Portland exports Wampire are a long time in the making. The duo, comprised of Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps, have been playing music together since they were in middle school — “we started jamming in 2001,” says Tinder — in their hometown Keizer, OR. While this is a lengthy amount of time to have under their belts as collaborators, it was only recently that they finessed their sound into what is ultimately the make-up of their upcoming Polyvinyl debut full-length Curiosity.

When the guys were around 19 — they’re 25 now — they started to become staples of the house party scene in Portland. “At first it was just the two of us dicking around and writing songs and just like playing funny house shows where we were like, in the corner, as far back crammed as we could be,” Tinder says of their first real foray into a scene. But while they enjoyed the performance aspect of they were doing, it wasn’t the actual music they wanted to make. “At that time, 2007 through 2009, the wild shitty house show was at its absolute climax,” says Tinder. “For us to bring our own P.A. and blast as backing track and [play] guitars and get everybody dancing was ideal then but a couple years later we’re like, you know, besides just loving the parties we were never super into that.” So they dismantled their party sludge prowess and began carving out something that made sense to them.

There’s no real direct line to that sound. It’s bass-heavy indie-pop macabre, at times, like their track “The Hearse,” which sounds like it belongs on a dive bar’s jukebox where Bela Lugosi slings the drinks. But it’s never schtick-y, despite the constant rotation of which elements are at play. Curiosity feels exactly like it comes from a band who halted their tenure as shlocky, screaming house show fixtures who took the time to actually mature and retool their love of electronics and rock music into a kaleidoscopic package. “It’s a weird album and it’s a little chew and swallow,” says Tinder, but the bouquet of sounds are indicative of the time they took to craft it — and sometimes those projects take time to sit with, as a listener, as well.

But the guys have no problem with the slow burn. There were three attempts at making an album before signing to Polyvinyl last year, but it was guidance from their hometown friend Jake Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra (who also serves as producer of their debut) that got them to really take their time with their work. “The best advice I ever got was from Jake,” says Tinder. “He was like, ’If you’re not 100% behind it, don’t put your name on it.’” That name has, also, always been Wampire, a cheeky nod to Phipps time in Germany. “My goth friends were talking about vampires and they would always be like, ’Oh yeah, oh what it is, oh wampire, wampire,’” Phipps says. “I started making fun of them a little bit and they made it my nickname, and it just stuck with me. People started like, knowing me as the Wampire. I came back and wanted to start a band and it just stuck in my head. The things kind of got a ring to it. I always liked it.”

Check out the second single from Curiosity below, as well as the duo’s excellent cover of Kraftwerk’s “Das Modell” below.

Curiosity is out 5/14 on Polyvinyl.

Comments (19)
  1. It’s like if an already reductive indie synth pop band like Twin Shadow were a VHS tape and you kept making copies of that tape with the prior copy until ultimately, you were left with a degraded and not very original low definition version of what you started out with.

    Dumb story behind the name, too.

    • The story behind the name is true (not dumb). After high school, Tinder & Phipps (along with 2 other friends) went to Europe. That’s where it came from.

      • I understand that, but what I am saying is that the name is so pointlessly dumb and so is the story behind it. Maybe they’ll get lucky and some kid will make a trip to Latin America where his goth friends will dub him “Veekend,” and they can tour with Wampire. Wampire Veekend.

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      • Checked her out at your recommendation. Seems pretty cabin borish and run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter scrap. That said…

        cale, you have such shitty taste in music. I’ve never come across you on here, but your taste already seems so boring, safe and unadventurous it doesn’t kill me, but does make me laugh.

      • Oh wait, just read through your comment history. Making racist remarks about black females I see. Well, there goes any credibility you might have even if you might by chance make a valid point (which you did not.)

      • *SIGH* It pains me to say this, but…Michael_ is right. This band is terrible. In fact, I heard them for the first time exactly year ago. You see, part of my SXSW prep process involves actually attempting to listen to every band ahead of time. I’ve never made it through all of them of course, but anyway, as you can imagine, when you’re sifting through 2,000 bands, you’ll inevitably suffer through a lot of crap as you doggedly pursue those elusive 30 or so hidden gold nuggets. It’s worth it in the end, but man, the psychological trauma of the journey leaves its mark. As soon as I saw that name and that stupid album cover again, I had the music equivalent of a Vietnam flashback. God, these synth bands are just a dime a dozen in the indiesphere over the last decade, and their music is always about nothing. They’re either mildly creepy for no reason or just want you to partay all the time, and naturally, because it’s all synths, the music has no guts. It’s faceless background music, smooth jazz for hipsters. Yes, I finally used the word, that word that others use so casually but that actually should only be used to refer to those who listen to music that they think will make them seem cooler. I hate that the word has been so overused that it has almost lost all meaning because it should be a powerful perjorative term for the most vile of all indie listeners, not a word used flippantly to refer to anyone with tastes outside the mainstream. Did I mention I hate synth bands? I HATE them. Woo! I feel a little better now.

        • Oops…”pejorative”…

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          • Haha, if you think I agree with Michael_ about a lot of things, you must never be on this site. Didn’t you notice the way I started that long post above? If there is one thing I have learned about judging people’s character, it’s that musical taste offers no reliable indicators. Sometimes there is a correlation, like if someone is way into GG Allin or Nickelback, I would steer clear of him/her. Those are exceptions though. I’ve never “tattled” on anyone, but I do think cheating is wrong and that if you see someone doing it you have a moral duty to say something because it is stealing (in this case, a person’s thoughts), just as you would have a moral duty to report a wrong that is equally bad but that society deems worse for some reason, such as stealing property. There is nothing you can say that will make any form of stealing or synth bands cool, but way to distinguish yourself as someone with low moral and musical standards. By the way, I fail to see what is wrong with being straight edge. You sound about as mature as an eighth grader.

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          • Cale, you must be 16 years old, tops. People with similar musical tastes tend to get along and have other things in common, and vice versa. I hope you’re not just figuring this out now. It’s really not surprising you would be more likely to deem someone “awesome” if they like the same bands as you.

            So that girl earns your contempt because she starts conversations with you about Frank Ocean and Bon Iver and listens to what you recommend? Yikes. She could be a Dave Matthews groupie and it sounds like she’d be a better person to spend time with than you. Maybe there’s more to your relationship you haven’t explained but she sounds pretty nice and you sound straight up mean.

            As for the cocktail comment I’m a bit speechless–as if the ability and decision to consume alcohol is in any way indicative of a person’s character as a gentleman. Next time the commercials come on hit fast forward on the DVR, especially if it’s Ketel One.

  2. Not today, boys.

  3. I dig it. stoked for the album to drop.

  4. Just missed these guys Monday.

    Wampire, Foxygen & Unknown Mortal Orchestra played recently but I showed up midway during Foxygen. My friends were saying Wampire was really great.

    Foxygen was alright, even though the majority of people were there to see them. Unknown Mortal Orchestra on the other hand… slayed like none other. Their new album is amazing. Plus they covered Jay Reatard’s “My Shadow” in the encore. Good times.

    Also lol @ _’s VHS tape analogy.

    • I had a similar experience seeing Wampire/Foxygen/UMO in New Orleans. Wampire seemed alright, but nothing to write home about. The Foxygen show seemed completely forgettable either because it actually was or was I just a little too sauced. Then UMO came out and were phenomenal and well made up for the preceding mediocrity. I think a lot of folks at the NOLA show were also there to see Foxygen, but UMO got a hell of a lot more reaction. We didn’t get shit for an encore though and a Jay Retard cover would have been the cherry on top.

      Also, even if the story behind Wampire’s name was something like “a burning bush spoke to them and told them to name their band Wampire,” it would still be a weak band name.

      • UMO admitted to being drunk and felt like they weren’t giving a great show. But I’m pretty sure that riff on “No Need For a Leader” transcends inebriation. I think they did the Reatard cover because they felt bad about their performance. I’ll take it!

        Also: “Ffunny Fwends” is a classic. Such a feel good song. Only got better in time.

        Double Also: That lead singer of Foxygen was acting “druggy” at the show Monday. Not surprised at all to hear he was acting out at SXSW. Ignore this man.

  5. Yes, UMO is good stuff.

  6. I saw these guys on 3/19, they were great! Foxygen and UMO followed, really excited for these bands, they all put on a hell of a show.

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