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by Dawn Duncan
We have now had the pleasure of watching Little Vicious perform in the 2nd Annual Fresh Talent Showcase at the Downtown Artery, an event presented by Scene, Yellowbright, and Du’Tell Events and benefiting Little Kids Rock. As the last of the 10 acts to perform, Little Vicious hit the stage with such ferocity that anyone in the crowded room that night was forced to immediately take notice as Marguerite Von King thrashed and growled her way into our hearts. Quickly. Perhaps this is the main ingredient of Little Vicious’ seemingly instant success: jump on stage, play hard, play fast, dirty it up a bit, capture the attention, and just get it done. For this band, this recipe is working.
Little Vicious beat out the other nine bands of the Showcase and took home top honors on November 15 including cash, five hours of studio recording at Stout Studios, and our cover. Performing to a packed house as well as a judging panel of music industry reps, the band slid through their 20 minute set (quite literally, considering at one point Von King stomped on her set list which was written on a pizza box and nearly ended up in the splits while doing a guitar solo) with ease and managed to keep the crowd engaged, despite being the end point of a seven hour event. With just three months as a band, this is definitely an act to watch, as they are already proving they can transcend quantity of time performing together with the sheer quality of talent and edge that they bring to our evolving Northern Colorado music scene.
I talked with Little Vicious following a photo shoot, which was done in freezing temperatures and a steady sprinkle of icy rain in November (we figured this just added more grit to the already-present rock vibe of this band and they were more than willing to engage in a slightly uncomfortable setting). Over an indulgent dinner and whiskey shots at Blind Pig, the band elaborated on what has brought them together and what is fueling the Little Vicious engine moving forward. It’s safe to say Von King’s start in the rock world actually stemmed from a rather unique catalyst. At 14, her parents caught her smoking pot and, as a way of pushing their kid to something more positive that would still allow for creativity, they put her into a program called “P.A.C.K.M.A.N.,” which stands for Police And Community Kids Music Against Narcotics.
“We were a rotating cast of about 30 kids and we would learn and perform music together, traveling to Atlantic City and doing shows in casinos and other venues,” Von King stated. “We had Friday night rehearsals, so that was the way to keep us out of trouble: take away part of our weekend when we’d probably be out partying.” Like the Showcase beneficiary group Little Kids Rock, P.A.C.K.M.A.N. is rooted in mentorship and seeks to offer training and performance opportunities to youth interested in rock music.
The path to making it in music is always a topic that arises when meeting with bands. Inevitably, we want to know how they became what we’re seeing and hearing today. In an age when people tap into the intrinsic need to categorize everything around them on a level that includes shopping thousands of genres and sub-genres on streaming radio like Spotify, to engaging in social media daily and formulating opinions based on everything from satirical posts by The Onion to extremist commentary by the far right and their affiliates, the world is seeking to understand the who/what/why/where/and how around them more than ever before.
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This is a band with some amusing roots in that Von King was raised with a very classical background in piano, being taught by what she refers to as the “stereotypical Russian teacher.” “She would say to me, in her heavy Russian accent, ‘You must keep hands like bubble!’ in order to teach proper technique and finger posture on the keys.” Von King was also raised in church and sang in the choir. “I was an ugly duckling as a kid and I’ve always been a weirdo,” she added. “I was 5’6” in fourth grade, skinny, and we moved from California to New Jersey when I was 13. The cool kids in my new neighborhood wore Ugg boots and Hollister t-shirts, I didn’t. We were the weird family from California that was into writing and art.”
With a mother who is a children’s book author, Von King grew up learning literature from a young age and holds a degree in English. “My family have been ultra-supportive of me since day one and just always preach to me to be happy and to be healthy.” Despite the normal family around her, Von King didn’t fit into the suburban and “cookie cutter” social circle around her and this, like many musicians, is what created the siren’s call to explore music that was multi-genre and harder edged.
Teaming up with Eric Pierce and Brian Miller was a natural progression after Eric played drums for another of Von King’s projects, the girl duo The B.A.B.E.S., which she formed with Wasteland Hop singer/guitarist, Steph J. Pierce’s natural sensibilities around playing punk music and heavier rock fit well with Von King’s music and they then added Brian Miller to the mix to form Little Vicious, following Steph J’s departure with Wasteland Hop to Ecuador, where they are currently writing and recording.
“We decided we want to write and play the music that we want to hear,” stated Pierce. “We were tired of hearing music around us that we didn’t relate to and didn’t really like,” he added. This detection of “gap” in the industry is exactly where Little Vicious struck out to fill a void. Additionally, Von King commented on not only fulfilling their music dreams, which basically include going all the way with Little Vicious and releasing albums, touring, and worldwide domination (why not?), but also influencing kids in music, particularly girls. “I want to tell girls, that the only thing stopping you is YOU,” she commented. “I don’t want to see girls fall into the trap of thinking that they can’t play drums or guitar, can’t front a rock band. I do these things and they can, too.”
As far as punk bands go, Little Vicious are quick to comment that there’s something besides “punk” happening here. “Energy is punk, punk allows a person to be themselves,” Pierce commented. “We want the energy of the mosh pit in our music, but with structured songs. We’re delivering structure and technique, but in a heavy-hitting punk method mixed with weird alternative rock.” This insight is what we need to carry us to the next phase of music in Northern Colorado. Hey, NoCo, a punk band just won a showcase. That’s a first here, to my knowledge, and one that I enjoyed seeing happen. We need the weirdos, the freaks, and the six foot tall, aqua-haired, tattooed rock divas to lead us into the dark and step into the light of a brand new scene.
And, with that, I will share the end of our interview, which, after a brief moment of perusing Tinder together and doing whiskey shots, and eating something called “The Melted Pig,” consisted of the band compiling a playlist for us. Check it out, download it, and step into the heart of Little Vicious. They are here to stay.