The vicious cycles MC’s new album, Motorcycho, has more nuns than you would expect.
The video for the lead single, “Hot Dogs in the City”, sees the band leaping on its motorcycles to feast at What’s Up? Hot Dog!. Also dining there are four nuns, who find themselves the object of Nardwuar’s enthusiasms. (He thrusts a Subhumans record at them, and a copy of the Singing Nun LP.)
And if four nuns aren’t enough, there is also a song on the album called “Truck Stop Nun”.
So what’s with all the nuns?
Reached at home late on a Monday night, bassist Rob Wright—no, not Nomeansno’s Rob Wright—chuckles at the question. “I think we were just trying to think of a fun creative concept for ‘Hot Dogs’. And credit to Billy [Vicious Cycles’ frontman Billy Bones]—he really kind of directed that video. And then ‘Truck Stop Nun’ is actually a cover of a legendary, fucked-up punk band from Newfoundland, called Da Slyme. Their version was sort of reimagined by the Von Zippers—who I think are sorta defunct or on hiatus now, but they’re a long-running garage-punk band from Calgary.” (Their drummer, James Hayden, would go on to produce the Vicious Cycles’ first demo and occasionally fill in on drums.) “They did a cover of ‘Truck Stop Nun’. This is basically our cover of their cover. We love the Von Zippers. They’re one of our favourite bands.”
If nuns aren’t your cup of tea, there’s also “If It Looks Like a Cop”. It’s an indisputably anticop song, but you’d figure that maybe their shared use of motorcycles would allow for some bonding between the Vicious Cycles and the police force, no?
“I haven’t had that personal experience,” Wright answers, “but I’m one of the guys in the band who doesn’t own a motorcycle. I just own a minibike! So, I mean, if a cop pulled up next to me on my minibike, maybe we could have a bonding experience if he was on a minibike as well.”
That brings us to the album title’s inspiration, Norman “Motorcycho” Anderson, whom Wright describes as the “spiritual leader” of the band. “He’s so entrenched in motorcycle culture and community, in Vancouver and, I think, kind of around the world, through his fanzine and just with all of his friends everywhere. He really keeps us connected in that world. He’s been riding motorcycles and doing motorcycle clubs since the late 1970s.”
Anderson has evolved from playing “just theremin and tambourine, and, like, screaming into the mike a lot” to being the band’s keyboardist. But what does he actually listen to, anyhow? “Norman loves punk rock,” Wright says. “He grew up, I think, like, on ’70s biker rock and hard rock, but he loves Davie Allan and the Arrows and ’60s garage stuff and surf music. He’s a rocker at heart!”
There’s a lot more to be said about Motorcycho—it’s the band’s debut on street-punk label Pirates Press Records, for example, making the Vicious Cycles labelmates of bands like Cock Sparrer, CJ Ramone, and Rancid. It was produced by Jesse Gander, and features saxophone contributions from Melissa Lee of the Beladeans.
But the more important detail is that it’s really a fun listen. Which is exactly what the band intends.
“We’re not the deepest band, necessarily,” Wright says. “As a general rule, we started our band as a vehicle for fun. We want people to have a good time, and our shows to be a joyous occasion. Everyone does enough thinking in the rest of their lives that this is an opportunity to kind of let loose. And we try to bring people along—we like to have that connection with our audience where they feel like they’re part of the band and we’re all in it together, you know?”
Will the band have motorcycles (or minibikes) at the WISE Hall for its record release?
“You will have to show up and find out,” Wright says mischievously. “There’s only one way to know!”
The Vicious Cycles MC plays the WISE Hall on Saturday (June 15).