Vic DiCara (Beyond, Inside Out, Shelter, 108) Discusses the Story behind the Projectors

108 at the Showcase Theatre, Corona, CA, 2007. (Photo: Jon Huskey)

“This is what Vic does when he gets tired of playing metalcore” Projectors singer and guitarist, Vic DiCara shares in regards to the musical influence on the four tracks the project recorded.
Like many, I first "met" Vic through his work in bands like 108 and Beyond. However, in the mid-'00s Vic returned to Southern California where he opened his Static Void recording studio for a time in the Inland Empire. During that time, he was mostly without a full-time band as 108 had not yet returned. Vic occasionally turned up singing covers live, but unbeknownst to most, he had been working on a project at the time. With a sound more akin to later '90s hardcore and post-hardcore and with vocals that at times evoke an HR-like howl, they are a nice find.

Even though these songs are newly “released," the songs and the group are anything but. Having gotten the tracks a few years ago from a friend, I always meant to ask Vic about them, and how a band that included members of Burn, Excel, 108, Quicksand, and Inside Out (among many others) could fly so far under the radar for so long. Recently, I was able to do just that. The interview below touches on the reasons for the band in the first place and some of that Vic approach present in much of his work.

“It’s so typical” Vic says with a smile. “When I was into straight edge, I hated Youth Crew. When I was into Krishna, I kept fighting them about most of the bullshit they believed in. When I was trying to be a regular normal materialist, I just couldn’t get into all the shit. I just don’t have anything in common with 90% of the world and that’s the story of my life.”

What did you play in the Projectors, and How did you come to be involved with the project?

After moving out of the Krishna temple and dissociating from ISKCON pretty thoroughly, I felt like I needed an outlet for all the feelings and ideas in my head. I spent about two years, I guess, writing and rehearsing songs with [Chain of Strength drummer] Chris Braton and [Chain of Strength guitarist] Frosty Crunch; writing the four Projectors songs during that, and rehearsing and working them out with those guys.

That project went absolutely nowhere, and I think that is also when the guys from Burn asked me to join them for their EP, Cleanse. So, I took the opportunity to ask [Burn guitarist] Gavin Van Vlack and [Burn drummer] Alan Cage to record these songs with me, along with another friend of mine, Shaun Ross (Excel) who had actually been playing with Frosty, Chris and I towards the end.

So, I wrote all the songs, sang, and played guitar. Gavin played the other guitar. Alan played drums, and Shaun played bass.

Gavin Van Vlack performing with Burn at the Hi-Hat, Highland Park, CA, 2017. (Photo: Jose Calixto)

I know the band members have lived on various coasts at different times, was the band able to record in a studio together?

At that time, Gavin was living in my living room, I think. Or at least was living in California. Alan, for some reason, was also on the West Coast. So, we were all in the LA area.

Shaun had some connections somehow or other to someone from Queens of the Stone Age (I think, or someone like that), who had a badass rehersal studio that was better than most recording studios — and they let us use it one weekend.

What is the meaning behind the name?

Shaun had taken in HR from Bad Brains for some time, letting HR live with him. HR gave him this idea for a band name. Since I was a teenager, I’ve always thought HR was fucking epic, so I was like, “Fuck yes, the band should be called Projectors!"

Was there any talk of trying to make the band functional on some level among everyone’s other commitments? Playing out live, more songs?

At that point, I had given up on the idea of having a functional band. I just wanted to record the songs on something better than a boombox (which was all I had up till that point), and with real people involved, not just me and a drum machine.

Shaun Ross performing with Fraud at the Glasshouse, Pomona, CA, 2011. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

Was there ever any discussion about releasing any of these songs on any kind of official release? Did it ever even get that far?

There’s not much use to releasing music from a band that doesn’t exist. Even if you are “hardcore superstars” that doesn’t mean much, realistically. I mean, the Beatles could release a successful record even today… but some guys from hardcore bands… even “popular” hardcore bands… it doesn’t float financially.

You’ve played in some bands that have had a defining sonic impact on hardcore and heavy music, do you feel that Projectors stuff fits in for you among your other bands?

Yeah, I mean lyrically its like a “behind the scenes” peak at the aftermath of 108 for me. Musically it's like, “this is what Vic does when he gets tired of playing metalcore."

Vic DiCara performing with 108 at the Pharaoh's Den, Riverside, CA, 2009. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

Were you actively doing other things at the time or did it come during some down time?

I was actively in an identity crisis. I mean more than usual. If my memory is correct it was a little after Burn and a little before 108 got back together for a while.

While you’re most known in hardcore for your guitar work in bands, I know you’ve done some vocals on recordings. The internet has shown us the one-off Rage performance at Spanky’s Cafe (and I know you’ve been inclined to take the mic from time to time). Is doing vocals something you’ve enjoyed? Is it something you’d like to explore doing more of?

I’ve always wanted to sing. It just never worked out. I almost wound up the singer of 108 for a few seconds there, but Rob decided to give up his reservations and go for it. I don’t know, you could read my memoir [Train Wrecks & Transcendence: A Collision of Hardcore & Hare Krishna] for the low-down on that. 

Yeah, I love doing vocals, except I always get shocked that its actually pretty hard to hold a note on pitch… and its pretty hard even to shout without killing your voice in 15 minutes. But I love the chance it gives to emote and express and verbalize.

I’ve always done vocals for everything I’ve written since 108 started — just on demos that haven’t really been circulated.

I have four songs, the three posted on your Soundcloud, and a fourth, “Issues with Reason," were there any more songs written or recorded?

As I mentioned at the beginning, the songwriting for the Projectors wasn’t with the members of the Projectors, it was with Chris Bratton and Frosty. There were a bunch of other songs, maybe half a dozen. But those songs were either written by Chris or Frosty, or were really very collaborative. The four songs I did with Projectors were those that I really felt were almost entirely things I was responsible for writing.

Frosty performing with with Fraud at the Glasshouse, Pomona, CA, 2011. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

Lyrically speaking, what kinds of topics were you trying to take on with the Projectors? I know of the story of Lakshagraha (House of Lac Burns) from Mahabharata, was this a direct reference or more metaphorical?

Most of the lyrics are about how the Hare Krishnas sucked. It is about how hypocritical and irrational everything in that whole organization was.

Lac House Burns uses the Mahabharata image as a metaphor for how the Hare Krishna’s lured me in with the promise of being a spiritual group focused on self-realization, but wound up being something that just wanted to exploit me and my resources and talents for the sake of keeping their old empty temples populated and afloat, so that their leaders could continue to keep a roof(s) over their heads and food on their plates.

Do you remember a specific mindset or approach when writing/recording?

It’s like the feeling when someone has mislead and exploited you, and you let them do it and were silent and pretended it was OK for years — but now you have finally decided to go public and blow the whistle. That was my mindset. I was just happy to finally be able to say, “You know what? You act like some big spiritual guru and all that, but you're a fucking loser like everyone else — or worse because you pretend not to be — with all the same greed and selfishness and fuckedupness as everyone else you pretend to be sooo different from.”

I mean not just the whole ISKCON thing, but even the whole posi-Youth Crew scene is such a fucking disgusting joke. I’m not talking about all the people involved, but the figureheads. These people are just a bunch of normal jacks who can’t get normal jobs, but who have some weirdass charisma and can throw around a bunch of phrases like “spirituality” or “krishna” or “self-realization” or “positivity” or “one-family” or “unity” or whatever and get a bunch of people who need that sort of inspiration to buy a bunch of t-shirts or sell a bunch of books in an airport and keep funding the superstar/leader.

People eat that shit up, and it gets under my nerves, because I hate false-beauty and false-greatness.

Alan Cage performing with Quicksand. (Photo: Facebook)

Was there ever any talks about wanting to release the stuff or did it ever even make it that far?

Of course we would want to release it, but as I said earlier, who else would? It would be a bad financial investment, and unless you are Richie Rich, you can’t really make bad investments for very long, even if you like the music.

I know that 108 has been together again periodically over the last 10+ years, are you currently doing anything music or otherwise?

These days I mostly put my musical skill to strange uses, like making songs with Japanese people to teach them English. Or doing weird rap songs with Indian instruments to teach people the phonetic rules of Sanskrit. I just don’t have the liberty to make much music. I’m not inspired to cook a meal no one will eat, you know? And even for my own enjoyment — I'm tired of using computers and fake drummers, and am not good enough at drums, and have no friends [laughs]. I live in Japan, so I literally have no friends.

Vic DiCara, 2018.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and it was great to hear your humor coming out again.

No, thank you. Maybe now I will finally become famous and get groupies and royalty checks that I could live on as I fly around the world? No, you don’t think that’s realistic? Fuck! [laughs]

Tagged: 108, inside out, shelter, the projectors, vic dicara