THE ORIGINAL TRUE GRITTER! SPECIAL FEATURE!
I waited to launch this blog until I had interviewed Chris Vickers. He was, after all, a huge part of how The Grit of It got inspired. I hadn’t seen him much since our first meeting back in August, 2013, but I had a feeling he could talk some serious grit! Here is my interview with Mr. Chris Vickers…….
What have you been working on these days?
Well, in true ungritty fashion I decided to take a break from acting, hosting, writing, and the lot. The choice stemmed from me stepping down from being the ambassador of Rifflandia. I’ve kind of lost track of why I do it all and I what I want from being an entertainer. I’ve just recently signed on to bartend at the Garricks Head’s sister bar, the Churchill. You’ll all have to enjoy my banter over a beer, babydolls. That said, I may just be going back to a certain monthly children’s show for adults. (Cue shameless plug) Come and Play with Ryan and Chris.
When I first met you back in August 2013, I asked you if you had ever had an interview go bad, you told me a story about interviewing Wayne Michael Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
Ah, that old chestnut. Let me begin by saying that I loved the Flaming Lips. I had seen them five times before Rifflandia 2013. Seeing them live was like releasing your inner twelve-year old to make merry and eat gum off the ground. Their music really spoke to me as a weirdo.
Now at that point I was getting most of my own interviews, so I marched up to the Flaming Lips manager and asked for a sit-down with Wayne Coyne. He strung me along for a couple hours saying Wayne had to do his yoga and imbibe in spirulina. I had pretty much given up when finally I checked in with him and he said it was a go.
Can you tell me again, a little bit about that interview?
Typically interviews of this kind of impromptu nature last five minutes – tops. I had ten minutes of questions worth asking. We sat down in the Rifflandia artist trailer and he proceeded to be an entitled, superstar dick for half an hour. The video you see through RiffTV leaves out most of the gory details. In my mind, I wanted Wayne to be a super positive, strange carnival barker like he seemed to be on stage. Having preconceived notions or expectations of people in show business is pretty choppy water.
But despite that, and how you inspired me, was you had The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)? Would you consider the interview defeat or Mr. Coyne just being an asshole?
Now the useful part of the moustached, blazer wearing Rifflandia version of me is that he has the ability to play the fool. He is a slapstick version of me. Regular me would be crushed to fuck up an interview. Failure is my kryptonite. I am not a natural extrovert. In fact, it is a side of myself that I’ve worked fairly hard on. As for defeat, the three minute video you see on RiffTV is good and if I could reedit without the worry of misrepresenting the festival it could be amazingly funny.
How did you get into acting?
I wanted so badly to fit in during my early years of junior high and it became abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to, so I basically just went the opposite direction. Dyed my hair pink and wore a powder blue leisure suit for the rest of junior high. Most of my life was a bizarre performance, so when I went on to high school I took an acting class with a woman who changed my life, Jackie MacDonald, and everything clicked. As Hallmarky as it sounds, it felt like home.
Was it something you always wanted to do?
I was pretty settled on being a firetruck or a palaeontologist before that.
Being and actor, you spend a lot of time in character. Do you find it easy to transition into character and back to yourself. Are there ever times/situations when you find yourself slipping into character, even when your not on a job?
Many actors and the lion share of comedians I’ve met are kind of “on the job” whenever they’re in public. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hide behind a certain public persona at times. As for losing yourself in a character, there is a certain emotional residue from playing different parts and exploring what it is to be human which to me is what the whole acting game is about. (That and enjoying as many free daiquiris as humanly possible).
What is a common misperception people have of you?
That I’m always on drugs. Either that, or that I have the ability to teleport.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
Traipsing through a different country. Volunteering. Or maybe in the steamy throes of… seminary school. I’m not terribly happy with many of my choices in the last ten years, so the logical next move would be to make brand new choices.
What are your fears for the next five years?
That the world is too far gone socially and environmentally that the children in my life have to live through a tipping point moment in human history that could be pretty dangerous and violent. That I lose my sense of wonder. Oh, probably my heart exploding in my chest before I get a little more done.
If you could go for beers with any person who ever walked this planet (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
I don’t know. I have a lot of questions for my Gramps, Murray Flewelling. He was a bomber pilot in WW2 who got awarded Canada’s highest military honour. He died when I was just a squirt and I think we could have had a great deal in common.
The acting world is a tough biz, how do you stay grounded and find grit (strength/resilience) to keep going?
I was a professional actor in Vancouver for many years and the reality of that lifestyle of constantly not getting parts and thanking your lucky stars to land a pizza commercial was pretty soul crushing. The business side of the industry has alway been elusive to me. Moving back to Victoria opened me up to a community of artists again. People like all the folks that come together to make Atomic Vaudeville. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone in wanting to make people laugh or to make odd and beautiful art. Sharing a voice and being understood. I have always had an incredibly supportive family as well. I am a lucky fella.
Top songs on your playlist right now? Any Flaming Lips?
Early Paul McCartney and Wings. The albums Band on the Run, Ram, and Venus and Mars were all missed in my youth and my word they are good. As for keeping up with modern music that has really slowed down into my thirties. I don’t want to become a “Greatest Hits Dad,” but I also don’t want to read reviews all day, either. Letting go of the convention of cool when it comes to your musical tastes was a treat. I’m really enjoying walking around listening to “Wakin on a Pretty Day” by Kurt Vile on headphones. It feels like you’re living in a good times, 70’s summer movie.
My affair with the Flaming Lips has come to an end. I will leave my love of their old albums in my mind.
Who makes you laugh?
All the gentlemen from the comedy trio Stella and most the shit they do on their lonesome. I just finished watching the second season of Comedy Bang Bang and that show is a real chuckle hut. Victoria stand-up, improv, and sketch have never been better in my humble opinion. We should all be going to more shows! Myself included.
Slingin’ drinks and slingin’ eggs. Put the tips right in my undies, folks. Either getting really fat or getting in some modicum of shape. (Not sure which yet). Oh, and finishing the summer going to Rifflandia! For the record, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to our sleepy, teatime town, and whether or not I’m directly involved in the production of it or not, I will always love it and look forward to it.
Can you tell me a joke?
Awe, man! 😦 …but really, thank you Chris for the inspiration and honesty and THANK YOU for being part of The Grit of It!