Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
Sonny Vincent’s life instantly changed after receiving the devastating news that his family suffered a horrific house fire. After immediately flying back to the states in 2016 Vincent learned the severity of his grandson’s injuries, ultimately prompting him to put his career on hiatus and serve as primary caregiver.
“I felt my inner compass forever shifting as I accepted the challenge to care for my grandson. It’s almost indescribable to witness a child being so hurt and vulnerable. Even after his discharge his hands were frozen because of the severity of the burns which impacted all his nerves and tendons,” sighed Vincent.
Drawing another deep breath, Vincent recollected how his daughter-in-law perished after surgery, and how the tragic events ultimately transformed him.
“It has been rewarding to see my grandson be so resilient and improve. Today, he is more independent. A tragedy can have the power to change us in some positive ways, too. It can make us more empathetic, less selfish, and to push on despite thinking you may never come out the other side,” stated Vincent.
Perhaps serving as a testament to his transcendence, Vincent is poised to release Snake Pit Therapy. Additionally, Vincent is releasing his debut book sharing the record’s title. Vincent remains an unabashed songwriter, with a stark vulnerability within his lyricism. He supports his songwriting with his trademark frantic punk guitar style, immediately recognizable from the first note he lets sustain from his road worn Les Paul Custom. This guitar is an undeniable extension of Vincent; Well-earned battle scars from a nomadic lifestyle that began within New York’s Bowery district and ultimately taking him across the world.
“I see things more globally now. I have come to enjoy touring Europe so much and I’m so grateful for every experience. When I was younger, I’d cut pictures out of books and remarked how beautiful or exotic they looked, then I’d become depressed because I never, ever thought I would be able to experience any of it. I left home when I was very young and I would scribble my writings and poetry on anything, a lot of the writings appear in the book,” said Vincent.
For Vincent, returning to songwriting was not seamless. Prior to recording Snake Pit Therapy, Vincent was approached by Pentagram singer Bobby Liebling about a possible collaboration. Both had never met but were introduced to each other thru song. Liebling’s tour bus driver was a fan of Vincent’s and would crank his songs as the tour miles piled on. Liebling immediately gravitated to Vincent’s music.
“Bobby is known for playing Doom style music, so I was initially surprised he dug my stuff. I learned he was very into The Stooges, and I had previously worked with Ron and Scott Asheton. Bobby got my number, and we began talking. I thought perhaps doing recording and production from me is what he wanted, thought it was a good way for me to reemerge after caring for my family for 5 years. Turned out, he wanted to write and do a record together!”
“It was wild to me because at the time, I had never even heard his bands! I thought, he wanted to do a Doom album but he said he wanted to make a Sonny Vincent record but with him singing! I was confused at first,” laughed Vincent.
The collaboration led to the formation of The Limit. Featuring Vincent’s incendiary guitar work coupled with Liebling’s unique vocal approach, Caveman Logic was well-received, but Vincent quickly clarified that the project did not begin smoothly.
“It was difficult because we both have a very specific approach of doing things. Bobby was so used to calling the shots and it was very hard to work together at first because honestly, we didn’t know each other than the times we spoke on the telephone! We had to work on building trust and at times, things got negative, but we were lucky, maybe some stardust got sprinkled on us and we really worked at it. Overall, I’m happy with it,” said Vincent.
Snake Pit Therapy retains every Sonny Vincent hallmark. His incendiary guitar threatens to blow out any stereo speaker and his vocals sound strong, yet emotionally vulnerable. Vincent’s book certainly peels back the curtain and chronicles his formative years and how his work in his first group, Testors helped transform CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City into the premier punk venues.
Snake Pit Therapy is not a memoir, nor does it seek to elevate Testors or Vincent’s role in Punk’s lexicon. Instead, the book seemingly aims to demonstrate Vincent’s strength as a storyteller, opting to rely on his candid and humorous approach without his lo-fi rock & roll overshadowing.
“I keep writing and recording because I still feel I live within my songs. Snake Pit Therapy is a little dark themed. While attending a museum in LA, I saw exhibits focusing on psychology and past treatments and history. It’s still so disturbing how we used to treat each other! How, under the guise of treatment we would torture our fellow man. I was even more alerted to the unfairness of it all and how patients were terrorized under the guise of wellness. Such sick treatment is not wellness,” affirmed Vincent.
Growing up, Vincent recalls how traditional institutions such as schools and labor forces attempted to promote their agendas under the guises of wellness, discipline, and ambition.
“I never felt that I fit in anywhere growing up. I left school at 13 and I believe writing and music saved me. I have always kept this part of my life private, but it has leaked out that I served in the Marines. It’s a chapter in my life I have kept silent. When I was 17, I was busted for marijuana possession, and I believe in exchange for not doing time I was taken to the recruitment office! Drug laws were very draconian back then,” recalled Vincent.
He continued, “I served in Vietnam, and I witnessed so many young, displaced kids, many of color that were despised back home yet fighting a war for reasons that were unclear to them, and me. They were giving up their lives in blood for politically protected people. Blacks would fight and then return, if they were lucky, to a society that would despise them. I quickly saw the unfairness of it all,” stated Vincent.
Vincent’s reaffirmed that the written word and music saved him. Considering himself lucky to escape military duty unscathed, Vincent stated he found his home within New York’s Bowery district.
“Playing clubs in NYC really helped me cope. I resented that I had served and worked to put it behind me. For some reason, me serving has leaked out when people hear about my history, and I won’t deny it. Perhaps one day I can be even more open about it. Within music, I felt like I belonged, that my voice mattered and that I could call more of the shots regarding my own life,” said Vincent.
For Vincent, music remains as vital to him as ever. He continues building upon his lengthy discography and reading thru all his release titles can have anyone think his sheer volume of recordings is rather unprecedented. He remains a true believer in lo-fi, urgent production. Perhaps a ‘warts and all’ approach makes the records sound even more sincere.
“I lived to write these songs and relive them every night. I love the raw, kinetic energy! I know over the years artists have combined substances and alcohol to further enhance the power of the music. Drugs within rock & roll have always been overromanticized and the cliches can be tiring. Shakespeare’s statement of ‘It’s an honor to be onstage’ still means something to me. I don’t wanna foul that up. I can still party, but I consider myself pretty straight. I worked too hard, but I also think perhaps there was an angel following me around and I was lucky,” sighed Vincent.
Vincent stated his grandson continues improving, which has given way for him to further resume his career. Currently residing in the states to continue supporting his family, Vincent did remark that his initial return was ‘a shock.’
“It’s been an interesting contrast over the years. The journey of helping my family and seeing everything thru has greatly impacted me. Asking for help and turning to people has also humbled me. I still have angst within me, as evident on the records but I do feel hope. To work and create something among all the rubble that is going on is very powerful and forever positive,” concluded Vincent.
More in profiles