Interview: Bobby Liebling and Sonny Vincent of The Limit
Interviewed by Tim Finch
Bobby Liebling and Sonny Vincent may be better known from their other bands; Pentagram and Testors respectively. But now they've teamed up with a few other guys to form a new project, The Limit. An amazing amalgam of their other bands.
So we had a chat with the unusual pairing to find out more.
The Razor's Edge: Welcome to the Razor’s Edge.
First off, To get it out of the way… how are you and how have you coped with the pandemic?
Sonny: Fuck the pandemic. It's crazy huh! There's still movies all over Netflix about pandemics and virus' so it's crazy that it finally happened in a big way. I'll be so glad when it's all over.
Bobby: You've got that right. Same here, I just wish it would be done so we can get back out on the road.
The Razor's Edge: I think bands and fans alike just want to see the end of this now.
Bobby: I think this was the hardest hit profession of them all.
The Razor’s Edge: You’ve all made a name for yourselves in other bands and with the pedigree you all have individually generally the music press would describe you as a super group. Is that how you see yourselves?
Sonny: We're kind of a group of super idiots maybe. It's just a term that people come up with. We both always felt we were pretty much underground. A supergroup is something like when we grew up as kids with someone like Eric Clapton! It's better than being called something terrible...
The Razor’s Edge: So what are the origins of The Limit. How did you all come together?
Sonny: I was up in Sweden at one of those naked bath houses and Bobby was selling towels to the executives that came in here for the steam baths.
Bobby: And I was giving out tickets to the Netherlands red light district [laughs].
Sonny: The truth is, a mutual friend, someone that Bobby have lived with for a while and knew very well had coincidentally been driving the tour bus for my tours for a while. He never really was a roadie or a driver but I taught him the ropes and we got close. He began playing my music to Bobby and Bobby had never really heard of me. So Bobby can tell it from that point.
Bobby: I first heard Sonny Vincent in 2015 for the very first time. I was knocked out by the stuff I heard. I thought he had the traditional, classic punk sound. I've always been a great big punk fan, the original starters of the genre shall we say; The Ramones, Drones, Dead Boys, The Damned, Saints, Vibrators. And I was really turned on by Sonny's music and he spoke about the possibility of getting the two of us together. I thought that would be good, I'd like to meet the guy and so it went from there.
Sonny: It was kind of an interesting way to meet and get together. I also didn't really know about Pentagram. I hadn't heard them and we started to talk and Bobby turned me on to some of the Pentagram stuff, I listened to some of the early stuff which I thought was cool and hard rock. So we just were talking on the phone, we still hadn't met, we had a lot of funny phone calls and I said "Bobby if we were kids in school we'd be always in trouble because we get along so well".
At some point we got more serious and decided we were going to make an album. At first I thought we were talking about me producing an album, because I thought that would a cool function as I'd been busy taking care of my family for five years after they had an accident, so I'd been out of the music business before the pandemic. I fancied going around the studio with a clipboard saying "sing that louder" or "play that guitar longer" just a fun thing producing an album. But Bobby said "no way, I want you to play guitar on this".
So we wrote a bunch of songs together. I had some song ideas, some riffs and chord changes. Bobby did the lyrics and Hugo, our other guitar player from Portugal, he did a couple of songs with Bobby. I'd known Hugo from before but Bobby didn't. It all just happened very organically. We didn't have a brain trust, we didn't have a meeting saying "we're going to put in 40% hard rock and flavour in 40% punk rock and then 10% flash" we just didn't plan it like that.
Bobby: It was a very natural project actually. It came together on its own. I always liked punk stuff and Sonny liked heavy rock and we've both been in the rock and roll business for a long long time so we naturally fell into things.
The Razor’s Edge: What sort of time frame are we talking about? I assume pre-pandemic you are talking about getting together and writing what turned out to be this album.
Sonny: Yeah it was pre-pandemic. We did a lot of back and forth. I sent the basic demo's of the songs to Bobby and he wrote the lyrics. Jimmy he was studiously practicing the bass parts at home and we got a basic handle on the songs. Both Bobby and Jimmy would say maybe we can slow this one down a bit, double the chorus on that one, so there was a lot of adjustments being made.
We were going to record up by Bobby in Maryland. We just couldn't get the studio guy to commit to a solid date. We were already hyped and really into the songs. Jimmy was studying and playing them everyday and we wanted to get moving. The plan was for Hugo, my friend from Portugal to come to the States and do his guitar bits together in the studio. I called Hugo and said "Hugo it's not working, the studio guy keeps flaking out" and he said "Why don't you guys come to Portugal and record here." He said he's set the studio up there, get us the place to stay and everything would be fine and to be honest the project wouldn't have happened if Hugo wasn't an easy going, nice dude.
The whole journey, going to Portugal, with persons like me, Bobby and Jimmy who don't know each other really, it turned into an insane nightmare. It started off ok, I flew up from North Carolina to the DC area, grabbed a rental car and swung over to Bobby's house.
Bobby: And that was the first time we met in person, the night before we left for Portugal.
Sonny: That was all going good, laughing and driving and getting ready to launch into this lovely experience. We went to the hotel near the airport, next morning everything's cool, we go to the airport and get on the plane. The first thing that was a funny situation, which was signs of the Ides of March of what was going to come. We were sitting on the plain, the three of us, Jimmy, Bobby and me. I had my phone, and I brought up a picture of Jimmy and I have a stylus for my phone and just for fun I drew on a moustache and some horns and a dragon tail. Me and Bobby were giggling and Jimmy looks over and says "paybacks a mother fucker you guys". I don't think he really liked us doing that.
Bobby: We had thirty four hours in the airports and in the air, with three flights to go to Portugal. Sonny got a deal on the tickets so we flew from Washington to Orlando with a layover. Then from there to Gatwick, and thats where the fun started when Jimmy lost his wallet, his money all his cards in the airport!
Sonny: Jimmy had lost his wallet and he was, rightfully so, in a panic. But we were so tried from this journey and Jimmy was going to security and trying to find his wallet. And at one point Jimmy said "you guys please watch my bag, I'm going to do this, please watch it". Normally we'd watch his bag like a security force, but we were so tired we just walked away, having a conversation, went to get some coffee. Then we bumped into Jimmy on the other side of the airport and he says ''Where's my bag?". So that was the second thing that pissed off Jimmy. From his point of view we were drawing on pictures of him, we lost his bag when he asked us to look after it. And keep in mind this is the first time we've met Jimmy so we are starting off on a really weird path.
So we finally get to Portugal, and with Hugo theres a language problem too. So I told him when we arrive we need three separate rooms because we are cranky bastards, just make sure we can chill out in three separate rooms. And Hugo said no worries, when we got there we'd be treated great.
Hugo's plan was that we'd go from the Algarve where we were going to record to an island for two or three days and relax after the long journey. There's a beautiful island we'd have our own cook, its poetic there and Bobby can finish up the lyrics there. We were thinking this would be paradise and I sent everyone pictures of the island and we all thought this was really doing it.
So we get to the Algarve and Hugo said let's drop off the suitcases and we'll go to the island. I said how far is the island from here... and he said "it's a two hour drive". So I ask how far is it from the coast to the island and he says "it's about an hours boat ride". And so I ask if everything prepared, what about the cook and he said "oh no nothing is prepared". So I say is the water and electric on? and he said no. So paradise turned into a weird closed down house on an island with cobwebs. So from that moment I realise we are in a 'Lord of the Flies' type moment. So I said look we can't go there, let's go to the hotel instead. So we head to this building in the industrial area.
Bobby: It's not on the main drag like we thought, its in the back of the city.
Sonny: So we go up to the "hotel" and it's a fucking apartment. Not there is anything wrong with an apartment, except this is a very small one. We get in there I scope the place out and I saw a bedroom with a bathroom connected. So I run in there and claim it. And Bobby scurries off to the next one and claims it. Jimmy stands in the living room and he's got to sleep on the couch, and he says "oh fuck you guys, this is just like in the Stooges, you fucking assholes, I'm not sleeping here". And that was the next landmark of the hell-bound experience. Everything went terrible except the music.
Bobby: And then when we get into the apartment it was all so modern we had no idea how to turn on the stove or the dishwasher or anything. So we had no way of cooking or doing the dishes.
Sonny: It may sound frivolous that we are complaining. But we would have stayed in a cheap hotel with cheap single rooms and it would have been fine. But we were in this apartment together and not getting along, lots of bickering. It was like a scenario where you hear about groups that have been together for a long time and eventually they start to hate each other. It seemed like we did that straight away. [laughs] We did have tough time of it, but the music did go good and we did eventually learn to get along.
Bobby: We put each other in the hospital a few times, no big deal. [laughs]
The Razor’s Edge: When it came to writing the album, did you have a vision as to what you want to achieve with it?
Bobby: Not really:
Sonny: We knew if we got together we might have something special just from the personnel involved. We love Jimmy's playing, he's a world class player. I know some people plan things out, but I don't do that, I don't roll that way. It was more like an artist with a blank canvas and I have no idea what I am going to paint.
Bobby: It was start out with one thing and someone would add something else.
Sonny: It wasn't like a serious corporate meeting, a German think-tank where we say "50% glam rock and 10% punk". We just didn't plan anything, we knew it would happen pretty darn cool if we got together and did it, or it could explode. Many times we did think it was exploding because of the 'Lord of the Flies' situation. Everyday someone was saying "fuck you guys I'm going home". But we hung in there and produced an album that we consider a beautiful pissed off baby.
The Razor’s Edge: Obviously you can’t right now, but when there is a chance will your be touring as a group?
Sonny: We wanted to tour, but considering the whole experience in Portugal, we are just going to teach younger guys our parts and let them go out as The Limit.
Bobby: We'll have one of those hologram shows.
Sonny: We actually didn't talk about that either. We're just one step at a time. Right around when we were listening to the rough mixes of the album in the studio we were saying "it might be cool to play these songs in front of people". Of course when the final mixes came through and I sent them to Bobby and he was crying over the phone he liked the mixes so much. And we were thinking yeah it might be cool to play these live.
We still have a lot of residual scars and pain from the experience we had in Portugal.
Bobby: But the music came out very magical, it came out very self indulgent, pleasing you know.
Sonny: The thing that was cool, that in terms of the music it bonded me and Bobby together. When we were doing the mixes I would listen to them and make some notes and then I'd call up Bobby and ask his opinion, and his notes were a carbon copy of mine!
So at this point we've already got offers to do shows and mini-tours and stuff like that. Now that we've learned to work together and make it a more harmonious machine we would consider doing some shows. But we have our own stuff going too. The Limit has turned into a cool gem that we mined.
Bobby: It's there to polish.
The Razor’s Edge: What do you think the longevity of the band will be? Is this just a one off or do you plan to carry on after the album cycle?
Sonny: We definitely want to make another album at some point, after this one has time to breathe. There could be a future, we've just got a positive attitude about it.
Bobby: We just have to play it by ear right now and see what the future will bring.
The Razor’s Edge: Thanks for talking to us, I hope the album launch goes well for you.
The album, Caveman Logic, is released on April 9th. There are just a few copies of the initial pressing left, so grab one now via Svart Records.