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Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals

Band Returns for Punk Rock Christmas

Who would of thought that The Vandals had such holiday spirit? In addition to recording an album comprised of almost all original Christmas songs (1996’s Christmas With The Vandals: Oi to the World), the band goes on tour every holiday season to spread a little extra Christmas cheer. They’ll return to San Francisco on December 22nd for a show at Slim’s. Guitarist Warren Fitzgerald spoke with SF Station during a phone interview.

SF Station (SFS): I didn’t realize that The Vandals have so many Christmas songs.

Warren Fitzgerald (WF): Yeah, we did a whole Christmas album about 10 years ago. They were original Christmas songs, with one or two traditional songs, done in the style of punk rock.

SFS: What is your favorite Christmas song that The Vandals recorded?

WF: Probably the one I like best from the record is a song called “Hang Myself From the Tree”. It’s amusingly depressing and probably closer to my take on Christmas time in general.

SFS: You’re not a huge Christmas fan?

WF: Well, I enjoy elements of it, but it can be a pain in the ass. It’s a lot of effort.

SFS: Are you going on tour to get away from the holiday madness?

WF: Yeah, it’s become a tradition. We have done a Christmas show pretty much every year for the past 10 years. We call it the Christmas Formal usually and we dress nice and have Christmas decorations onstage. I wouldn’t call it family friendly, but it’s a punk rock Christmas gathering.

SFS: Who in the band dresses up like Santa Claus?

WF: You would think someone would, but nobody does. We usually wear Christmas turtlenecks or matching tuxedoes. We occasionally have people, like a roady or someone, dress up like Santa. In the past there have been Christmas trees or gifts thrown out to the crowd.

SFS: Are you going with turtlenecks or tuxedos this time around?

WF: That is usually decided at sound check of our first show. It’s whatever our manager shows up with that no one has a problem with. It’s usually something green and red, though. I’m not sure right now. I still have my red turtleneck, so maybe we will go with that.

SFS: The Vandals have toured military bases in the Middle East. Were you there for the holidays one year?

WF: Yeah, we spent New Year’s Eve and Christmas in Baghdad. That was a unique Christmas experience, to say the least. We landed in Baghdad International Airport in a Blackhawk helicopter and got an interesting bird’s eye view of Iraq during the holidays. It was pretty bizarre.

SFS: What stuck out the most?

WF: In a Christmas context -- we spent four hours of Christmas at a heliport where the helicopter was supposed to pick us up. Because of the weather, we ended up staying on the base and it seemed like nothing was different. I guess if you are in Iraq, Christmas is just another day, which is kind of a bummer for the people that are stuck out there.

SFS: You did some shows in Afghanistan, too. What country had rowdier crowds?

SFS: In Afghanistan, they were probably a little mellower because I think they are not stuck there as long. In Iraq, most of the people that were there were doing year-long tours, so they were very happy and enthusiastic and pent up to express themselves in any sort of rock music scenario.

The Vandals perform at Slim’s on December 22nd. Ticketes are $16 and the show starts at 9pm.