VR Trainers: From post-bro to thrillwave

As time has shown, VR Trainers are nothing if not prolific – they have been on an extensive and exhausting tour, known as the “World Tour of Bellingham,” which has taken them everywhere from the Redlight to the Shakedown to the Cabin Tavern to the Underground Coffee House to…well, that’s pretty much it. The band doesn’t really play many live shows. But, they do release quite a bit of music, the latest being Images, an EP that was released on Labor Day.
Images is the band’s second release of the year, following their New Release EP last April. Multi-instrumentalists John Von Volki and John Bash formed the group in 2010 and have since released five EPs and one full-length album. The duo both originally hail from the Olympic Peninsula (Bash from Sequim, Von Volki from Port Townsend.) They started playing music together in 2007, and were both members The Situation, a band they formed in high school. They moved up to Bellingham in order to attend Western Washington University, where Von Volki received a degree in political science and Bash is working on a music composition grad degree.
“We are big fans of releasing  EP’s rather than full-length albums,” Von Volki said of Images. “We view them as five song value packs.”
The latest release, which they started recording in June, sees the band taking a different approach to songwriting. While the songs are still very much in the same vein as their previous recordings, the new release is much more guitar-oriented.
“There is definitely more guitar on this album,” Bash said. “I’m not sure if that was by accident or not”
Von Volki added: “I think playing live more often drove us toward using more guitar. We barely ever played when we first started recording, we’d just sit in a bedroom and make music on our laptops. Then, when we played live, it’d just be two guys with a laptop on stage, so by using more guitars on the recording, we can more easily translate the music to a live setting.”
The band’s next show will be at the Shakedown on Oct. 27 with Eagle Teeth, The Shows and Out On The Streets.
VR Trainers music is pretty difficult to pigeonhole because of it is a little bit all over the place. At times, the band operates more in the ‘80’s electronic dance-y realm of music, and sometimes they lean a little bit more towards power pop. At different times, the band has jokingly called their genre of music “Post-Bro:” “Post-bro is totally dead now,” Von Volki said.
After Post-bro died out, they moved onto “Thrillwave,” but Von Volki said they may give up on that scene as well and move onto “Electronic Dunce Music.” Needless to say, the band is always evolving and starting scene after scene- none of which Bellingham has seen before.
“I don’t think we fit into the Bellingham scene very well at all,” Bash said.
“But, not in a way that is discouraging,” Vol Volki added. “What we hear constantly is that we don’t sound like anyone else in town, which is nice on one hand, but on the other hand it’s pretty tough to book a show and find a bill that works. The good thing is we have a pretty large catalog of songs, so we can usually go through it and find songs that can work for any kind of bill, so we don’t stick out like a sore thumb.”
Images and VR Trainers’ other recordings can be downloaded on their website at vrtrainers.bandcamp.com.

-Rodney Lotter