Vintage Trouble Interview With Ty Taylor Prior To Their Gig at Londons O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, Our roving reporter Will Carted sat down with Ty to get the lowdown on all things Vintage.
Will: Welcome to London. This is your 8th UK show, I believe, on this tour?
Will: Probably lose count. How have you been received by the fans? Have they welcomed you with open arms?
Ty: It’s amazing. We have people who have traveled, have done all 8 shows, by the way. We had some friends that were here from the States visiting, and they can’t even believe the connection that the UK Troublemakers not only have with us but with each other. You know, they come to every show, they basically filled all the rooms, and, you know, they will be there, they have pre-shows, set up before the show, like where they will have a bar they all meet in, and then they will have a bar afterwards and they all go there, and party way beyond the time the bus drives us away. And the reception to new music has been so good, because you know we were a little wary, not wary, just wondering how people were going to take it, because the music is a little different this time.
We added a keyboard player and a vocalist, Brian Linden, which is huge for us. We denied wanting it for so long, and then we were entertaining the concept of these new records we were making and understanding we needed someone to help us pull these off live, because we always had so much pride on being better live than our records. And so we didn’t want to not do that this time. So far people have loved it.
Will: Troublemakers, the name of your fans, who came up with that, the fans or the band?
Ty: Fans did. Two of our friends in LA, Derek and Tawny, that were some of the first Troublemakers coming to every show, in between two sets at Har Bells in Los Angeles. They said you know, we are making you guys more popular as the Troublemakers.
Will: It’s just a great name. It fits with your energy on stage, and your flamboyance and Troublemakers just seem to fit in with that.With the new album, I mean obviously you’re evolving; will this be your third full studio album?
Ty: Interestingly enough, this is our 3rd studio album but it’s the first album we haven’t recorded live.
Will: Oh, okay.
Ty: As a band, we’ve always been so excited, because we grew up loving artists from the 30s through to the 60s into the 70s. These were people that just played songs all the way through and they recorded them, and that was your recording, basically. And we looked down on a lot of contemporary ways of recording. Then all of a sudden, we thought about some of our new heroes. Amy Winehouse is one of those people. The reason I thought they carried the torch for the same music we’re carrying, in a more successful way, is because they met the universe in the middle. Opposed to — someone can have a great conversation but if they’re not thinking about the person they’re talking to, then it’s, what do you call it, it’s a soliloquy instead of a dialogue. You’re talking to yourself. Wow, I can express it like that. And so we decided to meet people more in the middle and that’s this new music. And we broke things down, we really worked on arrangements, we thought about sonic placement and real estate, we thought about rhythmic placement. We went back to a lot of stuff we learned in school about music, and recorded it that way. And then when we hit Play, or Record, we chose to let go with the same kind of wild abandonment that we do, but having had the structure leading up to it.
Will: Yeah, so you’ve got the background to the actual track as well
Ty: Not only the background. We had the idea of what we were doing in the work sessions. We sat in the work sessions, and we remembered going through it all together. We were able to record in isolation after that, conjuring the same feeling from when we were playing together. So it’s not just sitting down, getting with the producer, let’s try something on the bridge. You already worked it out with the band.
Will: So you knew exactly how you wanted to portray the music to the fans.
Ty: No, we didn’t know exactly. We knew what we wanted to do differently that we hadn’t done in the past, that we thought might help us reach more fans this time. And it’s been really nice, because you see our shows happening, and people dancing to the shows, you see everyone dancing together, whether they are the younger generation that seems to understand some of these new beats we’re doing, and the older generation. Everyone’s dancing the same. It doesn’t matter when you’re in the room. And it’s probably our own fault for thinking that people would think anything differently.
Will: Yeah, that’s the point; you’re such a good band, such an enigmatic band on stage. What I’ve noticed, whenever you see a video, a clip of you guys live, you always look happy. And you can’t fake that, I don’t think. When a band’s happy you can tell a band is happy and enjoys what they’re doing. You obviously enjoy what you do on stage, you enjoy the music you’re playing, you enjoy the interaction, I imagine, you get the vibe from the fans. You get their energy and throw it back to them. It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship.
Ty: Yeah, exactly.
Will: And so on this particular tour, are you playing a lot of the new music?
Ty: Yeah, half of our show is the new music.
Will: And like you say, it’s been received fantastically by the fans.
Ty: Absolutely crazy. I would say the hard work for me as a performer actually in dealing with it is a lot of the new songs sound a lot like, or make me feel like a lot of the songs I groove to the hardest as a listener. And so it’s wild sometimes to feel it happening during the show. Oh my God, this is our music happening right now, and to see people – to me it’s like they’re dancing like they’re in a dance club or their living room having a party, rather than at a rock show. It’s more exciting to me, because it means people are lost in the music.
Will: They’re relaxed, they are enjoying it, they are in the moment.
Ty: Yeah, they are lost in the moment. And they’re uninhibited, and they’re not feeling like they need to be like the rest of the crowd. But instead they are just in their own groove.
Will: And like you say, there’s a wide range of ages at your shows, from the younger generation to the older generation.
Ty: We have 3 generations at our shows most nights. So that’s exciting.
Will: And to bridge that divide is an achievement in itself, to have that many different generations of fans all loving your music, which you are so proud to put out. It must be an amazing feeling when you’re on stage. You must feel it from the crowd. I’m guessing it helps you to generate your own energy back?
Ty: A lot of times a lot of people go on stage and say stuff to the audience like, “you guys are just as important as the people in the band.” But I see all the shows and I don’t see them acting any different from show to show. And so we really pride ourselves in the idea that the audience really does affect us. I change the set many times according to the audience, in the moment. And like to stretch out and feel what the audience is asking for us in every moment. You know.
Will: So you have a plan but you’re not afraid to slightly veer off.
Ty: Sometimes afraid, but I’m not afraid of being afraid.
Ty: Yeah. So I actually think some of the most exciting things are the times that we are afraid. It adds the danger, you know. I pride myself on being like a cat, light on my feet all the time, and we all do. And so the danger – Richard said to me one day recently, we have to create at least one moment in the show like you used to do when you first started where we didn’t know the endings of the songs, and we didn’t know how we were going to extend the songs. And many times you’re just out of sorts, and that’s fine, and no one should go into their own head but instead rely on each other to pull us back in.
Will: I’m guessing one of you guys will just pick up a beat or pick up a tempo and then everybody will just go with it because obviously you know each other so well.
Ty: It’s usually me, but what I’ve been trying to do lately is make sure everyone knows, amongst us, that it doesn’t have to be me. And if we’re all in tune with each other, how exciting is it going to be if out of nowhere a bass riff happens that was different from what we know it to be and then it made us have to sing our melodies differently. That’s cool as well.
Will: Just evolving throughout the actual set as opposed to sticking to the set list.
Ty: Evolving throughout the actual moment, not just the whole set.
Will: It’s a great way to be, because it’s real.
Ty: It’s real. That’s how life is supposed to be, as well, not just music.
Will: I mean we’re here at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire tonight, a really iconic venue, an old theatre, music hall, where, well, anybody’s who’s anybody has played over the years. Have you actually played at this venue before?
Ty: We were supposed to have played here last time, but they had a problem with the roof caving in or something? So we had to move back to, not had to – I love that place, we had to play — see, I protected myself! We went back to the London Palladium.
Will: Okay, so now you’re here. What you think of the place now you’ve seen it?
Ty: I grew up doing theatre as a kid, so whenever I go into buildings that feel like old theatres it makes me feel like I’m having the best of both worlds.
Ty: In most cases the sound is better in theaters than in clubs. I like that it’s a combination of modern technology, and old feeling.
Will: Yeah, there’s a lot of energy within this building. I think throughout the years, that’s stayed here. That’s how I feel, every time I come here. I love this venue.
Ty: Me too. Me too. You feel it. You can smell it in the walls and stuff. Or maybe that’s just moldy carpet! But I think it’s music spirits.
Will: There’s a little club, the 100 Club in London, another iconic little venue, tiny place. But again, same sort of feeling. It’s got so much history, so many artists have gone through the actual venue, same as here. It’s almost like they leave a hand print, or an imprint, on the actual building itself.
Ty: Definitely, definitely.
Will: And I think you guys are going to add to that tonight.
Ty: Yeah, of course.
Will: You’re off to Europe after this show tonight. And you have many, many dates. You’ve been to Europe many times. How do they find your show, how do you get received over there? With open arms same as here?
Ty: It’s a different culture. It’s always great to go to Spain, you get to feel the Latin energy. You get to see people move different to your music. We’re going to Budapest this time, and Romania. Those are two things I’m most excited about this year, because we haven’t been there. And again, because we like to use the audience and the place so much in our performances. I’m most excited about those two places because it’ll be the places we feel the most new. And I mean new as in new to the place. So we will be different. I don’t mean new to them. We will have more new information to infuse into what we are doing.
Will: And it must be exciting for you as a band as well, to perform somewhere you’ve never been before.
Ty: Oh, yeah.
Will: And just to see the reaction of the audience.
Ty: Yeah. Some people hate it. I’m sure there are certain bands that are huge and they go to a place they’ve never been. They’re like, I can’t believe we are playing in front of these 25 people, you know. But if 25 people know you, the 25 that are there, it’s a great reminder to you of why you wanted to do it in the beginning, why you all came together in the beginning, what it took to get to those other places. It should be, it’s almost like looking at a timeline to know where you are. Then you get a moment to see what day one looks like again. A lot of people don’t get to do that. It’s almost like being able to be, have the wisdom that you have as an adult and the same childlike spirit from when you were born, at the same time. It’s kind of cool.
Will: Those 25 people will be next time maybe 500 people –
Ty: Or it might be 14 next time. No, not us! In general people act that way because those people know that they were in a room and someone was trying to entertain them and they felt they weren’t good enough, the room wasn’t good enough for them. So they don’t tell people to come back.
Will: I think with your fan base, the Troublemakers, like you say, they follow you everywhere. Wherever you go in the world you have this support. So somewhere like Budapest or Romania, I’m sure they’ll be traveling from left right and center just to be able to say they were there.
Ty: A friend’s family from high school was Romanian; they might come to the show.
Will: I know guys are based in LA but you’re not all from there.
Ty: We live in LA. Nalle is from Sweden but the rest of us are from the US.
Will: Well Ty it’s been a pleasure and thank you for taking the time to talk to us at Rock’N’Load Magazine. Have a great show tonight.
Interview By Will Carter
About Vintage Trouble
Over the past few years, Vintage Trouble have wowed audiences across the globe by opening for The Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park, touring North America and Europe with The Who, and playing sold-out headline shows worldwide. Now, on their debut album for Blue Note Records, the Los Angeles-based foursome — singer Ty Taylor, guitarist Nalle Colt, bassist Rick Barrio Dill, and drummer Richard Danielson — channel the vitality of their live show into a fresh and urgent take on guitar-powered rhythm & blues. Produced by Blue Note president Don Was (a three-time Grammy Award-winner known for his work with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Al Green, and Iggy Pop), 1 Hopeful Rd. finds Vintage Trouble building off the groove-fueled sound that Yahoo! once painted as “James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin” and blending blues, soul, and riff-heavy rock & roll with joyfully gritty abandon.
Recorded at L.A.’s East West Studios and mixed by Tom Elmhirst (Mark Ronson, U2, The Black Keys), 1 Hopeful Rd. borrows its title from the album’s opening number and lead single “Run Like the River.” With its foot-stomping rhythm and gospel harmonies, “Run Like the River” embodies the infectiously irrepressible mood that runs throughout 1 Hopeful Rd. and gives even the album’s most pained moments an electrifying edge. The follow-up to Vintage Trouble’s debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions — a self-released effort praised by Paste magazine as “the stuff the best soul ’n’ roll is made of” — 1 Hopeful Rd. matches that emotional intensity with a raw yet sophisticated musicianship that’s prompted BBC Radio 6 to crown the band “the heirs of rhythm and blues.”
After kicking off with the bluesy snarl of “Run Like the River,” 1 Hopeful Rd. rolls on to offer up everything from lovesick ballads (the falsetto-laced “From My Arms”) to fired-up anthems (the thrillingly frenetic “Strike Your Light”) to stripped-back soul-folk tunes (the sweetly breezy, acoustic-guitar-driven closing track “Soul Serenity”). On the world-weary but determined “Doin’ What You Were Doin’,” Vintage Trouble slips into a soul-soothing melodicism and lyrics that gently plead for reflection and renewal (“Why don’t we allow ourselves to be the legends while we’re living?” asks Taylor in his show-stoppingly smooth vocals). And with “Angel City, California,” Vintage Trouble lay down a dirty and glorious, -rock-inspired ode to their hometown and all its sleazy charms.
Longtime devotees of incendiary artists like Ike & Tina Turner, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, Vintage Trouble possess sharply honed instincts for rhythm and groove and unabashed showmanship. Now based in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood, the band first played together in 2010 and soon brought their high-energy brand of soul to weekly residencies at local venues like the Edison and Harvelle’s Blues Club. As they steadily amassed a following, Vintage Trouble eventually drew the attention of Doc McGhee (a legendary music manager best known for working with KISS, Bon Jovi, and Mötley Crüe). Once under McGhee’s wing, the band set their sights overseas and — by 2011 — had taken the stage at Britain’s influential TV show Later…with Jools Holland, delivering powerful performances of “Blues Hand Me Down” and “Nancy Lee” (a stirring serenade to Taylor’s mother, penned from his father’s perspective).
After joining Queen guitarist Brian May on tour in May 2011 and Bon Jovi on tour that June, Vintage Trouble put out The Bomb Shelter Sessions and quickly saw the album hit the UK Top 40. Also charting as the No. 1 R&B album and No. 2 rock album on Amazon UK, The Bomb Shelter Sessions had its U.S. release in April 2012 and fast earned acclaim from such outlets as NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and Billboard. By the end of the year, in the pages of the New York Times, critic Val Haller had hailed Vintage Trouble as a modern-day answer to Otis Redding (“Like Otis Redding,” Haller remarked, “Vintage Trouble makes music that is a little bit of everything”).
Along with appearing on Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The View, Conan, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! — as well as at major festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Glastonbury, Vintage Trouble, under the management of Doc McGhee, has kept up a grueling touring schedule; This has included opening for such artists as The Who, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz, Paloma Faith, Joss Stone and Willie Nelson. At a hometown gig at the El Rey Theatre in summer 2013, Don Was caught the band live for the first time and found himself floored by their explosive performance. “Half of the songs were brand new and totally unfamiliar to the audience…yet the place was rocking from the first notes straight through to the final encore,” recalls Was. “Do you know how hard it is for a new band to pull that off? It requires tremendous charisma, thundering power, incredible grooves, and top-notch songwriting.” By the following spring, Vintage Trouble had inked their deal with Blue Note Records, and set to work on 1 Hopeful Rd.
With Vintage Trouble fiercely dedicated to constantly playing and creating new music — including a 2014 fan-only EP called The Swing House Acoustic Sessions, in addition to 1 Hopeful Rd. — Don Was isn’t the only music legend struck by the band’s passion and musical prowess. Admirers also include Prince (who name-checked Vintage Trouble in an early-2014 interview with MOJO) and Lenny Kravitz (who noted that the Vintage Trouble live experience bears the same feeling as “being at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967”). When describing their own sound, Vintage Trouble use the term “formatted recklessness”: a fantastically paradoxical phrase that captures the spirit of a band whose music is wildly unhinged but rooted in real musicality, gut-punching but thought-provoking, steeped in the heritage of old-school soul but utterly and irresistibly timeless.
It’s that kind of passion, together with hard work, talent and luck, that are taking Vintage Trouble right where they deserve to be: on our radios and our televisions, in our headphones and our cars, at our favorite venues and on the soundtrack of our most memorable moments in life.