Alex Vaz is a friend of No Echo that grew up in Utah, where he was part of the Salt Lake City hardcore there in the '90s. There, he sang for a band called The Lazarus Project, and after moving to Orange County, CA in the '00s, he went on to front Absolute Madness, a hardcore outfit that also featured musicians from such groups as Internal Affairs and Donnybrook. Alex has also worked in the fashion field, starting an apparel company called True Love & False Idols.
His latest project is Furry — The Story of the Abominable Snow Girl, a children's book he wrote and just released under the pen name, "Alexis Lorraine." As a parent of two young kids, my interest was instantly piqued when Alex posted about his book on Facebook. The fact that he was a fellow member of the music community only added to my intrigue, so I figured it would be fun to chat with Alex about his journey from hardcore to "Common Core" for the site.
What inspired you to write the book in the first place, and was the concept of the story something you’ve had floating around in your head for a long time?
I wrote the story quite a few years ago, it had been floating around in my head for a while. I always wondered how the Abominable Snow Man came to be, so I came up with my own story to tell the tale. At the time, I was taking a year-long writing course at UCLA and that helped a lot with me expressing my thoughts.
The book is illustrated by Vanessa Fardoe. How did that collaboration come to be?
Finding an illustrator was an arduous task. I had a friend that wanted to do it, and he strung me along for well over a year, telling me he'd get to it, he did a few character sketches and then eventually said he didn't have time. He gave me a bunch of references to other artists that might be interested. One agreed to take on the project, then he disappeared and never got back to me. So, I took to Tumblr and looked up a ton of artists, then got to messaging them. I finally came across Vanessa, who is a student at an art school in Canada. She agreed to do the project, but it would take her a year as she was still in school.
For me, I had come this far, so I figured another year won't make a difference. I've never met Vanessa or even spoken to her on the phone. I essentially hired her to do all the art based on my layouts and ideas all through email. I laid out every single page in Illustrator, like "the castle goes here, the animals go there," etc. It was a ton of back and forth, but eventually we got it to where it's perfect and I love it.
You came up through the hardcore scene and have worked in the fashion space. I’m curious how those worlds influenced the book, if it all.
In a round about way, the hardcore scene helped me develop a love for Disney and the stories they've told over the years. When I would visit Orange County in the '90s from Salt Lake City, my friends here would sneak us into Disneyland. Back then, it was pretty easy, some of them had passes, so they would get a re-entry stamp, quickly put a sticker over it, then put that sticker onto your hand. Then, all you had to do was convince someone that was leaving to give you their ticket. We'd go to the Disneyland hotel and enter the park through the monorail, which was less strict than the front gate. Those were simpler times, and cheaper, as far as Disneyland goes.
Once I moved to Orange County, I started going to Disney quite a bit, pretty much every hardcore kid in OC had an annual pass, back then they were super cheap. Frequenting the parks so much, really fostered that love for Disney and the joy it brings to children, no matter what they look like, where they come from, or who they are.
The joy that children have is so much simpler than adults or even teenagers. By creating a children's book, I hope to bring joy into as many children's lives as possible through the story, which comes with it's own moral.
What is the moral of Furry?
It's a simple moral, that you can be friends with anyone, no matter how they look, because what's inside is truly what counts. I guess that really goes back to growing up in the hardcore scene, where having friends that may have tattoos on their faces, stretched out ears, or crazy colored hair didn't really matter. What mattered was who they were and the interests we shared. From the outside people could have looked at us like freaks or weirdos, but none of that mattered when deep down you've got some great people around you that have your back, and you theirs.
Are there any plans to keep the story going into newer books, or perhaps, getting into the TV/film world?
This is a standalone book, but I do have another book I've been working on, and I've been writing a comic for quite some time now. I'm just crossing my fingers that I can meet a great illustrator that wants to collaborate and partner with me on it. That's another case that I've had more than one person flake on me when they said they wanted to do the project. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to work without pay, in hopes that one day it will pay off. That's where someone has to have passion and vision and I have plenty of that. I do understand that it's hard when you have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I'd love to get into the TV/film writing world as well.
I've written a bunch of TV scripts and am currently outlining a possible script about vegan straight edge in the '90s in Salt Lake City, who do what could be considered terrorist activities in the name of animal liberation. The story is essentially about a vegan straight edge ATF agent that infiltrates the group and tries to take them down from the inside. Almost like a vegan straight edge Point Break, but swap surfing out with hardcore. It's fun to write, as it brings up a ton of memories of growing up in the Salt Lake City hardcore scene in the '90s. It might be better served as a fictional book, because getting something on any screen is extremely difficult. Either way, I love writing and telling stories, especially when it can add some sort of happiness to another persons life.
Furry — The Story of the Abominable Snow Girl is available for sale on Amazon.
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Tagged: absolute madness