Killed by the right
The Victims of Sacco-Vanzetti
There’s a giant beetle crawling on Tim “The Fink” Blake’s microphone. He cracks a smile but continues to sing and play guitar: “I’m sittin’ on the phone/And I can hear your voice/But you’re not home/'Leave a message/At the tone'/So I hang up.”
At the end of the song, bassist James Dardis jokes, “That beetle was trying to do some harmony vocals. He thought he was in The Beatles.”
Dardis and Blake, along with drummer Chris Jimenez, make up a “ménage a trois of rock,” The Victims of Sacco-Vanzetti. The Victims—as we’ll call them—play melodic hardcore, loud, song-oriented punk rock with poppy vocals and catchy guitar parts. The guitar lines are warm and fuzzy, equal parts distorted drone and melodic hook. The bass lines are buoyant and provide melodic counterpoint. The drummer plays with hard-hitting propulsion tempered by taste and tact. The rhythms are what might, in more innocent times, have been considered fast—but, to today’s ears, it sounds like good ol’ mid-tempo rock ‘n’ roll.
The band’s name refers to a notorious and controversial 1920s court case. Two men, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were convicted and eventually executed for robbery and murder. But their supporters and some historians believe the men were probably innocent and that they were persecuted largely because of their radical leftist political beliefs and their status as Italian immigrants. If this is true, then there would have been no actual victims of Sacco-Vanzetti.
Jimenez also drums for Baker’s Dozen Letdown and Back Harlow Road, and Blake steps behind the kit to drum for rock ‘n’ rollers The Juvinals. Dardis, meanwhile, has lent his formidable low-end to a number of local groups, including Tate-La Bianca, Pink Black, Bafabegiya and The Lords of Rad Success.
The aforementioned lyrics come from “Carpet Bagger"—a song that inspires sing-alongs with its catchy refrain of, “I’m all right, you’re OK/Let’s get drunk today.” Blake says the song is about “how all your friends go on to do big important things … and you end up drinking alone because all the friends that you used to drink with have moved away.”
“Die Dancing” baits hipsters too self-conscious to dance and “Lightning Rod” is more likely to actually inspire dancing with its stop-start dynamics and bouncy grooves. Easily the band’s best song title is “Faith, Gnome, Or?” a cheeky love song set to rolling rhythms with lyrics like “But that’s not all I know/Ask your garden gnome/ And he’ll say/Every night/while you sleep/ I’m awake.”
Though the band is a little too hard-hitting to be considered pop punk, they confess to a love of groups like Saves the Day and The Get-Up Kids. The Casket Lottery and The Weakerthans are other big inspirations (and Dardis is a fan of funk and soul). Essentially though, they are a part of the post-Jawbreaker tradition of expressive, melodic hardcore (call it what you will).
The Victims place an emphasis on songwriting craftsmanship. “We really work hard to make sure that we have polished songs,” says Blake, “not just a bunch of riffs thrown together. We want songs that are cohesive but interesting and unpredictable. We work hard at it—but it’s worth it because we all love this band.”
Find out why at one of the bands many upcoming local shows.