|Origin||Santa Rosa, California|
|Labels||Mordam Records, Alternative Tentacles, Saint Rose Records|
|Associated acts||Saturn's Flea Collar, Hellworms, The Freak Accident, Meowmeow and the Meowmeows, Triclops!|
|Past members||Devon VrMeer
Victims Family is a hardcore punk band formed in 1984 in Santa Rosa, California by bassist Larry Boothroyd and guitarist and vocalist Ralph Spight. Drummer Devon VrMeer completed the trio. Their sound blended punk, heavy metal and jazz, making them difficult to categorize into a single genre. Allmusic says, "since its inception, the trio has refused to be pigeonholed to any single musical style — incorporating elements of hardcore punk, jazz, funk, hard rock, and noise into its challenging sound." They were known as one of the most musically diverse bands in the San Francisco, California underground music scene. Over the years, Victims Family went through four drummers and two breakups. Their name was taken by a piece by cartoonist B. Kliban.
In 1984, Victims Family played their first show at the Kennilworth Recreation Center in Petaluma, California, where they later opened for Faith No More and Suicidal Tendencies. In the summer of 1985 the band did their first U.S. tour, which they booked themselves by mailing out a cassette demo. They played with NOFX in Albuquerque and challenged Tales of Terror to a drinking contest in Dallas. Also that year, they opened for the Dead Kennedys, Descendents and Social Unrest at the Novato Theater, where they first caught the attention of Jello Biafra.
In 1986, they opened for the Butthole Surfers and Camper Van Beethoven at Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco. Also in 1986, they recorded their first album, Voltage and Violets, for Ruth Schwartz's Mordam Records, and regularly played The Farm and Club Foot in San Francisco. 1986 was also the year they played a pizza parlor in Oakland with Nomeansno, beginning a long friendship between the two bands. In 1987, they barely completed a tour of the United States and missed their dates in Canada after being banned from that country for one year. pazHighlights included playing with Capitol Punishment in Fresno and Scratch Acid in Dallas.
A second album, Things I Hate To Admit, was recorded in 1988 at Prairie Sun Studio in Cotati, California. 1988 was also the beginning of their friendship with Primus, with whom they would share the stage many times in the years to follow. 1989 saw an invitation by Konkurrent, a record label in Amsterdam, for a European tour. Devon VrMeer had left the band to pursue a family, so Eric Strand was recruited as drummer. The band embarked on a two-month tour of Europe with Snuff from London supporting them. Highlights included helping to break down the Berlin Wall and getting strip searched in Norway. After returning from Europe, Eric was replaced by roadie Tim Solyan who would continue to drum for Victims Family throughout the height of their touring days.
Their third album, White Bread Blues, produced by Nomeansno drummer John Wright, followed in 1990 and was received on a much wider critical and commercial scale than previously released albums. It included the song "Caged Bird", which reached No. 6 on the Dutch national radio charts. Around this time, Mr. Bungle and Green Day, little known acts then, often opened for Victims Family. Also in 1990 they supported TAD and Nirvana on the midwest leg of their cross-country tour. Numerous tours of the US and Europe cemented the group's reputation as an incendiary live act. Their fourth album, The Germ, released in 1992 and also produced by John Wright, was their debut for Alternative Tentacles Records. The band's schedule began to take its toll, and in 1992 they took a hiatus.
Ten months later Victims Family reformed, in the spring of 1993, to play a sold-out show at San Francisco's Kennel Club. A fifth album, Headache Remedy, was released by Alternative Tentacles in February, 1994. Four Great Thrash Songs, which would be the last album of the classic line up was recorded live in '94 at their final show at Melkweg in Amsterdam, the bands home away from home. Founding members Ralph and Larry also formed the bands Saturn's Flea Collar and Hellworms, both of which toured the U.S. and Europe and recorded albums for Alternative Tentacles.
After the demise of Hellworms, Spight and Boothroyd continued under the name Victims Family with new drummer David Gleza of My Name and they recorded the album Apocalicious in 2001. The band continued to tour relentlessly, including two trips to Texas for SXSW, and two more tours of Europe; causing the band to lose another member, Gleza, to tour fatigue. This time Spight and Boothroyd decided not to look for another drummer.
On December 11 and 12, 2004, Victims Family reunited, with Tim Solyan back on drums, in Petaluma, California at the Phoenix Theatre, and in San Francisco at the Bottom of the Hill, to celebrate their 20th anniversary with all their different incarnations, including The Freak Accident (Spight's solo project), and Meowmeow and the Meowmeows (Boothroyd's new band). Also included at this time was a Saturn's Flea Collar 10th anniversary reunion and a Hellworms reunion. This sparked subsequent shows with both Hellworms and Victims Family. In 2006, Boothroyd began playing with the bay area band that would come to be known as Triclops! and began touring and releasing records with them. The Freak Accident released an LP on Alternative Tentacles and toured Europe with Nomeansno. Triclops! released their full length debut album Out of Africa on Alternative Tentacles March 2008, and then their follow-up, Helpers On The Other Side, also on Alternative Tentacles, in 2010.
Tim Solyan has been seen in a few bands over the years including The Kehoe Nation (wherein he played select drum tracks on Music For Livers), Wingnut, & currently Jerry Rigg & the El Chupos. In 2009 the band hit the stage again at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma with Nomeansno and also for Alternative Tentacles 30th Anniversary shows in San Francisco in November 2009 with Alice Donut, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Spight's latest band.
In 2010, Victims Family was invited to play in The Czech Republic with Nomeansno, Le Silo (Japan), and a group of Cuban dancers and typewriter players to celebrate a friend's 50th birthday. This turned into a whirlwind mini-tour in Europe where they played nine shows in nine days. 2012 saw the release of the Have a Nice Day single on Alternative Tentacles, another short tour of Europe which was an even more intense whirlwind performing 13 shows in 12 consecutive days. The band have currently been playing around the Bay Area when personal schedules allow the time.
- Ralph Spight - Guitar, Vocals
- Larry Boothroyd - Bass
- Tim Solyan - Drums (1989-'94, 2004-Present)
- Past Members on Drums: Devon VrMeer (1984-'88), Eric Strand (1988-'89), Dave Gleza (2001-'02)
- 1986 Voltage and Violets LP Mordam Records
- 1988 Things I Hate to Admit LP Mordam Records
- 1990 White Bread Blues LP Mordam Records (Reissued 2010 on Saint Rose Records)
- 1992 The Germ LP Alternative Tentacles
- 1994 Headache Remedy LP Alternative Tentacles
- 1995 Four Great Thrash Songs LP Alternative Tentacles
- 2001 Apocalicious LP Alternative Tentacles
Singles and compilations
- 1986 Lock of Interest on Viva Umkhonto! Compilation - Mordam Records/Konkurrel Records
- 1988 Son of a Church Card/Quivering Lip 7" - Mordam Records
- 1990 Burly Jalisco on Sasquach compilation 7" - Kirbdog
- 1990 Sinatra Mantra on The Big One - Flipside Records
- 1991 My Evil Twin on split 7" with Coffin Break - Rave Records
- 1991 Ill in the Head on Virus 100 Comp. LP - Alternative Tentacles
- 1993 Maybe if I... 7" - Alternative Tentacles
- 1996 Project Fake ~ A tribute to the Minutemen Easy Money Records
- 2001 Dr. Schlesinger split 7" with Fleshies - Alternative Tentacles
- 2002 Fridge on Comp. Apocalypse Always - Alternative Tentacles
- 2002 Victims Family w/ The Jayroon Lovers - Bonjour, Gutentag, Hallo. - Strike Records
- 2012 Have a Nice Day/Let's Cancel the Future 7" - Alternative Tentacles