Saigon Kick

Matt Kramer was a member of the band Saigon Kick since the beginning. Down in South Florida, Saigon Kick would regularly sell out local clubs like the Button South and the Reunion Room, drawing thousands of fans to their high energy shows and grabbing the eye of Atlantic Records, who signed them in 1990. Saigon Kick's first album, the self-titled disc with the black and white cover, came out in 1991 and the band toured mercilessly, opening for acts such as Cheap Trick and King's X as they travelled the globe. Those early Saigon Kick shows were legendary affairs, and Matt's shaman-like stage performance captured the audience's attention everytime.
In 1992, Saigon Kick released "The Lizard" and once again toured the world, opening for the then-hot Extreme in theaters and headlining shows in their best markets. Unfortuately, all good things must come to an end, and Matt left Saigon Kick in 1993. Aside from a short reunion in 2000, the original Saigon Kick is gone. Matt Kramer released his solo album "War & Peas" on Lascivious Records in 2003.

The Lizard

Saigon Kick on cassette


Here are some rare early live pics of Saigon Kick from the Button South and Reunion Room~ click on the mini pics to see the fullsize shots!
Here are some pics of Saigon Kick shooting the video for Hostile Youth down in Mexico:
Here are some pics of Saigon Kick shooting the videos for All I Want and Love is on the Way:
Here are some cool pics from the one time Saigon Kick reunion in 1997 at Zetafest in South Florida:
Here are some more rare early pics of Saigon Kick for ya:
Here are some great live pics of Saigon Kick taken by Orlando fan Corey Sharrow:

CHECK OUT THESE LINKS TO ARTICLES ABOUT MATT KRAMER & SAIGON KICK: Matt Kramer interview Matt Kramer interview Matt Kramer interview Matt interview War & Peas review War & Peas review War & Peas review War & Peas review Review of "Greatest Mrs." bio piece on Saigon Kick, bio piece on Saigon Kick article on Saigon Kick review of Saigon Kick's "The Lizard" CD review of Saigon Kick CD's with Matt Kramer


MATT KRAMER War & Peas (Lascivious)
Mr. Kramer, of course, was the slightly edgy, lead-singing shaman for the vastly under-rated Florida band Saigon Kick, a sparkling one hit wonder that can succinctly be described as a cross between the first wave of alternative, circa '87, '88 and hair metal. They ruled, and you should own at least the first three. Matt's back now with his debut solo CD, and hey, it ain't cheap-feeling (past the awful cover art and title), nor embarrassing, nor too crazy a departure, nor badly recorded. Fact is, War & Peas is an artful, slashing, mostly hard rocking effort that sounds like a more adventuresome, loopy Saigon Kick with solid grinding musical performances every bit as top notch as the old band. Up top deck, Matt wears a number of vocal chapeaus, caps, tams and fedoras, a little Bowie here, Robert Smith there, hints of Radiohead... it's sometimes a little much, affected, thespian and histrionic. But the technicolourful, witty, perceptive, clearly enunciated lyrics and the sturdiness of the songs charm you right back into the world of this guy. I'm getting a Wildhearts, King's X, Cheap Trick, Mike Tramp, mixed with Brit Pop and new rock vibe. Welcome back, oh free an' easy troubadour...

7.5 out of 10
by Martin Popoff

TWILIGHT YBOR CITY FL. w/Circle to Circle

This was one of the first solo shows by Matt Kramer since the release of the "War & Peas" c.d.
The show opened with many from the new c.d. and it set the tone for the rest of the night.. It was going to rock! Matt puts on such a great show, he has the charisma of a cross between Perry Farrell and Jim Morrison.. all you can really think when you see him on stage is "what is he on.. and how do I get some?" He is just captivating... All though the turn out was smaller then expected.. from lack of real rock n roll support, the band still performed like it was a sold out show.. They also went on to do some Saigon Kick songs.. but only the heavy ones.. no "Love is on its Way".. If your in the mood for an ass kickin show of HEAVY guitar riffs. and kick ass drums...and a solid bass groove.. Matt Kramer is a show to not be missed........

Then after the show.. Matt jumped off the front of the stage and came down and hung with the fans
and signed anything they had for him.. What a great guy, very down to earth.. and very serious about his music, and the state of music these days.. If you don't have War & Peas yet.. your missing out... go to his site and get it NOW..

Fans Reviews of the show:

Not too much could top the show that was put on by Circle II Circle. Not much, that is except for Matt Kramer. As a longtime fan of the Saigon Kick family, hearing that Matt was coming to town had me itching to see one of the best frontmen I have had the pleasure to see perform.

The lights go down and the 60 or so people who stayed over, were in for a real treat. The set opens with 5 tracks off the new album (Goodbye To All Tomorrows, Soul Star, Caught Up On The Inside, Spinning Round and I’m Getting Closer) and a tune that I believe isn’t released. Soul Star and Spinning Round were definitely the stand outs although the other are top quality songs, too. Before beginning Spinning Round, a tune about the repetitiveness of the world today, Matt compared this tune to Bob Dylan’s ramblings in “Subterranean Homesick Blues” from 1967 and he did an excellent job on it.

Matt announced that they were going to play some Saigon tunes with the disclaimer that if anyone asked for them to play Love Is On The Way, he’d kick their ass! Way to go, Matt!

Smoke filled the room and the familiar tune of Coming Home floated through the air. I remember seeing Saigon Kick during the first and second albums and saw numerous people letting the music take over their bodies and dance in their own special way. All these year later, the music does the same. I counted at least a dozen people going crazy and doing their thing. It was like I was back at the local venues watching them 10+ years ago.

The Saigon Kick portion of the show included New World, God of 42nd Street, Ugly and Suzy. After performing Suzy, Matt asked if anybody wanted to hear Pink Floyd…obviously a joke, but also a sign of things to come. The song he did perform next sounded dead on. She Sells Sanctuary by the Cult. Holy Shit! If I didn’t know better, Ian Astbury could have been there belting this one out and I wouldn’t have known the difference! Matt sounded great and went crazy during this song! Next came the grossly underrated SK tune, Peppermint Tribe and then the show finished with What Do You Do. I was hoping to hear one of my favorites from the day, Bodybags, but was denied.

Right after the show, Matt jumped off stage, high-fived a few people and went straight to the merchandise booth to sign autographs. If War & Peas is a sign of what happens when someone leaves a successful band to do their own thing, more people should leave their bands! If you don’t have War & Peas, get out and buy it! Hell, I’ll even lend you a buck or two just to get it!

Matt Kramer I would have to say was my favorite. I have nothing but good to say about the show.. I have to start the review off to say that before I left the house, my girlfriend put in the CD to listen to so I would at least know some of the songs and know what kind of show would be performed. I wasn't sure what to think about it but I got a whole different perspective when it was all performed live. The reactions of the crowd was amazing. When my girlfriend and I got to the Twilight, unfortunately there was only about 50 people at the show, but Matt didn't seem to perform any different if there was 5 or 5000 people there. He seemed to put just as much effort and heart into it. I honestly can say that I really didn't know any of the songs but it was easy to get involved in them all. He was very "deep" and you could feel it in the words how he sang them. I was really impressed when as my girlfriend and I approached the stage, during the show, Matt said hello to us both, by first name. How cool is that? Ok, so just my girlfriend, he knew her first name. I could hear and see the excitement in her face since this was the first time that they had met. But after the show, Matt jumped off stage and conversed with all the fans. He had pictures with the fans, autographed and hung out. Since my girlfriend does this awesome website, Matt knew us both by the pictures since he visited this website frequently. All good words came out of his mouth about her site , you could see that it really meant something because my girlfriends eyes lit up when he kept praising her on her site about everything and what a good job she does. He was looking forward to her review of his show and you knew he would visit it soon. As soon as the bar closed, we were still there. We sat on the couch and had conversations with him. That has never happened to me. I never actually sat and had a conversation with a rock star. He was very respectable. He even introduced us to some of the other fans and people in the band. He was such a real person and listed to what people say, he acknowledged everyone around him . You could see it in him, in his eyes, in everyway that he was so involved in all of his fans and truly respected each and everyone of them. I would love to see him perform again and I am hoping that he returns to Tampa again, very soon. This is a show that I could see many times again. -Vonnie


Daytona's; Riviera Beach, Maryland; 01/17/00

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Ever since signing their major label debut in 1990 Saigon Kick have taken a crazy roller coaster ride that only the music industry could offer. The band has seen some highs and some lows, but they've always managed to crank out a variety of songs to please any rock'n'roll fan. So, it was with much excitement that I learned that Saigon Kick had released their fifth album "Bastards" and that a tour of the United States was in the works.

I was able to get to the show (kudos to Brian and Jill for making this happen) and it was with great anticipation that I waited for Saigon Kick to take the stage. However, I was informed that guitarist (and main songwriter) Jason was no longer in the band and that the original vocalist Matt Kramer and the original bassist Tom DeFile were back in the band (both Matt and Tom played on the first two Saigon Kick CDs).

This turn of events threw me for a loop - I was completely unprepared for this shift in band personnel. And who the hell would be playing guitar, anyway?

The opening band Medicine Man seemed to be a hard rock version of Gov't Mule. Medicine Man were technically competent, but this is one instance where I only cared about one act on the bill. Medicine Man did throw a couple of curveballs by covering Stone Temple Pilot's "Crackerman" and AC/DC's "Shot Down In Flames." Medicine Man are touring in support of their debut album.

I'd seen Saigon Kick only once before in 1991 at Hammerjacks (oh, how I miss that place!) in Baltimore. Saigon Kick was touring behind their self-titled debut record; what I remember about that show was that Saigon Kick had a challenge on their hands because they were opening for the best American punk band ever - the Ramones. Fans of the Ramones literally wanted no part of Saigon Kick - much to Saigon Kick's credit though, the band gave a blistering performance and actually won some fans over.

Nine years later I would have figured that the band's challenge would be to re-establish their American audience. Saigon Kick is still immensely popular in Asian markets, but remain ignored in America. Having learned that Jason was out and that Matt and Tom were back in, it appeared the challenge would be to regain their footing as a band - still an intriguing challenge if you ask me.

Saigon Kick's set started with a tape playing the intro to "New World" as the band took the stage and blasted into the rest of the song with typical Saigon Kick intensity. To answer my question about who was playing guitar it was Jeff Blando; you probably last saw him playing guitar for Slaughter after the untimely death of Tim Kelly.

The first set were songs from the self-titled debut: the aforementioned "New World," the bouncy "Suzy," "Coming Home," the hilarious "Down By The Ocean," and a vicious rendition of "What Do You Do" were performed in workman-like fashion. Banter was kept to a minimum as the band seemed determined to reclaim their rightful place in the musical spotlight.

The band took a quick break while "Cruelty" played over the PA. The second set took flight with one of the more underrated (and most misunderstood) songs ever "Peppermint Tribe." The completely unexpected "Miss Jones" followed while "God Of 42nd Street," "All Alright," and a vibrant "Hostile Youth" rounded out the set of tunes from their sophomore disc.

The encore was started with a snippet of the semi-downer "Come Take Me Now" before quickly shifting in a 180 to one of the true ballads of rock radio with the ever hopeful "Love Is On The Way." Saigon Kick ended the night with a vigorous version of "Ugly."

It was a short set, but it was good while it lasted. It was weird not to hear anything from "Water," "Devil In The Details," or "Bastards" but given the band's "new-old" lineup I'm not surprised.

The band was tight and that's all you can ask for. The rhythm section of Tom DeFile and Phil Varone were as solid as ever - it didn't sound like DeFile and Varone had any trouble re-connecting after all the years. Seeing Matt Kramer was bit bizarre because I wasn't expecting it, but hey, I'm not complaining. Jeff Blando played well and filled some pretty big shoes - his six string slinging and background vocals did an admirable job rounding out the Saigon Kick sound. Blando's tasty playing didn't imitate Jason, but it did evoke the broad spectrum of Saigon Kick's sonorous resonance that is worthy of their eclectic catalog.

Is Saigon Kick going to make another run at musical stardom? Let's hope so as there is still a fighting spirit for this underrated band.


Review on

Saigon Kick
© 1999 Pony Canyon

The final studio album from Saigon Kick is far from what any band would hope would be their swan song. In fact, while this is sold under the Saigon Kick name, it is not a Saigon Kick album. The Saigon Kick core of Jason, Chris McLernon, and Phil Varone appears on only one song, the final track "Nearer." The rest of the music is credited to Jason, Pete Dembrowski (rhythm guitarist on "Devil In The Details"), and drummer Ricky Sanders, all of whom along with Pat Badger make up Super Transatlantic. Unfortunately for fans of quality music, these songs don't sound like Super Transatlantic, though, any more than they do Saigon Kick.

"Bastards" is really a weak affair any way you look at it. First off, the songs, which are usually Jason's strong point, are really weak. Most of them are even more tepid than Jason's songs that didn't make his solo album, "Houston, We Have a Problem" (which was, at one time, available for download from BVB Music, Jason's record label). And while they are more rock based than some of the electronic songs that flavored Jason's album, they aren't good either. The melodies are easily forgettable, the music is less than stellar, and the lyrics deal with uninteresting topics.

Jason's voice is also especially annoying on this album. On "Water" and "Devil In The Details," Jason does an admirable job of sounding similar to former Saigon Kick vocalist Matt Kramer while retaining his own style. And even on Super Transatlantic and Jason's solo work, his voice is a bit nasally, but nice. On "Bastards," he seems to be just taking the first effort on the vocals. And some of the songs, such as "A Lot like You" and "Sign Of The Times," are very annoying vocally.

The sound of the guitars on "Bastards" is also totally different than that of Saigon Kick. Saigon Kick has always had a very distinctive guitar sound, but Jason doesn't use the same set–up on any of these songs except "Nearer." While Jason decided to release this under the Saigon Kick name is beyond me, unless he just wanted the money built–in fans would supply. Even though the actual Saigon Kick didn't record these songs, Jason could have at least tried to make the album sound like Saigon Kick by using the same guitar set–up and trying for similar production.

The production on this album is another problem. It is very bland and doesn't highlight anyone or anything in particular. The guitars especially need to be beefed up. The cover of Billy Joel's "Big Shot," which is the most rocking song on the album, is particularly bad production–wise, and this song has to be turned up a bit to be heard at the same level as the other album material. And while the vocals are good on this song, they are buried too much in the mix.

Of the songs, "Break My Heart" is okay and has some nice Moog synthesizer on it; this song is probably the closest thing to Super Transatlantic and is mildly catchy. "So Sad To Say" has some nice harmonies, usually a Saigon Kick staple, but the first that appear on "Bastards." The next song, "Solitary Jerk," has a pretty decent chorus, but the rest of the song is pretty substandard and contains a really poor hook. "Who's Crying Now" starts to finally sound like Saigon Kick in the vocal area, and I would probably like this song if the chorus was better and the production more engaging. Billy's Joel's "Big Shot" is a pretty good song, though the production, mentioned above, really ruins it and I don't care for the fade–out ending. Had Jason used the typical Saigon Kick guitar set–up on this song, it would be a great song and actually worthy of the Saigon Kick name.

The final song, "Nearer," is the only song that sounds like (and actually features) Saigon Kick. Once this song kicks in, it is easy to tell how poor the production and sound of the rest of the album is since this song is far louder and fuller sounding than the rest of the album. "Nearer" is fairly fast–paced and a bit similar to "Solitary Jerk" in feel and tempo. The back–up vocals and solo are especially nice, and though the song doesn't quite rank with the best of Saigon Kick's material, it is certainly not bad and is better than the other material on this album. Since "Nearer" is the only song to feature the true band, though, Jason would have been better keeping the other ten songs on the shelf and including "Nearer" on "Greatest Mrs."

The songs not previously mentioned are utterly forgettable, and a few songs, like "Sign Of The Times" and "A Lot Like You," are just bad. "Bastards" is available only in Japan, and since the import price for U.S. fans is high, I urge all Saigon Kick fans to stay away. Your money is better spent elsewhere. "Bastards" is not good and is a true bastardization on the name of Saigon Kick, formerly one of the finest rock bands of the 1990s.

— by Todd Craven, Senior staff writer

Here are some extra images from the Saigon Kick days featuring Matt Kramer:

Some fan pics from the Saigon Kick Lizard tour featuring Matt Kramer:

click on the thumbnails for larger pic views!
And a 1991 fan pic

from Buddokan!
Here are some more images of Saigon Kick promo items, including a Lizard button and the "Freedom" CD single!

Thanks for coming and checking out Matt Kramer and Saigon Kick-
go to for more info!