The RUSHONROCK-approved US stars have a deluxe reissue of The Bomb Shelter Sessions out this summer – featuring live material – and have already started work on its follow-up.
Editor Simon Rushworth talked exclusively to frontman Ty Taylor – look out for the verdict on the band’s Newcastle double-header later this week.
rushonrock: You’ve already been out on the road with The Who in America – what can you tell us about the show?
Ty Taylor: First of all I’m sure most people have read the reviews…and the reviews have been great. People just really, really like this particular interpretation of The Who’s best material. There’s not as much storytelling but it’s still a triumph. In the past Pete Townsend has narrated a lot of material but this time he allows his and Roger (Daltrey)’s creativity to come to the fore. He allows Roger to run away with the concept and it’s thrilling. There is the usual strong imagery, of course, but I’ve heard from people who have seen The Who before that there’s a better flow to this show. As an evening of music it’s beautiful and the complementary images are gorgeous. It’s The Who – what’s not to like? But the visual side of things is amazing.
rushonrock: What’s it been like working with The Who?
TT: One of the great things that happened right away was after the first show the band told their entire production team to give us the use of The Who’s entire production rig! We got to pick our own images and do the visuals in layers. Then they gave us the use of 17 cameras! At that point we got a bit cocky and asked if we could shoot the show in low definition and in black and white but it worked as a prelude to the main event. So many of The Who’s best images are in black and white with a Northern Soul flavour. What we do with our show really connects Vintage Trouble with the genesis of The Who and that’s so important. When The Who started out they were a rhythm and blues band but like every great band they ran with their influences and allowed their individual personalities to shine through.
rushonrock: What has The Who tour allowed Vintage Trouble to achieve?
TT: We’ve been given the chance to be a little more thorough in everything we do. We have been given the opportunity to tour the world and had the chance to play arenas every night. But that’s presented it’s own challenges. We’ve worked hard to keep the same sense of sincerity and ‘down-homeness’ that caharcterise our club shows. The only way we could do that is by staying ‘small’ and that’s how we work on stage. On top of that part of my mission is to make sure that everyone stays connected to the band during a Vintage Trouble show. Even if it’s an arena show I really try to think of everyone in the crowd as some kind of energy-giving light. Making sure there’s a connection is almost like the end-game for us – but of course we only have 30 minutes when we’re opening up for The Who so it’s quite a challenge!
rushonrock: How did The Who tour come about?
TT: We won the Classic Rock Award in 2011 for Best New Band and at the same ceremony The Who won an award for the Quadrophenia documentary. That’s how they became aware of us in the first instance. That’s when Roger asked us to the Teenage Cancer Trust event at St Pancreas. We spent time with some of the teenage patients and it was very moving – that was a year ago – and it kind of affirmed our bond. Although it’s my belief that it takes time to reap your rewards in life – and that you must work hard to achieve your goals – I’m sure that first meeting with The Who and the work we did with the TCT helped us to stand out from the crowd when they were sifting through the 20-odd bands in with a shout of opening up on this tour.
rushonrock: And do you get on well with Roger and the band?
TT: I think so! My favourite moment was when Roger shouted across to me after one show. He shouted ‘Ty, Ty, Ty – I was just telling my friends that if this was 30 years ago then I would like to be part of this whole Vintage Trouble scene’. That was pretty special.
rushonrock: In Newcastle you’re playing two shows in one night – opening up for The Who at the Arena and then playing a ‘late’ show at Northumbria University. Whose crazy idea was that?
TT: It’s something we did on the Bon Jovi tour in the UK and we loved it. I hope Vintage Trouble will always look to do that kind of thing given the chance. Every so often we need to remind ourselves what music was created for. It was created for places where you go on stage and you really start to sweat. What’s really nice is that we get to announce the late show on stage at the end of the Arena set – The Who are happy for us to do that and that’s how great they are. Hopefully we can gather together a few new people. Around 11pm – when The Who are done – I’m hoping a few people want their night of rock n roll to continue.
rushonrock: Logistically does two gigs in one night across town present any problems?
TT: Not at all. It’s a no-brainer. Our team is a well-oiled machine. Most times we arrive in a city and our tour manager and the road crew check out the venue and make sure everything’s ready to go and ready to run smoothly. That will all be sorted out before we get to the University and we’ll literally pick up our gear and head on over there from the Arena. It will be fine.
rushonrock: Is it coincidence that you’ve chosen to play two shows in one night in Newcastle or is it already a city close to Vintage Trouble hearts?
TT: It’s no coincidence at all. The last couple of times we’ve come over to the UK Newcastle has been one of our biggest supporters. The Cluny show a couple of summers ago was rammed and sweaty and then we sold out The Sage in no time. We just wanted to do something really special for the people of the North East and hopefully two shows in one night will be special! Of course it has to fit in with our schedule but this time it does. The simple fact that the late show’s in Newcastle means it will be cool.
rushonrock: You’re enjoying a great run of live shows but when can we expect the follow-up to 2011’s The Bomb Shelter Sessions?
TT: It’s one of those things where we’re on the verge of finishing the second album – in fact we’re ready to go with it – but it’s all about the timing. We have a live album that’s coming out this summer and that will drop first. We’ve recorded the second album and we’re not actively trying to hold off from putting it out there. But there are still a lot of people out there who are only just cottoning on to who we are and only just getting into the first record. We were talking to Doc McGhee (VT manager) and he was telling us about Guns n Roses’ Appetite For Destruction – that record was out for a year and a half before it suddenly caught on but they were under the same pressure to record the follow-up. Had they done so a great album might have been missed. We’re in no rush and I suppose our fans will just have to chill out and enjoy the 80 Shows In 100 Days CD/DVD.
rushonrock: Just how crazy were those 100 days?
TT: It all started when we did the Jools Holland show. Then we got the Bon Jovi support slot and started doing our own shows in front of a few hundred people. And then we started selling out bigger venues – it’s all captured in the DVD and all in 100 days. I didn’t really think about it at the time but it just became a human story and a story about a fight against the odds. How many bands can actually make it in the world? People always look at the bad odds and don’t believe they can beat the odds. But we did. It was an amazing 100 days and artists need to concentrate more on the magnificent things that can happen to a band rather than focus on the potential setbacks.
rushonrock: So why do so many bands become influenced by the ‘worst that could happen’?
TT: I suppose when you’re a parent you want your child to choose something ‘safe’ as a career. That’s understandable but that point of view will influence the thinking of your child. And people tend to look at the negatives. Perhaps people should think ‘why can’t I be that one?’. Sometimes good things do happen.