Viet Cong

Viet Cong

May 12/2015
WORDS Kieran Chrysler PHOTO Pedersen

Any band named after a Vietnamese militant group is sure to come up against a little controversy. Case in point? Viet Cong – the critically acclaimed Calgary-based, post-punk foursome.

Despite the band issuing a statement dismissing any intent to cause offense – explaining they naively chose the name knowing little about the Vietnam War – it’s definitely rustled some feathers among Vietnamese-American communities.

Even with the name controversy, Viet Cong continues to sell out shows. They recently returned from an extensive European tour, where they performed to packed venues on a nightly basis.

But this wasn’t always the case. Lead singer and guitarist Matt Flegel – previously part of the punk band Women – says that before their debut self-titled album dropped, the band went on a mini-tour that involved playing to a lot of sparsely populated audiences. This time on the road allowed them to lock down their sets and really get to know each other.

“We were testing the waters just to make sure the four of us could get along in an enclosed space for that amount of time,” Flegel says.

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Flegel appreciated the chance to flex his muscle as a lyricist. He describes the songwriting process as long but says it was about more than finding themes – it was about getting it right: “I can deal with putting a lot of time into the lyric writing because I didn’t want to fail.”

Flegel admits that the repetitive nature of performing has some pull over the tracks that will get produced. “I go into recording thinking, ‘Okay I’m probably going to have to play this song 250 times this year,’” he says. “So we try and keep it interesting for ourselves.”

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