The band's big, dramatic sound is getting more poppy.
Vanishing Kids is an apt name for the band led by Fitchburg's Nikki Drohomyreky and Jason Hartman. After forming in Madison in 2000, they released a flurry of dark, complex rock records and relocated to the West Coast multiple times. They eventually settled in Portland, Ore., where they put out a split 7-inch in 2009. Then there were no new songs or concerts. Years went by, and still nothing. It looked like they had disappeared.
It turns out the couple had a child and moved back to Madison in 2010, to be closer to family. Then, in 2013, they started working on Vanishing Kids aggressively. First came news that a new record, Spirit Visions, had been mastered. Then there was a Kickstarter campaign to get the album pressed on vinyl. The band started performing again in the fall, at a record-release show with Those Poor Bastards.
I recently met up with Drohomyreky and Hartman, who told me more about jump-starting the band, moving back to Wisconsin and creating Spirit Visions.
You've been back in Madison for a few years, but Vanishing Kids are just starting to play shows again. Why?
Drohomyreky: We had a baby in 2010.… We were such greenhorns that I didn't know how to change a diaper. It is the absolute most amazing thing that has happened to me, and I think it's made me a better musician and human being. It makes me more emotional and expressive as an artist. But also it's harder to do [shows]. Now that she's a little older, we're able to find more time for it.
What did you miss most about Madison when you were gone?
Drohomyreky: The sense of community. You could go to Woodman's or the gas station and know everybody. I worked at Mickey's [Tavern] for a long time, so that was like a family in addition to my band.
Hartman: You get your own sense of community anywhere, but it is different in a bigger spot. You don't see the same people everywhere.
Drohomyreky: I missed the view coming into the city on John Nolen. Every time I go that way, I try to enjoy it. We missed our family a bit, too.
Tell me about creating Spirit Visions. What stands out the most when you think about putting it together?
Hartman: All of our albums take forever to make. We started it in 2007 through 2010 in Portland, in two different studios. Then we had Mira, our daughter. Then we got the album mastered in 2012. And then we did the Kickstarter in 2013. So it was just a big process, and expensive.
Drohomyreky: "Spirit Girl," we called [that song] "Vag" forever. I teased the rest of the band that they were going to get in touch with their vaginas because it was a really chicky song.
Hartman: The first place we recorded at was Mike Lastra's. He was in Smegma, an experimental band that started in the 1970s. He had this long beard that was like a rope, and he would wrap it around his whole body and tuck it into his sock.
Drohomyreky: So nasty.
Hartman: We're starting to write new stuff now, and we want to record it really quickly.
Bassist Jerry Sofran and drummer Terry Nugent have joined Vanishing Kids recently. How did that come about?
Hartman: When I was a kid, I used to go watch Jerry play in metal bands in Rockford. So Jerry has always been kind of a hero. I put out a compilation that included some of his old bands and Vanishing Kids. [When he heard it], he was like, 'I really like this Vanishing Kids band,' and I was like, 'Oh, that's us!' He said if we ever need a bass player, we should get in touch.... So I took him up on it.
Are the new members changing the band's sound?
Drohomyreky: I would say so, but it's mostly me and Jason. I'm trying to simplify my pop sensibility. It's more what I connect to right now. That's really different for us because we've always been pretty proggy, but the style is definitely changing.