MIKE V. AND THE RATS
Fronted by punk poet and professional skateboarder Mike Vallely, The Rats have been knocking down doors and turning people onto their music at an accelerated pace. Coming off of tours with bands like CKY, Death By Stereo and Millencolin as well as playing with bands like Black Flag, Rancid, Rufio and Thrice people are starting to take notice of The Rats and their no-nonsense, passionate approach to their music.
Formed early in 2002 by guitarist Jason Hampton who’s been in such Orange County defining acts as The Third Degree, Blackspot, Outspoken and The Suppression Swing and drummer PT Pugh from The Suppression Swing, The Rats were looking for a singer to help take their music to more ears, enter Mike Vallely.
"With Mike in the band people are going to have their opinions, good or bad about the band before seeing us or hearing us. But there's nothing better than the feeling of getting on stage and completely annihilating any preconceived opinions or judgments about the band." - Jason Hampton
"All’s that I know is that for whatever reason just before Christmas in 2001, Jason Hampton sent me a cassette tape with three tracks on it. He asked me to listen to it and if I liked it, consider singing for a new band he was forming. I played the tape once, called him up and joined the band on the spot and in January of 2002 we had our first practice." - Mike Vallely
Those first three tracks went on to be recorded and produced by Fletcher from Pennywise in February 2001 and were included as a limited edition CD insert "Rats First 3 Songs" in Mike’s award winning and critically acclaimed skateboarding film, "DRIVE" released in May 2002. Right around that same time The Rats started playing live with shows in Southern California and Vancouver, Canada before going into the studio again and recording five tracks for their self-titled CDep and 7" vinyl release on Indecision Records.
In the fall of 2002 just before their debut CD was officially released The Rats joined The Deviates on the Home Invasion Tour and played shows in Northern, Central and Southern California. That tour was an important turning point for the band.
"Up until that point, we had only played a few shows and although we had recorded a few times and practiced our asses off we still didn’t feel like a real band. It was that stretch of shows on the Home Invasion Tour where we really came together and saw with our own eyes the impact our music can make. It inspired us to play more, work harder and write more songs." - Mike Vallely
After the Home Invasion Tour bassist Reid Black, who formally played in the metal laced 1134 joined The Rats who had been through two bass players before him (Brian and original Bass player Gish). With their chemistry finally tight and their own original and distinct sound and style emerging the band locked themselves in their practice room and wrote several new songs before joining CKY for a series of sold out Southern and Northern California dates.
Then it was back into the studio to record songs for the soundtrack of Mike’s new video, "Greatest Hits" and a song. "Dehumanized" for a Sessions Records compilation out now entitled "sNOIsES, The Skateboarder Sessions."
"As much as we’ve been hungry to play live we’ve also been just as hungry to record. It’s taken us a few tries to capture the sound we’re looking for and these new tracks for Sessions and for my new video are close but still not quite there. I really want to hear on record what I’m hearing in my head and what we’re delivering live." - Mike Vallely
Throughout 2003 The Rats were back out on the road playing more sold out dates in Southern California as well as in Arizona, New Mexico and Vegas with bands like CKY, Death By Stereo, Ten Foot Pole, Rufio and Millencolin. From there they went on to support the legendary Greg Ginn as he gigged all over Southern California and to do a mini-tour of Sweden playing with bands like Randy, Thrice and Rancid. In September they opened for the legendary Black Flag reunion show and toured southern and central California with Greg Ginn and 1208.
"For me, I don't think it is so much a sound, but more of a feeling we are trying to keep alive. I remember when I was a kid and going to see punk bands, it felt totally different than what we have going on today. When that band hit that first note, it was like getting hit by a semi. We want people to have that same feeling when they come to see Mike V and The Rats play. We want it to feel like an explosion went off. Nonstop energy." - Jason Hampton