Delaware State Fair's Vocal Trash uses their repurposed instruments, DJ, dancers and singers to entertain the whole family. Here’s what founding member Steve Linder had to say about the group that cites everyone from Karen Carpenter to Queensryche as influences.


Fair visitors ambling past the Delaware Electric Cooperative’s Free Entertainment Tent could see anything from a gas can guitar to some breakdancing if they time their walk right. Vocal Trash uses their repurposed instruments, DJ, dancers and singers to entertain the whole family. Here’s what founding member Steve Linder had to say about the group that cites everyone from Karen Carpenter to Queensryche as influences and plays a “diapers to Depends” range of music.

Q How would you describe your style of music?
A What we say is we’re an a cappella group that plays industrial instruments. We do everything, singing, dancing, comedy. It’s not all trashcan banging. We go from playing and singing a cappella songs to just dancing, and everything in between. We try to do classic music from the pop and rock n’ roll eras so we can be all inclusive. We pull in a song from the ’60s then pull in “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas that everyone’s heard.

Q How did the group form?
A We had a variety band that traveled all over the country and it was very successful for a lot of years, but I saw that times were changing. We needed to reinvent ourselves. I took inventory of the group at the time and realized we had a bunch of drummers, almost everyone in the group played drums and then we had this female vocalist who had more rhythm than any of us. So we did a couple of numbers in the show with industrial instruments and everyone kept requesting it.

I realized with our personnel we should be doing the Vocal Trash thing. Over the years it’s taken on new meaning, because later I realized it’s a great push for green. We try to show kids especially to think about ways things could be repurposed.

Q The show incorporates trashcans and instruments made of found materials. Do you sacrifice quality of sound for the effect?
A Probably, but not really because it’s a unique sound. Because the group is so strong vocally, you think vocals and then we provide the underlying beat. But on top of that we have a DJ who will spin records, and from time to time will lay down a track that we play and sing on top of. The sound is unique.

We do have a couple of instruments that are unique to us in that we have a guitar that is a gas can, a jerry can that sits on back of a Jeep. I literally just cruised the web and found a guy who likes to do unique instruments. It’s just marvelous, it sounds so good.

They sound very good. The upright bass is a neck that sits on top of a milk urn, but the neck comes down onto a wheel. It’s just unique to us, and we wanted to show that something like that helps. Instead of throwing something away, think of what it could be used for.

Q What do you get from performing at fairs vs. theaters?
A The reason we work so well at fairs and festivals is because we get a lot of walk-by traffic. We’re like a train wreck where you can’t look away. And once people sit down and take a moment the music and the fact that it’s presented in this manner pulls them in.

Also, we like to say we’re not there to offend anybody. We don’t do a lot of anything, we do a little of everything. We don’t want the grandparents to feel left out of it. If they wait four minutes we’ll get to something that they’ll recognize or grew up with. It’s diapers to Depends type of music. The only thing we aren’t currently doing is ’50s.

Q How and why was breakdancing incorporated into the show?
A Because of the street feel of the band it was a given, breakdancing was invented on the street. All this was also an effort to pull in the younger audience.

If you were to look at our crowd the average age was around 40, so we were getting really young kids or older folks, and what I thought we were missing was the multitude of teenagers. We changed some of the songs and the breakdancers and that brought out that whole teen crowd.