Thursday, June 2, 2011

Inteview: The Vines for Tom Magazine

For TOM Magazine. Published June 1.

Aussie rockers The Vines return with their long-awaited fifth record ‘Future Primitive’. Frontman Craig Nicholls and bassist Brad Heald sat down with Anna Angel and dished their Splendour in the Grass must-sees and tips for living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

Future Primitive 
is the band’s first release since 2008, but delays are due more to a change of record company than a change of direction. "I wanted to get it out end of last year, but we were still getting it all wrapped up," Nicholls says. "It’s all right to wait that extra bit of time, to make sure everything’s right for when it does come out."

Fans can expect a classic Vines vibe from their latest offering, somewhere between psychedelic ‘60s rock and ‘90s garage. "I’m not for believing that every album has to be completely different," Nicholls says, spinning his cigarettes on the table. "It’s just kind of rock music, with a bit of a different flavour."

That flavour  -  think electronic, ethereal soundscapes  -  is thanks in part to working with producer Chris Colonna of Bumblebeez fame. "Chris encouraged us to mess around a bit more which we maybe might not have otherwise," Heald says. While Nicholls agrees Colonna influenced the record, he recalls the Moog synthesisers on their successful 2002 debut 
Highly Evolved, concluding that this isn’t "a huge change". 

Among the 13 tracks is ‘A. S. 4’, the forth in their Autumn Shade series, which has featured on every release except 2006’s Vision Valley. "It’s been a cool vibe with those songs, they’re very laid back," Nicholls says. They’re not ruling out future uses of the motif, and Heald counts the forth go-around as a record highlight. "It has a great atmosphere about it, the outro is really haunting; it kind of reminds me of a [Quentin] Tarantino film," Heald says.

Nicholls favours the spiritual ‘All That You Do’, saying "the rest of them I can sort of figure out what I’m singing about, but that one’s a bit more abstract with the lyrics".

Punchy lead single ‘Gimme Love’ has been well received, but keep your ears pricked for follow-up, title track ‘Future Primitive’ and possible third single, the fun Brit-pop ditty ‘Candy Flippin’ Girl’.

While these tunes are arguably some of their most radio- friendly to date, Nicholls says they haven’t felt any creative pressure from freshly signed record company Sony. "It’s good, no one’s trying to control us and we’re not trying to think about it too consciously," he says. "There’s no pressure to make something sound a certain way."

Sony is pushing the record to corners of the globe previously uncovered by The Vines (pun very, very intended), and the band hopes this year’s tour schedule will provide a hefty return of frequent flyer points. The band will return to Splendour in the Grass in late July, alongside headliners Coldplay, Kanye West and Pulp.

"I’m not into Kanye West," Nicholls says, "I don’t know him much, but I really want to see Coldplay." Heald’s picks for what he calls "one of their favourite" festivals are singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart and indie rock outfit The Kills.

The quintet began rehearsals ahead of last week’s Live at the Chapel recording, but the going hasn’t been too tough. "We do rehearse, but when I sing, I never warm up; I have a very laid back approach to my voice," Nicholls says. "You don’t want to be too serious, then you’d be professional and you don’t want that. "Before a gig I sit around smoking and just warm up when I’m on stage. "I’m not saying it takes me a few songs to warm up, but for me its just rock and roll  -  maybe I’m just lazy."

Heald insists this is a bone fide rock ‘n’ roll tradition, with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips claiming to have taken up smoking to achieve his signature rasp. For those who’d like to learn the way of the rocker without lighting up, apparently it’s all in the attitude. "For me the approach is that you don’t have to do anything  -  nothing is too important," Nicholls says. "I find it helps if you just try not to worry about anything, and if you can’t not worry about it forget about it. "And if you can’t forget about it don’t worry about it. Back and forth, forget and don’t worry and forget."

Despite claims of nonchalance, it’s clear after a decade and a half the gig hasn’t lost its shine for Nicholls, who states simply, "I really like it, I’m just really used to it by now." "I just want to keep going; I don’t imagine ever wanting to stop," he says.
Good news if you’re holding Future Primitive in your hot little hands and already fanging for more  -  new material is in the works. "I’ve got a couple of new songs, I haven’t really recorded them properly yet, but I think they could be good for a new album," Nicholls says. "I’m hoping to get it recorded next year."
Future Primitive
 is out now through Sony. The Vines play Splendour in the Grass, Woodford, July 29  -  31. Tickets available through Moshtix.

By Anna Angel.


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