Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Members: Ty Taylor (vocals), Nalle Colt (guitar), Rick Barrio Dill (bass), Richard Danielson (drums)
Album: The Bomb Shelter Sessions
For Fans Of: Alabama Shakes, Otis Redding, James Brown
It feels a little odd to be declaring a band who’s already opened for Bon Jovi, had their music featured in a Honda commercial, delivered high-profile late-night TV performances and cultivated an army of fans in Europe (who refer to themselves as the “Troublemakers”) as the “best of what’s next.” Perhaps it’s more accurate to call Vintage Trouble the best of what’s now.
The Los Angeles soul quartet’s debut album, The Bomb Shelter Sessions, drops stateside today, but it’s already been out for over a year across the pond—a conscious choice on the band’s part.
“Starting in the U.K. specifically was something that we had thrown into the air early on in the rehearsal, and we’d really like to kind of break it out in the U.K., and when we were lucky enough to meet Doc [McGhee] our manager, one of the first things we said is we wanna do that, and he totally agreed,” bassist Rick Barrio Dill explains, standing outside the Paste office on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Atlanta. “‘Why practice?’ he said, ‘Let’s just go over there and perform.’ And so we did it over there and released the record. So here we are a year and eight months later or whatever, getting to come home after doing it in Europe and Australia, getting to come home and release it officially.”
Frontman Ty Taylor nods before jumping in: “It’s also the dream, you know? You just want to. You think about like Tracy Chapman, Terence Trent [D’Arby], Jimi Hendrix and all the people who went to England first, and as a kid you say to yourself, ‘I’d like that to happen.’ So we had the opportunity.”
Of course, there’s long tradition of transcontinental cross-pollination when it comes to music, with Brits like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones being influenced by American bluesmen or the U.K.’s thriving dubstep scene slowly gaining more and more prominence within the Yankee underground. It’s a cycle, and while it’s always been the dream, Taylor maintains that Vintage Trouble were the beneficiaries of some good timing.
“We have this documentary that we love,” he says. “In 1967 Stax took all their artists to Oslo and the U.K., did this whole thing, and they just seemed so excited to be on the buses and see the people and the whole pulse of the way people would dance to their songs was different, and they hadn’t had a chance to experience a lot of stuff that was overly American, and I mean, there’s still some things that are American that people in England don’t know about, and I think we might have been one of those people and we kind of hit a chord. Countries borrow from each other, and I think we got there at a time that maybe they’re saying, ‘What’s coming from America right now?’ Because we know so many talented people. I think we lucked out as far as the timing, and we just ran with it.”
“The beginning of rock and roll, you know, there’s a lot of English bands that sort of captured the American soul of it, almost more than the Americans,” guitarist Nalle Colt adds. “The Beatles and the Stones, they really got into that rhythm and blues and soul music.”
“And we like the birds,” Taylor adds in his best over-the-top Cockney accent before breaking into laughter. “Not the band. And not the animal.”
The group—who are all clad in suits, despite it being nearly 80 degrees outside—chuckles. “Hopefully animalistic,” Dill grins.
Their sound isn’t all Vintage Trouble has in common with those ‘60s Stax artists: they’ve already got a documentary of their own in the works, chronicling their time spent honing their high-octane live show abroad.
“We did 80 shows in 100 days, and we got to play so many different kinds of rooms,” Taylor says. “It was such a challenge. The biggest challenge wasn’t the fact that we had to do all those shows, for us it was governing our energy and feeling each room out and kind of making sure you were being specific with each room. Because we would go from, in that 100 days, there was Sonisphere, and then there was also an elementary prep school.”
He laughs, before continuing: “We just had to step up every time. Sometimes we fell, but in general we stood up and made it happen.”
Watching Taylor perform, it’s easy to see how they made it happen. The charismatic frontman knows how to work a crowd, twirling mic stands and spinning across the stage with sweaty, rock ‘n’ roll intensity one moment before dialing it back for a soulful ballad the next. And while they’ve adapted depending on the crowd they’re in front of, Taylor says, the core of a Vintage Trouble show will always remain the same.
“Your heart and soul are always going to be the same,” he says. “It’s like when you meet people in regular life. You’re gonna always be you, but if you want to have a conversation with people, you’re gonna meet them in the middle. So that’s what it’s like. We don’t change who Vintage Trouble is, we just talk to people differently according to who we’re having a conversation with.”
Capturing that live energy in the studio can be a challenge, so it makes sense that The Bomb Shelter Sessions was recorded fast and loose, with all four members in the same room.
“We hadn’t been playing for that long, about three months together, and we have a friend who owns a great recording studio and gave us a killer deal to go in and make some demos because we wanted to go in and record some songs and see how they sounded, so it was no intention of making an album at all actually, it was just to check it out,” Colt says. “But we recorded it straight live, because we thought it was demos anyway, and when we listened back to it, that was it, it was happening.”
“We did it all in threes,” drummer Richard Danielson adds. “We had been together three months, we recorded it in three days, and we did our first show in actually three weeks. It’s a special feel I guess when you play live. You think differently when you’re in the recording studio, I guess. But like Nalle was saying earlier, I think the way you capture that is to keep things organic and live.”
While the band is excited to see the fruits of their labor finally released in their home country, they’re even more anxious to hit the road and play the States, thriving on that back-and-forth with audiences.
“The second I think we realized we were a family of like minds is when we realized that for all of us, it was more important how the audience felt,” Taylor explains. “That was a judge of our show. Because you know, when you were younger, sometimes you’d be judging your shows by how great you did your drum fill or how great you sang or whatever, but that shit’s bullshit. For us, and I think it should be this way for most people, your success is in the faces of the people watching you. So for us a successful show is when people have cried and laughed and sweated and rubbed up against each other, and any of that kind of stuff, you’re a success. It’s about the people. When the people are happy, then we’re happy.”
There’s plenty on the horizon for Vintage Trouble: you can catch them making their American network TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel tonight, and they’re touring through the summer, including some gigs opening for The Cranberries and Lenny Kravitz and jaunts in Australia and Japan.
But Taylor’s not that interested in dropping names of famous friends. For him, the real pay-off is getting to meet other up-and-coming artists and joining forces—forming an army, as he puts it. As he and the band begin to load their gear out of the Paste office, School of Seven Bells arrives for their session. Taylor walks over, hand extended, and introduces himself. “What’s the name of your band?” he asks before repeating it to make sure he got it right. “I’ll be sure to check it out.”
“There’s something really nice about the synergy of people who are trying to be responsible for bringing the realness to the center of the music scene now,” he says later. “We’re interested in really hanging out with these people and trying to form an army so there’s never any kind of competition base. It’s not about who’s doing this, where people are, blah-di-blah-di-blah. It’s really about us all coming together and offering something to society and to the world right now through the realness. Because maybe the reason America is feeling a little flighty right now is because we’ve forgotten to go back down to the ground. There’s a music swell right now that can help usher people back down to the ground, I think.”