Sitting on a small patio overlooking the Yeti Stage at Sasquatch Music Festival, I await the arrival of the talented and exciting group known everywhere as Vintage Trouble. Four grown men having this much fun making music and playing live sets should be illegal: and as I would later find out, not all their live sets were, strictly speaking, legal. Frontman and vocalist Ty Taylor walks out first, jeans, tank and fedora, looking relaxed and about as cool as they get. Not to be outdone by their singer though, the rest of the band, Nalle Colt (guitar), Richard Danielson (drums), and Rick Barrio Dill (bass) all walk out as chilled out and funky as I can remember seeing a group be. Easy going and clearly already enjoying their day, I knew I only had a few minutes of their time before they had to jump on stage to play for the crowd already forming in front of the stage nearly 45 minutes before they’re scheduled to start.
After your show today you guys are heading on tour with the one and only Lenny Kravitz! That’s not too small of a deal…
Taylor: We’re excited for every show on that tour! Also we’re gonna be playing Sweden soon…
Colt: I’m from Sweden and I haven’t played at home in 22 years and the first show of the tour is in Stockholm with Lenny Kravitz, so that’s the biggest deal for me, personally!
In regards to your latest album, The Bomb Shelter Sessions, you recorded that in only three days. Do you find that’s how you, as a group work together the best: get in, throw down, get out?
Taylor: We didn’t plan it like that, that’s for sure.
Danielson: I think we learned from it though, and now we don’t ever want to do it much different, I think. We went in there not really thinking about making a record, we just wanted to go in there to demo up some songs and we pulled together a full album in three days. It has purity to it, you know, because it’s not overthought, so I think that was sort of our roadmap for future recordings. We did it all live, in the same room, tracked it live and that’s the way we like doing it now.
Taylor: In a short period of time like that you kind of don’t have a choice but to stay out of your own way. A lot of times when you over-think things you get in the way of whatever the creative flow was that made it come through you in the first place, so there’s something really great about that. It’s like when you go to the beach and you see those guys making those amazing sculptures out of sand; they’re creating art for art’s sake. It’s not supposed to be seen for generations to come, it’s not supposed to be talked about in a million different circles and discussed. You just create, and then you move on and do the next one.
Your fan-base is known as the “Troublemakers”, do you encourage them to live up to their moniker?
All: They encourage us!!!
Danielson: They named themselves the Troublemakers actually.
Any good “Troublemaker” stories from the road?
Taylor: Depends on where you’re gonna publish this interview [all laugh]!
Online. For the world to read…
Taylor: In that case: Ya there are stories!!! No, but honestly, when we started out, our first performance we played was this place called Harvelle’s [Santa Monica] and right away after that we went to Venice, right down the street basically, in a place called The Stronghold so on our first day of performance we started playing after-hours clubs. So, continually, crazy shit goes on during our shows because a lot of our shows are after-hours and everything that entails. Specifically, we can’t say names of places but the gigs are usually cool and the after-parties are cool. Actually, the Troublemakers also get out and cause a lot of friction in positive ways too, putting in time helping charities and charitable organizations in groups, so it makes for a good balance.
Dill: I think it’s weird that we use people for promotions and hire people for that sort of thing cause the Troublemakers seem like they do more for us than anyone else
Colt: It’s become like a family now, you know? They welcome new Troublemakers really warmly and everyone takes care of each other.
Taylor: They have a page now that we’re not included in… [rest of the band all confirm and laugh]. Like, they go and talk about shit but it has nothing to do with us.
Colt: They’ve become their own community!
Taylor: Right, cause we’d be on the Facebook page going, “Why are you guys talking about all this other shit on our page?” And they’re sort of answer was, “Well, we like each other, so let’s make our own page! Cut these fuckin’ Vintage Trouble guys out!”
Danielson: What I think is really cool though is that they get together and meet before shows, there’s been love interests, a few “lust” interests…
Danielson: Vacations together, new friendships, it’s a really tight group.
While on a different tour, Ty, you were invited to front for Queen a while back. Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday celebration and you get the call: What’s that like?
Taylor: It was great, I was just sorry I had to turn it down. You know… I was just busy that week [silence. Then all break into laughter] “When is it? Wednesday? No… not Wednesday. Shit!” [laughs] It really was amazing though. I mean, it’s one of those things you talk about and everything you seem to say sounds obvious about how great it was but what I will say that may not be obvious is that it was amazing to be in a room with these other people that were all there representing what different facets of his energy, Freddie’s energy. I got to do some stuff with Jeff Beck and all these people that I’ve dreamt of being in a room with. It wasn’t just about Queen, Queen was the honour, but it was also about the people that the band brought together. Their sound had always been, they had always had such a cross-breed of fans. Sometimes when you really think about Queen’s music… it’s just so odd! It’s kind of wild that it became so popular and so the room I was in was full of freaks! Music freaks in the best way possible, but freaks which made the whole thing freaky. And cool. Freaky cool, man! I’m STILL freaked out!
Danielson: Pryer to that we got to go out with Brian May as well when we landed in the UK which was just a real honour as well. Just to watch him every night and to be around that energy, well, it was great!
After playing the SXSW Showcase, there were four names mentioned as the “Memorable and best shows of the event”: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jack White, Bruce Springsteen, and Vintage Trouble. What kind of a reaction do you have first hearing your name in that grouping?
Danielson: We just sort of stumbled into that, actually. I mean, I had never been to SXSW so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s just another day at the office for us, you know? We just went and did what we did and we happened to get a great slot which helped too.
Colt: Everyone’s just so juiced up while they’re there too. That’s WHY they’re there, really. So it was a great, great music crowd to play for !
Dill: It was such a huge honour too, to play there. Just very fortunate to be able to play there cause there’s so many great bands there with, what, 2,500, 3,000 bands there or something like that that roll through there so I think the fortunate part is that we kind of strike a chord that works within ourselves and if that strikes a chord with the people that listen then we’re very lucky.
You’ve described yourselves and your sound as, “Live-wired, straight-shootin’, dirty-mouth’d, pelvis-pushin’ juke music!” Who can we attribute that to?
Dill: Combination of things, I guess.
Taylor: Well… me, actually [laughs]. It’s in “Blues Hand-Me Down”. It’s in the song, you know. Some of our themes and mottos just fell upon us, you know? There wasn’t a lot of strategy to that. Someone asked us one day, “Who’s that about?”
Danielson: And the “pelvis-pushin’ was Charlie…
Taylor: Charlie, ya! We had this guy that used to tour with us and he had his brother say one day, “That music just makes me wanna push my pelvis out, man!” So it did come from all over, really.
Colt: And the “juke-joint” style music, man. All that late 50’s, early 60’s rhythm and blues, that “American music” that really created the early rock n’ roll that was just such a fantastic time in music!
Speaking of that 50’s and 60’s style, you filmed your music video for “Nancy Lee” in that style and all on an iPhone winning you the iPhone Film Fest. Any plans to get more creative on future videos?
Colt: We just shot one now… not five days ago, actually!
Taylor: Not iPhone but it’s gonna be pretty cool. It’s for a song called “Not Alright By Me”. I don’t want to give it away so that’s all I’m gonna say ’bout that [laughs]!
Colt: The whole thing too with the videos is that it’s usually so expensive with recordings and equipment and that. We’re trying to keep everything low-key and find creative people that will do it on a dime just for the sake of doing that way. Usually there are great ideas and it comes out more beautiful that way because it’s not over-done. I mean, the iPhone video cost, what…
Taylor: Two dollars [all laugh]
Colt: Ha, not… well, it was so easy, and so much cheaper than other videos out there!
Taylor: And what that does is it inspires people to make more videos. Videos all seem so big that they see all the time that it makes people think they can’t do it . The more that “indie-artists” stay indie and do things like this the more it allows people to see the videos and say, “I can do that”!
Any new releases, songs you’ve laid down recently even that you’re really excited about that we can all look forward to?
Colt: Right now it’s just about playing more music, hitting more venues and making and meeting more Troublemakers, really.
Taylor: That’s right. I mean, people can just come to the website, become a part of what we do, even if it’s not necessarily a part of something that’s happening right at that time, but instead just join in. There’s new stuff happening everyday and we love letting our fans get the news first and from us!
After a brief discussion about Colt’s home-town, having travelled through Sweden a while back, and talking tattoos and Lord of the Rings (better not to ask) I realized that as massive a presence as these guys have on stage, they may just be the most down-to-Earth group of musicians I had yet to meet. It’s no surprise that they inspire such a following and after catching their show, I’ve decided that being a “Troublemaker” is exactly what I need right now. Check these guys out at vintagetrouble.com and then realize that you’re likely to become a Troublemaker before you can say “Live-wired, straight-shootin’, dirty-mouth’d…” well… let’s just say it’s gonna happen fast after hearing the unique sound these guys rock out with!
Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photographs of Vintage Trouble at Sasquatch 2012.