The guys in Plague Vendor have technically been jamming together in Whittier for close to a decade, but it’s only in the last few years that they’ve really taken the national punk scene by storm. Sure, it may have taken them a handful of chaotic years to get their first album — 2014’s brief but powerful Free to Eat — off the ground and into the ears of listeners, but between their 20-minute debut and last year’s BLOODSWEAT, the young punks have already developed enough of a catalog to wow fans and strangers at festivals and shows around the country.
To many folks, it may seem like energetic frontman Brandon Blaine and his crew have popped up relatively quickly and easily following their first two releases. But those people didn’t see the years of grinding through show after show at house parties, local bars, and anywhere else that would let them rock out for a little while.
“We just never stopped,” Blaine says. “We kept cutting our teeth and kept going, so we’re all pretty happy with what we’re doing now. We all just keep writing music and hanging out together, and we don’t really know who’s behind the wheel or what’s going on, but we’re just happy when we stop somewhere and there’s a party waiting for us.”
These days, Blaine can look back and laugh on the early days of the band’s struggles to escape the local SoCal scene, but it wasn’t all that long ago that Plague Vendor watched the closing of some of the Whittier-based venues that helped launch the group. It seems like the punk rockers may have already outlived a lot of the music scene they grew up with, but that doesn’t mean any of them are willing to give up on the city that raised them.
“When we were younger, there were a couple of places to play out here, but some of them are no longer there,” Blaine says. “We’re still hanging around and doing our thing while everyone other than our crew is moving out, but growing up was cool because we played a lot of parties. We could play down the street from our house, and then move to the next block, and then to the next town and keep going. It was a good learning experience, and it was very humbling.”
For now, Plague Vendor is too busy looking toward the future to dwell in the past. With a new record set to release later this year, the band is switching up their sound yet again. Although it’ll still incorporate their relentless style and Blaine’s signature vocals, the third effort from Plague Vendor figures to be just as different as BLOODSWEAT was to Free to Eat. At this point, even the band members themselves aren’t quite sure what to make of it, but they’re certainly not afraid of the expectations that come along with following up their successful sophomore effort.
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“Don’t expect anything from [the new record],” Blaine laughs. “Expect it to be still heavy, I guess. The way we write together hasn’t changed since we started being a band — we still just get in a room and let it bounce off each other — but we’re always working on some new stuff. We never want to stay in the same place. There’s new stuff in there, but there are still hints of old stuff.”
Before there’ll be a new record, fans will get to see Plague Vendor at one of their regular haunts when Dirty Penni Fest 2 hits the Echo and Echoplex on July 2. Although the vocalist says doesn’t really have anything special planned for the event, anyone who’s ever seen the group before knows that Blaine’s onstage antics and dance moves are as much a highlight of a Plague Vendor set as any song — even if it means buying a new microphone stand every so often.
“I just can’t sit still when a really good song comes on,” Blaine says. “It’s just what the music does to me. I don’t really plan on doing anything, to be honest. The last few times we’ve played, some really weird stuff has happened. The last time we played, the mic stand broke off and I just put the microphone pole in my pants and supported it. It’s about taking more risks and being more vulnerable. Whether you’re going to fly to Vegas or just drive down the street for a show, don’t waste your time or anybody else’s time if you’re not going to give it everything.”
Plague Vendor performs at Dirty Penni Fest 2 July 2 at the Echoplex. For tickets, click here.