By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – Once a year Calgary’s legendary Vandits Van Club throws an epic camp-out under the wide prairie skies. Raising a stage and riding the lightning to a remote rural location in central Alberta, the cadre of van-enthusiasts pack their coolers with ice and their impromptu grandstand with a procession of daring musicians drawn from miles around. Vantopia sets the tone for the summer to come and leaves attendees with ringing ears and visions of tornadoes dancing in the rearview. We asked Cory Martens, vice president and founding member of Vandits VC, and owner/operator of Twinbat Sticker Company, for the low down on the motorclub’s upcoming Vanuary fundraiser in support of Alberta’s own desert rock showdown.
BeatRoute: Who are Vandits VC?
Vandit Cory Martens: Vandits VC are a van club from Calgary. We only like vintage vans, beer, and rock ‘n’ roll.
BR: How did The Palomino Smokehouse become the defacto hangout for Vandits VC?
CM: The owner, Arlen (Smith) and I go way back. We got to talking a bunch of years ago about how we both had just acquired boogie vans. We decided we should drive them together. The rest is kind of history. I don’t exactly know how we got to 16 members! Just rad people buying rad vans, I guess. Aside from basically being our clubhouse, The Pal is just a bitchin’ venue.
BR: What’s the deal with the Vanuary Fundraiser show?
CM: Vanuary is our Winter Van Jam…sans vans. We like to keep the vanning spirit going even in the winter by getting club members and other buddies to learn a bunch of vannin’ tunes. It’s always a riot. It also acts as a fundraiser for Vantopia. This year we have Electric Owl, Riff Pigeon (a Woodhawk redux), RAW, Buffalo Bud Buster, 2/3rds of Nothing, Stab Twist Pull and a special Vandits VC Supergroup (think Denim Machine meets Chron Goblin)!
BR: Tell us about the Vantopia event that the Club puts on at the start of summer.
CM: Vantopia is our gigantic annual blowout. Three days of partying in the country with a tonne of vans, bands and beer. We usually have around 20 bands from all over to provide the soundtrack to partying in your van. We’ve noticed that over the years the number of tents has greatly diminished, while the number of vans has increased significantly. Last year we had around 80 boogie vans. It seems our message is being heard!
BR: What do you have in store for Vantopia in 2018?
CM: This year will be number six. This year we’ve already confirmed a bunch of bands that are gonna blow some people’s minds. Also, Matchstick from Custom Vanner Magazine will be coming all the way from Los Angeles again this year to MC. Thats always a riot. Our goal is for everyone to have a safe time partying their brains out.
BR: So, how does one become a “Vandit”? How do I know if my van is worthy?
CM: Our members are mostly just a bunch of best friends that happen to own vans. As for what a sweet ride looks like, I’ll tell you what we don’t hate: side pipes, a jacked up booty, and mag wheels. No VW, no FWD.
BR: My Grandparents are touring the Baja in their RV. How does joining a Van-Club stack up in terms of the ultimate retirement plan?
CM: Are you asking if there’s money in vanning? Hahahahaha. Well, there isn’t. But who’s to say you can’t quit your job, sell your house and live in your van? No one.
BR: Other than attending the Vanuary show, how can people support Vandits VC and Vantopia?
CM: Buy our stuff, our merch game is strong: http://vanditsvc.bigcartel.com/
Vandits VC Vanuary Fundraiser in support of Vantopia 2018 featuring:
Electric Owl, Riff Pigeon (a Woodhawk redux), RAW, Buffalo Bud Buster, 2/3rds of Nothing, Stab Twist Pull and a special Vandits VC Supergroup happens January 27 at The Palomino Smokehouse (Calgary)
“Stand by your Van” a short documentary video from Vantopia 3.
CM: “It’s a pretty decent representation of what goes on there.”2/3rds of Nothing, Buffalo Bud Buster, Electric Owl, Raw, Riff Pigeon, Stab.Twist.Pull, The Palomino Smokehouse, The Vandits Vanuary Fundraiser, Vandits, Vandits VC Supergroup, Vanuary, Woodhawk redux