Vintage Trouble rose to prominence in the first half of the 2010s, but with the way that they dress, perform and carry themselves one could swear they only got there thanks to some sort of Back to the Future-style sorcery.
Naturally, when a band such as this arrives on the scene, hyperbolic tastemakers are bound to trip themselves over in an attempt to be the very first to claim the new saviours of rock are upon us. Still, it should be stressed that the Los Angeles outfit have no interest in saving anything – simply presenting the spirit of their genre’s origins to a generation that is as far removed from it as humanly possible.
Having played with some of rock ‘n’ roll’s greats, including AC/DC, Vintage Trouble are set to return to Australia next month to perform at Bluesfest and headline shows in Melbourne and Sydney, and will be hoping to imbue our shores with a dose of the full-band energy that has been increasingly lacking in recent times.
“We’ve toured with a lot of bands like The Who, the [Rolling] Stones and AC/DC,” says Nalle Colt, the band’s lead guitarist. “That type of crowd always seem to be interested in seeking out newer acts that bring those bands’ kind of energy to the stage.
“It was really interesting, in particular, doing that AC/DC tour. We played about 50 shows with them, and there’s a lot of kids in that audience. I think that they, obviously, didn’t know about Led Zeppelin and all that sort of stuff when they were growing up.
“When they get to see that type of energy, it’s a big deal to them. It’s even more special. They’ve been raised in this computer-generated sort of world, where so much of what is being produced is so calculated and formulated. When they’re shown something that goes out of the lines and gets a little wacky, it starts to spark their interest.”
It should also be pointed out that, for what it’s worth, Vintage Trouble are no genre necromancers. Although largely indebted to the rock, soul and blues music of the ’60s and ’70s, the band want what they do to be known for being greater than the sum of its parts.
“The kind of music that we play might not be current,” explains Colt, “but there’s always a place for it. There are always ways to mix it up, and I think on this writing cycle we’ve managed to do that in a pretty big way. That’s especially the case for me as a guitar player – I always find new ways to put a bit of my own personality into the way that I play and the way that I perform.”
Ty Taylor, the band’s lead singer, agrees. He also adds a unique curveball to the discussion of Vintage Trouble’s sound. “Honestly, I don’t see what we’re doing as all that different to what, say, Bruno Mars or Beyoncé is doing,” he says. “The only real key difference is the shift in production. Look at a song like…” – at this stage, he spontaneously breaks into the chorus of Mars’ ballad ‘When I was Your Man’: “I should have bought you flowerssss.” It’s down a crackly phoneline with average reception, but he comes through as clear as day.
Without missing a beat, he’s right back to addressing his original point: “There’s not all that much which separates that from what we do on a song like ‘Gracefully’ from our record [2011’s The Bomb Shelter Sessions]. There was a massive hit just a few years ago…” – he’s off again, this time singing ‘Mercy’ by Duffy. “You got me beggin’ you for mercy! It’s honestly not that different! We’re not just a retro act – we’re interested in today.
“What we have to do with our music is think about a couple of elements that could help us reach a few more people. At the end of the day, it’s not about dollars and cents. We’re put on this earth this earth because we have a mission. That mission has to do with reaching as many people as possible.”
The band are set to return to Australia next month for their own headlining shows as well as a return to the hallowed grounds of Bluesfest. New music is set to follow, with some of it even being roadtested at these shows. As to whether it will eventuate into a follow-up to 2015’s 1 Hopeful Rd., that’s still up in the air as the band weighs up its options. “We’re kind of unsure how this new life works in the music business,” muses Taylor.
“Do you stay true to the old form of the album that we all romanticise; or do you lean into the fact attention deficit means that releasing a string of singles is the best route? We’re still unsure, but we’ve been doing a lot of recording all the same. We’ve been experimenting with a lot of new sounds and enhancing our old sound – we’re trying to make a happy marriage between the two of them.”
Vintage Trouble bring the very happy marriage of rock and blues to Byron Bay Bluesfest from April 13-17, and will be playing high-energy sideshows in Melbourne on April 9 and Sydney on April 12 – don’t miss out.