Sonny Vincent Interview

Exploring the “Logic” of The Limit

Sonny Vincent is revered as a champion of the underground rock scene dating back to the 1970s. He teamed up with his peers from veteran punk, doom and metal bands to produce their first collaboration as The Limit, whose debut Caveman Logic will be out April 9. We talk about their debut album and some highlights from his decades-long career.

By Justin Smulison

Sonny Vincent’s music career dates back to the mid-1970s with the New York punk trailblazers, Testors. Since then, his output has been steady and furious – whether fronting his own groups or collaborating with and supporting various musicians, including original Velvet Underground drummer and Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer Maureen “Moe” Tucker.

It is easy to imagine that Vincent’s life of recording and performing rock, punk and metal would influence and create a huge network of musicians. The guitarist and producer wanted to collaborate with Pentagram’s legendary wailer Bobby Liebling. Vincent knew he’d need a band who could provide its own raucous to complement Liebling’s voice, so he reached out to one-time Stooges bassist Jimmy Recca, guitarist Hugo Conim and drummer João Pedro Ventura from Portuguese band, Dawnrider. The result of these punk, doom and metal veterans is The Limit and their powerful and raw heavy rock sound is captured on their debut, Caveman Logic, which will be released April 9, 2021 on Svart Records.

The album features 12 songs that harness the energy of players who do their best work while improvising and playing in a garage or tiny venue. Fast and choppy riffs drive each song on Caveman Logic and provide the forum for Liebling to howl like a man possessed. Check out the first single, “Black Sea,” which features U.D.O. guitarist Fabian Dee Dammers. It is a perfect sample of a riotous album that can be played on repeat, and celebrates the roots of all cacophonic rock-rooted music. 

Vincent spoke with Blessed Altar Zine about his relationship with Liebling, the approach to writing and recording Caveman Logic, and some latter day career highlights with Rocket From The Crypt.

An Interview with Sonny Vincent

Sonny, it is a genuine pleasure to speak with you. What inspired the creation of The Limit?

A friend who sometimes drove the bus on my tours wound up also driving Bobby Liebling of Pentagram. During these long drives he introduced Bobby to my songs. Apparently Bobby dug ‘em and he called me on the phone. 

We hit it off right away, with very juvenile jokes and laughs, but then we got serious discussing making an album. Bobby asked if I would produce an album with him as the singer. At first I thought that would be a piece of cake–producing an album, sauntering around a studio with a clipboard, notes and saying, “Yeah, play that harder,” or “Yeah, double that chorus,” but Bobby wanted me to write the songs and play guitar as well.

So the journey began. I wrote the songs and had my friend Hugo in Portugal to go into a studio and make them more of a “doom” format, [by] slowing ‘em down, etc. I sent those sessions to Bobby and he said “No, I want to make an album like how you make them, not doom.” Apparently he loves punk as well as heavy rock. There were many stressful situations in terms of logistics and organization, but luckily the music was the part that ran well.

Was the goal of Caveman Logic to blend the styles you are respectively known for? 

Bobby has an extreme knowledge and love for so many styles. People would be shocked at his favorite music. He goes all the way from Blue Cheer to the MC5 in terms of his heart of hearts.

We didn’t consider blending doom with punk. We just decided to join forces and make an album with my songs and Bobby singing. Hugo, our other guitarist also contributed two songs. There was no intention of any kind of blend. Like I said I wrote a song, bobby wrote the lyrics and sang it. The result was inevitable without a plan.

For me, the charm of Caveman Logic is that it has a clear sonic quality without sacrificing any rawness or heaviness. What steps did you take to capture that sound?

Thanks, I’m glad you mentioned the sonic quality that still retains the heavy rawness. We were lucky to achieve that. We didn’t make a game plan or put lots of planning and thought into “taking steps,” though. After me and Bobby decided to make an album I invited Jimmy Recca from The Stooges to play bass. I also invited the Portuguese badboys Hugo and Joao to play with us. I intuitively knew the combination was bound to make something vital, creative and direct. Also we had an amazing engineer, Paulo Vieira who was with us as one mind, one goal. He is amazing.

“Black Sea” is the first single and it also features U.D.O. guitarist Fabian Dee Dammers, who also plays on each song. Why is it the right business card for The Limit? 

We simply chose that song randomly. Everyone had their own opinion as to which song would be the first single so we left it up to an outside source to choose “Black Sea” as the first single.

“Fleeting Thoughts” seems to reflect a numbness to the recent years of chaos. Why do you feel that this time in U.S. and world history might inspire more musicians to write and chronicle what they’ve experienced? 

That song was one of Hugo’s. Bobby wrote the lyrics. He wanted to write something topical and represent some frustrations he felt.

“Enough’s Enough” plays like a blues tune done in a hard rock and metal style. I’ve had the album for a while now and it remains, for me, the standout track. How did that song evolve?

Thanks! I wrote that song while on a tour. The line-up I had at the time went into the studio on a day off and recorded a demo of it. Later I sent that demo to Bobby, Jimmy and Hugo. They all were knocked out by it and we knew it was a song we wanted on Caveman Logic. Bobby wrote the lyrics. That’s how it ended up as a Limit song.

What are the long-term plans for The Limit?

We have spoken of a second album and some shows. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men!

I have always loved Rocket From The Crypt. What was it was like to be backed by RFTC and what was your reaction when they released the proper mix of your collaboration, Vintage Piss

John (A.K.A. Speedo) had written me an email asking if I had heard of his group. I replied that I had seen a photo in a magazine. So John sent me a couple of their albums and asked me if I could recognize some ‘Sonny-isms’ in some of the songs. I actually did hear some melodic passages and riffs that seemed more than familiar. But it was super cool, like an homage. Later John asked me if Rocket From the Crypt could back me up playing my songs on a tour. So we did a big ol’ USA/Canada tour. The way it worked out was that I came on stage with John, Andy and Mario and we did my whole show and after that Rocket From The Crypt did their songs with the horns. It went down very well with the audiences.

John, Andy and Mario already knew my songs and played them with an amazing vicious, spitting passion. You can view one of the shows on YouTube; it was The Blackout Festival presented by Hozac Records. Playing my songs with them is one of my life’s highlights. They just slammed and infused them with amazing devotion, commitment and passion. Like a lightning bolt through your soul.

As for the proper mix question. I feel there are good qualities of the original rough mix that came out in Germany and the later Vintage Piss mix. I’d love to hear them in tandem!

Thanks so much for your time, Sonny. We look forward to all your future output.

Thanks, Justin for a fun interview!

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