Vivian Girls on Their Reunion and “Memory” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024  

Vivian Girls on Their Reunion and “Memory”

The Sisterly Dynamic

Oct 09, 2019 Photography by Neil Kryszak Web Exclusive
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There’s a photo somewhere that documents the emotion of the moment.

Five years ago, when Vivian Girls decided to set it all aside after three albums, Katy Goodman, Ali Koehler, and Cassie Ramone played their final show and then found a moment to circle together, a way to say goodbye to their labor of noisy love. It was an emotional huddle, a mix of grief and relief at the death of one of Brooklyn’s most celebrated bands in the last 10 years.

In the years since their announced breakup in 2014, music has remained a constant for each band member. Ramone has recorded multiple solo releases and formed The Babies with Kevin Morby. Goodman went on to record as La Sera. Koehler formed a new band, Upset, and played drums with Best Coast.

Despite the busy schedules, there was no way to permanently bury the incredible musical and personal connection shared within the trio. In 2019, Vivian Girls surprised longtime fans with news of a new album, Memory (on Polyvinyl), which is a return to the group’s earnest roots and a riveting new record.

Here’s the story of an unexpected reunion and the emotions of setting it all aside in the first place.

Matt Conner (Under the Radar): When you announced that things were ending five years ago, was there any inclinations that perhaps the door could re-open down the road? Just how finished did things feel at the time?

Ali Koehler: The possibility of reuniting was always there, we ended on good terms. We just felt done with Vivian Girls at the time. We were so burnt out at that point. We didn’t know when or how we’d come back together, but it never seemed outside the realm of possibility as long as the timing felt right.

Do you remember the emotions back at that time? Was it hard to turn the chapter?

Ali: It was super emotional to lay Vivian Girls to rest, but it felt like what had to happen. There’s a picture somewhere of us all holding each other crying after our last show. Like any big life shift, it was a lot to process! But we felt proud of what we had done up until the point, and unable to keep it up at the standard we have for ourselves.

Katy Goodman: There were a lot of emotions! It felt necessary to break up, but I definitely mourned the band for a while after it was over. We all grew up together, so when that chapter closed it felt really intense.

Cassie Ramone: It was super emotional for me as well, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever personally emotionally endured.

What kickstarted the conversation to get back together?

Ali: Katy had been thinking about how she missed doing the band and decided life was too short not to do stuff you wanna do, so she called Cassie to gauge her interest, and then called me to see if I was down. It was a no brainer.

Katy: Yup! Life is too short. I called Cassie and suggested we get back together and I think I really took her by surprise.

Cassie: Yeah I was taken by surprise for sure. I wasn’t expecting everyone else to be down to do it again so soon. I think they knew that I would probably always be down to do it again as long as everyone else was totally on board.

With the reunion, was it clear that you would record again or was it initially to play together live at first?

Katy: As soon as we started talking about playing together again, we knew we were just going to be a band again. We are all really dedicated people, and when we set our mind to something, we do it. We didn’t have to “feel it out” or anything, we went in knowing we would write and record and album, and then play shows. We kind of just wanted to pick up where we left off.

What sort of changes in chemistry are apparent after the years apart?

Ali: We’re just all older with more life experience, but as for the way the three of us relate to each other it really doesn’t feel like much has changed.

Katy: We still have a very sisterly dynamic. We all grew up [in our 20s] playing music together, so that’s what feels natural to us to this day.

Have you found the wealth of other artistic experiences have helped bring something new to the table from each of you in the studio or the stage this time around?

Ali: Personally I feel like other artistic endeavors have made me feel more confident and appreciative of Vivian Girls. As it turns out it’s actually really hard to find a group of people who have a common goal and can work together effectively to reach that goal.

Katy: I think that the time I’ve spent doing La Sera has definitely increased my confidence when it comes to playing in general, and now especially for Vivian Girls. Ali and I both had time singing lead vocals in our own bands over the past few years, so the harmonies on the new album are stronger than ever.

Cassie: After Vivian Girls broke up I self recorded and produced two solo albums where I had to figure a lot of stuff out and get creative with techniques, since I’m pretty much self taught in this field. I can’t connect any dots directly but that probably led me to be more confident in the studio this time around.

What have you found about fans staying with you (or not) through the years apart? Has the response been what you’d hoped to the new music?

Katy: There is definitely a crew of people who have been following us on social media for years, occasionally commenting “Vivian Girls reunion?!” I really enjoyed announcing the reunion and seeing all those same people being so stoked.

Ali: I’ve been seeing quite a few people who are into the new record who had never heard of us before, which is awesome. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive which obviously feels great.

Is there more after this or are you taking things slower than that?

Ali: More is always a possibility as we’ve just proven, haha.

Katy: We like to take things one day at a time, but yes, there will be more.

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