wait. The Vacation’s tour schedule is expected to keep them pretty busy for some time. They roll into Denver Tuesday, May 9 with The Sun and The Shys, playing at hi-dive in Denver. If they’re handing out condoms at the door, take one just to be safe, but don’t be surprised if your girlfriend leaves you and joins a van of Penny Lane’s following the band around the country.