Q&A: The Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone Talks Miami Music Festival Headaches and the Bruise Cruise

Cassie Ramone performing at Gemma Lounge on Saturday.
Cassie Ramone performing at Gemma Lounge on Saturday.
Photo by Ian Witlen

Vivian Girls frontwoman Cassie Ramone is resolutely down-to-earth. Despite her band's success, including prime opening slots for Sonic Youth and Jay Reatard, she still remembers her friends. A headlining spot for Tom Tom Magazine's Miami Music Festival showcase on Saturday was a given even though she knew they weren't getting paid.

Scheduling conflicts prevented a face-to-face interview Saturday, but she texted updates from Gemma Lounge throughout the night. New Times eventually caught up with Cassie way after Brooklyn-based singer/guitarist's Miami Music Festival performance via phone, and -- no surprise here -- one of the fest's most recognizable names wasn't shy about telling us exactly what she thought about the budding festival. We also got her thoughts on the South Florida music community and playing Bruise Cruise with a bunch of bands she loves.

New Times: So what did you think of Miami Music Festival, since you were a part of it?

Cassie Ramone: I honestly didn't have... I didn't really have a great experience. I had a great time playing. I thought our set went really well. I thought the turnout was good, and the reason that we did the show is because we love Mindy. She runs Tom Tom Magazine. We think she's an amazing woman with a really good cause, so that's the only reason why we came down to Miami to play the festival. However, I didn't really have a great experience at the club. I felt like we weren't treated with respect, and I don't think it was run very well. But I dunno. I wish the Miami Music Festival the best of luck in following years, but I think that if they are trying to become a festival that's sort of on the same level as CMJ or South by Southwest (SXSW), they have to start by treating bigger artists that come to play the festival very well.

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That's what a lot of people have mentioned in the past, whether it's reviewers, showgoers, or people in the press. Not only that, but the fact that all the venues are so far spread out.

Yeah. And we didn't get any free drinks, which that like never happens. Usually we get a few drink tickets. They wouldn't let us put anybody on the guest list, which I think is also insane. We didn't make any money playing the show. We were like, "OK, that's fine" because we support Mindy so much. But to plan to basically... they paid for our flights and stuff, so it was kind of like a free trip to Miami. But to play for free and get treated that poorly was really uncool in my opinion.

Yeah, that really sucks. I've been hearing similar feedback from other people as well.

Yeah. It just didn't seem like it was run very well. If it had been run better and if we had been treated really well, then of course I would tell all my friends that their bands should play it next year. But I'm not going to tell them that now, which is unfortunate for the festival.

Yeah, but then again, it's only their second year in. So hopefully they'll soon get their stuff together.

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a great idea, 'cause I do really like Miami. I had a really great time hanging out there. I think it would be a great thing to get more bands to come down there, because I heard that it's really far out of the way to tour there. We've never driven there. It was our second time playing in Miami, and we flew there both times. So I don't think it's as much of a [music] destination as it could be, and it would be a really great thing for the city to have a well-run music festival.

You're actually playing with a few South Florida bands on the Bruise Cruise, like Surfer Blood.

I really like those guys. We were hanging out with the Jacuzzi Boys yesterday too. They're really cool guys, and their band is pretty awesome, so we're excited to be playing with all of them.

Have you ever been on a cruise before?

No! I've actually always wanted to go on a cruise pretty much my entire life. But my parents don't really like corporate vacations, so we'd always go hiking for vacation or go sailing with like a family friend and stuff like that. So I think I've always been attracted to that kind of stuff just because my parents kind of told me that wasn't what we were gonna do. I've never been able to afford a cruise as an adult, so I'm really happy that we got asked to play. I think it's going to be one of the highlights of my life [laughs].

Not to mention you guys are probably going to play for a much cooler crowd than the typical cruise crowd.

Yeah, totally. I always had this like the silly, romantic vision of what a cruise would be like [laughs]. Like maybe go on a cruise and I was in my mid-30s and I would fall in love with a handsome stranger or something. But then all my friends that go on cruises tell me it's nothing like that.

The only thing to enjoy about cruises is the amazing food and leaving ten pounds heavier.

Yeah, they have like a 24-hour buffet, right? That sounds amazing. I also know that this cruise is gonna have a water park on the cruise. So that's gonna be cool.

Do you mean like a big slide? Or like an actual water park?

Yeah, apparently. Maybe that's what it is. Maybe it's just a crazy slide [laughs]. But I'm gonna have a great time with that.

How did you get involved with the Bruise Cruise?

Well, we've known Michelle Cable from Panache, who put the cruise together. We've known her for a couple of years from living in Brooklyn. She's helped us get on shows before, and she's a really radical woman. I guess she just contacted us asking if we'd do it -- and of course we said yes, because we've known her for a little while.

So what do you guys have planned for the Bruise Cruise, exactly? I've actually scoured the internet and a few blogs, and a bunch of people are all like, "Oh my gosh! We're gonna get to see the Vivian Girls perform in swimsuits!"

Oh God! We're not gonna perform in bathing suits [laughs]. That's not gonna happen. But maybe I'll just wear an extra-large T-shirt over my bathing suit so nobody takes any pictures of me in one. That would be weird... I kind of wanted to do like a 45-minute set every night or something, but there are so many bands playing that I think it might be better if every band has a real show on the cruise.

How does it feel to know that you're replacing a calypso band? That's usually what they have on cruise ships.

I feel like I've always been really attracted to these emblems of America like cruises and Las Vegas. I also want to... I would really like to play in a Las Vegas casino at some point in my life. I've always just been so into stuff like that. I love the fact that we're replacing calypso bands. But now what will calypso bands do?

From what I hear, it's going to be a regular cruise ship with a few hundred passes that are specific to the shows. So you're actually going to get to see all those regular cruise passengers and get that experience you've been longing for.

I've been trying to find like nautically themed clothes to bring with me. I found this really cute sailor dress, a sailor shirt. I think I'm going to try to just wear that stuff exclusively all weekend.

So are you guys gonna lay low while you're aboard? Other cruise acts like New Kids on the Block don't want to interact with fans and people who aren't part of the band when they're not performing and whatnot.

Ummm... I don't think we're really like that as a band. I personally really like talking to people and meeting people. I find it really enjoyable to meet fans and stuff. We're probably going to hang out a lot that weekend. We're fans with most of the bands playing, so I think we're just gonna go out and have a really good time.

Are there any bands whose show you're looking forward to while on deck?

I'm really looking forward to seeing the Oh Sees 'cause they put on an incredible live show. I've seen them a few times, and they're just so amazing live. The Black Lips -- I love them and am really psyched to see them. The Jacuzzi Boys I'm really psyched to see because we just hung out with them in Miami, and they're just so cool. I actually like... weirdly enough I'd never listened to their music before today. But I listened to their songs, and they're really good, so I'm excited to see them.

More Bruise Cruise info here.

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