The singer is total ego

by Jahna Peloquin

We look like acid-dropping homosexuals!”

It is after dark on the campus of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the members of local knob-twiddlers Victoria are laughing at the results of an impromptu Polaroid photo session. The above remark made by Greg Pritchard was in reference to a Polaroid in which the band, which includes Pritchard, Scott Ecklein and Ray Benjamin, looks uncharacteristically drug-dazed and sassy.

While they are currently neither, they do admit to using codeine during the recording process of the band’s recently released self-titled album. Victoria’s long-awaited debut was released after an intense year in which “we were basically recording in a closet for eight hours straight,” says Pritchard. “You need something to mellow yourself out.”

Scott Ecklein, who bears more than a passing resemblance to a contemporary Macauley Culkin, explains, “We’re perfectionists and we’re not patient, so if we didn’t have the codeine, this CD probably would have never come out.”

This is no exaggeration. Victoria spent over a year completing a three-song album. Listening to the album is a church-like experience; the music is intensely epic and blissfully calm, abstract yet melodic. The band blends guitars, samplers, keyboards and drums to the point of where a keyboard doesn’t quite sound like a keyboard and the origins of the music become indistinguishable. This is apparent in the vagueness of the band members’ roles; they all seem to do a little of everything.

Victoria’s long songs and lack of vocals make them relatively unconventional, especially in the bar-band-laden Twin Cities music scene. Originally they planned on having a singer, but Pritchard says, once they abandoned that idea the band found their direction.

“It allowed us to take it further with the music, because we weren’t stuck in that mode of a certain way of thinking about songs,” he says.

Ecklein continues, “The singer is a total ego. He’s like the frontman. Every band is known for having a singer, but with us, there’s no frontman and we’re all doing our own things that are equally interesting.”

While Victoria formerly created all their sounds live, they have added so many new sounds that it became impossible to pull off live. Now the samples and basslines are sequenced, and the other instruments are played over them.

“The fact that it keeps changing is what keeps it interesting,” Pritchard adds. “We want to keep being more over-the-top at every show and never quite sound the same.”

Victoria’s collaboration with the local arts collective A Pleasure Principle ensures that sound isn’t the only sense to get involved. A video that is included on the CD was created by members of A Pleasure Principle and includes a Victoria remix by Nick Barbeln of Leaves.

Since Victoria is longtime friends with members of A Pleasure Principle, they found it made sense to collaborate on the album. “Everyone had something to add to it to make it a better product in the end,” Pritchard says.

The band has also made plans to incorporate video projectors into its live shows, further building on the multimedia experience found on the CD. “It feeds off what we’re doing with the music,” Pritchard says.

When I comment that Benjamin hasn’t said more than one sentence during the entire interview, Ecklein explains, “Ray’s shy. No, Greg and I are like the frontmen ñ the gay duo,” he jokes. “No, it’s just Greg.”

“What?” Greg responds. “What am I? The token acid-dropping homosexual?”