SAIGON KICK – Jason Bieler: Water Under The Bridge

By Carl Begai

I recently caught up with original Saigon Kick vocalist Matt Kramer to discuss his newest project, A Book Of Poems From The Smallest Of Towns. During the conversation we addressed the rather persistent rumours of a Saigon Kick reunion looming on the horizon, which have been gathering strength over the last year. Kramer revealed that he and his former bandmates have in fact tossed around the idea of getting back together, which came as a complete shock given that the mere mention of original guitarist Jason Bieler’s name 10, or even five years ago, was enough to blast open Kramer’s well stocked crate of derogatory adjectives. It turns out there are certain finance-oriented requirements that need to be resolved with Bieler before Kramer will commit, but in a nutshell, if they can come to terms Saigon Kick’s return goes from being a pipe dream to a definite possibility.

A day after the story’s publication – found here – I received a polite email from Bieler stating that, if I had the time and interest, he’d be open to telling his side of the story. It was a surprising offer, and accepting it a no-brainer, particularly since Bieler rarely speaks to the press. Between co-managing his own label, Bieler Brothers Records, and working on his Owl Stretching project there isn’t a lot of time that can be dedicated to rehashing the past. Or at least there wasn’t until now.

It should be noted that Bieler didn’t set out to shoot down Kramer’s claims, nor did he take potshots at his former bandmate. In fact, like Kramer, Bieler didn’t display even the slightest animosity. On the contrary, Bieler is all for working with Kramer again.

“I think Matt has his own perspective, and maybe his life has gone down a different path than mine, which has given him his feelings on the way things went down,” Bieler offers. “Do I think that I hold partial responsibility for making bad decisions in Saigon Kick? Absolutely. I think everybody shares that responsibility, though. Matt and I have spoken a few times over the last year, and things have been really civil, so that’s a healthy place to be. When everybody was on the phone talking about the possibility of a reunion, I told the guys that I don’t care if they want to draw up contracts, it was cool with me. I don’t want anything more than my share. So, whatever Matt wants to do, if he wants to do it, I’m fine with it.” Continue reading SAIGON KICK – Jason Bieler: Water Under The Bridge

MATT KRAMER – Keeping Life Small

By Carl Begai

Saigon Kick vocalist Matt Kramer doesn’t merely step outside the box, he lives outside of it. This was readily apparent when he and his bandmates – Jason Bieler (guitars), Phil Varone (drums) and Tom Defile (bass) – stomped onto the scene in 1991, releasing a self-titled debut that dared to be obnoxiously different. Adrenalized punk-flavoured tunes, Beatles-styled vocal harmonies splashed over walls of guitars, a kazoo solo, acoustic and straight-up metal influences served with groove and attitude, Saigon Kick were the owners of a playground that was both intimidating and welcoming. Kramer’s departure from the band and the war of words in the years that followed don’t need to be rehashed here, suffice to say he went and did his own thing. The 2002 release of his retro-flavoured solo album War & Peas caught the fans off guard, and the 2007 appearance of his first of several proposed poetry books, An American Profit, left his diehard followers with their jaws on the floor.

As in, Is he out of his mind?!

Kramer has never apologized for the path(s) he’s taken and never will. And while An American Profit didn’t catapult him to the literary bank, it gave him enough ammo to justify a second book of poetry.

“An American Profit did well in my eyes because it got some good feedback,” he says. “When you’re putting out a bunch of personal lyrics that don’t come with noodling guitars and bashing drums, you’re kind of out there on your own. And I’m not even there to sing the stuff. It was a challenge for me because it was a different side of me – a lot of different sides, actually – that I don’t show as a frontman. But you know, we’re all in our undies drinking coffee at 6:00am and not big rock stars (laughs).” Continue reading MATT KRAMER – Keeping Life Small