Want to Start a Band? Vivian Girls Say "Just F*cking Do It"

Vivian Girls are back.
Vivian Girls are back. Chris Chang
Vivian Girls, a major force in the ’00s DIY music scene in Brooklyn, have reunited after a five-year hiatus. The band's on the road for a month celebrating its latest album, Memory, which dropped on September 20.

The trio – comprising bassist and singer Katy Goodman, guitarist and singer Cassie Ramone and drummer Ali Koehler – took a break after its third album, Share the Joy, came out. In the years since, Ramone has released two solo records and two full-length albums with Kevin Morby under the name the Babies; Koehler played with Best Coast and the Upset; and Goodman released four albums with her partner, Todd Wisenbaker, under the name La Sera.

Westword caught up with Vivian Girls ahead of their November 3 concert at the Marquis Theater to discuss touring, social media and the group's dynamic.

Congratulations on the new release. I always consider Vivian Girls to be a Brooklyn-based band. Now that you all live in Los Angeles, do you consider yourselves a California-based band?

Cassie Ramone: A lot of bands end up moving to Los Angeles and other places. Even though our roots are in New York, we're definitely an L.A. band now.

When you started rehearsing last year, were you just having fun, or was it like, we need to go into the studio and make another album?

Cassie Ramone: We started playing again with the intention of making a new album and playing shows again.

Since Vivian Girls has existed in both New York City and Los Angeles, do you think the location change has affected your creativity as a group?

Cassie Ramone: Not really. I feel like we've all had this dynamic that has always been the same.

And what would you say that dynamic is?

Katy Goodman: Our dynamic is based on getting a lot of work done. We're very driven. What's a yin-yang with three pieces?

Ali Koehler: Symbiotic.

Katy Goodman: Yeah. Very symbiotic. We all have qualities that complement each other. When we get together to do stuff, we get things done, because all of our time is limited these days, so we're dedicated and driven.

Cassie Ramone: Katy and I have been friends since high school, and we've known Allie since college, so since we've been friends for so long, it's also a sisterly dynamic.

What's it like being creative in a post-Obama world? Did the current political climate impact the songs on Memory?

Cassie Ramone: I don't really write songs about politics, per se, but the political climate colored all of our lives. It's in the background there, for sure, but nothing that I've released is really overtly political. There's definitely some subtext on the record, but nothing overt.

What is it like reuniting after social media has evolved into what it is now?

Ali Koehler: Social media wasn't as prevalent when we were touring a bunch [before the hiatus]. Our online engagement is more directly with fans, which is an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Would you give any advice to girls who might be reading this interview who want to join a band and want to do what you all are doing?

Cassie Ramone: I feel like my answer is so cliché: Just fucking do it. It's been really rewarding with us doing this. I recommend it, even though it's a hard road.

Ali Koehler: Don't be afraid to ask questions or try things. There is no right way to do anything. Do whatever comes to you.

What advice would you give to your younger selves from 2007, when you first recorded?

Cassie Ramone: Don't read the comments. Don't read the interviews. I haven't read any press about myself for years now, and my life is so much better.

Ali Koehler: Ditto.

Vivian Girls play at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 3, at the Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street. Tickets are $20 plus fees and are available at Eventbrite.

Hear Vivian Girls and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.
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