Saigon Kick’s Jason Bieler on recording fast, being about music, and taking tour managers by the neck


By Steve Newton

Some bands spend months—even years—recording albums, poring over technicalities and making sure every little nibbly bit is in the perfect place. Then there are bands like Florida’s Saigon Kick, which knocked off its debut in 11 days flat.

That’s movin’.

“Everybody says that,” notes guitarist/main songwriter Jason Bieler. “But we didn’t set out to break any speed records. We had all the money we needed to do whatever we wanted to do, but we just worked and looked up and it was done.”

The sophomore rockers got some help in the studio from noted hard-rock producer Michael Wagener, although Bieler admits that his original plan was to produce the debut himself. “I actually had to be bought into meeting Michael,” he says. “It was like, ‘Well, who’s this guy who’s gonna tell me how to do my whole album?’ So I was really apprehensive about it. But when I sat down and talked to him we saw eye to eye, and now I can’t imagine doing an album without him.”

Saigon Kick came together in its current form three years ago, when Bieler and singer Matt Kramer found the rhythm section they were searching for in Miami drummer Tom DeFile and bassist Phil Varone. The foursome took the best band award at the first annual South Florida Rock Awards, and really cleaned up in the second year, winning band of the year, best guitarist, best vocalist, and even best progressive band. Bieler is particularly proud of the latter prize.

“There’s a lot to the band,” he claims. “I mean, we’re not a heavy-metal band, and we’re not a strictly alternative band, either. I really don’t like listening to heavy metal to any great extent—any more than I like listening to dance music or rap or anything else. If anything we’re a band about music, you know, so the band’s major influence is just music in general. And that’s what we want to do.”

Before embarking on the current club tour that brings Saigon Kick to Club Soda this Monday (July 8), the quartet opened for bands such as Extreme, Faith No More, Cheap Trick, and Skid Row—the latter spot leading to a deal with the heavyweight Atlantic Records. But not all the band’s pairings have been made in heaven.

“We just got removed from the King’s X tour,” confides Bieler, “due to a violent altercation between me and their tour manager. They’re pretty much a strictly Christian band, and we’re a little bit on the racy side—let me put it that way. I think they took a little bit of offence to the presentation of the show, and it wound up that this particular night our set time was cut down to like 20 minutes. And about 17 minutes into the set the lights and sound were shut down on us, so when I found out that it was him, I kind of choked him.

“But we got along really well with the band. It wasn’t so much a band thing as it was that they have some people working for them that are a little fucked in the head.”

Leave a Reply