Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: I’ve Got So Much Trouble On My Mind, Refuse To Lose…

vinatge-poster-v1About a month ago, I shared with you my experience at Austin City Limits. It really was an amazing time of being surrounded by music. While there I had the pleasure of seeing this incredible band called Vintage Trouble; you may remember me mentioning that in the post… but there’s more!  Between their ACL performance and a later show at The Continental Club where they would share the stage with The Dynamics featuring Charles Walker; I was given the privilege to talk with these incredible guys. Please allow me to introduce: vocalist Ty Taylor, guitarist Nalle Colt, drummer Richard Danielson and bassist Rick Barrio Dill, collectively known as Vintage Trouble.

K: Fellas, it’s my genuine pleasure to meet you.  I caught you on Leno a couple months back and had been looking forward to us being in the same place at the same time, so this was quite the treat.

There seemed to be sparks of electricity, like live wires being forged together as you walked on stage. What’s going on backstage before you come up?

RBD: Good question and we wish we could say some sort of overly romantic, spiritual or [animistic] ceremony was taking place just before. We basically walked from the dressing room to the stage, said a couple hellos along the way. Probably stopped for a photo opp, told some jokes, etc…
TT: But there is plenty of romance in live performance and that is enough to get our hearts going. And there is a ton of spirit in live music and we surely are all tapped into that emotion. And being a brethren coming together for a cause in the moment is surely ceremonious. So though there may appear not to be a whole lot of theatrics happening backstage before we go on, we are all internally amped as one unit. We’re glad to hear and know that it registers.

Ty, you’ve gotta have the most penetrating steel pipes I’ve heard in years.  In your voice I heard everyone from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to David Ruffin to Joe Ligon to Daryl Coley- tell me about your background and influences.

TT: The first singing that really caught me was in church.  I remember a choir director at my church named Gail Freeman had a huge voice that rocked that walls of the building.  I wanted to have as much power as she had.  It was almost like the vibration of sound was actually moving emotion. Then in my home I heard a lot of The Staple Singes and Ike & Tina.  Later on in my life I fell in love with 1950s and early sixties music.  There was something about the combination of Rock ‘n Roll and Rhythm and Blues that really gave singers a freedom. So then I really fell in love with Etta James, Ruth Brown, Chuck Berry, Otis, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.  Recently, I have fallen in love with the voice of Little Willie John.  I’ve been learning a lot from him lately.

And what about the rest of you guys; background, influences, education…

RBD: we all come from slightly different angles maybe on music influences, but we wind up in the same place of appreciation for old soul, Rhythm & Blues and early Rock ‘n Roll.  For VT, we love the place in music [from] the mid ’50s and ’60s that seemed to have so much, without clear definitive lines.  From Ike & Tina Turner to Little Richard to Stax to Led Zeppelin to Northern Soul and so much more, we love it all.   The beautiful thing is as we have grown too, we keep looking further and deeper into these influences influences to discover or re-discover so much more whether it be gospel or raw blues and soul.  Its really a never ending quest.
NC: I was born and raised in Sweden. I got attached to the guitar early on from hearing Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. It felt like a natural way for me to express myself. I, early on, fell in love with blues and rock music. Rory Gallagher, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, so much expression and I love the raw feeling it brought. I moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s to pursue music and I’m still here.

With all these influences, why this artistic direction?

RBD: It really happened pretty organically. We did speak of this time in music that we all love so much, which was basically late ’50s early ’60s soul and rhythm and blues which was fusing with and becoming Rock ‘n Roll. So that was a great starting point and we all just brought our greater influences into the fold from there.
TT: We knew we wanted to cause emotion because that is how we were felling when we played together.
RD: And dance is something else we wanted to cause. But in truth our style developed over a short period of time playing live. We played our first live show after only being together three weeks and have been slammed with gigs ever since.
NC: It was so easy for us to just drop everything and connect to our early influences. A great mix of rhythm & blues, rock, soul.

Where are you from? How did you meet and what brought you together?

RBD: Well, the band hails from Los Angeles. Ty is originally from NJ and Nalle is from Sweden, both of whom played together in various other projects before meeting me (from Florida) and Richard Danielson (a California native). The coming together happened as a timing thing when the rare opportunity of all of us being free from other commitments arose and we were able to try something together, which looking back seemed to be brewing for some time. It only took one day in the studio together and we never looked back.

TLC - KNAGUI-24I picked up your album at the Waterloo Records tent, thanks for signing it by the way, I noticed it was released in 2011.  Were there projects before this one as a band or individually?

NC: We live in Los Angeles and we were lucky to run into each other.
TT: We all have been in many projects before Vintage Trouble.
RD: Luckily being musicians in LA has allowed to be part of groups that have played everything from hard rock to folk to R&B to Punk. The best part of that is that we have all those styles inside of us as a collective. We never try to put our past influences aside, but instead inject it into our music.
RDB: The bomb shelter sessions is our first record together.

What’s been fueling the momentum of this album?

RBD: We were fortunate early on.  We were asked to do this incredible television show in London called “Later with Jools Holland” and our performance there essentially changed our lives before we left the BBC parking lot.   We trended #6 worldwide and it opened up tours with Brian May from Queen, Bon Jovi and Lenny Kravitz.  We were able to hit Europe and things spread really well there. From that, we were able to go to Japan and hit the ground running where our record debuted high on the charts.  We kept relentlessly touring, hitting Australia and back to the UK- where in some cities we have been there 8 or 9 times.  We toured America as much as possible, playing everywhere we could too.   Along the way we picked up an award from Classic Rock Magazine for “Best New Artist” the same time the Who was getting an award for “Quadrophenia”.  Between that and some charity work we did with Roger Daltrys Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK, we were on their radar when it came time to tour and wound up doing 51 dates with The Who across 2 continents.  It really helped keep all the early hard work going and we were able to play for such large audiences in so many cities from that as well as keep doing our own shows.   At this point, we have been touring almost 2 and a half years straight. It really has made all the difference.   We haven’t stopped working.   We just got back from South America playing Rock & Rio and that looks like its another part of the world that we really want to spend time connecting to.  We love to play and affect people and thats at the core.

One of the reasons I sat through Leno the night you guys were on was because of the name of the band. Who chose the name and why?

NC: Ty chose the name based on a conversation he was having with a friend regarding his late father, explaining that he was trouble… vintage trouble. That came up in a lyric in the song Blues Hand Me Down, “I come from vintage trouble look out if I’m the one you found…” and from there we named the band.

As a unit your look on stage is mega-classic and classy, yet each of you are very well represented individually.  Are you guys responsible for your own styling or was/is it a collaborative effort with a stylist?

RBD: No stylists. Our style comes from the the style of music we play and it felt natural to allow the ’50s and ’60s to come through.
TT: There’s something slick and clean about the fashion back then.  Wearing a tight suit gives the feeling of wanting to break out and be released.  Lends to the urgency of the music.
RD: Then we all started really getting into early 1900s movies so we gave our ’50s/’60s look a twist of turn of the century.  I think that’s how the high collars, vintage ties and ascots came around.
NC: And we like to dress up out of respect to our audiences.

What’s the story behind what each of you wear and is there any vintage in your wardrobe?

RDB: I don’t think there are stories behind what each of us wears but I will definitely say that like our instruments, our individual looks has become and amplification of our spirits.

Vintage Trouble • 2013Let’s dig into your recording process.  Even the way you recorded the album was old school… hold up three days in Bomb Shelter Studios.  Was that the plan or did it just happened to be the flow of inspiration?

RBD: It was never really a plan to do anything but sit in a circle, really, and record some songs to sell at shows.   Again, we got fortunate probably in that recording all “full takes” to do the Bomb Shelter Sessions wound up being a blessing as it taught us many things.  We love the honesty of the raw “old school” way of performing together and it helps to not get too “heady” in the studio.   By playing everything down together, we commit as a band and hopefully help each other get out of our own ways.   Now it seems like the basic mantra for all that we do: keep it real and raw.  It really works for us.

What equipment did you use? Tell me about vintage instruments, mics, analog/digital usage, engineer, special touches, some hidden gem or mistake for the listener to tune into on a song, etc…

NC: When we listen to old ’50s and ’60s recordings, it just sounds so much better than most new recordings. So we really wanted to dig into the simplicity of recordings- less microphones, record to analog tape, use great tube amps and pre-amps… Lots of the sounds that the digital era has produced just doesn’t sound very good to me. I miss a lot of the roundness of the analog sound. Playing together is our main key. We can do some vocal, guitar or percussion overdubs, but our main tracks are recorded together. I really think it’s the most important part of our sound.

I’ve been touring and doing clinics in Europe since 2002 and for me, it was something that just happened and took off.  How did you guys gain your European audience and where do you find yourself performing most?

RD: We spent our first year as Vintage Trouble playing shows in Los Angeles. We could not afford to go anywhere else and we really wanted to make a buzz in LA. We got great support from the LA audience . We always had the dream to take our music to Europe and mostly UK. With an offer from Jools Holland (a BBC music TV show) and a 3 week tour with Brian May from Queen. We left and ended up touring UK, Ireland and Scotland for over 3 months. I think the European audience is a little more open to new bands and music. They embraced us and gave us a massive support.
TT: We toured most of the world by now, but we’re still just getting started.

I don’t want to use the word “success” because you all are successful in what you’ve achieved individually in life so far and the crowd’s reaction proves your success as a band; what I’d like to know is what do you site as the determining factor in the difference of your audience awareness in the States and in Europe?

NC: Thank you for saying that. As far as awareness, The States is a lot of ground to cover. We received massive support from great TV Shows here, but it still takes a lot of touring and radio play to gain real success. We could tell when Europe started to really know us, most of our tours were selling out, and this is slowly starting to show here in The States as well.
TT: And European’s might be a little more willing to seek out newer bands based on their history of learning about new music. This is trending here in the States because people are tired of being force fed the same radio rotation so they are using the internet to find out what real people are saying is good music.

In addition to your album, do you have any recommendations of artists our readers should get hip to?

RBD: There is so much out there, the fun part again is the search.  The best thing might be to find out what truly inspires you and then find out what are the influences of those people that influence you.  Discovery opens up discovery and off you go.
NC: We get to meet a lot of great artists while touring and one that sticks out for me is Carolyn Wonderland from Austin TX. She is deep in the blues and her voice combined with her dirty blues guitar playing is a ‘must hear’ thing. Check her out.

When can we anticipate the next Vintage Trouble album?

NC: Early 2014

Groovy!!! Thanks guys, I look forward to seeing you again soon and hearing great things from you.

TLC - KNAGUI-34

See you “next Sunday.”

[photo credit: Liam Carl Design, Lee Cherry]

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