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Vilebred: Constantly Vile (With Friends).

November 19, 2014

VilebredOnline01Text by Dave Miniaci. Images by Charles Shan Cerrone.

It’s a warm but comfortable night outside Connie’s Ric Rac in South Philly. Guitarist Jeremy Dawson and drummer Dean Gorfti shoot the breeze before Dawson checks the time.

“Is there a stereotype about people from the suburbs not being on time?” asks Dawson.

His band, Vilebred, is on the lineup tonight. Dawson and Gorfti are soon joined by the rest of the band’s roster for the evening and they take inventory. Not everyone could make it out tonight. But then, that is the nature of the band. They’re all members of several other bands, part of a lineup that has grown in size and depth for a decade, with many coming and going.

The main constant of the lineup is singer and lyricist Sam Vile – a last name that needs little introduction around these parts.

“Growing up, my brother Kurt was my biggest influence,” he says. “He’s my older brother. I looked up to him and I grew up playing his guitars. He was my roommate for a few years.”

Vilebred slowly came together over the years. The original members were friends from attending church together with their families in the suburbs. They eventually got together to play music.

“I moved to Newtown Square and they have these coffee houses,” Sam explains. “We said we should get our shit together and throw some covers together. It was fun. I didn’t think anything of it but then I started writing.”

Things took off from there. One of those coffee houses was Burlap and Bean and it was a focal point in the band’s growth. Vilebred has played multiple shows and befriended other musicians there, many of whom became part of the group’s rotation of members.

The band has released three albums to date, the most recent being Skeleton Melodies last year. Each album has featured different members.

“We’ve got a lot of different bands overlapping,” says bassist Doug “Dug” Gillin, of Broomall. “There’s like a Venn diagram with a lot of circles and colors. There’s a mutual admiration of everyone, musically.”

The bandmates describe their sound as experimental rock. It’s a mixture of Sam’s favorite bands from the ’90s – from Radiohead to Smashing Pumpkins to Violent Femmes.

Then there is also the influence Kurt and the rest of his family had on Sam. His brother Paul has even provided guest vocals and harmonica to the band’s records. Sam started playing music at an early age with the violin, though that didn’t last.

“ADD and my Star Wars action figures,” he jokes, offering reasons he quit the violin.

But Sam admits he couldn’t keep himself away from Kurt’s instruments.

Sam has a strong admiration for his brother. He went right to Kurt’s defense when the Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze mural in Fishtown was painted over.

“I was really pissed off when I found out,” he says. “I texted Kurt the next day because I felt bad and he was just like, ‘Eh, whatever. Someone will fix it.’”

VilebredOnline02In the end, the bandmates maintain that their heart is in their members and all those who have brought Vilebred to life. Sam, Dawson, Gorfti and Gillin took turns rattling off the names – drummer Will Donahue, keyboardist Chelsea Sue Allen, lead guitarist Jared Pennington and more – who couldn’t be there but have been essential to the band’s growth.

Everyone has left a mark. And with that many members, you can bet the dynamic is a little whacky.

“It’s like a fun human Muppet Show,” Sam jokes.

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    November 20, 2014 6:22 pm


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