CJ: Alright, I’m CJ. I’m sitting here with Mondo from Richmond Vampire. Happy to have you here.
MONDO: Thanks for having me.
CJ: Starting off, can you tell me about how you guys started the band?
M: Yeah, me and Shiv and Caleb — Shiv plays guitar and Caleb’s the drummer — we were in an old band called Sling Blade, and then our singer moved away, or said that he was going to move away in early 2022. So, end of ’21 we were just starting. So me and Shiv we’re like,’ well, if he’s leaving, we should do something else.” And we were just listening to like, old stuff with Richmond bands, and we were like, “we should just do something like this.” And then me and her started writing immediately in the winter, and we booked our first show before we even had a bass player, and we convinced Raz Zephyr to join like a week before our first show. We have four songs, and then we just did that, and from there the reception at the first show was so good, so we just kept going.
CJ: Where was the first show at?
M: It was at Crystal Palace. It was this crazy like seven band show that Shiv had put on, with Fading Signal and Pummel, all those like bands, and it was in February ’22, and it was in that living room. That’s where like a lot… a lot of really good shows were at Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, it’s gone now. But RIP.
CJ: Yeah RIP for sure. What were some of those older bands, you mentioned that you guys were listening to?
M: Every good band from Richmond from the early 2000s, so a lot of Race War, Down to Nothing, a lot of Swamp Thing, and even newer stuff like [Division of Mind]. We were just listening because… if it’s a band from Richmond, we’re probably listening to it, because, I don’t know, personally, I think of all I could listen to was hardcore from Richmond, I think I’d be fine. Because even then and now we’re just pumping out good bands. So anything from Richmond really?
CJ: Speaking of that, how would you describe the Richmond music scene currently?
M: It’s thriving. I feel like there’s a new band every couple of weeks, and it’s always usually… it’s always for somebody. They always find a place within their own scene in the broader Richmond hardcore punk aspect of it. But, I mean, there’s three bands now that just started like in the past six months that are incredible, like Ivy Creep, and Cicada and Dimension Six, they’re all so good, and they’re all gonna be so much bigger. That just kind of, I think, opens the door for other people who want to start bands like that. I think that’s great. I think it’s perfect right now.
CJ: I mean, it’s awesome, too, because everyone has been so supportive of one another in the community. I haven’t met anybody who’s been a little stuck up or thinks that they’re hotter than everybody else. All I do is I ask other bands, “who should I go talk to,” or, “do you know anybody in this band?” I think I’d seen you guys on stage opening for somebody at the Canal Club recently.
M: It was the Zulu show.
CJ: That’s right, The Zulu show, which is awesome; so early on you got to open for them.
M: It was cool. Um, that was our second time playing the Canal Club opening for a big band. We opened for Agnostic Front last winter which is funny, because I was just at home, and Zephyr was like, “you can’t say anything for a couple months, but we’re gonna play with Agnostic Front,” and I was like, “okay, that’s insane.” But yeah, I think everyone’s pretty, like tight. A lot of my favorite bands are just my friends, so it’s funny to see them on stage, and be like, “this is incredible.” Then they’re done and then we just go hang out. Which is, I think, the case for a lot of people.
CJ: That’s rad. What is your songwriting process like? Is it primarily you doing the songwriting?
M: I write the lyrics. It goes kind of like a process of Shiv will have a riff, and she’ll structure with Caleb, and then we’ll play it, and Zephyr will put the final touches on it because he’s really detail oriented. His old band Deviant was another big inspiration for us, so having that touch on the songs is really important. Just to make sure that they have something and it’s not so organised — it gets a little out there with the songwriting. Then once we have that I’ll just sit with it and write about whatever… just kind of how I’m feeling. A lot of it’s just stream of consciousness writing. I don’t really know what any of it means until later, and there are some songs I still don’t know what I was talking about. But, here in there, we’ll be performing them and it’ll click finally how I was feeling, or how other people will even feel to. There are a couple that are just like me shit talking, which is good.
CJ: Fits the genre. Get it out of your system.
M: Yeah, half of it I’m not really sure, I just know I was upset when I wrote it, and the other half is just… I’m upset at this thing.
CJ: And there is plenty to be upset about right now.
M: Yeah, definitely.
CJ: Do you guys have any future plans for the band?
M: We have a tape coming out that through Vinyl Conflict, Bobby was nice enough to do cassettes for us. I don’t know when that’s coming out. I think soon. I think once we get them we’re just gonna drop it that day. Other than that, we just got a couple shows coming up. Hopefully another tour soon. We’ve also been writing a little bit, hopefully get whatever skeletons of songs. They come in, put some meat on them, and put those out whenever.
CJ: Do you figure you’ve got a full length release after that after the demo?
M: I don’t know. Right now there’s two songs that we’ve been working on for a while, and they’re two really good songs, and I’d be happy just to put out a two song tape or something. I don’t know if an album is our forte, but definitely just as many little things here and there that we can do.
CJ: Is there anything else you want to say leaving off? Any other projects you’re excited about, either personal ones or some of your friends stuff going on?
M: I was just helping Zephyr record Ivy Creep. That’s coming out and that’s gonna be incredible. Listen to the Cicada demo while it’s out listen, listen to Dimension Six. Listen to every single Richmond band out right now and in the past, and that’s kind of all you need. I think personally
CJ: Perfect. Love it.
Richmond Vampire at Bandito’s Burrito Lounge (Photos by CJ Payne)
If you want to know where the punk and hardcore shows in Richmond are these days, check out the Instagram @RichmondHardcoreShows