Vampire. Brute. Sweetheart. Words that define Toronto’s most insane heavy music luminary, Vince Kunz, dead at 34. Creator and frontman for seminal Vampiristic rockers Bloodwurm, Kunz was widely respected, if not generally feared for his G.G. Allin-esque approach to live shows, pull-no-punches mentality and fearless drive. And while he didn’t always win over the masses, he was respected and revered by virtually everyone. In honour of Vince and at the risk of opening a can of worms the size of Tokyo, we present a history of the man who pledged that his life read like an open book.
TALES FROM THE HARD SIDE
Born to a Scottish father and a Native mother in northern B.C., Vincent Donald Richard Kunz was the product of a rocky relationship. Shifted to the Kitchener-Waterloo area at an early age, Kunz was adopted by two Catholic ministers after his mother was murdered. With a taste for things blatantly macabre and always evil, Kunz rejected his strict upbringing, relating to a friend that burning down a neighbour’s barn got him a two-week grounding, while mildly swearing in the house resulted in a beating and two months’ incarceration. No stranger to controversy, Kunz felt a love for all things illegal, to the point where he would often be found alternating introductions between “I’m an artist/musician,” and “I’m a criminal.” He frequently found himself in close contact with the long arm of the law. However, these brushes with crime were not without a point. He was the muscle behind Metro’s “over-the-counter” drug culture. Those who didn’t pay up were given swift warning via a clenched fist. But this type of employment meant plenty of street-level respect and a job that only required “punching” the clock once a month and still funded three albums.
Kickstarting his career in high gear, Kunz broke into Toronto’s metal scene answering an ad for metaller Infernal Majesty (you’ve seen the graffiti, but in Germany they’re still HUGE). Unfortunately, the stint was short-lived, as Kunz’s attention span and lack of appeal to record producers were influential enough for the band to stop calling him. Taking his revenge out on the guitarist’s equipment one night, Kunz quickly found the inside of the Don Jail.
This, of course, led to Kunz’s most notorious brush with the fuzz, which resulted in column inches of coverage around Canada. Kunz’s bloodlust reached new heights one evening while on the lam from another run-in with the cops. Strolling into the now-defunct Sanctuary (typical goth hangout), Kunz’s devilish good looks landed him a cute bird and some evening fun. Back at her pad, the two played vampire until Kunz accidentally slit the maiden’s wrist a touch too far. One call to 911 later, the frontman was turning himself in.
Picking up on the hype, local music fan-cum-record label owner John Yates befriended Kunz, wooing him to Lifestyle Records.
Temperamental, Kunz had his moments. In the process of creating their first EP, Cold Dead Stare, Kunz lost his cool with the bassist, beating him with a barbell to the point of hospitalization. Questioned as to the reason, he could only respond that he thought the dude was hitting on his girlfriend too much.
“He came out all loaded on PCP, just staring at the audience with these wild eyes. I think he even had some trouble singing the words—he had forgotten most of them. Anyway, at one point, the band had come up with this trick where Vince would pretend to cut himself with a broken bottle, using pig blood he got in the Market (a story in itself, ’cause one time he forgot to boil it and ended up getting a parasite). At one show, he said, ‘Fuck the blood,’ and just started slashing his chest with the bottle. Disgusting, yet very effective. In some ways, I think people (including record labels) were afraid to touch him ’cause of that—they didn’t know how to take him. He just seemed so unruly and dangerous. But on the other hand, he was an incredible publicity machine—good or bad as it could be.”
“I went in clean and came out a junkie.” Kunz’s fancy for heroin was not a lifelong habit. It found him in one of his many stints in the clink and never left. “Some people think that they’re stronger than the masses,” states Yates on The Bunny’s addictions.
“He figured that it wouldn’t affect him like it did to others,” relates Yates. “That last time, someone must have given him a hot dose, ’cause he wasn’t a fool. He knew how to shoot up. You don’t want to point fingers, but there were a lot of people that were afraid of Vince. It would be easy for them to get him.
“Either that, or threaten to call the cops (his rap sheet was a mile long, to the point of probably knowing every of the City’s Finest personally). It was at a point where I was building escape hatches for him in his apartments.”
Many different conclusions are drawn surrounding Kunz’s death, leaving the affair feeling convoluted. While some say that he died at a radio interview, others swear he passed away at home. But it is a moot point. Most importantly, Vince Kunz is gone.
Against his wishes, Kunz was buried in a Mississauga graveyard with proper Christian respects.
“He was a Satanist, and his parents came in, cut his hair and buried him the way they wanted to,” vents Yates. “He wanted to be cremated. But you can’t be angry at them, ’cause they were behind Vince every time. Whenever he was in trouble, they would be right beside him in the courtroom.”