Eight songs deep into last Friday’s 45 minute set at The Bitter End, The Glorious Veins came to an unexpected stop. With an air of gravity that was, all at once, convincing and absurd, Singer Paul Pangman stepped forward and gave a heartfelt shout-out to some visiting relatives.
“Here’s another cover,” said Pangman. “I dedicate this to my family. Thank you so much. I love you guys. This is ‘Psycho Killer’.”
That mixture of cheek and sincerity is characteristic of The Glorious Veins, an unsigned four-man rock group that has been working the New York area indie scene for the better part of three years. The Veins—Pangman, guitarist Matt Howels, bassist Lee Grasso, and drummer Wiggy Colmenares—are both dedicated and laid back, impassioned and immature, talented and crude. They are also almost pathologically unconcerned about spending more than two hours in The Bitter End’s tiny green room with a journalist and a tape recorder.
“I believe in magic. You should write that down,” said Pangman at one point. “I’m serious; magic is a big part of the whole process for me. Maybe it’s more like accident. Magic is like a flowery word for what is probably just an accident. It’s like throwing shit at a wall and seeing what sticks. That’s kind of my songwriting process.”
Pangman, with some help from Howels, handles the majority of the group’s songwriting duties, but The Glorious Veins are not a Paul Pangman solo act in disguise. While performing the four members all share a manic, maniacal energy that belies the offstage individuality of each player.
This is not a band of childhood friends trying to make it big; The Glorious Veins were formed on Craigslist, and one gets the impression that they are united more by simple work ethic than by any distinct philosophy about art and music. Indeed, the band’s freshest member—Grasso—was a replacement after their last bassist was fired for drunkenly destroying an amp in the middle of a concert.
“You can drink or smoke or do drugs—I don’t care—as long as you can play,” said Colmenares.
The commitment to professionalism shows. The Glorious Veins are a refreshingly unpretentious live act. Their songs are tight, melodic, full of energy, and genuinely fun to listen to—important qualities too often neglected in the indie music realm. If none of the Veins’ original songs were quite as good as their cover of the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” that’s okay. Very few songs are quite as good as the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” and being able to cover it in the first place is impressive.
Audiences have generally been enthusiastic, said Pangman, and the band has successfully mounted a trip to South by Southwest and several other regional tours. But mainstream attention remains elusive. The group has no record contract, and every member works a day job except Colmenares, who takes care of his two kids.
“Is there a quitting point?” said Pangman. “I don’t know. Once you’ve thought about it like that then you’ve relegated anything that you’re doing with it to the category of it being like a hopping pad, and for us this is a passion.”
Pangman, long-haired and smiley, is a naturally animated type, but his enthusiasm seems to peak when he talks about his conception of the band name The Glorious Veins.
“When I was a freshman at Columbia, you have to take this core curriculum. It’s pretty hardcore in terms of like Western-civilization-great-masters crap,” said Pangman. “And in Plato he talks about this folly of youth that he describes as vainglory. … Being gloriously vain is also like a prideful/sin type issue, but I always identified with it, especially when I was in college.”
He continued, “You’re young, you probably feel immortal and stupid, and you do dumb shit. You do dumb shit and there are like no consequences ever. And you probably have visions of grandeur for your future and like what you want to be when you are who you want to be. That’s vainglory. And that is a beautiful thing, I think. This drive for legendary success, that spirit motivates us to do all this shit that we do. Especially, you know, egotistical people like me.”
To learn where The Glorious Veins will be playing next, check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thegloriousveins