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Interview with Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble

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Interview with Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble

By Owen Maxwell

It’s not often that a band can make you feel like you just stepped out of a time machine, but California retro-revival rockers, Vintage Trouble, pull it off perfectly. The band is the real deal, playing old-school rhythm and blues mixed with a bit of rock, pulling of some amazing stage antics and some outfits lifted right from the fifties. I spoke with lead singer, Ty Taylor, about the band’s new acoustic EP, The Swing House Sessions, and where their aesthetic comes from.

The band has such energy to them, why did you decide to slow things down for an acoustic EP?

Well there are a few reasons for that. We’ve been touring relentlessly recently and our only time to write has been on the bus, meaning all of our songs have been coming out acoustically anyways. We wanted to show our fans both sides of our sound so this allowed them a peek at our writing process too. We also really loved how artists like Otis Redding or The Rolling Stones would always have that one quiet nugget on every record like “As Tears Go By” that turned them from a one-sided band into artists, we wanted to make a whole album of that kind of sound.


Many of your recordings just don’t have the incredible electricity your live sound does, why do you think that is?

On record you just can’t match the experience of a live show. You’re not only missing the visual component but the ability to play with call and response that we do live. There’s also the fact that we had only been playing together three months when we made our first recordings, it’s more practiced live than on record. Personally I think that’s how it should be; the live show should always outdo the record.

The first time I saw your band the energy and call and response you brought to the performance made it seem almost religious to me. Do you have any religious background that might explain this?

Well I was brought up going to church and I’m actually an ordained minister so that definitely plays a significant role. People want to yell though, when you give them that call and response, you are allowing them to release all that pent up energy from all the garbage they have to deal with in their life. That experience allows them a spiritual release akin to some kind of religious experience.

Not only does the band sound like they come from the fifties but you all dress that way too, where does this aesthetic come from?

Well the music definitely plays the biggest role. I always admired bands from back then who would wear suits on stage, so we’re partly emulating that. At the same time though, I also see it as a sign of respect, you wear a uniform to go to work, I don’t want to go on stage looking like I just walked off the street. If you’re wondering if this is how we usually dress though, the answer is yes. I’m wearing a shirt and tie right now and we’re not even playing for a few hours. We’re all lovers of vintage fashion so we thought we’d express that live.

Your stage antics in particular are some of the craziest I’ve seen, I haven’t heard of anyone climbing over seats on Letterman before. Where does this come from?

I like to let the music dictate what kind of energy we bring. I’ve always seen the audience as a fifth member of the band. When I start a call and response or run through the crowd, I’m getting them to play their part and energize them too. We haven’t had a single crowd let us down yet. We once had a show where an audience member jumped on stage and started dancing around and bumped into some of the equipment. I wasn’t mad though because I felt we’d brought that energy out of him and that was worth it.

Who are your major influences?

The biggest would be Tina and Ike Turner, The Rolling Stones, a bit of Led Zeppelin, Little Richard, Chuck Berry. Our sound mixes rock and rhythm and blues together so it’s mostly a mixture of that. One of our favourite modern influences was definitely Amy Winehouse though; she was driving soul for a modern audience.

What’s the best show you guys have played?

Our favourite headlining slot was playing in an old castle in Santiago, Chile. The acoustics were amazing, the crowd was diverse and alive, the atmosphere was just crazy and the excitement we could elicit from them made it unforgettable.

Our favourite show in general though is a toss-up between opening for the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park which was a dream come true and opening for The Who in Madison Square Garden. The Who show will always be special for me after my nephew told me how amazed he was from our show.

What’s next for the band?

We’ll be touring for the next few months and then we’re releasing a new LP on Bluenote Records that should be coming out by the end of the winter. We love this label and playing for them has always been a dream of mine.

Read a live review of Vintage Trouble’s performance here.

Photo by Lee Cherry



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