Music

On the eve of its final gig, The Vermin looks back on two decades in Vegas

Image
You grow up listening to Ill Repute, and next thing you know you’re playing with them or Doctor Know or Youth Brigade, or any number of great punk bands from back in the day.”
Ryan Reason and Jennifer Burkhart/Square Shooting
Chris Bitonti

Over 20 years, a handful of records and countless shows, no act has come to embody the Vegas punk scene quite like The Vermin. But nothing good can last forever, and the band’s hilarious, offensive and always-entertaining run ends July 3 with a final performance that shares its name with the release of a new retrospective album, The Vermin Must Die. Singer/guitarist Dirk Vermin, bassist Rob Ruckus and drummer Gerry “Turbo” Proctor look back on two memorably drunken decades in the desert.

THE SHOWS

Turbo: “You grow up listening to Ill Repute, and next thing you know you’re playing with them or Doctor Know or Youth Brigade, or any number of great punk bands from back in the day. … We even got to play with Sylvain Sylvain from The New York Dolls.”

Ruckus: “The first Las Vegas Shakedown at the Orleans—we played with everyone from The Dictators to Guitar Wolf and Wayne Kramer from MC5, an absolutely amazing lineup of bands. All the New York shows, the last LA show we did with Adolescents and 7 Seconds and Channel 3. All the shows with TSOL and Agent Orange.”

Vermin: “Opening for TSOL, as drunk as I’ve ever been onstage. Turbo had to tune my guitar, and it didn’t help. We got to open for Fear twice. One show I remember we were great; the other show I do not.”

THE MOMENTS

Ruckus: “Getting to play for Timothy Leary, who came to see us at the Double Down right before he died. We sat and talked for a few minutes, and then I went on. He lasted about four songs, came up, hugged me and said, “You guys are very entertaining, but you are very loud and I must now leave.”

Turbo: “One show where Ruckus threw his bass at me from the back of the bar at the Double Down. It was spiraling toward my head, and then it did this weird Bruce Lee thing and went sideways and landed perfectly on his amp and my drum head. It was, like, bionically weird, and everyone at the bar was like, “Whoooaaaa!”

Vermin: “At one time we did a weekly gig at the Wet Stop—that’s where we honed our chops and got our stage shtick down. For a weekly show you have to stay on your toes, and the three of us have big mouths, never at a loss for words. But it was tough; it was Wednesday night. I don’t miss it at all.”

Ruckus: There were times at Calamity Jayne’s where I used to do this thing called the beer fountain, where I’d put a full can of beer in my mouth and blow, and it would make 12-foot fountains on each side. I did this one night, and there happened to be a local motorcycle gang up front, and I doused them. One of them jumps onstage and puts a knife to my throat. I finished the song and handed him a shot of whiskey as an apology, and then the guy took the knife from my throat.”

HOME BASE

Vermin: “Double Down. I mean, that’s home. I never feel more comfortable onstage than when we’re at the Double Down.”

Ruckus: “There were so many drunken nights there where just anything would happen. Usually, I would end up naked by the end of the night. Until we got the TV show [Bad Ink], every single show I would end up naked by the end. Then we went on TV, and I was told I couldn’t do it. Now that I’m not on that channel, I can do it again for the last show (laughs).”

THE LEGACY

Turbo: “When there wasn’t a scene in Vegas, The Vermin was the scene. Bands would come, and bands would go. And who’s still standing? The Vermin. But we’ve got all these great bands and a scene that’s thriving now.”

Vermin: “Obnoxious. Your mother hated us, and your sister wanted to f*ck us (laughs). Something like that. We were just that punk band. When other bands would play with us, if we didn’t pick on them they felt like they hadn’t arrived.”

Turbo: “We were the band where punk rock meets pro wrestling. We were the punk-rock Rat Pack, and we had that title for a really long time.”

The Vermin with Tony Reflex, M.I.A., The Heiz. July 3, 8 p.m., $10-$12. Backstage Bar & Billiards, 702-382-2227.

Share
  • Day N Vegas will take place November 1-3 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds next to Circus Circus.

  • While his modern R&B peers opt for trapped-out beats and drug-filled sex fantasies, the young singer is earnest and wholesome, embracing a sound that’s equal ...

  • “When you’re a kid and going to shows, you don’t realize how much goes into planning and booking those shows. So it’s nice to feel ...

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story