A CONVERSATION WITH TEN YEAR VAMP

VOLUME 4 – APRIL 28th, 2010


ALBANY – It’s easy to see why Ten Year Vamp has been a mainstay in the local music scene for so long. They play a killer show, they have a devoted fan base and they stay true to the local music scene. In a business where it’s easy to forget where you came from Ten Year Vamp stays true to their roots and doesn’t forget their local diehard fans.

For the past 6 years they have brought home the Metroland award for Best Rock Band and even won Best Band in the 2009 Fever Awards. It’s difficult to ignore the bright future Ten Year Vamp has ahead of them. The accolades speak volumes.

In this edition of Fever Confidential we got a chance to speak with Ten Year Vamp.

How and When did Ten Year Vamp come to be?

Mark TYV: Fall of 2003.  Debbie and I got together for the first time at Friday’s in Stuyvesant Plaza.  We decided we’d put a band together and we planned out all our goals and the steps we’d take to get there.  It took us over 1 year to put the first version of the band together while we played acoustic duo shows.  We’ve actually achieved a bunch of those goals already and we’re right on track to achieve the rest.


Tell us about your very first gig. Where it was, how many people, who you played with.

Mark TYV: The first full band gig was actually a rehearsal show for a big “first show” at the downtown Bayou we had scheduled for the following week.  We were at Cheers (formerly The Fuller Roadhouse and current the Roadhouse Grille).  It went extremely well… except for the very last note of our very last song.  The exact instant we all hit our last note, the power went out… ALL of it… not just the bar, but about half of Fuller Road.  We couldn’t see to pack up anything… credit cards were locked in the electric registers.  We all had to come back the next day to pack up.  Funny thing is that we thought we blew everything up, but it wasn’t us.  We found out later that some car hit a telephone pole at that exact moment we ended

Can you give us a background on each of the band members?

Mark TYV: There’s not much to tell about us… Andrew (lead guitar) and Greg (drums) make their living playing their instruments. Andy is endorsed by Peavey Guitars and Budda Amps.  Greg is endorsed by Shine Drums and Stagg Cymbals.

Timmy (bass) works at a school and is also a killer keyboard and guitar player.

Debbie has her Masters Degree and works for the State counseling high school kids. She plays guitar and is an accomplished saxophone player. Debbie is endorsed by Daisy Rock Guitars. I play rhythm guitar and have my own marketing and website design business www.groupiehead.com. We all grew up in the 518 except Debbie; she’s from Westchester.

What are your favorite places to play out in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga and why?

Mark TYV: Our favorite places to play ARE the places we play.  We don’t like to over-play any one area so we try to stick to just one or two places in any city/town.  If we like the club and the owner/manager/staff treat us well, we stay loyal to that club.  In Albany, it’s the Bayou Café, Jillian’s, and the Roadhouse Grille.  In Schenectady, it’s the Last Resort.  In Glens Falls, it’s Sandy’s Clam Bar.  In Saratoga, it’s Vapor.  In Troy, it’s… wait a second, no one has asked us to play anywhere in Troy… but they do have some great beer pubs

What do you feel makes the 518 local music scene so different from others?

Mark TYV: Hmmm.  We have Ralph.  Ralph Spillenger who owns the Bayou and Jillian’s.  He singlehandedly is the reason live music exists in downtown Albany… and arguably the only reason why downtown has any nightlife at all.  But more importantly, he treats the bands well.  Being a musician himself, he understands our problems unlike many club owners/managers.  He takes care of his bands… looks out for us… and not just when we have a show.  When we were looking for a bass player a long time ago, Ralph is the guy who called us up and put us on the phone with Timmy.  I’ve seen Ralph go out of his way many times to help out his bands… and a lot of the time, they don’t even realize it.

Other than Ralph, I don’t think the local music scene is any different than any other local music scene.  I can say that Albany has a crazy music scene “nightlife”… more so than even New York City or Boston.  We play the most popular spots in those other big cities and none of them have a Pearl Street with the arena at one end and The Palace on the other with all the clubs in-between.  Pearl Street can get crazy crowded with people on a Friday or Saturday night.

But on the down side, I’ve seen some scary things and Pearl Street can seem a lot more dangerous than those other cities.  On many late nights when we’re packing up and bringing equipment to our cars, there are just too many drunk, violent guys running around.  I’ve felt much safer in Boston or New York City

What would you like to see change or improve in the 518 regarding the local music scene?

Mark TYV: Fix the problem mentioned above… but it’s not the police.  The police are usually out in force doing the best they can.
Beer companies could start putting something in the alcohol that makes the drunk violent guys just love each other instead.  That would be great

Describe Ten Year Vamp to someone who has never heard your music.

Mark TYV: I guess the best answer is Pink mixed with the Foo Fighters, but I’d rather use someone else’s words to describe us.  How about a quote from UC Radio,

I was blown away by this band right away… The first time that I heard the lead singer Debbie Gabrione’s voice, I was hooked. They’ve got great songs, excellent lyrics, great melodies, and like I said, Debbie’s voice just ties it all together.”

Where do you see Ten Year Vamp in 5 years?

Mark TYV: In 5 years, we’ll be long done with playing cover shows.  Cover shows can be fun, and they help pay the bills but it’s not what any of us want to do.  In 5 years, we’ll either be releasing songs/albums on our own every once in a while as we’re all off doing other things with our lives… or we’ll be on a tour bus somewhere with a few hit songs on the radio.

What  would you like to see in the 518 in the next 5 years?

Mark TYV: I’ve got a great answer for you, but if I tell you, someone else might do it first.  Ask me again in 5 years if we’re not on that tour bus mentioned above.

If you were to perform with any other band dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Wow… everyone in the band would have such different answers to this question.  And I guess my answers would be boring stuff like The Beatles, Queen, or The Who.  How about who would a I want Ten Year Vamp to co-write and co-perform a song with?  I think we could turn out a pretty killer tune with Kid Rock.  Maybe a hard rockin sexy duet between Debbie and Justin Timberlake… Or some sort of country-rock crossover with Keith Urban.

I guess my first choice would be to have an album produced by Mutt Lange (Def Leppard, AC/DC, Nickelback, The Cars, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain).  But in all honesty, if I could perform with any band I wanted, it would be the 4 guys (and gal) that are on stage with me every night.  Individually… everyone in the band is just as talented, if not more so, than many of the people you hear on the radio. And together… on stage we’re a well oiled machine… off stage we’re as happy as a dysfunctional family of 4 brothers and one sister can be. I wouldn’t trade that for any band, dead or alive.

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Ten Year Vamp’s success has been no surprise. They have proved that there is tremendous music to be heard in the 518 music scene. There is no limit to the heights that this band can reach.

As fans line up to gain entrance into a Ten Year Vamp show, wait by the stage for the show to start and sing along with all the songs you get the sense that Ten Year Vamp is on to something big, really big. As the chants of “Ten Year Vamp, Ten Year Vamp, Ten Year Vamp” bounce off the walls and vibrate the venue you can get a glimpse of what happens when a band connects with a local community.