by Mely Duong
Named after an album by legendary cornet player Scottie McDonald, Vital Stats is a band of its own entity, full of heart, soul, and libido. Although they’ve been around for nearly five years, those essential characteristics of the band has never waned. Only intensified. What has changed though, is the fact that their sound has become more polished as they master their craft and continue to incorporate elements from an expansive wealth of sources particularly oldies: soul music, Motown, doo-wop, blues, funk, rock from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and even music on the radio.
The band was formed by chance through some random encounters in Philadelphia. From there, the live music scene of Philadelphia has inspired then to keep pursuing their dreams and to develop a genre that they call Philadelphia Trashsoul. As vocalist Jacques St. Claire describes, “Half of our performance is soul/blues/doo-wop music on speed, and half of it is myself stripping for the audience and telling them how good I look. I like to throw in a lot of bodybuilding poses as well, just to emphasize that point.”
This band clearly embodies fun and a ‘don’t care’ attitude, which is also reflected in their EP, The Tip, released in Summer 2015. The Tip was recorded at Bluelight Digital Sound in Mt. Holly, NJ, and the band extends their gratitude to Matthew Bogacki, producer. The EP has received moderate success and has been played over college radio, local radio stations, podcasts, and even at a mental institution in England. Regarding the latter, St. Claire jokes, “I feel that’s a good demographic for us.”
Taking inspiration from concepts include liberté, égalité, and sexualité, it is no surprise that the EP is very high-energy. Different members write different portions of each song, until the group collectively revises the song. St. Claire likens the song writing process to a cooking metaphor. “We cook it in a step and taste test every five minutes until it’s cooked just right. I personally usually write a song after taking a few dashes of five or six songs I enjoy, throw in my own ingredients, and let it simmer til I’ve got a spicy gumbo goin’ on.”
The songs command your attention from the get go and strive to transcend serving as mere “ambient, background music.” This EP could serve as the soundtrack music for your life and is thus very forward in the manner that it is presented to us. Unfortunately for us, the EP is a bit on the shorter side.
If you’ve never heard of Vital Stats before, try out their intro song “Motown in Me” to start. It’ll throw you into a frenzy foray of musical passion. Currently, Vital Stats is recording their full length album (to be titled soon) and also have been practicing for a number of shows they have coming up in the Philadelphia area. They’ll be playing the Fire on April 30th, the Italian Festival on May 22nd, and Bourbon and Branch on May 25th.
There are plenty of opportunities to catch them this spring. To learn more about Vital Stats, check out their Facebook and website.