When In Rome..

When in Rome Do as the Vandals

When in Rome Do as the Vandals is the debut album by the Huntington Beach punk rock band The Vandals, released in 1984 by National Trust Records. It was the band's first full-length LP. Its title is a play on the phrase "when in Rome, do as the Romans do," as the Vandals was also the name of a Germanic tribe which had invaded the Roman Empire and helped lead to its destruction. The album's cover played on this theme by showing the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a state of destruction. It was the band's last recording with vocalist Stevo, who left the band shortly after due to personality conflicts with some of the other members.

On the original LP release Brent Turner is credited as having performed all of the bass tracks, but by the time of its release Chalmer Lumary had joined the band on the bass position. Chalmer's name and photo are therefore included on the album sleeve along with those of the other members. The album sleeve also lists the seventh track as being "It's Not Unusual," a cover of a song by Burt Bacharach. The label on the LP itself, however, correctly lists this track as being a cover of "Hocus Pocus" by the band Focus. The sleeve also lists the album's sixth track as being spelled "Viking Suite," although the label again corrects this error by spelling it "Viking Suit" (as it is pronounced in the song's lyrics).

The album was re-released in 1989 in CD format along with the band's debut EP Peace Thru Vandalism as Peace Thru Vandalism/When in Rome Do as the Vandals. The CD version was released by Restless Records (later reissued by Time Bomb Recordings) and correctly lists the song titles as described above.

Track listing

All songs written by The Vandals except where indicated.

  1. "Ladykiller"
  2. "Birthday Bash"
  3. "Master Race (In Outer Space)"
  4. "Big Bro vs. Johnny Sako"
  5. "Mohawk Town"
  6. "Viking Suit"
  7. "Hocus Pocus" (written and originally performed by Focus)
  8. "I'm a Fly"
  9. "Slap of Love"
  10. "Airstream"
  11. "Rico"


Album information

Song information

All information listed here is derived from song lyrics, album liner notes, and band member interviews and commentary (particularly those in the video Sweatin' to the Oldies: The Vandals Live).

  • "Ladykiller" (The Vandals)

The song parodies funk and hip hop music, utilizing a scratch box throughout. It describes several characters who go downtown for various reasons and wind up in a fight at a bar.

  • "Birthday Bash" (The Vandals)

This song tells the story of a fan who, after hearing the Vandals song "Urban Struggle" on the radio, asks them to play at his birthday party. The Vandals arrive with a gang of friends and fans who proceed to destroy the house.

  • "Master Race (In Outer Space)" (The Vandals)

Employing a bit of historical fiction, the song imagines that, at the end of World War II, the Allied powers had put all the Nazis in rocket ships and exiled them to a secret base on the moon.

  • "Big Bro vs. Johnny Sako" (The Vandals)

The song deals with a character named Johnny Sako who calls upon a robot to help him fight against the government, since it has become oppressive and is spying on its own citizens.

  • "Mohawk Town" (The Vandals)

"Mohawk Town" parodies the animosity that existed between skinheads and punks in the Los Angeles and Orange County punk scenes of the early 1980s by describing an old western showdown between the outlaw Mohawk John and law enforcer Marshal Skin.

  • "Viking Suit" (The Vandals)

The song deals with pedophilia by describing a man who kidnaps children and photographs them wearing Viking costumes.

This is a cover of an instrumental song by the Dutch band Focus, a progressive rock group popular in the 1970s.

  • "I'm a Fly" (The Vandals)

A nihilistic song that plays on the metaphor of the narrator being a fly, drawing comparisons to the science fiction movie The Fly.

  • "Slap of Love" (The Vandals)

This song deals with domestic abuse in a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek manner.

  • "Airstream" (The Vandals)

This song describes the band's Airstream travel trailer, used for touring, and their experiences on the road.

  • "Rico" (The Vandals)

A somewhat sarcastic ballad to the band's home of Los Angeles.

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