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Godsmack Shows Their Scars in Sonic Evolution

by Johnny Papan Who: GODSMACK Where: Abbotsford Centre When: April 26, 2019 Tickets: $79.50, ticketmaster.ca When Godsmack first hit the…

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Viagra Boys Lash Out Against The American Fever Dream

Friday 22nd, March 2019 / 09:00

By Glenn Alderson

Photo by Ollie Nordh

Viagra Boys came out swinging last year with the release of their debut, Street Worms, on Stockholm-based label YEAR0001. The label is also home to Yung Lean, one of the country’s most notable rap music exports, but Viagra Boys exist on a whole other level.

In a time where UK post punk acts like Idles and Shame are gaining international attention via the Spotify wasteland, Viagra Boys exist more as a commentary on the futility of hardcore music to make any sort of change. Instead of blue-collar working class fight songs, they’re more likely to rip a line of coke and mock the world from the outside with their driving rhythms and intellectual social observations.

“It has a lot to do with how I try to look at myself,” says frontman Sebastian Murphy, on the phone from Warsaw Poland, in between bites of his truck stop chicken sandwich. “I try to not take myself too serious. Even though I deal with a lot of serious issues in my life, I think some of the best ways to deal with these things is to laugh at them in a way and turn them into a little bit of comedy.”

When prodded further on the serious issues to which he’s referring, Murphy cites drug addiction as an immediate example.

“I think drug addiction is a good example because it’s really fun but it’s also really not fun. Which is a bit like our music, it’s fun but it’s pretty dark also.”

Calling their band Viagra Boys is a statement in and of itself; a stiff middle finger to toxic masculinity, as opposed to the immature drug-addled boner popping that a flipside impression might lend itself to.

“At first when we started out, we were maybe a little bit worried that we were called Viagra Boys and it could be misinterpreted, but we made it pretty clear from the beginning that we’re all feminists and anti-racists. We just try to be nice,” he says.

Viagra Boys are a professional punk band masquerading as shitheads, carrying the torch for a new sound that recalls elements of ESG and Fun House-era Stooges with 2019 sensibilities. They’re a serious band but they know how to fuck with people in all the right ways. Take the first single from the band’s debut, “Sports,” where Murphy talk-sings his way through a laundry list of pseudo machismo nonsense, ”Baseball, basketball, wiener dogs, short shorts — sports.” You get the idea. On another track, the mesmerizing “Just Like You,” Murphy distills dystopian fantasies while unpacking the American fever dream and wrestling with his own inner demons.

“I try not to be too hard on myself because I’ve been in situations in my life that were much worse. Before I started the band I was way more into heavy stuff, pretty much every day and actually needed it to survive. But now I’m just trying to have a good time,” he says.

Born and raised in a county just north of San Francisco, Murphy talks fondly but cautiously of his American upbringing. He moved to Sweden in 2007 because his mother is Swedish and he’d fallen in love with the country as a child. Now he’s living in Stockholm, working as a tattoo artist and making music with his friends.

Viagra Boys are in the middle of a tour that’s taking them all over the UK, Canada and the USA throughout the summer. Murphy is quick to acknowledge that on tour, every day can’t be Friday so he looks to his bandmates for guidance and inspiration.

“Some of them are fathers, some of them have much better self control than me, and that helps,” he says. “Because you really don’t want to be the only guy in the band partying.”

Viagra Boys perform Monday, March 25 at the Fox Cabaret (Vancouver)

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