(EDITOR’S NOTE — We were psyched to talk with Virus X, pioneers of the Buffalo punk scene, now touring in celebration of their 40th anniversary. The band has seen just about everything there is to see, and they’ve played with everyone from the Dirty Rotten Imbecils, Goo Goo Dolls and The Forgotten Rebels to the young bands on the Buffalo scene today. Their history, combined with their institutional knowledge, makes for endlessly interesting tales, and their music as they enter their fifth decade of existence continues to keep the spirit of punk’s early days alive. The band is made up of original members since 1983: Rick Miami, vocals & ebow, guitar; Jarid Sinn, lead guitar, and Sam Thrash, beat. Derrik Line joined in 1992. Recently, the guys chatted with 1120 Press, for which we are grateful.)
1120Press: Thank you for taking time out to speak with us. You guys are in the middle of celebrating your 40th anniversary, which is amazing, and have been playing shows in NY, Pa, and Ohio over the past year to mark the occasion. How’s everything been going? What’s the experience been like?
Rick Miami: We’ve been playing great shows in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The fans have been outstanding. Especially when someone shows up with a copy of the original 1985 LP — you know it’s going to be a wild night. The new fans we’ve picked up along the way are young and energetic. They really enjoy the music. Erie, Pennsylvania has a great scene, and the Virus X fans are outstanding there. Very similar to the Buffalo scene.
1120: You’ll often hear athletes from one era — hockey players, for instance — talk about how “the game is different today” compared to when they played. In being around 40 years, does anything stand out as ‘different’ to you now compared to back in the day — whether it be in how you approach and deliver performances, or whether it’s with audiences, etc…?
Jarid Sinn: The music scene is a little different today to that of the 1980s. It’s still underground, but there are more venues to perform at now. The audiences today are much more enthusiastic than they were in the past. The other thing is that with the technology today we can play much louder.
1120: Speaking of “back in the day,” how would you compare the local scene now compared to when you guys started?
Sam Thrash: Back in the 1980s, booking a gig out of the area was a lengthy and tedious process. First, you would have to visit a city, scope it out, learn the scene. Then visit it again and book a gig. No text messages, no technology. Old school bookings in person with your promo kit. Also, crowds were tough back then. Some would just stare you down and give no reaction. And the slam dancing back in the day was full of chaos and mayhem. Today, we book all our gigs using technology, no in-person negotiations.
1120: Going through the band’s show flyers on social media — from the 1980s straight through to your shows this year — it’s like a history trail of Buffalo punk music. You’ve been on bills recently with 13 Dead Canaries, Bastard Bastard Bastard, and The Living Braindead; and then going back almost 40 years ago, you’ve also appeared on bills with the Goo Goo Dolls, 10,000 Maniacs, local legends like The Fems and Mark Freeland, Green Jello, The Splat Cats and The Lumens. Does it ever strike you that Virus X could probably write the Encyclopedia on Buffalo Punk Music? What’s that feel like?
Rick: Over the years we’ve shared the stage with many punk bands both local and national. It’s an honor to have done this over the past 40 years.
Jarid: Besides Green Jello and The Enemies, Virus X is one of the only bands from the early 1980s still performing.
Sam: One of our favorite moments was in 1986 and we opened for Corrosion of Conformity at Mr. Groucho’s on Hertel Ave Buffalo... Our fucking microphone stunk after they used it ... They ruined our microphone, so we fought outside on Hertel Ave. As a result, they drove back to Carolina with a broken window.
(Editor's Note — 1120 Press reached out to Corrosion of Conformity via email but our request for comment was not answered.)
1120: In September, the band is going into the studio at the renowned Watchmen Studios in Lockport. Can you tell us about that, and what we might expect from Virus X during year 41?
Rick: We’ll be hitting the studio in September to record four new tunes. We plan on licensing them to be used in video games and movies.
Derrik Line: The tunes we’re doing are new and full of energy. Just like the stuff we did in the past.
Sam: Also, we plan on releasing them on vinyl and CD under our label Uniray Records in 2024. Virus X will be returning to the road shortly after the release of the new album entitled “Angel Dust Days” or “ Zip Tied.” We haven’t decided yet.
1120: Thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you want to add that we haven’t touched on?
Sam: Virus X is based out of Niagara Falls NY. That being said, it was a battle back in the day to perform punk rock there. The folks back then in Niagara Falls were hair-band fans, so you can imagine when we debuted (live) in 1984 the reaction from the crowd. Not too happy and a little tense. But hey, we’re still here and Niagara Falls is a better place because of it. Lol.