Mondays usually suck, except if you’re at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Yes, a total cheeseball thing to say, but we’re proud of the night that promoter Christine Feola has put together each and every week — rain, shine, snow or heatwave. She gathers the best local talent on a typical “off” night in entertainment industry and packs the famed venue — opening the ears and eyes of locals and tourists alike to the homegrown talent from the Asbury Park and Jersey Shore (and sometimes national) scene.
This week, our old friends The Vansaders come to The Wonder Bar bringing their wonderful, bourbon-soaked blend of punk, country and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll to the Happy Mondays stage. Their music scores the soundtrack to a long night of a rowdy night out drinking with the fellas. It’s got grit, heart, soul and it’ll kick you in the teeth when it needs to.
We caught up with Doug Zambon, lead singer and guitarist of The Vansaders and chatted him up about new music, touring and the Asbury Park scene.
The Vansaders Formed In: 2011
We’re Based Out Of: The Vansaders are based in Brooklyn, however, Asbury Park is our home away from home.
Any Records Coming Out Soon? Nothing set in stone just yet but we’re currently writing our second full-length. Release date TBA.
Our Sound Has Been Likened To: We’ve been compared to Gaslight Anthem, Social Distortion, and Against me! with a bit more of a country twang.
You’ve Seen Us Before [In Other Bands]: The Vansaders are comprised of John Redmond from Second Shot and Lugosi. Mike Ligocki from Habits and Bound & Buried. Dodi Wiemuth from Scrapers. Doug Zambon from Jagwire.
Famous/Awesome Bands We’ve Performed With Before: We’ve been lucky to have played with a bunch of really kickass bands but the top three known national acts would be Old Man Markley, The Detroit Cobras, and Nightmares For A Week.
Pop-Break: When we first met you guys back in 2012 you were releasing a solo EP and were going to perform a headlining gig at the Mercury Lounge. Now, here were are two years later…can you talk about how the band has evolved in those two years?
Doug Zambon: The Vansaders have been through a lot of changes in the last couple years. We’ve had a couple lineup changes. We were fortunate enough to have our debut album Stuck In New York City put out in Japan on Be A Primitive Records. Stylistically, we’ve been branching out a bit. Stoked for everyone to hear what we got in the works.
PB: When we ran into you recently you mentioned that there’s a new incarnation of the Vansaders — a touring version. Can you talk about the guys who’ll be coming on the road with you and what do they bring to the table?
DZ: Dave Shulman and James Lovaglio, both from the Queens band Bombers, will be joining The Vansaders for a bunch of summer dates as well as a yet to be announced tour. Aside from being cool dudes, I’m really excited to be playing with them.
I happened to be at a show in the city that Bombers, who I didn’t know at the time, was playing. It was a killer set so I introduced myself and we had a few drinks together. After not seeing either of them for about two months, I asked them to play with The Vansaders. We get together, they knew all the songs immediately and here we are today.
PB: Speaking of touring — where are you guys going to be performing this year?
DZ: We are currently working on a possible tour at the end of the summer. As of now, we have a bunch of dates throughout the city and Jersey. We’ll be playing tonight at Wonder Bar for our first Happy Monday with TV Tramps and Ziggy Shock. I’ll be back at Wonder Bar doing a solo set this Friday, June 6th with Chris LeCompte & The Cruel Kind, Chris Brown, Joe Miller, Colton Kayser, Frank Lombardi, Members of Creeptones, Matt from Bog Iron Bloom, The May Darlings, and Liam from East Indies. The Next full-band show will be at the Holliswood Church in Queens June 22nd. We’ll be back in Asbury July 11th with The Amboys at Langosta Lounge.
PB: You guys jam a lot in New York City, can you talk about the indie music scene there? There’s just so many bands out there, is it difficult to get gigs and/or noticed by fans and tastemakers? And Doug, since you’re local to the Jersey Shore, can you compare the New York and Asbury scene?
DZ: You know, there is a ton of great music coming out of the city as always but the scene is a bit staggered. There’s just so much going on all the time everywhere, it’s tough to get your foot in the door. It’s not tough to get a show at all but it’s definitely harder to build up a fan base and to play in front of the right people.
The Asbury Park scene is a lot closer knit. I mean, everyone comes to shows whether your there to see a specific band or just to hang out. Not to mention there a lot of free shows in town like Happy Mondays at Wonder Bar and Sound Waves at Asbury Park Yacht Club, which you don’t find too often in the city. I also find that there is also a lot less of a divide between the bands onstage and the people in the audience. Because the area is so small, your forced to interact with everyone and the bands become your friends.
PB: The Asbury scene has so many bands performing in it right now, so what makes The Vansaders stand out — from a musical standpoint?
DZ: I think that The Vansaders tend to stick out because we’re a band that’s in it just for the fun of it and I think that translates onstage. Seeing a band have a good time onstage engages me, even if I don’t like the music itself and I think we’re good at conveying that excitement and enthusiasm to the audience.
The Vansaders perform tonight, June 2 at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey for their Happy Mondays concert series. Admission FREE. Doors: 8PM, Music: 8:30PM. It’s 21 and up with $3 PBR and $4 well drinks.