Perhaps it’s no coincidence that death and the macabre are the subject matter of the majority of VulGarrity’s music. True, the brother-sister team’s unhealthy obsession with horror movies is a large part of the equation; however, it’s also symbolic of the journey that brought VulGarrity into existence in 2008. After several years of making music with a rotating cast of band members -- not to mention band names -- Tracy and Shawn had a problem: they needed to break the cycle, but didn’t know how.
The first step was adding “Vul” to their last name, Garrity, to create the ultimate tongue-in-cheek moniker. After much soul-searching and musical experimentation, they came upon a solution that takes the do-it-yourself mentality to the extreme: they lay to rest the traditional idea of a rock band and decided to play every instrument themselves…at the same time.
The band uses technology to enhance live performance in a truly extraordinary way. The use of loop pedals allows the dynamic duo to play drums, guitar, bass and keys all at once while executing tight vocal harmonies. That’s not all. They switch instruments too, usually several times during a performance, often within the same song, without missing a beat.
Sure, other acts use samples and loop pedals on stage, but the difference is nothing is pre-recorded: the riffs are created live in front of the audience and then start and stopped during the song while other instruments are being played, to create the effect of a full band. How do they do this? Come to a live show and see for yourself. Such a unique performance style could be considered a gimmick by some, but the siblings don’t mind this label because the results never cease to amaze.
The band’s 2008 debut release “If You Sing It, They Will Hum…” boasts 15 original tracks of lo-fi, bare-bones, fuzzed-out bass driven rock complete with gloomy lyrics and haunting harmonies that will give you the creeps while simultaneously inspiring uncontrollable headbanging. Combined with a relentless tour schedule, the album attracted nationwide attention earning the band airplay on satellite and college radio, and MTV’s hit shows “Made,” “Cribs,” “Teen Cribs” and “My Life as Liz.” The 2010 followup “Dance 2 The Grave” features 14 original tracks and a blistering cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey.” The addition of the synthesizer as a primary instrument on the album creates a more diverse and developed sound, affectionately described by one critic as “theatrical, A.D.D. synth metal,” while staying true to the band’s dark and dance-driven roots.
Along with more self-booked, cross-country touring, the album brought more accolades, including an artist development contract with MySpace Records, first place in 90.7 WXIN Providence’s 2010 Rock Hunt and endorsement deals with Hercules Stands and WB Gear. 2011 brought the band to prominence in their home state and beyond when they won 95.5 WBRU’s 2011 Rock Hunt, being the first band to win both of Rhode Island’s Rock Hunt contests.
The same year VulGarrity songs “Sunday Afternoon Stroll,” “Killer in the Back Seat” and “Beefcake” were used in the indie slasher film “Yorktown,” and “All Hallow’s Eve” was used in the indie film “Whole Grain”. The band also scored, produced and starred in “VulGarrity: The Series.” Written and directed by Schjoay Productions’ Johnny C, the web series features the duo battling it out with drug-addicted house pets, gangsta leprechauns, vampires and the like with a comedic approach best described at Scooby-Doo meets Bill & Ted. Each 10-20 minute episode ends with a different VulGarrity song and video as well as bloopers from the set.
The band’s 2012 album “Funkeology” contains eleven tracks that exemplify the band’s growth with pulse-pounding beats and intricate looping of guitar, bass and keys. The album contains some of the gloomy lyrics and imagery VulGarrity fans have come to know and love, but also delves into uncharted waters, tackling subject matter including bullying and the use of music as a means to encourage world peace.
The 2015 album “Afterlife” brings VulGarrity back to their roots. Many of the riffs on the album were taken from the cutting room floor of their 2008 debut album. Using what they’ve learned throughout the years and applying it to what they created in the beginning gives this album a special place in their hearts, as it will earn a special place in the hearts of all who listen.
Stage or screen, it’s no secret VulGarrity were born to perform. They’ve shared the stage with Mike Doughty, Days of the New, The Misfits, King’s X, Sponge, The Joy Formidable, Sleeper Agent, Psychostick, The Prodigals, Ra and Electric Six, and don’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. If you haven’t seen them live yet, what are you waiting for? Get your ass to a VulGarrity show! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience where the reaction from first-timers is almost always “I’ve never seen anything like that before!