Victor Wiley (1969-2007) — visual artist, provocateur, thrower of glitter, catalyst of the Food Not Bombs program — fronted a lot of bands. One of them, The Looks, is releasing “Remember Tomorrow” on Max Recordings, a record engineered on Booker Street in Stifft Station by Marcus Lowe, before Wiley’s death. They wanted to release the ten tracks into the wild, but rather than trying to reunite sans Wiley, the group decided to turn the release show into a listening party, along with sets from the formidable The Moving Front, Congrats and Stifft Beat. Check out the show at 9 p.m. Friday, July 19 at the White Water Tavern, and if you can’t grab one there, keep an eye out for it on streaming services or at Max Recordings. The Looks’ Lloyd Benjamin answered some questions for us via email ahead of the show.
I had occasion to read a memorial our editor, Lindsey Millar, wrote for the Arkansas Times back in 2007, after Victor passed, and was so taken with the way he’s described. He seems like this person who amped up the joy level in every room he was in. Is that consistent with your memories?
Absolutely. Victor was electrifying, on and off the stage. He was a creative force with an energy that elevated your experience just being around him.
From what little I’ve been able to piece together from the Towncraft website and some online remnants, the list of people either in or around this band are some of the people who seem to have made Little Rock music tick — and who have helped keep things brilliantly weird: Andrew Morgan, Jeremy Brasher, Matt Floyd. Do you have a list of who was in the band then?
This could be a long-winded and complex answer. I’ll do my best at brevity.
The Looks line-up consisted in most of its entirety as Victor Wiley on vocals, Matt Floyd on bass, Justin Collins on drums and myself on the guitar. This is the original line-up that wrote all of the songs and recorded the album. Andy Conrad filled in on bass duties for the last three shows we played.
I had been in a punk band previous to The Looks with Victor, called The Stranger Steals. Our record [Ed: one of Little Rock’s greatest punk records] was put out by North Little Rock native, Nate Powell, on Harlan Records.
Related to the details in your question, a side note: I’m also finishing up another record project with a three-piece band called Affection. We were around the same time as The Looks, and it consisted of myself, Jeremy Brasher and Andrew Morgan. The release show is happening at the White Water Tavern Saturday, Aug. 24. Unlike The Looks event, which will be us spinning our record between three other invited bands performing, Affection will be reuniting to perform on its release evening.
The lineup of bands at The Looks’ event next weekend features The Moving Front, also on Max Recordings, and featuring Jeremy Brasher. Alan “Disaster” Wilkins new band, Congrats!, will be playing; Alan was in Stranger Steals along with me, Jeremy and Victor. Stifft Beat is also playing and is Matt Floyd’s new project.
I’m looking forward to the show. It’s going to be a blast.
What are your memories of making “Remember Tomorrow?” Where was it recorded/engineered? And was that the title then, or was it named after Victor’s passing?
It was recorded by Marcus Lowe at 505 Studio on Booker St. in Little Rock over the course of a few sessions. I remember that it was an exciting and gratifying project for all four of us, but at the same time a somewhat fragmented experience. Marcus gave us a great opportunity and was extremely fair and patient with us, but we couldn’t pay for a large chunk of time to knock it all out at one time, so we had to piece it all together over several sessions. At the end of the day, Marcus did a great job making the sound cohesive throughout the entire record. We were proud of it then and still are now. It’s a great rock record. We’re grateful to Burt Taggart for giving the record a new life and a permanent home on Max Recordings.
The title “Remember Tomorrow” was something I came up with last year, shortly after the decision was made to release the record. I liked the way it sounded, and it seemed like something Victor would have said.