Rod Yates speaks with one of the world’s most snappily dressed bands, Vintage Trouble.
For music lovers and fashion aficionados, there are few places more exciting than Tokyo, a city renowned for its left-of-centre clothing emporiums and rabbit warren record stores. That Ty Taylor, vocalist for Los Angeles quartet Vintage Trouble, is a fan of both partly explains why he sounds so upbeat when he answers the phone from his Shibuya hotel.
“We’ve been here four times, maybe five, and this time I chose fashion over records,” he cackles. “There are so many cool things about Japanese fashion that don’t happen anywhere else in the world. As much of a music-phile as I am. I had to go get some oddly cut pants today!”
But the other reason for Taylor’s chuckling good cheer is the fact that his band is on a hot streak. Since the release of their second album, 1 Hopeful Rd. single “Strike A Light” has hit the top of Japanese radio playlists and Vintage Trouble has supported AC/ DC in Europe. That pairing may at first seem incongruous, given that Vintage Trouble are at home massaging a heartfelt R&B ballad as they are a raw rock and soul track, but Taylor found a kindred spirit in AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.
“We had a dinner in Helsinki and he says, ‘Come outside and have a cigarette with me.” Taylor recalls. “I’m not even a smoker but I’m going to go and have a cigarette with him. So, its jut the two of us and we’re talking about songs and travelling and food, and were talking about compassion and endurance of music and about never losing who you are. And when we came back to dinner we’re just leaning on each other and talking, to the point where when Angus went to the toilet his wife said, ‘What did you say to him? I haven’t scot him talk like that in forever.”‘
It’s not the first time Vintage Trouble has found themselves in esteemed company. Since forming in LA in 2010, they’ve supported The Who, The Rolling Stones and, er, Bon Jovi, all the while finessing their authentic melange of soul, blues and rock ‘n’ roll in clubs and theatres worldwide. In 2014 they signed with renowned jazz label Blue Note, whose CEO -legendary funk musician Don Was – produced 1 Hopeful Rd.
Recorded in two weeks -a luxury compared to the three-day gestation afforded their debut, 2011’s The Bomb Shelter Sessions- Was’ patronage is partly responsible for the more assured, confident sound of their sophomore album.
“It feels more like a record than just a recording of live songs,” explains Taylor. “What he really did most was, he looked into our eyes like a peer, and, just by doing that, it made us feel a little bit ballsier and made us live up to the best parts of us.”
Next up for the LA quartet is to bring 1 Hopeful Rd. – its name is a metaphor for never giving up on your dreams – to Australia this March for Bluesfest and a series of headline shows in Melbourne and Sydney. Their initial visit to the country in 2012 was one of wild contrasts.
“I remember us getting into a fight – we were outside a mall watching a street performer and some guy started pushing us, and we had to bring him to the ground for a second so he wouldn’t swing at us,” says Taylor. “But what I also remember is we were treated so great. I know there’s a lot of soul, rhythm and blues music there, and I think there’s a place for us there and people recognise that There’s nothing better than having people look at you like you’re needed.”