“There were points where he’d be writhing around the floor screaming into the microphone. The song would end and there’d be peals of laughter and wild applause from the band. Then Craig would stand up, peer through the glass and in this small voice he’d say, ‘Oh, thanks!’ He went from rock monster to this innocent kid.”—Paul McKercher about Craig Nicholls (via blackalps)
Three years. One thousand and ninety-seven bands. Back in late summer of 2011, in the heart of Silicon Valley, we — a tiny group of designers, developers, and music writers — weren’t sure if we’d ever hit this milestone. In an industry that’s increasingly automated, how would an app that runs 100% on human curation even survive? What would happen if people didn’t like our taste in music? Luckily for us, there has yet to be a music discovery service that can entirely replace the human touch, and from all the feedback we’ve received, you’ve appreciated our taste in music thus far. Today, as your virtual music geek friend (Amanda Van West - hi!) behind Band of the Day app’s sleekly-designed facade, I’m proud to have chosen Sydney, Australia’s The Vines as the band to celebrate our third birthday.
Many of you might already be well-familiar with The Vines. After all, their debut album Highly Evolved (2002) sold over 1.5 million albums worldwide, with singles like “Get Free” and “Outtathaway!” topping the charts and getting significant airplay. This was followed by 2004’s Winning Days, and had the band touring all over the world. One of those stops was in April 2004 at The Warfield in San Francisco, California. It was part of what was dubbed ‘The Aussie Invasion Tour,’ with The Living End and Jet rounding off the lineup. I was a senior in high school at the time and — after reading all the praise about The Vines in music magazines like NME, Rolling Stone, and Spin — my friends and I made the trek from the suburbs to the big city to finally see what all the hype was about.
As soon as they hit the stage and struck the first few notes, I was in awe of the wild and raw punk rock energy sparking through the air. Frontman Craig Nicholls’ face would distort as he’d snarl out self-loathing lyrics like, “She never loved me/why should anyone?” (‘Get Free’), with beads of sweat flying off of his shaggy ‘do. To put it briefly, it was a ferocious, electrifying performance. Anyone who was there that night wouldn’t have been surprised to see The Vines blow up even further.
But like many bands who experience a meteoric rise to fame, it’s not without consequence. After 2006’s Vision Valley, which didn’t achieve as much commercial success as the previous releases, the band was dropped from their record label. Still, they persisted and two years later released Melodia, the first album for their then-label Ivy League Records. This was followed by 2011’s Future Primitives, which was self-funded by the band. Both were solid releases, but still didn’t achieve the accolades of their first two albums.
Now in September 2014, The Vines are back with a two-disc album, Wicked Nature — arguably their finest album since 2002’s Highly Evolved. It’s been released completely independently, funded through a crowdsourced PledgeMusic campaign (http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thevines). This album sees a new band lineup, with the rhythm section now made up of Tim John on bass and Lachy West on drums. Nicholls is still at the helm as lead vocalist and guitarist, but for the first time ever he’s also taken on the role of producer (with Paul Mckercher as co-producer for disc one). The result is a 22-song journey through everything from explosive punk rock (“Out The Loop”), to sludgy grunge (“Metal Zone”), to free-spirited psychedelia (“Truth”). It’s The Vines being true to their very core, a band that knows what they do best and have done it with fearless gusto. This is the type of album that we’ll be shamelessly blasting over and over again here at Band of the Day HQ, and we hope that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll take the time to crank it up and join the virtual party on our third birthday today.
And to all of the bands we’ve featured over the past three years, the labels we’ve worked with, the music publicists, the friends/family members/app users who have all said, “hey, have you heard about this band?”, I’d like to extend a huge THANK YOU on behalf of the Band of the Day family. Our app would be nothing without all of this incredible music, and we feel lucky every single day we get to share new tunes with the world. Here’s to making it three years, and for many more years to come! - Amanda Van West (@amandabomb)
The Vines Interview It’s 2014, and The Vines are about to enter their 20th year of existence. For the majority of bands, that sort of achievement would be fairly impressive – news that might be worthy of a polite smile or a vague eyebrow raise. For The Vines however, that sort of timescale is jaw dropping. Their two turbulent decades of ever changing band members, police arrests and stage storm-offs have been well documented, and in many ways it’s a miracle they’re still standing.
The absence of The Vines from the scene has been lamented by many since their last studio release, Future Primitive, in 2011. Last week Tim John (bass) dished the dirt on the evolution of the old-is-new double album from the rock royals, Wicked Nature.
The album opens with cracker tune, Metal Zone, and the ensuing tracks follow up with the same post-grunge aggression sprinkled with a combination of shoegaze nonchalance and early 90s Britpop. It’s worth saying that the album is a nice break from the all too indie-saturated scene, it’s a testament to rock being alive and well, despite Gene Simmons’s claims.
The entire release is smattered with a healthy dose of Craig Nicholls’s creative talent, Cobain-esque drawls, and simple in-your-face rock. Delicately arranged, the tempo of the album rises and falls as eponymous median track Wicked Nature gives us a Blur-cum-Oasismoderato.
An interesting approach to long players, double albums are a double edged sword. While the first half of the album is slightly intoxicating, with its swill of grunge-tinged rock, the second half becomes soporifically sonorous and drearily tedious before Everything Else returns a tempo. I can only attribute this digression to the double album format, it is a major sore point, and in my opinionThe Vines had enough rope to hang themselves by. While the double album allowed for the confluence of sunshine clap tracks like Anything You Say and the slow balladry of Venus Fly Trap to coexist, it certainly hasn’t led to any Winning Days for the trio.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, If you spend your evenings scavenging for new music and looking for the freshest tunes in rock, then you’d know that the last few months has been jammed packed with, THE VINES. Following the bands release of ‘Wicked Nature’ last week, we did the honours, caught up with bassist Tim John and chucked our best questions at him.
QUESTION: Firstly, congratulations on the release of ‘Wicked Nature’, your first album in 3 years, is it exciting to be a part The Vines moniker return as a force to be reckoned with? TIM JOHN: Very exciting right now in the whole Vines camp. We started recording this album in mid-2012, so just, we’re stoked people can hear it now. It does seem like Craig can’t be stopped, we’re happy to be a part of it.
QUESTION: Album streams & reviews have been met with quite a positive reception. Is it a good feeling to know that the fans & critics alike are welcoming you back into the world of music? TIM JOHN: It’s definitely a good feeling, especially joining a band that has been around for nearly 20 years, also being the first album Lachy and I have played on, couldn’t have been a cooler start. The fans seem to be liking the album, it’s a nice feeling.
QUESTION: Your management has been very hush about the release of the album, with only a few hardcore fans knowing that there was one coming along the way. Did it frustrate you to wait for almost 2 years to see the album’s release? TIM JOHN: It was a little bit frustrating, only because we wanted people to hear the songs, but in hindsight it’s now a double album so it’s lucky we did wait. For a long time only close friends knew we had joined the band, other people probably thought we were lying.
QUESTION: In 2011 during a couple of interviews Craig mentioned of having written quite a substantial amount of songs, somewhere in the triple figures, do you know if the majority of the material from the album come from these songs written earlier? TIM JOHN: I’m sure it’s a mix of songs old & new after Future Primitive came out, and I know there’s plenty more songs Lachlan and I didn’t even hear. Craig came into rehearsals with the strongest songs he knew he wanted on the album, we went from there. For the second disc of Wicked Nature, those songs had been writing in a 6 month gap after we recorded the first disc I’m pretty sure.
QUESTION: Will we ever see something like a boxset/compilation album of all these songs to be released on? Or will they forever stay inside The Vines vault? TIM JOHN: Maybe one day we’ll see a boxset! I know there’s probably a stacks of tapes with demos on them. He records on 4 track tape recorder at home, usually just a guitar, main vocal line and some harmonies, there’s probably 5 more albums of material on them.
QUESTION: For Craig, this is the first time he’s properly taken position as a producer on any album, is this something that may continue on in future albums by The Vines? TIM JOHN: That would be cool, Craig definitely comes to life in the studio. He’s not precious about anything, we all played percussion, sung backing vocals and played some keys on a few songs. He wasn’t interested in spending 5 hours on one guitar part or anything like that, just wanted to make sure the song was there.
QUESTION: The recording of ‘Wicked Nature’ was done in 2 different sessions in 2 different studios; however were both recorded in an amazingly quick time. Do you prefer the quicker it takes to make a record or making sure the songs written are absolutely perfect before heading in to a studio?
TIM JOHN: For this album Craig had the songs fully written before he showed us them, then Lachy and I wrote most of our bass and drums parts in rehearsal. It was definitely the plan to get in the studio and record them as quickly as possible. We wanted them to sound fresh and exciting, and more importantly like the 3 of us playing together in a room.
QUESTION: Along with the double album, there have been small rumours circulating about a collaboration album written with Craig & Nick Littlemore of PNAU. Will that album/project ever see a release. TIM JOHN: We heard two songs from that, if they were anything to go by it’s fucking amazing. Hopefully it see’s the light of day soon.
QUESTION: The constant talk of a ‘rock uprising’ is being questioned by every band possible. Since The Vines were a part of the last massive ‘revival’ back in 2002, it seems fitting to ask the guys who have been there before. Does rock need ‘saving’? TIM JOHN: Something definitely needs to change again. I think more than ever we need Craig’s songs, and guitar bands in general. I remember picking up a guitar and learning a Nirvana or Alice In Chains songs as a teenager, there’s barely any music like that right now. Arctic Monkeys are waving that flag and the moment, hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.
QUESTION: Were The Vines a band that the both of you grew up listening to? Is it quite surreal to know you’re now a part of the band?’ TIM JOHN: They were, Highly Involved had a big effect on me growing up, and had been a fan since. I know both of our high schools bands covered Vines songs too. “Get Free” was actually the first song we rehearsed with Craig, that was a great moment, Lach and I looked at each other and smirked we he began playing the opening riff, turned into school boys again.
QUESTION: How did the both of you manage to meet Craig/join the band? TIM JOHN: Lachlan was asked to rehearse with Craig in early 2012, they played together a few times. He called me one day and asked if I wanted to come in and play some bass, as Lach and I have played together in various band for years. We rehearsed some older Vines songs and were asked to join sometime after that. Few weeks later we were in the studio, pretty crazy.
QUESTION: Because of the new album, plus the return from your extensive US tour with The Griswolds, will we see The Vines live for the first time in over 18 months? Possibly under an alias in a little venue around Sydney like the band has done before? TIM JOHN: We have a few things lined up, nothing we can confirm just yet but we will be playing shows before the end of the year, we can’t wait. I’m going to think of an alias in the meantime, any help would be appreciated.
MORE ON THE VINES: CLICK HERE INTERVIEW BY: Brady Hawes
Australian Vines fans, I’m working on something a bit hush-hush but I need your help! If you want to help out, could you please send me a message ASAP with your email address so I can fill you in? Thank youuuu. :D
(Sorry international fans, I’m not purposefully excluding you, I promise! It’s just the logistics of this.)
Edit: And don’t mention anything about this, not even this post, outside of personal communication between you and I, and especially don’t mention it anywhere online. Basically read this and message me and go on as if you didn’t see this. Thank yaaaa. Kate, I give you permission to reblog this to Fuck Yeah The Vines so more fans can see. Thanks, all!