Vice Grip Pussies
Melbourne band Vice Grip Pussies haven’t played the Cherry Rock festival before, but drummer Stacey Pommer is very familiar with both the event and the venue itself. “I’ve been to all of them, but I can’t really tell you much about any of them,” Pommer laughs. “I love the vibe at Cherry Rock, and I love watching Sixfthick playing in the laneway, and crawling up the walls.” Pommer might be struggling to put together his own Cherry Rock highlights package, but Vice Grip Pussies won’t be a stranger to the venue when they makes their Cherry Rock debut on Sunday 29 April. “I’m pretty sure we’ve played Cherry Bar more than any other band,” Pommer says proudly.
Vice Grip Pussies formed about 18 months ago, when brothers Stacey and Lewi Pommer moved down to Melbourne from the Gold Coast, joining up with fellow expatriates Maddison and Alexander. “We were all friends before we started a band, and that’s how it’s continued,” Pommer says. “We all still hang out together, and enjoy each other’s company.”
Pommer gave the band its slightly ribald name after being inspired by a former housemate. “I sort of named the band, I guess,” Pommer says. “A housemate of mine from a few years ago was always referring to tight vaginas as vice grip pussies, and I thought that was pretty funny.” Despite the occasional suggestion to change the band’s name to broaden market opportunities, the Vice Grip Pussies have held firm. “Sometimes people will say ‘You should change your name, because otherwise people won’t want to listen to the band’, but we’ve never had any problems, so we’ve kept the name,” Pommer says.
Vice Grip Pussies’ first gig was at the modern day celebration of St Kilda’s rock’n’roll tradition, tri-annual festival A Day By the Green at the St Kilda Bowls Club. Organised by Cold Harbour, they played alongside the Large Number 12s, Smoke Machine, Cold Harbour and the Patron Saints (which features Pommer’s father, former Johnnys member Billy Pommer, on drums). “We opened up at the first Day By the Green a couple of years ago, and exactly a year later we were on last,” Pommer says. “So that was pretty cool.”
Later on the Vice Grip Pussies put together a set of swap cards, a full collection of which would grant a punter free entry to one of the band’s Cherry Bar gigs. “We ended up putting a whole lot of the cards on a mate’s fridge, which had all these pictures of cocks and balls on it,” Pommer says with a chuckle. “In the end we got rid of the fridge and left it on the street in St Kilda, but no-one took it, not even the swap cards off the front. Maybe everyone thought it was an art installation!”
Pommer says his father Billy has provided plenty of moral support for the Vice Grip Pussies, but has steered clear of overt parental influence that might otherwise prove counter-productive. “My dad’s always hanging around, but he definitely stays out of our band,” Pommer says. “He just lets me and my brother do it ourselves, and doesn’t get too involved. But I do like it when dad comes to gigs, because he’s a drummer, and I’m a drummer, so we get to compete about who’s the best – and I reckon I’m better,” Pommer laughs.
The Vice Grip Pussies style started out at the heavier end of the New York Dolls-Heartbreaker inspired punk rock spectrum. Pommer says the band is still on the same path, but the sound has certainly evolved. “We’ve definitely changed a lot since we first started,” he says. “We’ve now got a second guitarist, and we play hardly any of the songs that we were playing when we first started out. And I think at the start we were a bit shy, but now we all really get into it and have a lot of fun.” Indeed, it’s that sense of fun that Pommer says has probably been the only lesson the Vice Grip Pussies have learnt in its 18-month existence. “Fuck, man, you’ve just got to have fun,” Pommer says matter-of-factly.
The band has recently taken its first steps toward recordfing a full-length debut, putting down some songs in Pommer’s house with a view to take it into a proper studio later this year. “We’ve done a little bit of recording, and we’ve recorded a split 7” with the Bittersweet Kicks, which is going to be released on orange Jaegermeister vinyl,” Pommer says. “And we’re doing more recording right now, and we should have something out later this year.”
The Vice Grip Pussies don’t have a career plan, or any particular career aspirations. In fact, the entire notion of a five-year plan is greeted by Pommer with mirth. “In five years’ time I’ll still be in the Vice Grip Pussies,” Pommer says. “And I have to say that we’ll be very big. Actually, I’ll be retired, but I’ll be playing in the Vice Grip Pussies for fun,” he laughs.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Vice Grip Pussies play the Cherry Rock Festival on Sunday April 29.