The Littlest Viking
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The Littlest Viking

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Rock Punk

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Jan
22
The Littlest Viking @ The Frida Cinema

Santa Ana, California, United States

Santa Ana, California, United States

Jan
14
The Littlest Viking @ Mercury Lounge

Goleta, California, United States

Goleta, California, United States

Nov
04
The Littlest Viking @ Silverlake Lounge

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States

Music

Press


Three years ago, The Deli caught a whiff of The Littlest Viking on their self-titled LP off Mountain Man Records. It was hairy. It was sweaty. It was 12 songs of start-stop rhythms and callus-inducing riffage that would make Pete & Pete beam with pride.

The labor and lust of Ruben "Emo" Cortez and "Metal" Christopher Gregory (first released in 2009) matches breakneck shredding and irregular time signatures that are as fun to play as they are to dance to, influenced by bands like Jawbreaker, Drive Like Jehu, and American Football. Fans of Giraffes? Giraffes! and Cinemechanica will feel right at home in TLV's whirlwind of perspiration and referential music jokes.

This year, Littlest Viking is setting out to do the near-impossible: work a new album with a well-thought out pop direction. Says Cortez:

"While the first album was a portrait of two young punks trying to play every lick and fill we knew with ridiculous speed and the second album was a more self-aware album where we were trying to sift through the previous work, this new album is a focused collection of songs that is more methodical and self-edited than previous. We joke around that it's going to be an emo Santana's "Supernatural" album, which will make sense once it's fully completed and we can finally get a callback from Michelle Branch."

And if you're itching to see, smell, and hear these guys perform, you're in luck: Littlest Viking will be joining Young Lovers for their third night of residency/music video premiere at Pehrspace on May 25th.

Not sold yet? Listen to "Lumpy Space Princess" off their self-titled LP below. - Ryan Mo - The Deli Magazine


Who’s The Littlest Viking?

“Metal” Chris Gregory-drums, shouting, voguing
Ruben “Emo” Cortez- Guitar, crooning, master of the black arts



How did you guys come together and create this band?
R: My “no knife” cover band had just disbanded and I was looking for a new start. I turned to Craigslist in hopes of trying to find a drummer who had a love and appreciation for the same types of music (see musical influences down below). It was extremely disparaging since the internet and music community is filled with people who can’t seem to think outside the musical influences of The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool. I was at the end of my ropes and considered packing it up and calling it quits because every drummer and guitarist I was playing with from these adds had no frame of reference for what I wanted to do musically. I saw Chris’s add and it was like Bro Montana throwing me a hail mary pass. He had listed all the bands that I was listing in terms of the musical influences, even the ridiculous ones, and I knew this had to work. We got together the first time and it just fit like Morrissey and Marr.



What’s the story behind the band’s name?
R: One of my favorite shows growing up was “the adventures of Pete & Pete”. It had a profound effect on my musical upbringing and where else can you have Gordon Gano and Steve Buscemi on the same show?! My favorite and most heartbreaking episode is called “Farewell, my little Viking” and I knew I had to call it that. Upon further thought it sounded too similar to “Godspeed, you black emperor” so I had to alter the title to “The Littlest Viking”



What are your music influences?
Prince, The Smiths, Iron Maiden, Danzig, Drive like Jehu, Jawbreaker, The Promise Ring, Braid, Billy Chamberlain, American Football, Zack Hill, Motorhead,



For you guys, what are the PROs and CONs of being a duo?
Pros: Being able to freely communicate ideas without the annoyance of white noise. Basically being able to easily write songs without the concern of others. Easy transportation of gear. Touring and practice scheduling. More free drink tickets. No drama bombs.

Cons: Money, the hardest thing about being a duo is collecting the funds to make shirts and pay for recording and gas money for tour. When you have a traditional four or five piece rock band you can easily split up the costs for everything while Metal Chris and I have to subject ourselves to medical testing and attack dog training victim for extra cabbage.



What’s your method at the time of writing a song?
We get the most basic/fundamental guitar riff and say, “this should sound like Sonic Youth or Robert Palmer” and then we build from there. We could spend hours on just one riff or we could write the whole song in one hour. There’s always a balance between pop sensibilities and ridiculous obscurity. We always think in terms of writing songs that we would love to listen to want to hear. We have no qualms about making our musical influences obvious to the listener. We take those influences and either highlight them or completely disjoint them. The songs not finished until we both take some time away from the song and come back wanting to play it forever.



S/T. How was the recording and writing process? How you guys came out with the album’s title?
We’re constantly writing new material at every practice. We practice for hours on end, but we don’t continuously practice the same song every time we get together unless it’s a brand new song. We forge ahead and set out to write new material based on the musical mood we’re currently in. As we get older I think the need to over complicate and be abrasive for the sake of attention wanes. This new album reflects our focus and attention to crafting what we think are interpretations of pop songs. Behind the odd times and mind boggling drumming lays a basic structure that could be a three chord pop punk song or dance floor booty popper. As far as the album title being self titled, we got spent trying to think of a title that will outshine or piece together the other ridiculous song titles, but nothing can beat the title track for “lumpy space princess”



How you guys feel about playing SXSW?
We are beyond the point of excitement. Even if we end up getting bumped from the showcase because Maroon 5 needs another hour of sound check we would be humbled and elated for the free sxsw Frisbees and beer coozies. We have some tricks up our sleeve for SXSW that may or may not include an Iron Maiden “eddie” life size robot, performing an entire set of only “hunger strike” repeatedly, or having Stephen Jenkins join us on stage for “Narcolepsy”



You guys are planning to hit the road?
To coincide with SXSW we have been planning a two week tour across the country in hopes of seeing new kids and old friends and re-energize our faith in rock n roll. We want to play for everyone/everywhere and we hope to make our dreams come true.



What - Vents Magazine


Oh. Ouch. Yes. Really. Sweet. Fuck Yeah. From the bright and blistering lands of California comes The Littlest Viking, a 2 piece math/prog/punk stacked deck of cards which has been built to deliver brain scrambling enjoyment. Take this and drizzle irreverent humor ontop of their song titles and one has an unforgettable combination. I could see myself listening to this at anytime of the day but not after 4 drinks. One has to be reasonable. Maybe if I had a stool. It is like fun vertigo. Enjoyable but still potentially deadly if not responsible. - Pinpoint Music


Southern California’s The Littlest Viking return with the self-titled follow up to their 2009 debut, “Labor & Lust”, and pick up right where they left off, showcasing the super guitar work of Ruben Cortez and Christopher Gregory’s speedy, complex drumming. The duo hasn’t slowed a bit in these 3+ years, kicking things off with the aptly titled “Give Me Motorhead”. The driving rhythm and thrashy, d-beat guitar riffs are a great wake up call, one that crashes headfirst into the fun, dancy “Slap Bracelet Wounds”. This track has a very late 90s/early 2000s DC feel to me, calling to mind bands like Q and Not U and The Dismemberment Plan (the latter especially in the final minute of the track). I’m certainly not saying this is a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s one of the things that really sets The Littlest Viking apart from so many of their math-rock peers. These post-hardcore influences pop up elsewhere on the album, most notably in some of the tracks that feature vocals, like “Picadilly Palare is a Real Boner Drag”, “Puppies Forever”, and “Mary-Louise Parker Has AIDS.. A Lot”. The last of those three features a nice juxtaposition in vocal styles, bouncing back and forth from a more chaotic, yelled vocal style to a clean, duet style featuring accompanying female vocalist Denise Mutuc.

“Return of the Mack (Redux)” is my favorite track on the album, starting out with a quiet, fuzzy, almost shoegaze feel, which leads up to a great mix of math and post-hardcore, and the best usage of vocals on the album. I’m not just saying that I like it because of the nod to Mark Morrison, either. Things get a little thrashy again on “I Hope There’s a Glory Hole in Hell”, a rowdy track that stops rather abruptly, as if it didn’t want to crash into the bouncy, dance party feeling of the following track, “My Little Brony”. Gregory’s drumming really stands out to me on this track, not because of any one moment, but throughout the course of the song, he really shows what he can do, and does it well. Too often people think that faster drumming equals drumming, not realizing the skill it takes to pull off some of these time and rhythm changes. “Free Metal Pat” closes things out, and does so wonderfully. The gang vocals layered over the reverb heavy guitars that bring the track to an end are really well done, and leave you looking forward to what these guys will pull off next.

That said, one of the downfalls of this album to me is that you’re left wondering what these guys could pull off. It seems like they haven’t yet really hit their full potential, and the flashes of that here left me wanting more. It’s a very solid release, though, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another 3 years to see how the band progresses further.

Grab the MP3s for $10 from the Mountain Man Records bandcamp - http://mountainmanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-littlest-viking-2

Vinyl (including digital download) is $11 from Mountain Man Records - http://store.mountainmanrecords.com/product/the-littlest-viking-s-t-12-lp-pre-oreder - PostRockStar.com


Waking up from a Nyquil® induced sleep, I remembered The Littlest Viking was to play at Proof Bar in downtown Santa Ana. I knew I had to go, considering many friends often speak very highly of this band that I had yet to see live. I got there early, probably too early. I had a beer. I didn’t want to have another mainly out of duty to the next morning and the responsibilities of having to write something coherent. I killed some time by going to the office and reading Bolaño in the original Spanish. I got back to Proof Bar in time to catch The Littlest Viking, and, yes, their set was definitely good. They’re a two-piece rock art experiment gone right. There’s nothing I can even remotely compare them to, and any analogy I could muster would probably fail in trying to give a solid pinpoint of where they reside on the musical landscape. Ultimately, I suggest visiting their site and going to one of their shows and watching them live. That’s the only way you can get a full appreciation of what they’re accomplishing right now. Whatever it is that they’re doing, they’re doing it very, very well.
- Santanerozine.com


The Littlest Viking, The Littlest Viking

Fans of ’90s indie-prog, rejoice, for The Littlest Viking has come to save your collective soul. With their new self-titled album, the duo of Ruben Cortez and Christopher Gregory (with occasional additional vocal help from an unnamed female singer) boil down every damn prog-rock influence imaginable into a rough-edged yet crystalline concoction that’s equal parts overfuzzed indie-rock and obtuse Chicago post-rock, merging the best of both into something awesome and smart and snarky and addictive as all hell.
They verge on the realms of instro-metal at points, as on the Scale The Summit-esque “Give Me Motorhead” or stutter-stopping “I Hope There’s A Glory Hole in Hell,” which brings to mind fellow Californians The Fucking Champs (although The Littlest Viking hail from Whittier, a ways further south from the Champs’ SF stomping grounds), but they never let themselves get tied to it, skipping into busy, cheery, almost-jazz with insane finger-tapped guitars and head-nodding rhythms like on “Slap Bracelet Wounds,” or even skirting a vocal-less Promise Ring on “My Little Brony.” And before you ask, no, none of the song titles seem to have much to do with the songs themselves.
The album’s highlight, for me, is one of a handful of tracks with vocals on here, “Piccadilly Palare is a Real Boner Drag,” which starts off gentle and delicate, like a chunk of misplaced, hazy dreampop, but then surges into awesomely grand, fill-your-ears guitar rock that brings to mind Arcwelder or Sebadoh’s louder moments. The change should be jarring, but it’s not; it feels as natural as the sunrise, and I find myself wanting to throw my hands in the hear and go “woooo!,” despite knowing it’d freak out everybody nearby.
Then there’s “I’m Hetero for Samantha Moloney,” which is jumping and twisty but still resolutely melodic; it’s not metal, but rather just straight-up smart, “round”-sounding, spiraling rock that bends in upon itself and burns in the best way possible. Think Don Caballero at their fire-spitting best, think aMINIATURE, think Cap’n Jazz, and you’ll be in the right ballpark. And oh, what a cool, cool ballpark it is to kick back and hang out in.
[The Littlest Viking is playing 3/18/13 at Mango’s, along with Hyperspeed Megaship, Dolores Boys, Hoffle Stoffle Awaffogus, & Alex Van & The Hide Away.] - Space City Rock


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SXSW gives Littlest Viking a jump start on tour
By Adrian Gomez / Asst. Arts Editor, Reel NM on Thu, Mar 28, 2013

Whittier, Calif.-based prog/punk duo Littlest Viking is touring in support of its self-titled album.
Christopher Patrick Gregory is on the way to Maryland from Virginia.

While driving, Gregory is still on an adrenaline high from playing South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

“We had so much fun playing there,” he explains during a recent phone interview. “Our show was well attended and now we’re on tour and making enough money going from town to town. I would consider it a success.”

Gregory is the drummer for the Whittier, Calif.-based duo the Littlest Viking.

He met Ruben Jesse Cortez after placing an ad through Craiglist on wanting to start a band.

“It’s kind of a weird way to start a band, but that’s the way we got started,” he says. “I wish the story could be more glamorous, but we met in a dangerous way. We trusted each other a lot.”

The prog/punk band will perform a show at 8 p.m. Friday, March 29 at Blackwater Music, 109 Fourth NW.

The duo is also touring in support of its current self-titled release, which was put out in October. It was released on Mountain Man Records, which is based in Long Beach, Calif.

Gregory says the duo sounds like a musical lovechild of Don Caballero, Piglet, American Football, Braid and Hot Snakes.

“We’re all over the place and we incorporate a lot into what we do,” he explains.

Gregory and Cortez took about a year to build the album. The drums were recorded in a studio in San Francisco, while everything else, including the mixing, was done in Los Angeles.

Gregory says when it comes to writing the music, it’s usually started with Cortez.

“Ruben will just play a riff and we’re off and running,” he explains. “Our process is very simple and most of the songs come from jamming together. We’ve been performing with each other for a few years now and have built up a great working relationship. He knows where I’m going with the music and I know where he is headed. We communicate a lot better know and use a lot of our instinct.”

As the duo continues its trek through the country, Gregory says they are talking about new music.

He says there will probably an EP released later this year.

“We’ve got a bunch of ideas in our head and we’re trying to get them all together,” he explains. “Right now, we’re enjoying the tour and getting more of our music out there.”

Littlest Viking
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, March 29
WHERE: Blackwater Music, 109 Fourth NW
HOW MUCH: $8 at the door - Albuquerque Journal


The Littlest Viking Just Wants To Have Fun
Posted by: Necci – Mar 19, 2013



For a two-piece punk band containing neither a bass player nor a singer, it’s surprising just how mathematically complex The Littlest Viking’s mostly instrumental music is. People seeing them take the stage for the first time might expect this dynamic duo to start cranking out some primitive White Stripes-style garage. But when The Littlest Viking take the stage at Gallery 5 on Thursday, March 21, what show attendees are going to get is much more properly designated as math rock.

Which is not to say that it’ll be boring or overly serious. After all, it’s a well-known fact that math rock bands are terrible at naming songs. We’ve known this ever since Don Caballero first released “Fire Back About Your New Baby’s Sex,” and things have just gone downhill from there. We now have Giraffes? Girrafes! [who apparently aren’t that great at naming their band either-ed.] naming songs things like “Werewolf Grandma With Knives” and “Transparent Man/Invisible Woman.”



But when you get to the bottom of it, The Littlest Viking might take the cake. Their self-titled second album, released late last year on Mountain Man Records, features song titles like “Piccadilly Palare Is A Real Boner Drag” (a sly reference to the opening track on Morrissey’s second album), “I Hope There’s A Glory Hole In Hell,” and “Give Me Motorhead.” With these and other song titles, this California duo have proven once again that, just as comedy is slowly crossing the border to anti-humor, math-rock musicians are blurring the line between taking yourself extremely seriously and not giving two shits. “They're a tribute in jest to the sometimes overwrought post rock titles that some bands use, like ‘The soundless breath of dawn's eternal melancholy’ and such,” drummer Chris Gregory says of the titles. “We like just like to have fun.”

Whether or not you think The Littlest Viking should take naming their songs as seriously as they take their songwriting, it’s hard to disagree on the fact their music is the shit. They are one hell of a talented and serious group. Their rhythms are tight and fast, and their melodies are dissonant, but not to an extent that they displease the ear. Instead, they are pleasantly punchy, neatly noodly, and packed with just the right amount of sing-alongs. Citing influences like Danzig, Iron Maiden, Don Caballero, and “all Kinsella projects except for acoustic Joan of Arc albums” (by which they mean brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella, one or both of whom has played in Cap’n Jazz, Owls, American Football, Owen, Joan Of Arc, and more), the Littlest Viking’s music is right up the alley of any math rock or 90’s emo fans.



Joining them on their current tour, and at Gallery 5 on Thursday, will be Georgia’s Little Tybee and Tennessee’s Color Feels. Little Tybee is an eight-piece (so perhaps not so little after all) whose songs cover the range from a composition master’s heaven to the misty field of a dream. Videos indicate that you should definitely experience them in a live setting. Nashville’s Color Feels bring a more folksy sound, layering instruments on top of each other to create beautiful ethereal songs with exquisite lyricism.

Local support will be provided by prog-math-masters Night Idea and Dumb Waiter. Night Idea, who recently left the studio with a killer 6 track EP (which unfortunately won’t be for sale yet, though they will certainly play the songs it contains), is a jazzy, jammy, prog-packed power group. If you live in Richmond and haven’t seen them yet, you’re seriously missing out (In the spirit of full disclosure, three of the members of Night Idea are my roommates, but that does not change the fact that they kick ass). Dumb Waiter, the local math geniuses featuring an ever-changing lineup that includes Gallery 5’s own Nick Crider, will kick things off. This will be one hell of a show for anyone who loves math rock, and at least an interesting one for those who don’t quite follow the odd time signatures.



After Richmond, The Littlest Viking continues on their east coast tour with Little Tybee, and then it’s back to the studio, maybe. “We plan on either writing another record or putting out a bunch of one-off seven inches, or maybe both,” says Gregory. “We might do a west coast tour in the fall, and we will continue to seek the Holy Grail, which is a spot on the Warped Tour alongside Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.”

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The Littlest Viking will perform at Gallery 5, located at 200 W. Marshall St, on Thursday, March 21. Doors open at 7:30, admission is $6. For more info, click here.

By Will Hoope - rvamag.com


Whittier, CA prog/punk duo The Littlest Viking have just released their second, self-titled LP through Mountain Man records – a healthy portion of which can be heard on the 10 minute video above. - InForty.com


Here's one which just stepped right out of the lot. Early October, Whittier's The Littlest Viking released a second full-length, twelve tracks of a skilfully led exploration of structures, textures and rhythms, most of which are instrumental, made consumable by Ruben Cortez & Christopher Gregory's ability to turn a math-y extravaganza into a well constructed, cohesive ensemble. Oh, yes; there's only two of them. Meaning that's what you can do with effect pedals and a little elbow grease. Ergo, what is everyone else playing at? Another thing, their songs simply have the best titles. Some are straightforward, like Give Me Motorhead and its speed-thirsty cavalcade. Some playfully misleading. Like Puppies Forever and its on-and-off shred-machine intro. Some plain improbable. Like Mary-Louise Parker Has AIDS..A Lot. And so forth. You can catch them tomorrow evening (11.15) for their residency at Hungtington Beach's Shanghai'd Room, and then on December 7th at Kim'a Bar in Riverside. - The Deli National


Breaking boundaries of seminal containment, this Nu Jazz Duo plays tight instrumental jams with off the wall changes and heavy orchestration. The music is guided by intricate guitar, obviously influenced by a latin/spanish guit-box style, and supported by clean, wild drum lashings. As well as boasting heavy driving jams, there are moments of supreme solitude that seem to come from nowhere, perfectly placed and incomprehensibly intimate. There are periods of steady trance-like grooves which break apart into acid-jazz stylings and then boom: double bass kicks and heavy shred guitar catch you completely off guard! If Bela Fleck (putting down the banjo and picking up an electric guitar) and Stanton More (Galactic) were thrown in a blender with a dash of punk and a pinch of blue powerade, the concoction would be something similar to The Littlest Viking.
Although the focus is primarily on the music as opposed to the vocals, i wouldn’t necessarily pin Littlest Viking as simply an instrumental band. The few vocals, or even vocalizations, seem so perfectly chosen and placed. But after all, “It is with words as with sunbeams, the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn” (Robert Southey).

To be true, trying to explain The Littlest Viking by comparison to any other band would simply be disrespectful. If you’re like me, and your musical reverence is for the party and the chance to change something subtle within yourself, then here you go. They have an awesome sound, which is something familiar, but like nothing you’ve heard before; and it’s more than worth checking out.
~DHR Associate Writer: Dirty Ryan - Dirty Hippie Radio


It’s been already a good three years since the debut Labor & Lust by Californian prog punk duo The Littlest Viking. That’s a long time in our fast moving times, but somehow these two crazy musicians stayed somewhere in the back of my mind, so that I didn’t take much convincing to immediately subject myself to their second self-titled longplayer.

Some things have changed since last time: there are more songs, but they are generally shorter, and nearly half of the tracks even come with vocals. But first the band starts with the short instrumental opener Give Me Motörhead, beginning with an – obviously – typical Motörhead kind of drum intro before the guitar and drums tandem takes over with their familiar sound. They call their style self-confidently prog punk, and while this may be true in some ways, it might also be considered a noisy kind of math rock (not core) with several nods to indie rock. Normally I am not overly fond of bass-less bands, and especially in the case of bands like The Littlest Viking who don’t really try hard to cover the low notes, but this time it really works, thanks to the busy guitar playing and the fierce drumming full of unexpected fills. While everything may seem rather straightforward on the surface, there are enough odd time signatures to justify the band’s use of the word “prog”.

Best of all is though the middle third of the album where the band concentrated its vocal tracks. Most of the time they both sing at the same time, giving the music a strong Nineties indie noise rock feeling not unlike Superchunk or Yo La Tengo. My personal highlights are the unusually catchy Puppies Forever which comes with a sweetness that its title already promises; Mary-Louise Parker Has AIDS… A Lot may be a mean statement about an actress I have really come to like during her eight seasons of Weeds, but the songs conciliates with its wild mix of unrelenting punk and its sweet indie chorus; and finally Return Of The Mack (Redux) is an unflinching tribute to the best indie rock the Nineties had to offer.

The instrumental tracks are full of redeeming value too, as the band never shies away from its tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, but considering how great their vocals are, one might wish for them to become a vocal duo in the future. My impression of their self-titled sophomore effort is already much more positive than the one I had of their already very good debut, and we can only hope that we don’t have to wait for another three years to get their next album. - Disagreement.net



The Littlest Viking compose a head-bobbing, guitar-weaving strand of slightly punky and frenzied instrumental math rock with Labor & Lust that spares no words (because there are none, really) while remaining an inherently fun and nicely varied listen.

The LP opens with the head-spinning finger-tapping and guitar histrionics of "Joe the Actor" that get surprisingly spacey towards the end before going into a stuttered motion. It's pretty cool, and while most of the album seems to dabble in this mood and atmosphere akin to a less pressured Don Caballero or something of that sort, it's the smooth, opening dalliances of "Theme from Magnum Pt. 1" and "Jock Jams Vol. 4" (it's got a few throaty gang shouts) that feel more human and land more in that post-American Football scene. It's definitely a refreshing change of pace and a warm sound that always resonates well.

There's a little bit of musical disarray here, but it works for what the band's going for. "I'm Queer for James Iha" wanders a bit with some fussy drum fills randomly interspersed, but when it transitions to a yawning spectrum of rhythm and melody (topped with slightly nasal vocal "ahhh"s), it's a gripping flutter.

If you don't mind the near-complete absence of vocals and lyrics, Labor & Lust is a pretty steady and enjoyable listen if you're looking for a lighter, airier Tera Melos brand of this stuff, or even dig the decade-old throwback sound of This Town Needs Guns. Labor & Lust shows how adept the Littlest Viking can be at either mode. - Punknews.org


The Littlest Viking at Bull Bar, Long Beach
By Brandon Ferguson Fri., Feb. 19 2010 at 8:45 AM
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Categories: Sunday, show of the day

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TLV500.jpg

Ask guitarist Ruben Cortez of Whittier's the Littlest Viking to deconstruct his music and he'll flash a boyish smile and tell you he simply writes pop songs.

"I could play all of our songs as pop-punk versions," he says.

Never mind that the music is instrumental, and laden with math rock sensibilities, vacillating between angular rhythms and sugary sweet melodies sandwiched between as many thematic changes as one song can reasonably be expected to hold, leading me to suspect that Cortez might be speaking with an overly glib tongue.

I should mention at this point that I've known Cortez for more than five years, and as someone who has played music with him in the past, I have witnessed first hand Cortez's ever expanding drive to write songs of increasing complexity.

But perhaps what is most remarkable about the Littlest Viking's presentation is that the band with the kaleidoscopic pop songs is comprised of only Cortez, 26, and drummer Chris Gregory, 26. And the two men manage an attack worthy of a seven nation army, albeit one much more varied than that other twosome famous for their minimalist approach.

"It'll be like a full-on musical assault so people won't get bored," says Cortez.

Boredom indeed--it seems to be the one thing that he fears most, as evidenced by the attention deficit inspired nature of his tunes. But mention the music's complexity, and he remains modest.

"Chris is really the one who makes it sound difficult," he maintains. "I just use a lot of pretty chords."

Gregory, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, utilizes rhythms reminiscent of the mathematical tapping of Don Caballero drummer Damon Che. And much like Che's percussive work, Gregory delivers his material with the pinpoint precision of a morse code transmission.

Cortez, meanwhile, cites a slew of '90s emo bands including the Promise Ring, Braid and Mineral as his main influences. The resulting synthesis is a unique hodgepodge of sounds that straddles the line between a science experiment and a love letter.

The band formed in 2006 when Gregory, who grew up in San Diego, responded to a Craigslist ad posted by Cortez who was looking for a drummer.

The two hit it off quickly, recording two demo's followed by a full length album, the 2008 self-released Labor and Lust.

While neither has been able to quit their day jobs, (Cortez, an English major at Cal State Fullerton, works at Lovell's Records in Whittier, and Gregory serves subpoenas to deadbeat dads), they have experienced hopeful glimmers of success. The band was recently approached by Mountain Man Records and given the opportunity to release their album on vinyl. They've also toured across the country twice. Yet when pressed about his hopes for full-blown success, Cortez demurs.

"I'm skeptical because of the way rock & roll is right now. We're reaching the height of what rock & roll can do. It's going to be stagnant. And if I worry about those things, it'll complicate my writing," he says. "I honestly don't think I'm going to make a living rock & rolling till I die. But if some kid finds our record 40 years from now and it blows his mind, then what else would I want?"

The Littlest Viking perform with Graffiti Blues at the Bull Bar in Long Beach. Sun. (Feb. 21) 8:30 p.m. Free. - OC Weekly


Even though rock & roll duos are increasingly more prevalent these days, the idea of forming a shredding, math rock band with only two people sounds a bit limiting. That is until an act like the semi-local Littlest Viking comes along. Formed by drummer Christopher Gregory and guitarist Ruben Cortez, TLV exhibits the a mix of experimental moxie, punk rock power and melodic precision, all while staying refreshingly vocal-free.

Feb 6, Tropic Lounge.jpg
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Last year, the band released their debut full-length Labor & Lust (Nova Youth Records), dosing the OC, Long Beach and LA music scenes with their Hella-esqe sounds. This Saturday, their unique, maniacal chops will be on tap at the Tropics Lounge in Fullerton along side Dying in Digital, Bellhaunts, Stars at Night and Not a Chance. A long lineup, good music and a cheap cover charge are sure to bring plenty of folks together, especially, ah, robot soldiers. Nice flier!

- OC Weekly


Making noise from Whittier to Long Beach arrives THE LITTLEST VIKING. Christopher Gregory and Ruben Cortez make up the band that answers questions for Friendly Venture’s first music interview:

WHAT HAS BEEN THE RECEPTION TO YOUR BAND’S SOUND WITH LISTENERS AROUND WHITTIER AND LONG BEACH?

Growing up in Whittier, the city has never had a shortage of exciting, loud, brash, experimental bands. It’s also a small town so people can’t talk too much shit about your band because you’ll find out eventually. On a serious note, our music has been received surprisingly well. We’ve had a great response in Long Beach, which always feels warm and inviting. Long Beach is one of the only cities I can think of that are open and willing to let music flourish and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not about an image or whom you know, but how honest and fun you can be with your music. La Puente is also one of those cities that has an amazing and flourishing music scene that will hopefully keep going and give bands like us a place to make noise.


“JOE THE ACTOR” HAS THE SOUNDS OF MINUS THE BEAR HANGING OUT WITH THE FORMAT OF LIGHTNING BOLT. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE ORIGIN OF YOUR SOUND?

It’s funny the way you describe our sound because when we first started off as a three piece, the minus the bear/hella comparisons were abundant. As good as those bands are in regards to there own sound, we never set out

to sound like that. We both came together with a love for good pop music. I know it may sound weird to describe our music as pop or just rock, but we are suckers for pop sensibilities. Bands such as the promise ring, jawbreaker, drive like jehu, 31 knots, prince all have a very unique sound, but they all share the ability to be catch our interest. They’re all pop bands. We just so happen to love playing fast and dirty.



THE LITTLEST VIKING WHEN GOOGLED IS THE ONLY BAND AS THE RESULT. SO, HOW WAS THE BAND’S NAME NARROWED DOWN TO THE LITTLEST VIKING?

The bands name was first “Farewell, my little Viking” which is an homage to the show “the adventures of Pete & Pete” We decided it sounded too similar to “Godspeed you black emperor” so we shortened it to the current name. Plus Metal Chris lives by the code of Norse mythology.



HOW IMPORTANT IS MUSIC WITHIN YOUR OWN COMMUNITY AND DO YOU PERFORM IN WHITTIER?

We’ve performed in Whittier at a small art gallery called The Wolf Gallery with some amazing local bands. Whittier is unique in that it’s got the best and worst of both neighboring counties. The amount of artists and musicians in this town is surprising. Every month or two, a local coalition of artists get together and showcase their artistic abilities. It’s sad to say however that the musical endeavors never fully reach its potential.

- Friendly Venture


The Californian two-piece of chaotic rhythm known as The Littlest Viking has claimed the throne of intensely rad music with their second release, a self-titled LP. Whilst often throwing down a thrashy post-hardcore sound, the guys in The Littlest Viking manage to present themselves as scholarly gentlemen. Complex melodies and jazz-mathematical time signatures make prog all the proggier in this two-piece.

During the course of this discourse, the distorted masterful guitarman-ship brings both joy and the need to madly rampage about, at different times of course. It seems as though Ruben Cortez obtained his jamming skills from observing the patterns of an angrily gorilla, while his elegant nature from the majesty of a hummingbird. Whether he was born with it or it was in fact the result of many years of study, it ended with him sounding like that which should be worshiped as an Aztec god. As for the percussion, the speed and complexity at which Chris Gregory beats those drums can be described as an epileptic at a rave. The combination of these two makes for a menagerie more exotic than any zoo on Earth.

Loud and reckless to soft and smooth, The Littlest Viking’s instrumental prowess is a force to be reckoned with. Their singing is rare but adds some texture to the norm, and “Mary-Louise Parker Has AIDS.. A Lot” as well as the last song on the album, “Free Metal Pat” gave me the chills. It’s clear the singing is there for experimental or inconsequential reasons, but it does add a little to the experience, however fantastic the experience is normally.

Overall, I give the album an 8/10, because while it was incredible it seemed that it’d only just breached the surface of the band’s capabilities. The Littlest Viking truly is amazing, and their potential appears to stretch beyond the region of the sun. Buy this album, you’ll enjoy it. - Math-Rock.net


Normally I need time to digest what happens when I swallow a music submission (yes code). There is no set schedule for when something will strike me in the balls enough to want to write about it. Some shit goes in one hole and out the other, and some go into the same hole over and over and over and over and over.

This particular band, The Littlest Viking, has been ear fucking me all weekend.

Mostly instrumental, mostly math rock mixed with a bit of punky sriracha sprinkled post indie rock and roll, The Littlest Viking sound like a band of five. Yet there's only two widdew instwement pwayews in The Wittewest Viking: A drummer hellbent on finger banging your patience, as he sounds like that kid who sat behind you in science class who is fucking amazing at playing desktop pencil drums, except he's just fucking amazing on a full kit. I seriously want to stab him in both shoulders with those fucking pencils because while I love him as a drummer, I hate him as a human being.

The guitar player, let's call him assfaced pimpledick, is one of the smoothest assholes I've heard in fucking years. Making reverb actually sound manly, assfaced pimpledick takes pretty twiddles and makes them sound fucking girthy and as far as the distorted shit this guy spits, he makes shit sound authoratative without sounding bossy. He's that guy who can essentially tell you to clean your room by merely commenting on it.

Fuck him.

The self titled album from The Littlest Viking is a non-stop exercise in rhythm and energy, with adorable song titles that boast music akin to pictures of cats, meaning I don't see myself growing tired of them any time soon, plus this shit is easy to share with people because it's fucking accessible as Fuck.

My two favorite tracks, names notwithstanding, are Slap Bracelet Woulds and I Hope There's a Glory Hole In Hell. The fact that they make punk and math rock sound so poppy, yet so elegantly fucking tribal is infuriating.

If I had to guess, I would say these assholes aren't very good at opening up for other bands because they murder so much shit there would be murdered shit all over the fucking place by the time the headliners took the stage.

AND WHO WANTS TO PLAY ON MURDERED SHAT BRO?!?!

The Littlest Viking is amazing and I hope you'll give them the reach around I feel they deserve.

Seriously the right hand of the guitar player is unFuckwitable and the right foot of the drummer is so syncopatively delicious I could write off every musician I've ever played with for five minutes in this band.

Amazing.

But Fuck assfaced pimpledick.
- SYFFAL


The Littlest Viking is a math rock/hardcore/instrumental duo from Whittier. The band consists of Ruben Cortez on guitar and Chris Gregory on drums, and the two produce a sound that is hard to imagine any other band matching. Intricate rhythms, style changes, and mind-blowing instrumental virtuosity are only a few words I can think of to describe their self-titled second full length LP, the Littlest Viking.

“Give Me Motorhead” opens up the album in a relentless hardcore style as a tribute to one of heavy metal’s greatest. The song shows off obvious instrumental skill, and also highlights how much energy Cortez and Gregory provide each other with. “Give Me Motorhead” mixes up straightforward metal beats that get you excited to hear a band with no gimmicks.

“Slap Bracelet Wounds” keeps up the same energy established in “Give Me Motorhead” but in a completely different style. Full of calculated changes, everything is tightly and neatly presented in this song. The Littlest Viking has to do a good job at keeping the listener entertained without vocals, and they do so by featuring intricately constructed guitar and drum melodies that weave within one another to tell a complete, detailed story.

“Piccadilly Palare is a Real Boner Killer” opens up with a very trippy feel to it. Another thing I like about this band is their use of varied effects. Chris Gregory has a muffled sound on his drum set so that the kick almost sounds blown out. The song features the first vocals of the album “all the things said were the things we never did, all the things we did were the things we never said”. The song does a drastic shift into straight rock beat, and then back out again, telling a very complicated story. The varied styles are reminiscent of RX Bandits, and this song transitions from reflective, to rock, to a 2/3-clave rhythm seamlessly. “Piccadilly Palare…” has a refreshing rawness to it that is hard to find elsewhere.

“I’m Hetero For Samantha Maloney” features some of Chris Gregory’s most impressive fills. He isn’t afraid to go out of the box with rhythms and get creative, playing sickening fills with what sounds like great ease. A hardcore fan can’t help but be drawn into Littlest Viking at this point. Gregory and Cortez compliment each other’s sound so well that they seem to be speaking their own language through their instruments.

“Puppies Forever” is the second song in which vocals appear. The vocals add fullness to the song, and I am really impressed with the Littlest Viking’s intuition when it comes to implementing vocals into a song. They don’t overuse them, and their lyric’s simplicity when they are featured adds a great deal of character to the song.

“Lumpy Space Princess” is a laid back song that allows a lot of space for creativity. Overall, this song is another great instrumental labyrinth with some nice effects thrown on the guitar to give it a real progressive feel.

“Mary-Louise Parker Has Aids.. A Lot” changes gears completely from “Lumpy Space Princess” and opens with some hardcore screaming. The song almost has two completely separate parts to it, jumping between an upbeat, hardcore sound and a math rock sound featuring spacey female vocals and guitar tapping.

“Return of the Mack (Redux)” has a very indie feel to it at the start, featuring the rare straightforward rhythm and female/male vocals. The Littlest Viking puts their own spin on the style, however, finishing with an awesome back and forth breakdown between Gregory and Cortez before returning to the song’s anthem.

“A Delightful Rococo Paradox” is probably one of the most appropriately named songs in existence. This song is filled to the brim with time changes and complicated rhythmic changes that only true champions of their instrument could produce. It’s so inspiring to hear a band play with such finesse as to not only implement challenging rhythms into their songs, but impressive dynamics as well.

“I Hope There’s a Glory Hole in Hell” opens with a drive to it that sounds like you’re taking an express train straight to hell. The song features a heavy guitar solo with powerful drum fills, and never takes a break to let you think about where the song might be going next.

“My Little Brony” is an alternative/indie song that features an extremely catchy lead guitar line. Time signature changes are strewn about and give the song a great deal of life.

“Free Metal Pat” highlights the band’s ability to bring raw power to the stage. This song features Gregory playing breakneck speed drum fills, and Cortez shows off his abilities with or without distortion. The gang vocals featured at the end of “Free Metal Pat” could definitely be a crowd favorite to sing along with.

The Littlest Viking has a great sound that tailors to the fan of the instrumental. Occasional vocals are thrown in on some songs that really add fullness to the songs they are featured on, but overall, the Littlest Viking has proved that they can hold your - Socal Music Today


Adhering to the highest standards of journalism, a writer must always be mindful of his biases. That is unless you write for an alt weekly, in which case, ethics be damned. So what if I occasionally use Heard Mentality to shamelessly write about my friends and plug their bands-- cut me some slack--I only write about the supremely talented ones. One such act, hailing from Ye Friendly Town of Whittier, is prog duo the Littlest Viking.

Back in 2004, me and TLV guitar-noodler Ruben Cortez played the mean streets of Whittier in an emo band (it's not important which one.) After declaring me dead weight, Cortez ankled my blogger ass and teamed up with Chris Gregory, a drummer whose mathematical virtuosity shall never be spoken of--lest the gods of percussion strike us all dead for blaspheming that which shall never be spoken of.

See Also:
*Free Ticket Tuesday: JEFF the Brotherhood at Alex's Bar, Oct. 24
*10 Jazz Albums to Listen to Before You Die
*Top 10 Most Unreadable Metal Band Logos


They formed the Littlest Viking, who rock a syncopated blend of melody and math that occasionally makes use of vocals, but often goes without. In support of their recently released second album (available on Mountain Man Records,) the band recorded a video for the song "Picadilly Palare is a Real Boner Drag/Return of the Mack (Redux)" (try saying that 15 times with a mouthful of marbles.) The video, which clocks in over 10 minutes stars local DJ Chris Oldboy Lynch, whose wizardry behind the tables is only matched by his exuberance.

Filmed at the Lab Anti-Mall's Commissary Lounge, the story follows a typical day in the life of Lynch--from drudgery to ecstasy and back--as he readies himself for an evening of platter spinning mayhem.

Though it may have some folks scratching their heads, the video's images of foxy girls dancing to hip hop songs and party boys downing 40s of King Cobra is something we're all going to be marveling at 50 years from now--long after the Lab is a fortress manned by mutated republicans hell bent on protecting the area's petroleum reserves. - OC Weekly


Discography

Spring 2017- LP3 - third full length, currently being recorded.

Fall 2013- Mountain Man Records Singles Club 7inch
One New Song, One Cover

The Littlest Viking - S/T LP 2012
The long-awaited second full-length from Los Angeles, CA's the Littlest Viking. Physical copies packaged in 2-layer screenprinted, custom die-cut sleeves w/ a semi-transparent vellum insert. Digital download included. Recorded by Jay Pellici at Tiny Telephones Studios and David Benitez at C+C Music Factory. Mastered by Jack Shirley at the Atomic Garden. also available on iTunes. Released on Mountain Man Records.

The Littlest Viking - Labor & Lust LP - 2009
Our debut full length LP, lovingly entitled "Labor & Lust", is now available on colored vinyl through mail order at www.mountainmanrecords.com or at shows. 10 songs. 37 minutes, 38 seconds. Recorded at Infrasonic Studios and C+C Music Factory by Dave and Pete from June '08 -January '09. Cover art by Liz. Released on Mountain Man Records. MMR02

Photos

Bio

The Littlest Viking formed in 2006 when Ruben Jessie Cortez (Guitar) and Christopher Patrick Gregory (Drums) decided to embrace their pop-punk/emo roots and meld them with energetic math-rock rhythms.  The Littlest Viking tries to play as many shows as humanly possible to in order make the masses sing along to guitar shredding and shake it to crazy art rock drumming.  The Littlest Viking has two full length LPs and a split 12 inch out on their own imprint Farewell, My Little Viking Records, previously released on Long Beach's Mountain Man Records.  They are currently recording their third album, which promises to be their most accessible work to date, due in Spring 2017.  The Littlest Viking has toured the US multiple times using the family Dodge Durango and has played official SXSW showcases twice.  

Band Members