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Kitty

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:04 pm

Rock and a Hard Place
by Kathy McCabe
Daily Telegraph, November 27, 2004

THE future of rock group The Vines appeared in jeopardy six months ago when a homecoming gig led to frontman Craig Nicholls being charged with assault and malicious damage.

What none of the band's fans or critics knew, as his increasingly erratic behaviour escalated to its zenith at Sydney's Annandale Hotel on May 27, was that Nicholls suffers from Asperger's Syndrome.

The international promotional and touring campaign for the band's much-anticipated second album, Winning Days, came to an immediate halt after Nicholls kicked a photographer's camera during the first song. He also abused bass player Patrick Matthews, who left the stage and the venue by the third song.

A report on the songwriter's medical condition by a leading authority on Asperger's Syndrome, Professor Tony Attwood, led to the charges being dismissed last week.

Nicholls' relief mirrored that experienced by those close to him when he finally was diagnosed with the developmental disorder, which is linked to autism, in August.

All felt it was now time to reveal why one of the most successful Australian rock artists on the international scene in 20 years hasn't been able to cope with success and its demands. Craig's older brother Matt says he doesn't care what anyone thinks about him.

"When I told him we were going to tell people about the diagnosis he said, 'I don't give a f---. They call me mental now so it doesn't matter what people call me'."

As for Nicholls, he's now happy at home, able to focus on his beloved music and doing demos of new songs with his band members – Matthews, drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffiths – for The Vines' third album.

Nicholls' unpredictability has left thousands of fans who have been to The Vines' gigs exhilarated, astonished to watch a classic rock 'n' roll maverick in full flight. And there were gigs when Nicholls would scream utter gibberish instead of singing lyrics, destroy his own and other band members' equipment, hurl abuse and seem totally uninterested in rendering songs from their multimillion- selling debut album, Highly Evolved.

In those moments, some felt disappointment. Critics dismissed Nicholls as an arrogant and indulgent rock star. His family and bandmates and the Winterman and Goldstein management team – Andy Cassell, Andy Kelly and Pete Lusty – knew that getting professional help for the troubled songwriter was imperative after the Annandale incident.

Says Lusty: "From the day we met Craig, we realised he was unique. We were always trying to work out how to deal with it, how to make his situation as comfortable as we could."

His difficulty with touring became immediately evident when the up-and-coming rock four-piece secured a support slot on a You Am I national tour. The singer suffered a "panic attack" the night before the tour and told the band and managers he couldn't go through with it.

"His parents had worked very hard with Craig, trying to help him and find out what his issues were and get treatment," Lusty says. "We did the same thing when we started with him and sought professional help for him straightaway. We would take turns driving him to psychiatrists and psychologists. But Craig was unco-operative sometimes. No one would pick up on it. They would say he had a sore back or was afraid of flying or nervous about the tour. We kept saying there was something more to it."

Some put his conduct down to his use of marijuana. But Cassell says, with the benefit of hindsight, there was a pattern to Nicholls' behaviour. In the studio, he would be in his element, realising his only and oft-repeated ambition to "record amazing studio albums".

The demands of a professional music career increased as the band exploded, first in the UK, then the US and Australia.


This was the first Australian band to make the cover of US Rolling Stone in 20 years. But the more success the band achieved, the more stress Nicholls and his bandmates came under.

Kelly says: "In the middle of all of that was when it was most obvious Craig was unique. A lot of people in that situation would take advantage of becoming famous but he didn't."

When the band finished touring for Highly Evolved, Nicholls settled down again. He was happy and excited during the recording of Winning Days, surrounded by his beloved nature in upstate New York. Yet when they hit the road again for a major US tour and talkfest, he steadily became more abusive.

He also was socially withdrawn, obviously uncomfortable in the crowded backstage after gigs and would retreat to the tour bus to be alone with his guitar and four-track recording equipment.

Says Cassell: "When they got to the UK and Europe, it started getting hard again, really hard, and by the time the Annandale show happened, we realised he couldn't handle the stress any more."

The triggers for his outbursts over the past four years often were bizarre. Kelly recalls Nicholls' explanation for trashing a studio set while rehearsing for their performance on The Jay Leno Show in December 2002.

"He told me afterwards he had been hungry. He said, 'You know I have to eat before we do things like that'. He was saying, 'I am not happy with this situation', but he wasn't able to verbalise why that was," he says.

Nicholls craves routine and privacy. He drinks only Coca-Cola and eats McDonald's or similar fast food. He constantly inquires as to the whereabouts of his skateboard while on tour.

But most of all, he is obsessive about his music. Growing up, it was skateboarding and martial arts.

His brother Matt says Nicholls has excelled at the creative and sporting endeavours he enjoys.

Matt says: "The freaky thing is he has always been good at what he's done. When he was skateboarding, there were plenty of companies wanting to sponsor him. He's totally focused on music and making what he calls important records and getting better and better at it. That's all that matters to him. When you strip away all the bulls--t of the past few years, some nightmare performances or arguments, there are two unreal albums. That's what stands up."

With The Vines pulled off the road in May, his managers devoted themselves to uncovering what was wrong.

Kelly recalls Nicholls' guitar technician, Tony Bateman, mentioning the possibility of Asperger's Syndrome – a type of autism spectrum disorder – in relation to the musician's behaviour.

They researched the brain disorder, read Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, about a 15-year-old boy with Asperger's Syndrome, and reflected on other aspects of his behaviour – lack of eye contact, unwillingness to be touched and the strange accent many journalists accused him of putting on.

They also recall the child-like letter he wrote to them when he supplied the first Vines demos and how he had already drawn the artwork that would feature on the CD cover of Highly Evolved. In June, Cassell contacted Professor Tony Attwood, who agreed to meet Nicholls, his family and the managers.

After several tests and meetings, Attwood confirmed that Nicholls was suffering from the disorder.

Says Matt: "It's a relief knowing what it is, what to expect. It's been pretty difficult for the family. There have been hard times and we still worry about him. Things aren't ever going to be perfect."

The Vines' managers, on advice from Attwood, say the band will never undertake an extensive tour again. The occasional show is possible and Nicholls wants to perform but taking an Asperger's sufferer out of their routine or comfortable environment puts extraordinary stress on them. The band's labels, Capitol in the US and EMI in Australia, have professed 100 per cent support for the band and will release a third album Nicholls and his bandmates are writing.

"We totally believe in The Vines and I am really excited about what Craig is writing and what it's going to be like," says EMI managing director John O'Donnell.


WHAT IS ASPERGER'S SYNDROME?
PEOPLE with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) have their brains wired differently, according to Professor Tony Attwood, who diagnosed Craig Nicholls in August.

He says AS sufferers have difficulties with social interaction and are highly stressed by changes to their environment.

"They are not intellectually impaired but they are very, very shy and confused in the social world. They can be acutely sensitive to certain noises, tastes and texture," he says.

Experts have speculated that Mozart, Bartok, Einstein and Newton had characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome.


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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:05 pm

The Fruit Never Falls Far From The Vines
by Jeff Lane
Australian Guitar, March 2004

The Vines are overseas, on the promotional trail for their new album Winning Days, due out March 23rd, and on the brink of their tour with fellow Aussie rockers Jet. After the huge success of their first album Highly Evolved, which was a platinum record all over the world and saw the band on the cover of too many magazines to mention, they are about to enter difficult second album territory. With their trademark brash self-confidence, it is not something you could get the band to admit to – though frontman Craig Nicholls told Rolling Stone that the band considered simply re-recording Highly Evolved.

“I don’t even know if I said that, but if I did say it, I was probably exaggerating. I wouldn’t want to change it, it is what it is. I’m proud of the first album, and like, I’m proud of this album as well. We enjoyed making both albums and also, we were really trying to really do something well, something powerful.”

Nicholls is talking to us via a mobile phone from a tour bus somewhere in the northern hemisphere, and the line is, to say the least, atrocious. Every now and then, through the garbled mess, something intelligible comes through, and this time we can blame satellites and telecommunications rather than Nicholls’ well-publicized recreational habits.

The band once again chose to work with producer Rob Schnapf, who is best known for his work with alternative acts such as Beck, Elliot Smith, and Guided by Voices. I ask Nicholls how they originally decided on Schnapf, who is perhaps not an obvious choice to record a band who has been integral to the whole ‘new rock’ movement, a genre which ironically has its sights set firmly on the past, and a band that Pitchfork.com famously referred to as ‘dad rock’ in a review of Highly Evolved.

“We wanted to record an album together. He heard some of our demos, and then we got to meet him. We did our first album with him and then we did our second album with him. Mellow Gold, that was a big album for me, I was listening to that when it came out, it’s great. Other things as well. Guided by Voices, I liked that as well.”

The new album Winning Days was recorded in upstate New York at Bearsville Studios, which is one of the few top studios left anywhere in the world that is entirely analogue. It is also one of the most famous, having played host to artists such as Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones, R.E.M., Todd Rundgren, Phish, Alice Cooper, the Dave Matthews Band and 10,000 Maniacs.

“It was good, it was good that we got to go there because it was a real cool place. It was summer time, and we heard a lot about, like, Bob Dylan recording there. It was definitely interesting for us.”

That Bob Dylan recorded at Bearsville is a common misconception it seems. You would assume that a studio with such an impressive history wouldn’t need a mythology built around it, but there is only one Bob Dylan, and since Bearsville Studios were established by Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, many assume he recorded there at some stage.

Since Grossman died in 1986, Bearsville Studios have been run by his widow Sally, who is the woman on the cover of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. Big Pink, the house where Dylan and The Band recorded the Basement Tapes, is only a mile or so away in Woodstock, so although he tended to stick to Columbia studios and never recorded at Bearsville, the Dylan links are numerous. But enough about Bob, let’s get back to the Vines…

“Well, it wasn’t intentional, but is just so happens that the music we listen to, some of it’s punk rock and some of it is the Beach Boys, or we like the Chemical Brothers as well, but we don’t consciously go into the studio saying, ‘this track’s going to sound like the Beach Boys’ or whatever. It’s just that comparisons are always drawn with music and bands and bands from the past and that – which is ok I think. We are trying to do our own thing, which includes a lot of vocal harmonies, even for the more heavy material. We were toying with arrangements and each one is an individual piece of work.”

Nicholls is addressing the suggestion that the new album has a more pronounced Beach Boys influence than Highly Evolved, which certainly hinted at it on tracks such as ‘Autumn Shade.’ This time around, the band’s confidence in the studio and the move towards a more psychedelic sound have lumped them squarely in the Beach Boys’ soundalike camp, circa 1970 or so.

While the Beach Boys comparison is an accusation that is routinely leveled against bands that utilize excessive vocal overdubs (‘yeah, that’s right, there are actually about twenty vocal tracks on ‘Winning Days’), there is more to it than merely lush vocal arrangements, with the band constructing weird soundscapes that sound straight out the post-Smile period, as the Boys struggled to capture Brian’s effortless aural strangeness while the head Wilson languished in bed upstairs. But enough about the Beach Boys, let’s get back to the Vines…

“Uh, well, we kinda just like, go with the flow of each song. The way I was for the first album was I wanted my vocals to sound different on every song. I don’t know, I guess it’s hard to describe, but I wanted the kind of vocal sounds that has, I don’t know, kind of really light sounds, like the Beach Boys, who could do like the harmonies, and stuff like the Verve, they use a lot of vocals – we were influenced by them.”

With Craig laying down all the harmonies in the studio, adjustments obviously have to be made when it comes time to take material out live.

“Well, we just cross our fingers. Patrick sings on stage with me, so we can at least do two part harmonies. Most of them are three part harmonies on the album, like on every track. I wasn’t expecting ‘Winning Days’ to have twenty vocal tracks on it, it just so happens that we like double tracking the lead vocal, that’s what I always like doing, then we have a harmony for it usually in our songs, so then we double track that. Then there are the backing vocals. That’s the cool thing about it, there are no boundaries – well, we do have only twenty four tracks or whatever.”

Double tracking is obviously a huge part of the Vines’ studio technique. Not only in terms of rich vocals, but also with guitar overdubs. Both Highly Evolved and Winning Days have a thickened texture that is at the heart of their appeal, and this reliance of doubled tracks also allows the band to exploit dynamic shifts more effectively.

“Yeah, we always double track guitars and vocals. There are a few parts on the album where maybe it’s single vocal here and there, but that’s usually just like, for an intro, and then it can really open up from there.”

With two guitarists, the Vines face the same problem that every dual guitar rock band has ever had, which is how to delineate parts. While it is a simple exercise to exploit the power of such a line-up in the heavy bits, it can be difficult to justify a second guitar when you are going for a quieter section, which is such a huge part of the Vines routine.

“Well, we usually just come up with our own parts, we don’t really talk about it, we just kinda play and it just falls into place.”

The band have always been fascinated by the recording process and developed a fair idea of their recorded sound long before the sessions for Highly Evolved, when they would take a four track into the rehearsal room. Recording is also an integral part of Nicholls’ songwriting process, as he demos almost everything and begins working out parts for most tracks long before they hit the recording studio.

“I guess it’s different for every song. Usually recording it is the best, I rarely write things down. I can usually remember it. We did it before we went to America to do our first album, we would just do it in the rehearsal room, like with a four track. We just liked the recording side as much, well just speaking for myself, I guess I can only do that right now, but as much as actually playing in a band. Everything about it seems interesting I guess.”

This fascination with recording has served them well, and they are obviously the sort of band to pay attention to the process. While many bands seem to approach the studio as a kind of endurance test, the Vines seem to genuinely enjoy the experience, which is important considering that they spent several months working on the new album.

“Yeah, well this time we felt more confident, and we were more thorough with everything, starting from scratch. Starting from the bottom floor, like with the drums, we were real particular with all that. Like what kind of kick drum we wanted, you know, what size and that, and that went all the way through, to the overdubs and the keyboard parts, and all the different sounds. I found it a lot easier this time around I guess, just ‘cause we’d done it once before.”

The Vines have had a wildly varied response to their live shows, with the notoriously fickle British press, who were the very ones who elevated the band to superstar status before the first record was even released, famously unimpressed by last year’s shows, while the American response was considerably warmer. While Nicholls was there for all of them, he is no more sure whether the British shows were substandard of whether the American shows rocked or indeed whether he was there at all.

“I don’t know which one, I don’t really rate any of them, it’s just kinda my…something I do as part of my weird behavior, and like, yeah, it’s hard to say, like, ummm. I mean, everyone would, you know, like have their own opinions, it’s cool, yeah. I would say, to me, it’s like the same thing all the time, it’s the way I am. I can’t decipher one from another. I guess I kind of zone out, or go off with the pixies.”

With the conversation turning toward the problem of the Vines’ reception at home, where they have bore the brunt of the classically Australian tall poppy syndrome fully head on and antipathy to the new release is palpable, Nicholls is similarly difficult to engage.

“Ummm, I’m not really sure, it’s hard to tell, because I’m really bad, with, ummm, places and stuff, where I am like…but, you know, it’s, ummm, if it’s…if that does exist, you know, if there’s, like, truth to that, ummm, I guess the answer is, you know, it doesn’t bother me.”

While Craig has been positively erudite on the subject of recording earlier in our discussion, we have reached the pointy end of the conversation and these are doubtlessly topics about which he is less inclined to open up. So it is a little surprising when he turns the conversation to the topic of how and why the band made it – though he quickly becomes mired in his thoughts and trails off again.

“It’s hard to tell, we just do what we do, and like, ummm,..you know, we’ve worked hard, but also there’s a combination of luck, like…there’s a lot of good bands, you know, that may not get a chance…there’s no kinda like, one person deciding who is and who isn’t, or even a group of people, because it’s a very random type of thing, and music affects people in different ways…so, ummm, I don’t know, yeah…”

Maybe the drugs are finally kicking in. In a last ditch attempt to engage him, I ask him about Jet, who are supporting the band on their North American tour. Nicholls does perk up for a moment, indeed he seems engaged for the final time in our conversation.

“I really like them a lot, yeah. We know them and they’re really nice guys. I’m all excited about getting to play with them, yeah, it’s going to be great.”

Prerequisite Gear Box
I Play Guitar – That’s G-U-I-T-A-R
While Nicholls is verbose on the topic of recording, he is no gearhead and clams up a little when it comes to talking about his guitars. The image of him writhing around with one particular sort of guitar has quickly become iconic, though it is a little surprising to find that he has no real idea how it was he came to favor that particular model.

“Yeah, well, a Fender Stratocaster, I like those. It’s just what was around, they were the most common. That was the first kind that I got and I kept getting them. I got a secondhand one first, and then, ummm, yeah…I just kinda…I just think that…I think, yeah, just because it was there…I could’ve easily, I mean…I guess, I never really thought about it much…”

On the new album, opening track ‘Ride’ takes advantage of the inherent sound of the Stratocaster in such a fashion as I couldn’t imagine it being played on any other guitar.

“Yeah, they’ve got a very simple kind of sound, you get a good clean sound out of a Strat, and bit of a twang as well.”

Craig has a little better idea of what he likes when it comes to amplification, or at least he has more varied tastes.

“”Usually, it’s like a Marshall. I like those Twin Fender amps, where they’ve got like the Reverb on them, and like, ummm…yeah, a Marshall, I guess that’s the one I use. I’ve got a Sunn amp, that’s S-U-N-N, yeah, they’re great. I really like that one as well…but I’ve only told you what I have when I’m on stage. I play acoustic guitars when I’m sitting around.”

So it is an acoustic guitar that Nicholls likes to use when he is writing songs?

“Yeah, I guess so, like…that and my imagination I think…like, yeah, that’s what it seems, it seems a lot of things stem from there.”


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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:07 pm

All the Rage
by Dan Aquilante
The Post, March 2004

user posted image

AS famous and important as the Vines are in the new-rock movement, this Australian garage band is almost as celebrated for the offstage hotel-room smashing tantrums of its frontman, Craig Nicholls.

Nicholls is a "good mate," Vines drummer Hamish Rosser told The Post while waiting to make a flight from New York to L.A.

"Journalists are always looking for an exciting story to write, so they fish for the craziness. It may not seem exciting, but most of the time we just play a gig and have a few beers afterwards. That's it."

Still, what seems sane depends on which side of the asylum door you're on.

Rosser isn't the band's original drummer. He signed on after the Vines' 2002 record "Highly Evolved" was released and has kept rhythm for them since.

"My first impression of Craig was, 'How can that big voice come out of this little fellow?' Sure enough it did." As for Nicholls' reputation as a wild man, Rosser says, "He didn't come into the room screaming like a banshee and breaking things up, if that's what you mean."

Rosser is the first to say that Nicholls isn't an angel, recalling the first time he saw the band's singer freak out.

"When I saw him go bonkers the first time, it was kind of frightening. I thought that he was either going to hurt himself or hurt someone else or even jump out a window. Now it's like 'So what?' I see some furniture get smashed. It's never as bad as the magazines make it out to be. It always seems to shock people the first time they see a chair flying, but we in the band hardly notice anymore. It's like, 'He threw a chair?' No big deal."

Rosser is a likable 25-year-old often described as a "surfer dude." His thick Aussie accent makes everything he says sound as if he were completely unflappable and fearless.

"This past Christmas I was in Australia staying 10 minutes from the ocean and every morning I'd wake up, have a coffee and go for a surf. It was wonderful. When the shark alarm went off and everybody hurried out of the water, I had the waves all to myself."

"Almost no one gets eaten by sharks," he added. "You're more likely to get hit by a bus on the way to the beach. But I suppose if I were bitten by one and lived, I'd have a bigger fear."

Rosser, who has a university degree in chemical engineering, used to get guff from his parents for his rock 'n' roll lifestyle. "They'd always ask me when I was going to get a real job," he says.

Now that the Vines are doing well with a successful debut album, a new album due out March 23 and a tour that lands at Irving Plaza on Tuesday and Wednesday, his family need not fear for his success. "My mother's our biggest fan these days. She's even keeping a scrapbook."

Post: You're kidding about the chemical engineering degree, right?

Rosser: No, that's what I studied and it was just about the dullest degree you can get.

Post: Are there a practical uses for what you learned in rock 'n' roll?

Rosser: I can make a pretty wicked bong, and I've brewed beer. I guess the natural extension was I had the expertise to make drugs, but I could never get over the thought that if I did make a batch of something, who would try it first? Not me, not my friends. The other thing is, I don't have a spare 25 years to spend in jail.

Post: You were recently busted for marijuana possession. What was that about?

Rosser: I got busted in Australia when I was heading to the Big Day Out - that's a rock festival. I was late getting there and caught a 5:30 train for a show that started at 11 in the morning. The train I was on was almost empty and when I arrived there were all these cops and drug-sniffing dogs standing around at the station. One of the dogs sniffed me.

Post: What happened?

Rosser: I had two joints in my pocket and they wrote me a [ticket].

Post: Australia is home, but the Vines spend a lot of time in New York.

Rosser: It's my favorite part of the States. You know, it really should be its own separate country if you ask me. I love downtown and the Lower East Side.

Post: What are the pressures of being in a band as successful as the Vines?

Rosser: The schedule is brutal. We'll play more than 200 cities in a year, and that's grueling. I know already that I'm hardly going to get home this year. I used to have a little place in Sydney, but I gave it up because I knew I wasn't going to see it. I stored the little stuff I own at my parents' house. It isn't much, just my drums, some clothes and my '66 Volkswagen bus.

Post: Why are your drums at home?

Rosser: Craig tends to knock my kit around a bit at the end of the shows. These days I try to use rental kits. My drums at home are really nice - that kit is my baby and I won't use it on Vines gigs.

Post: You're very understanding of Craig. Have the rest of us misinterpreted him?

Rosser: He's a really good guy.

Post: Let me ask you this. If you had three sisters instead of three brothers, would you allow one to date Craig?

Rosser: Yeah. Most guys who found themselves in his position would be shagging their balls off. Not Craig. He treats women well. If I had sisters, he could date them . . . but he can't date my brothers.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:07 pm

The Vines
by Kurt Orzeck
Mean Street, March 2004

“Yeah,
Well,
No,
Yeah,
Uhh,
OK,
Yeah,
All right,
Yeah.”

Uhh, yeah, that’s Craig Nicholls from The Vines. Not the most intelligible of rock stars, all right, yeah. You see, Nicholls prefers to use sounds, but not necessarily words, which makes a “conversation” with him less an exchange of solid ideas than a loose swapping of vague reassurances.

“Yeah, all right, yeah, uhh,” he says.

It feels only natural to coo back: “Cool, yeah, OK, right on, yeah.”

A lot of interviewers haven’t looked too favorably upon Nicholls’, uhh, unique mode of conversation. “I wanted to hit Craig Nicholls,” began an article in Spin. “[He] has all the makings of a rock star,” went a Rolling Stone article, “good looks, great songs, serious mental problems.”

In less polite articles, Nicholls has essentially been billed a bratty, snotty stoner who doesn’t take his music seriously and has no respect for his fans. And has control issues. And fires band members on a whim. And batters small animals.

“I’m extremely serious about what I do,” Nicholls told me two years ago, responding to the assorted allegations. “I’m very focused — I focus all my energy into the band, if not with songwriting then with recording and playing what we’re doing now. We don’t fuck around. I don’t want to get into drugs. I don’t drink. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with doing that; for me, I think I’m using art and music as a drug.”

In his defense, a lot of the animosity directed at Nicholls has been excessive. With Fred Durst having run for cover and Billy Corgan out of sight, the age of the artist ego appears to have finally dissipated. But that leaves the press hounds hungry. So ravenous that they start to prowl, licking their chops and waiting to tear down anyone who comes across as even slightly pampered, anyone who gets even a small nibble of success.

But let’s face it: Craig Nicholls is no Fred Durst. He doesn’t tell girls at shows to show him their tits. He doesn’t have a clothing line. It’s actually kind of hard to hate someone like Nicholls, someone who’s spaced out most of the time. Besides, it’s not like he’s unwilling to talk — no, this isn’t J Mascis.

And so what if Nicholls is a bit aloof — aren’t rock stars supposed to be that way? After all, it’s nothing personal.

“I’m really stuck up and pretentious,” Nicholls mockingly confides in a dry, silky swagger during a conversation held last month. “And I don’t go out.”

He fancies art galleries over soirees. Painting instead of talking. Listening to The Stone Roses on headphones instead of going to check out your shitty band. He screams his opinion through 30-foot Marshall stacks instead of engaging in a lively debate ‘round the roundtable.

This spring finds The Vines touring with three other sizzling Australian bands — The Living End, Jet and Neon — three groups that just about everyone in the Land Down Under knows. Except for Nicholls, of course.

“It’s not like we’re old buddies or whatever,” he is quick to point out. “I met the singer of The Living End and we met Jet a few months ago.”

For a city with a music scene as contained and confined as Sydney’s, the fact that Nicholls hardly knows his peers is staggering. But then again, it isn’t, when one takes his personal philosophy into account. “I think socializing is evil. It’s a weird way of looking at things,” and then, in his trademark trail-off, “but…”

Nicholls may not have all the answers, but one thing is certain: the publicity and marketing machine behind The Vines’ second album, Winning Days, is stronger than a steel train hurtling at breakneck speed across a set of red-hot railroad tracks. In a day and age in which record labels are grappling for solutions — even the made-up kind — the young Vines already appear to be a durable, winning roster talent.

With The Vines, the equations are simple. New album equals guaranteed radio single (then “Get Free”, now “Ride”). New album equals touring, which equals additional revenue. New album equals new interviews, which equals new gossip, which equals new notoriety.

And the Vines sell. Better than The Strokes and better than the Stripes. Bucking the notion that all the hype behind its 2002 debut, Highly Evolved, was little more than a wave of inflated British sensationalism, the record went platinum-and-a-half in the U.S. and earned the band several mainstream TV appearances — Letterman, MTV Awards, the whole bit.

Highly Evolved was like a chunk of chocolate — it appealed to just about everyone and inflicted a sort of guilt-ridden lust that threw into submission anything in its path. The auspicious Aussie debut mined the familiar loud/soft, verse-chord-verse territory, but with the excitement and awe of musicians discovering the beauty of the formula for the first time.

Like The Strokes’ Room on Fire — or, let’s face it, most follow-up releases — Winning Days isn’t the coup de grace everyone was hoping it would be. It’s a set of 11 well-crafted, well-honed rock songs: hooky, lively, a bit more sonically and lyrically substantive than its predecessor. But it is not Nevermind. It is not Damaged. It is not the sophomore effort that will throw drowning, struggling rock music a life preserver. It is simply the second Vines record — solid rock songs, a bit more advanced than the first batch.

“There is more confidence,” bassist Patrick Matthews says of the recordings, and the band in general. Lending credence to the belief that the first album title is actually more appropriate for the follow-up and vice-versa, Matthews says that on Winning Days, “We’re more refined and less primal. I mean, we are still primal, but we wanted to be more adept, more skillful. Craig is a better singer — I think he learned a lot from the first record.”

The backdrop to Winning Days is the stuff bands dream of. The band again teamed with one of the hottest producers on the block, Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith), but this time opted for a more unconventional location in Woodstock, NY, as opposed to the compulsory L.A. studios.

“It reminded me of Sydney a little,” Nicholls muses. “Lots of trees, bears and deer and turkeys. It was summertime [2003] and there was a stream next to the barn we were recording in and it was really peaceful, yeah.”
“It had almost a spooky vibe to it,” he adds. “It was like The Blair Witch Project … I really enjoyed being there.”

Matthews also enjoyed the retreat, which gave him much-needed relief from the swooning masses back home.

“When I went back to Sydney, everyone suddenly knew me,” he says. “Everyone was my friend. I was part of a scene I never even knew existed before. It was all about thrusting my so-called fame in everyone’s face. I got sick of that, spending too much time in taxis and becoming unhealthy. So I dedicated my time to jogging and calisthenics, instead.”

A foreign band recording in the boondocks of upstate New York is a strange concept in and of itself, but a wholly appropriate one when one considers The Vines. They are, after all, a band that thrives on contradiction. Hard begets soft. Lulls of silence are followed by quick, roaring bursts of feedback frenzy. Nicholls — some sort of a passive-aggressive/obsessive-compulsive hybrid — cries scornful moans, then balances them out with cool, slick enticements.

Winning Days’ fourth and fifth songs, in particular, speak to the album’s greater, overarching dichotomies of love and hate, peace and violence, calm and aggression. “Autumn Shade II,” the first acoustic track on the record, is a quiet tune, sweetened with Nicholls’ soft harmonies. “Sleeping in the autumn shade / You are white and I am grey / Sleeping in the autumn shade, oh yeah / Oooohhh wooohhh.”

Its immediate successor, “Evil Town,” is an alternately booming and stripped-down, progressive-minded track heavy on the drums and electric guitar. The slurs are so thick and the moans so deep, words can hardly be deciphered. It’s a crashing number, a nasty afterbite to the relative smooth of “Autumn Shade II.”

Naturally, an acoustic song follows after that, in the form of the title track; it’s that type of call-and-response interplay that propels the album from one song to the next and keeps the listener on his toes. Let the Nirvana knock-off jokes roll.

With this in mind, is it fair to say that Winning Days was predetermined? Nicholls wouldn’t like you to think so — he notes that his approach to the album was purely casual. “I was kind of lazy with it,” he says. “I wrote a few songs at a time … half-finished one, then went to the next one, then came back to the first one a few weeks later … some of them I wrote in, like, five minutes.”

Five minutes per song … 11 songs … OK, so that’s about an hour of work. So does that mean Winning Days was recorded in a day, then? Or a week, tops? Try three months on for size, folks. And that was just the time spent in the studio — keep in mind that Nicholls had written all the songs before the band even arrived in Woodstock. And yet it wound up taking them the better part of the summer to craft the album.

“Writing up there would have been impossible,” Nicholls admits.

“It would have taken us over a year if he had!” Matthews chimes in.

Scroll back to August 2002, when “Get Free” was booming on radio stations from here to Tallahassee, and Nicholls said in an interview: “I want to do the next one really quick … I want to get it out next year, because I can already hear it in my head. I want to be as productive as we can be.”

So what happened?

“I was very eager to get the album done,” Nicholls explains. But, “I was also prepared to be p atient as far as weighing out the overdubs and all their worth, their necessity. I just don’t write well under pressure.”

Dodgy? To put it mildly. Honest? Probably so. Again, supporting the idea that it’s the band’s second album, not the first, that deserves to be called “evolved,” the game plan shifted during the making of Winning Days. What Nicholls aspired to be an electronic-based record turned out, in the end, to be an album with electronic elements.

“We put some Moog on,” says Matthews. “But that was mainly to create some weird sounds. We didn’t go over-the-top with it — there’s not anything that’s bass and rhythm, which is what I’d call electronica.”

Nicholls hasn’t abandoned all hopes of delving into electronic music, though. Calling to mind a second, equally lofty goal, he says: “I definitely want to try doing electronica, but I don’t know if it’s going to work, because I also want to make a country-rock concept album. If we could do both, maybe that would be something.”

David Jenison contributed to this story.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:08 pm

Andy Kelly - Label-Boss & Manager, Ivy League / Winterman & Goldstein
www.music.com.au, Autumn 2002

Left to Right: Andy Kelly & Andy Cassell (Winterman & Goldstein - International Artist Manager of the Year 2004) accept their award from members of Jet

And you have to take his words seriously – for Kelly is now a man with familiarity to the global-field… Yes, mainly due to his involvement with that band that rhymes with Heinz. Though how did the connection first come about?

‘I have to give full credit to Andy (Cassall) ,’ he opens. ‘We both heard their track ‘In The Jungle’, a demo-version of it, on a little, community radio-station, and they did an interview as well. I was in the office when I heard it, and Andy was in the car at night one time; I remember thinking, ‘That’s pretty good,’ and it kind of reminded me of a couple of mid-80s Australian bands. The next day, Andy came into work and said, ‘Did you hear that band, The Vines?’ I was like, ‘I did, you know,’ and he was just like, ‘It was really good!’ He then said, ‘I’m gonna find out who they are,’ and then went to find out about them… It was an interesting one, because we’d never heard the name before, they never usually seemed to play – and that is really unusual in Sydney or Australia; bands always play live – that’s just what they do.

‘He rang the station, but no-one seemed to know who they were and he finally got a contact for the guy who did the interview, and it turns out this person was a friend of Ryan’s (now a guitarist of the band). Andy finally got Craig’s (lead-singer) number and called him, but he never answered. Then Andy got his address and wrote him a letter, just saying, ‘We really liked the song, have you got any more, etc.’ I can’t remember if Craig rang back or just sent a letter himself, but we ended up with a demo that was just awesome, and found out that they hardly ever played live.

‘Then, all of a sudden, they lined up a rare show to support a band in Sydney in a venue called the Lansdowne. It was a Tuesday night and there were about twenty people there. Prior to that, I remember them sending us a photo of them that was really odd – Patrick was wearing shorts and they just looked… Funny. It didn’t do them justice. So, we walked in and I was like, ‘Oh God, what do you think this is gonna be like?’ But, fifteen seconds later, as soon as they were on, it was like a movie – I just looked at Andy and said, ‘Holy f**k, this is amazing…’ It was just really shambolic and incredible. I looked at Craig and thought, ‘Who is this guy - why have I never seen them before?’ I felt like I was watching the Sex Pistols, as if I’d just walked in on something special. And we had.

‘After that, we just chatted with them and we met them again, and asked if they had any other recordings; they said no, but then returned several days later, knocked on the office-door with a cassette and said, ‘Oh, we’ve done a couple more songs,’ so we took that, but didn’t play it ‘til they left, because you should never play people’s own songs in front of them… The first song on it was ‘Get Free’, and there were about another three songs, I think, also including ‘Sun Child’. Everyone was silent whilst we played it, and each person was thinking, ‘Does everyone think this is as good as I believe it is?’ And, then, we put it on again, and we were just amazed again… The recording was so great, too… Really raw, and everything was distorted, and the songs just shone out.

‘It just went from there; we thought the band could be successful anywhere in the world – not just Australia, but everywhere. They kept recording demos and were so creative – all of these songs just kept getting produced. They were unlike any other band we’d worked with.’

It’s the success-story everyone dreams of, but – rewardingly – Andy’s not the man that will consequentially don a pair of Ray-Ban’s and walk the earth as if it was laid out solely for him; he’s the first to admit the aforementioned troubles of cracking into the industry and that, even within times of difficulty, the threesome’s joint love of music was the persevering factor that spurred them on… It proves that ethics even in a syndrome as consistently cold as record-commerce can lead to a gleaming path.

‘I like the idea of a label having identity,’ raises Andy on his aspirations for Ivy League. ‘That’s why I think Heavenly are great in the UK: it’s a brand, it’s kind of eclectic, but there’s something about all the artists on all of it that have an integrity… When we started it, it was just a way of putting out music that we thought was good – it’s so simple, but whatever criteria can you run a label on? We never wanted to sign or put something out on the basis that we think it could sell, because major-labels can do that – and good luck to them.

‘We’re getting a new distributor and a label-deal, but it’s kind of unfair to put bands out while we’re so busy with The Vines. Having said that, 78 Saab have just finished their second album, and Youth Group have started theirs. We’ve also signed another new band called Neon, who are a three-piece and have a classic rock sound – like Cheap Trick, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and are just really melodic and have a glam-thing going on, like T-Rex; they also did some shows recently with The Vines… Aside from that, we’re pretty lucky, as we’re also co-managing Jet with their original manager in Australia.

‘At the moment, it is just a really good time, where you think, ‘Wow – stuff that I like is really popular? That’s odd… And other people like The White Stripes and The Strokes, too?!’ It’s just a special time, but you shouldn’t get bogged down in this idea of what nu-rock is; me, Pete and Andy fortunately like a whole load of different styles… I really want, for instance, to put out some acoustic music, some really mellow stuff, but you can’t just go out looking for something like that – you just hope to hear some singer of band or something of the sort. Otherwise, what we generally deal with is traditional – we really like melody, whether it’s in rock or folk, and I think all of our bands have that.’

Hazard a guess for us where movements are heading next…

‘Well, I just want us to always work with bands that we love, and to make it possible for our bands to make a living from music and to develop creatively,’ he defines rigidly. ‘We want them to be able to be as freely creative as they can, and to sell records.

‘This Vines experience has been really good; from a musical point-of-view, we’ve all learnt so much from the band because they’re really unusual people in the sense that they are really true artists, just interested in making music… They’d be the same people, even if they were still at home making those songs on a four-track. So, for their musical-vision to be recognised around the world to a degree, that has been a good learning-curve, a chance to think, ‘You know, we should be able to help other bands have careers in Australia and around the world as well,’ or at least be in the position to get people to hear the music.

‘So, yeah,’ finalises Andy, ‘we want to be an international concern, and that doesn’t mean ignoring Australia – quite the opposite; we want people to enjoy what comes from the country and it to be recognised everywhere – not just because it’s Australian… But because it’s good.’

They’re most definitely going the right way about that. A likely force to be reckoned with in the imminent and long-term future, it seems that this is the beginning of a long and deeply engaging affair between Ivy League, Winterman & Goldstein and an unsuspecting victim we can emblazon ‘the music-industry’... Prepare for your record-collections to be blown away.


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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:08 pm

The Spaceman Cometh
by Andy Lee
Chart Magazine, May 2004

Enigmatic frontman Craig Nicholls explains how trees help him create...

I smell Craig Nicholls before I meet him.

The diminutive frontman of Sydney, Australia's The Vines is sitting in his hotel room, enveloped by a haze of marijuana smoke as he blankly contemplates the bleak Toronto weather outside his window. Sitting there in his dazed state, he seems rather harmless, a far cry from his maniac, foaming-at-the-mouth stage persona.

Two years ago, The Vines explode onto the music scene with their debut, Highly Evolved. That record was part of a rock 'n' roll renaissance personified by bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes and The Hives.
"It helped us," says Nicholls of the timing. "We could have easily put the same album out five years ago or in five years time from now. We really believed in what we were doing and we knew there was something special to it when we went into the studio. It's good when people are paying attention to real bands that are doing their own music."

Those who know The Vines one from their singles will be surprised to learn how varied their songwriting actually is. Songs like "Homesick" and "Autumn Shade" evoke 60's British rock rather than the '90 grunge of the more straightforward "Get Free" and "Outtathaway!" If you ask him, Nicholls says the subdued, abstract sounds of "Amnesia" and "TV Pro" from their new album Winning Days, best represents the true nature of The Vines.
"They seem very extreme, very spacey, futuristic 'cause that's always what I had in my head," he says. "The sound that we were constantly going for was spacey. We wanted to sound like space travellers. It's still rock 'n' roll, but it can grow and go in any direction and thats the kind of area I think it's gonna go." He pauses, before adding, "Space."

Nicholls says his favourite track off th new record is "Autumn Shade II." According to him, "it's so restrained and clean and simple and it has a really cool vibe to it, very serious sounding."

Despite the similar titles, however, the connection between the two songs is more nebulous that one might expect.

"There's a similar vibe in the lyrics, what I'm singing about," he explains. "Kinda lazy, like daydreaming, like looking out the window, playing acoustic guitar. That's where it came from. As lame as it is, I'm trying to make some kind of attempt to communicate, just to make a musical, poetic statement."

For the creation of Winning Days, The Vines opted for a rural studio setting instead of the hectic bustle of Hollywood, where Highly Evolved was recorded.

"In Hollywood, everything's mad, "says Nicholls. "We had tress around when we were doing the album this time and we felt more confident because we'd already made an album and we kinda know how the whole thing works."

With the aid of produce Rob Schnapf, The Vines meticulously explored a wide variety of sounds and atmospheres.

"We were just really thorough with it right from the beginning when we did the drums," he says. "We did pre-production and we also did pre-pre-production. It was really a serious thing but it was really cool at the same time."

Given the band's obsessive attention to detail, it's hardly surprising that Nicholls considers The Vines to be a studio band at their core.

"If it's not 100 per cent that way now, then that's what it's gonna come to, " he says. "Because really thinking about albums, concept albums, the music could be really all extreme and really fast and really agressive or it could be all laid-back, like a total country-rock album." He pauses to mull over what he has just said, before qualifying, "These are all just wild ideas I'm having in my head."

Suddenly, I sense that the THC concentration in Nicholls' bloodstream may be taking its toll on our interview, so I decide to switch gears and probe him about the name of the new record.

"It was the first line in the song ['Winning Days']: 'The winning days are gone,'" he explains. "What I was thinking in my head was I was all grown-up and I was sad and I was like, 'I wish I was a stupid little baby so I could sleep all day."

"It's sentimental but being dramatic in the sense of creating art. Because you could do a portrait of someone and do it exactly as they look, or you could dement it a little or accentuate things. That's why I'm doing with the song."

The winning days may be over for Nicholls, but the glory days are still yet to come for The Vines.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:08 pm

Winning Days' Track-by-Track with Craig and Patrick
taken from a Capitol publicity pamphlet

From the title alone, it’s obvious that The Vines’ second album takes a warmer approach than their grittier debut. The positivity of Winning Days as an album is reflected in the lyrics, the sounds and the songs. The drums sound like they did in the Bearsville room, the electric guitars come straight through old valve amps onto the tape, and Craig and Ryan’s acoustics are pushed to the front throughout the record. While the band retain their ability to produce incredibly primal rock n’ roll in songs such as the two openers “Ride” and “Animal Machine”, this album sees The Vines moving into even more complex and textured melodic territory than before. Upbeat folk songs like “Rainfall” and “Sunchild” mix with the beautiful acoustic balladry of “Autumn Shade 2” and “Amnesia”, while the off-kilter psychedelia of “TV Pro” prove that Craig Nicholls’ songwriting talents are burning even stronger here. The songs themselves, and Craig’s vocals – the melodies and layered harmonies – are testament to a one-in-a-million musical vision.

Winning Days is an album recorded by a band that exists purely to make great albums together. This collection shows a band not only living up to the promise they displayed on their first album, but moving way beyond it into a territory occupied by the genuine songwriting heavyweights, bands who run their own race … artists of genuine substance.


TRACK BY TRACK with CRAIG AND PATRICK

1. Ride
Craig:
“Ride is very short and it’s the first song on the album. It’s a good way to start things off, I think. The opening guitar part starts off really scratchy to sort of throw you off the scent, lull you in to a false sense of security. There’s a kind of beat- music verse and then the chorus comes in and it starts getting a bit more… well, loud. That’s where we decide it’s time to set off the fireworks that Patrick has been carrying in his bag since high school. It’s about time you did something with those, Patrick.”

Patrick:
“What can I say?”

2. Animal Machine
Craig:
“Well, it’s the second song, and it’s also quite short and it’s also dark. The chorus harmonies sound like they’ve got a bit of Suede in there – that’s the band I’m talking about, not the material that you can have your jacket made of if you feel like it. It sounds very staccato to me in the chorus. You know, very short and sharp.”

Patrick:
“What was it our friend Robin said about this one? ‘Nirvana meets Suede – clearly a good thing’.”

3.TV Pro
Craig:
“This song is meant to sound like it’s a dream. That’s the idea behind the production and the sounds with the effects on the guitar in the verse and the way the vocal sounds. Although the music has that spacey, dreamlike sound, the words are more to do with things that exist in the real world, but I wouldn’t want to get too specific about them. It’s better for people to listen to them however they want. It’s also one of our newer songs, so hopefully it could be a pointer towards the future for us and how we might sound.”

Patrick:
“Features the coining of the word ‘telectual’ and a great multi-tracked chorus where Craig sounds like a schoolyard full of angry goats.”

4. Autumn Shade 2
Craig:
“This is the first acoustic song on the album and it’s very quiet, very peaceful. It’s calm. It’s not really intentionally linked to Autumn Shade on the first album, but of course in the title, well, you have to think it’s linked somehow. It’s more about the feel of the song than the words, though. It really couldn’t have been called anything else. It’s pretty abstract.”

Patrick:
“Short. Soft. The harmonies are amazing. No, I didn’t sing them. Craig did. I don’t need to be doing that type of thing in the studio when he’s in there. He seems to have a pretty good handle on singing five different harmonies over himself, something I think is well demonstrated on this track.”

Craig:
“Thank you, thank you.”

Patrick:
“You’re welcome. Next.”

5. Evil Town
Craig:
“Evil Town is about kind of certain types of people and certain types of places, but no-one or nowhere in particular. It really isn’t. But if you think about a town that is, well, evil, just apply the song to whatever place that is for you. I think it’s got this futuristic vibe to it but it’s still just using basic drums and guitar.”

Patrick:
“Very chromatic equals Evil in a musical sense.”

6. Winning Days
Craig:
“Winning Days is Number 6 – it’s the start of the second side if you were thinking about it as an old record – and it’s about what you think about at different times, how you feel different. It wasn’t really a song when I first wrote it, more just a poem really. That was a really long time ago. It’s also one of our best songs, I think. Although the words can sound a bit kind of down, the melody is happier.”

Patrick:
“When Craig originally played me the song and I had a cassette copy, I wrote down the title as ‘Wedding Days’. I thought Stone Roses at the time. The up-beat end section has incredible Beach Boys-style harmonies, very complex but rhythmically compatible with each other.”

7. She’s Got Something to Say To Me
Craig:
“That’s a really short song. I think the main thing to remember about it is that it has got a sound to it that sounds like surfing feels. Well, it’s surf music is a better way of putting it. Surf music like Dick Dale or the Beach Boys or even the Easybeats. There’s all kinds of different surf music – this is sort of a combination of all that.”
Patrick:
“An unwieldy title perhaps, but we’re really happy with it. It’s got a surf guitar solo in a song with an obvious sixties vibe.

8. Rainfall
Craig:
“That one is more kind of ‘classic’ I think. It’s got that kind of sound that’s hard to tie to a particular time. I hope it does, anyway – it does to me. It’s very simple and I don’t know what that means… it’s an innocent sound in an innocent song, I think.”

Patrick:
“All Craig's songs are heartfelt but I think this one came out of somewhere even more cardiac. I think that’s the innocence in it that you’re talking about. It’s unaffected. Very snappy drumming by Hamish, by the way.”

9. Amnesia
Craig:
“This one’s like poetry. It’s a really slow song and it’s a real head trip. We played this one a lot when were touring last year, and we kept building it up in soundchecks. We kept working on it together. I think that working on this song was really when we all started to play together really well. We did one demo of this before the album and by the time we went into the studio it sounded really good. It’s got a cool organic vibe to it in the way we play it, but then the vocal harmonies are a bit more space age.”

Patrick:
“Moog in chorus makes me ask ‘Spaceman, can you stay a while?’ Great
words, great drum pattern, one of my favourites.”

10. Sunchild
Craig:
“This one’s very slow. It’s a ballad really. It’s a country song and a rock song.
It’s about being positive and I think the music helps it come across that way. It’s got good harmonies in the chorus. The outro kept getting longer and longer but it all really worked well. The outro really came together in the end… at the end. The outro is the end. Do you follow me?”

Patrick:
“My absolute favourite. The singing on this is very expressive. It means a lot but it never slides into a country n' western parody, which it could have done. Then there is the guitar solo, which is heavy on whammy bar and expressive as fuck.”

11. Fuck the World
Craig:
“This one is an environmental song but that’s not really obvious when you hear it at first. It’s the sound of the past to the present to the future. Hopefully, everything is about the future.”

Patrick:
“Heavy.”

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:09 pm

The Vines: Under the influence
by Alexia Loundras
The Indepedent, 19 March 2004

The Vines made their mark with a heady brew of fiery music and wild antics. Their singer, Craig Nicholls, tells Alexia Loundras about the 'rush' of the new album

Straddling his chair like a grunge Christine Keeler, Craig Nicholls is tugging on his dishevelled mop and thinking hard. "You can't really predict anything," he says finally. On the eve of the release of The Vines' second album, Winning Days, the band's impish front man is musing on the supernova success of their debut, Highly Evolved. Released in 2002, hot on the heels of their ferocious 2001 debut EP, Factory, the record was greeted with almost embarrassing levels of critical adulation, as publications from the NME to Rolling Stone fell fawningly under its scorching charms. The first single, "Get Free", was a short, sharp shot of pneumatic garage rock that blew the cobwebs off a listless British music scene; the follow-up hit, "Outtathaway", cemented the band's reputation for blistering, rocket-fuelled melodies. The album catapulted the Australian four-piece from the serving-counters of Sydney's McDonald's on to major-network television shows, shifting more than 1.5 million copies and heralding a year-long sold-out world tour.

After seven years of grafting as an unknown band, the success came quickly and unexpectedly. And just as Nicholls couldn't have predicted their sudden rise, so no one could have predicted his reaction to it. As Highly Evolved made music-press cover-stars of Nicholls and his bandmates - Patrick Matthews, Ryan Griffiths and Hamish Rosser - he became the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of rock stars.

To put it mildly, Nicholls is a man prone to childish tantrums. He has been known to wreck dressing-rooms and trash TV-studio equipment on a whim. He locks himself away in hotel rooms, refusing to come out. He even smashed a journalist's Dictaphone in a fit of rage at the tone of the questioning to which he was being subjected. With Nicholls, there are never any plans; only hopeful contingencies. He has a formidable record for cancelling meetings with the press. Our interview, initially scheduled to take place in Oslo, on the Norwegian leg of the band's European mini-tour, was called off at the eleventh hour because he was "getting sick" of speaking to journalists.

Live, that volatility translates into sets that are either electrifying or abysmal, depending on Nicholls's mood. At the Glastonbury and Reading festivals in 2002, he mesmerised tens of thousands with his thrilling, impetuous performance, his voice lurching instantaneously from husky howl to cut-glass falsetto. But when he's bad, he's awful. A Boston gig later that year ended in a stage-front punch-up between Nicholls and his bassist, Matthews; and Nicholls's juvenile posturing and tuneless caterwauls at the band's British dates a year ago (at the tail-end of The Vines' world tour) made for one of the most shameful, soul-destroyingly pathetic performances that I have ever witnessed. But Nicholls refuses to take either credit for the fine performances or blame for the terrible ones: "I can't tell the difference between the good shows and the bad shows," he insists. "I just get up there - we just play. Nothing really goes through my head."

It's not easy to get inside the mind of someone as irrational and undeniably different as Nicholls, but his explanation does seem genuine. The problem is, it seems, that he just doesn't think like the rest of us do. On a good day, that means that Nicholls exudes the endearing innocence of a child. But, when faced with situations with which he is unable to deal, he becomes frustrated and his petulant streak comes bursting to the fore. "I can be really nice or I can be really, really evil," he admits with a wry little laugh.

Today - just as he was the first time we met, two years ago - Nicholls is all sweetness and light. Happily cocooned in his cosy hotel-room habitat, he enthusiastically commits himself to being questioned, while strumming merrily on a psychedelic-coloured toy guitar. It seems that when he's comfortable and secure, Nicholls is polite and attentive. But when he's not, he's prone to lashing out. Only last month, just a few weeks into the new album's promotional campaign, he flipped again, unleashing a torrent of abuse on a journalist from Kerrang! magazine that culminated with Nicholls storming out of the interview. So why the outburst?

"I could sense bad vibes," says Nicholls, trying to explain in his strangulated Aussie tones. While acknowledging that he was "misbehaving", he remains unapologetic: "I don't really feel that what I'm doing is acting up or anything like that," he says. "I mean, I just kind of... I can sense things like energy and negativity, and that's when I go off."

As such meandering sentences prove, Nicholls's main problems stem from communicating - or his inability to do so. At times, talking to him is like trying to extract sense from the March Hare. He hides behind playful sarcasm and speaks in long streams of consciousness that flounder and double back on themselves as Nicholls grapples with his opinions. At one point during our hour-long interview, he stops mid-sentence and announces, "It's funny: what I just said is the opposite of what I'm about to say." At another point, he says: "I just feel like I have trouble getting the words to fit the meaning."

It's not surprising, then, that spending time with journalists is not his favourite thing. "Doing interviews, I do feel a bit of pressure," says Nicholls, with a self-conscious laugh. Playing music in front of thousands of people is one thing; trying to explain that music is quite another. "I wasn't expecting to have to do interviews - that wasn't even in my head," he says. "I'd never really talked about what I think with anyone before, so all of this has been kind of strange for me."

He pauses for a long time, deep in thought. "There's no way that what I think in my head can be put into words so someone else can read it and then get a real clear view of me," he says - annoyed as much with himself as with those who, he feels, twist his words. Nicholls has often been portrayed as a man on the edge - several pieces in the music press have talked almost longingly of his "madness" being likely to lead to suicide at some point in the future. But the fact is, he's not willing to be pushed into the role of the next Kurt Cobain. "I wouldn't want to kill myself," he insists, both hurt and irritated by the oft-repeated suggestion. "I'm really serious about making music."

He wrings his arms in front of himself, seething with irritation: "Interviews shouldn't be about me having to come up with answers to defend myself from what some people may have said, which isn't even true. Maybe I am retarded. Maybe I should live in the real world, yeah?" Nicholls's voice is soft, but his sarcasm is barbed with frustration. He takes a swig from his bottle of Coke and lights a cigarette. "Interviews should be about music. That's why I'm in a band - to make music."

And that music is more than capable of speaking for itself. While not exactly heralding a new direction, the raging blasts of furious rock on Winning Days are much rawer and more visceral than those on Highly Evolved. And, this being a band of extremes, the moments of soft, psychedelic bliss shine with sweeter melodies than ever. From the wired adrenalin rush of "TV Pro" to the melancholy of "Rainfall" and the sumptuousness of the album's stand-out title track, underpinned by Nicholls's powerful and emotive voice, The Vines' musical spectrum is fully explored.

Nicholls compares the songs to an art exhibition ("They're like different paintings on the wall," he says), and certainly, it's a record of many shades and moods, with Nicholls the enigmatic and passionate painter. Nicholls sees his job not as a musician but as an artist and, perhaps not surprisingly, finds inspiration in the work of another notoriously difficult customer - Salvador Dali. "I look at his paintings and to me they seem pretty clear," Nicholls says of his hero. "He was painting all these images that were strange to a lot of people's minds - but not to his." Nicholls feel much the same about his music. Just because he struggles to explain it fully, that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense to him. "I'm really proud of the album we've made," he says, his face lighting up at the thought of it. "Music is magic. It's my favourite drug: it really has an effect on me mentally and physically. It's such a rush."

Perhaps partly because the album does not differ vastly from the template of the first, and partly because of Nicholls's on- and off-stage antics, the new record has not been greeted with quite the critical love-in of the first. Yet it is another fine album, proving that for all Nicholls's problems, The Vines have what it takes to grow beyond the success of Highly Evolved. Although clearly a little barbed by the criticism that the new album has received, Nicholls remains defiant. "People have the option of whether to buy the album or come to our show. That's what the band's about. We're not some pop group who get told what to say and how to act," he says, revelling in a moment of lucidity. "I don't really feel like I owe anything to anyone, and I don't feel anyone owes anything to me."

As a person, Nicholls is reckless, impulsive and intriguingly bizarre, but at times he is also stupidly stubborn and foolishly rude. Yet it would be an enormous shame if his talent as a musician were snuffed out or overwhelmed by the quirks of his personality. At the very least, in a world of faceless career musicians, Nicholls is certainly never bland; nor are The Vines. A wide, lazy grin fills his face. "Yeah. If you want consistency, go to a jukebox."

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:09 pm

Garage Rock Savant: Is the Vines Craig Nicholls Crazy Like a Fox, or Just Plain Crazy?
by Michael Molenda
Guitar Player, April 2004

The Vines could be the saviors of guitar rock, or they could be over by
the time you read this. Either way, it will probably remain a mystery
whether frontman Craig Nicholls was/is the latest in a long line of rock
and roll lunatics, or was/is playing a role to generate publicity and
build his own myth. But whatever Nicholls nuggets materialize in the
tabloid news, guitarists should thank the Vines for being a
high-profile, platinum-selling band that adores the sound of guitars,
and for releasing Winning Days [Capitol]--an album of great songs,
aggro-yet-musical guitar tones, and passionate vocals. It's only when
attempting to document the Vines' creative process that Nicholls'
"persona" gets in the way. He is extremely sweet, unpretentious, and
well mannered, but he also tends to answer questions in his chosen
native tongue--which is Australian Screwball.

So what do you do when a band's guitarist is loathe to reveal any
musical clues? You query the bass player. (Vines co-guitarist Ryan
Griffiths never speaks to the press.) In this interview, we'll visit
with Nicholls in his zone, and then move to a sidebar detailing the more
grounded insights of bassist Patrick Matthews. Between the two
perceptual angles, you should get a good peek into the architecture of
one of the new generation's premier guitar-pop bands.

Are you still using your Strat?
No. I now have a custom-made guitar. It's smaller and lighter than the
Strat, and I think it sounds better. I'm not sure who made it, but he's
a very nice person and I'm very grateful to him.

What about amps and effects?
I have a Sunn and a Marshall, but I mostly use the Marshall. For
effects, I have a tremolo pedal, and I really like this one called a
flanger.

Any preference for strings?
I definitely think strings are a good idea, because I couldn't make much
sound without them [laughs]. I put about six of them on, and I tune to
anything in the air--it doesn't have to be tied down.

After all the critical acclaim for your last record, Highly Evolved, did
you start the sessions for Winning Days with any specific goals?
We just wanted to get it finished and make sure we remembered to put all
the parts on it. I hope we made a good album, and that people like it,
but we can't really change what we are.


Do you care about crafting tones at all, or do you just follow your
instincts?
Well, we're lucky to have people who help us with the technical side in
the studio. But I did have a vision for each song. We kept things pretty
simple, because we realized that simple things sound good on the guitar,
but we also wanted to exaggerate everything for maximum impact.
Discovering the weird little sounds that make an impact is what drives
us. I'd say things like, "This needs to be more spacey," or "It's not
dirty enough." We just try to let things happen and not freak out and
lose it.

Can you be more specific about gout definition of "impact?'
It has to do with the extremes you can take a song to. The fact is,
there are no rules, and we're not afraid to try anything. You have your
imagination, and that can mean anything goes. It's a good feeling when
you see a song really come to life in the studio. I'm trying to describe
this the best I can, but I'm always tying my head in knots.


Guitar-wise, what is the thing you're most proud of on Winning Days?
It's the one-note guitar solo on "Amnesia." It sounds like a freight
train, but it's just one little high note.

You don't seem to like admitting this, but I've heard you're the boss in
the studio--as far as parts and sounds go.
We all do our part, but I guess my part is writing most of the words and
the melodies. The other guys write stuff, as well, but I'm obsessed by
it. They'll give me input, and we'll change our minds, or we'll have a
big argument and say we're going to break up [laughs].


You're obviously a very pure creator, but you're also signed to a major
label and are expected to sell albums. How does that commercial pressure
affect your approach to music making?
Are major labels evil? I haven't figured that out yet. We just have to
be happy with what we're doing, and I don't think there's anything wrong
with being on the charts. Also, we signed our deal as we were mixing our
first album, so when Capitol stepped in, it was clear they wouldn't be
able to change us. [Laughs.] I'm getting a bit pretentious! It's hard to
talk about this stuff, because you never know how people are going to
react to your work.

PHOTO (COLOR): Head-in-the-clouds guitarist Craig Nicholls (left) and
feet-on-the-ground bassist Patrick Matthews.

~~~~~~~~

WHAT THE BASS PLAYER KNOWS...

Craig Nicholls loves to conceal the mysteries of creation, so thank
goodness bassist Patrick Matthews is a tad more open. Here are a few
tiny revelations about what goes on inside a Vines session.

"Craig always focuses on that little sort of half-moment when he's
changing chords and his fingers are off the strings," says Matthews. "He
often uses that brief open sound as a musical device. 'Winning Days,'
for example, is ail about the space when the guitar goes from Fro C.
Craig doesn't think technically about chords, notes, and scales, but he
listens to what the guitar is saying at all times.

"He likes the bass and guitar to start on the same chord, so it's pretty
hard to get away with playing some funny bass notes. I try to fit in
between Craig's offensively trebly tone and Ryan's [co-guitarist
Griffiths] low burrow-y sound. I like a low rumble without much actual
tone, but, basically, I just want to be heard! For us, making a record
can be so unbelievably dumb!"

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:11 pm

The Boy Who Fell to Earth: The Year The Vines All Went Mad
by Paul Moody
NME, 28th Feb 2004


For The Vines, the madness only reached its peak when Craig Nicholls turned into a monkey. Everything up until then was just, well, high jinks: the one-man obliteration of the band’s equipment live on the Late Show With David Letterman; the random kung fu attacks on members of his own band; the time Craig greeted the head of his American record company with his fingers raised in a cross screaming, “Get that c--- off my bus!”

Never mind the 19-month diet of drink, drugs and girls which saw drummer Hamish Rosser so sated by groupies that he told NME he was “off sex for life”.
No, the madness only really got out of control after Craig turned into a monkey.

“It was at the Christmas shows with Beck and The Flaming Lips, explains a tanned Hamish, looking back from his vantage point from a bar in downtown Sydney. “We went onstage for the encores all dressed in animal suits. I just remember Craig was dressed as a monkey. We threw confetti all over the stage, sang along to ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, then partied until seven in the morning. Craig seemed fine. At ten the next day we had to be at The Tonight Show. It was a major deal. I was tuning the drums when I heard this massive smash and I saw Craig’s guitar flying straight towards me. It hit this glass panel and shattered into a thousand pieces. Then he threw a light at me and stormed out of the studio. Everything was total chaos. The PR girl was in tears, the producer of the show went absolutely crazy. They literally threw us out of the building.”

Later that day, The Vines’ manager tracked Craig down to ask him what had prompted such a huge ‘spaz-out’. The answer was simple. He was hungry.

If you’re in a band called The Vines, things are bound to get tangled up every once in a while. But few groups have got in such a heroic muddle as these unnervingly photogenic minstrels from Oz. Their rise has been astonishing. Propelled by the Top Three success of their debut album ‘Highly Evolved’ in the UK in 2002, the otherworldly foursome embarked on a cash-hoovering mission into the heart of rock n’ roll darkness to give even Frodo Baggins nightmares.

The facts only tell half the story: a million and a half album sales in the US alone (the album entered the Billboard chart at 11); the first Australian band to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone for 20 years (the last one was, er, Men at Work in 1983); a performance in front of a global audience of one billion at the MTV Video Music Awards. But there is another, darker side to The Vines’ success.

“They all went crazy in their own way,” confesses one insider. “They’re clever guys and it affects people differently. Patrick went drink crazy, Ryan went drug crazy, Hamish went pump crazy. Craig just is crazy.”

In January 2003, the band’s appearance at the Big Day Out in Australia was marked by the news that Patrick and Ryan’s home in Sydney (dubbed “The Fun House”) had burned to the ground. The pair simply shrugged. “I couldn’t take it seriously,” Patrick confirms later. Ryan – who lost all his material possessions in the blaze – was just relieved that his pet snakes Sonny and Lucy had survived. Later the same day Craig destroyed NME’s tape-recorder when asked if he thought the band were on the verge of splitting up.

When the band appeared on Later… With Jools Holland in May last year Craig’s performance was so spectacularly unhinged – he smashed the drums, a mic stand and his guitar during their first song – a watching Lou Reed declared: “It made me feel good to see that. The spirit lives!”

The Vines legend-making didn’t end there. Last time NME was scheduled to hook up with them at the tail end of a chaotic ‘victory lap’ tour of the UK, they failed to show up at all. Reeling from an aftershow party at the Astoria involving MDMA powder, a small reservoir of booze and, in Craig’s case, some prescriptions sleeping pills, the band weren’t even aware they’d missed anything. The writing wasn’t so much on the wall as flashing in huge neon letters. After a crazed 18 months which had seen them go from Sydney unknowns to one of the hottest bands on the planet, The Vines were falling apart in public.

Even today, reverberations from the last tour rumble on. Manager Andy Kelly is only half-joking when he announces his one ambition left in life is to “never get on a plane with The Vines again”, while the unpredictable nature of their non-drinking, fast-food loving frontman still overshadows their every move.

The mercurial talent of Craig Nicholls, it seems, brings with it all manner of complications. On the itinerary for NME’s trip to Sydney are the words ‘Monday: Interview (permitting)’, which in the wake of Craig’s previous NME record (one four-hour stint in a toilet; one smashed tape recorder; one no-show) is some going. Time then for NME to discover the current state of Nicholls’ mind, examine the latest developments in Vines-world and find out if the rumours that second album ‘Winning Days’ is even better than their debut are really true. And where better, than at an Oz-fest?

Thursday at the Annandale Hotel, Sydney, 9pm

Sydney’s Annandale Hotel is the sort of spit’n’sawdust dive-bar which will one day be twinned with Camden’s Barfly. This being Australia, a booming Chinese restaurant runs in the back yard and Sundays are given over to ‘striptease’. Tonight, however, the Annandale is host to a secret warm-up show by Foregone Conclusion. As massive fans of The Office, The Vines have taken the name of David Brent’s ill-fated band in, you detect, a sly dig at the Sydney rock cognoscenti. Despite healthy sales of 150,000 at home (in a climate dominated by Delta Goodrem), the Aussie press – resentful of The Vines’ international profile – refuse to take the band as seriously as their dues-paying heroes Silverchair and The Superjesus.

Accordingly, none of the local media have been invited. Not, you suspect, that this matters to Craig Nicholls. First sighted eagerly watching support band Youth Group from side of stage, Nicholls looks, if anything, even younger than he did when NME first clapped eyes on him two years ago. He nods hello and disappears to the dressing room citing an urgent appointment with the latest Suede CD. Which leaves Patrick to push his memory back through the fug of the last few months and fill us in on The Vines’ current mental state.

How does he look back on the year just passed?

“Well, by the last night of the tour in Ireland things were getting difficult,” he concedes. “Craig was just being mental. It was one of the worst shows we ever played. Mayhem. I spun my bass over my head which I should never do. It was just another stupid thing in a long line of them.”

Does he think they’ve changed in the wake of it?

“Real changes are hard to see. Everyone got older, but it’s half out luck Craig looks, if anything, younger than he did. The thing with Craig is there’s so much potential. He can sing brilliantly, but he’s up and down. Some nights he can sing beautifully, and others you just don’t know what you’re gonna get.”

NME gets talking to the band’s guitar tech, Tony. A veteran to the whims of guitar virtuosos (he once roadied for Brian May), Tony’s been known to patch different guitars together mid-gig during Craig’s smashing frenzies. Having already trashed 150 guitars in as many gigs, he’s been kept busy. Most prized of all Craig’s current guitars, it transpires, is a newly acquired model from the States with customised pick-ups.

“I give him the right guitar at the right time,” he says sagely. “I don’t like seeming them totalled but I know why he does it.”

Onstage, 9:45pm

The gig is a cracker. With Ryan Griffiths newly upgrades to full-time rhythm guitarist and Craig centre-stage. The Vines at last look like the classic rock band they’ve always been on record. If the old songs have acquired hard hitting extra muscles then the new songs are more complex beasts, drawn from some deeper reserves within the Nicholls psyche. A dreamlike ‘Amnesia’ (“I cannot remember/My own sanity”) is a sublime cousin to ‘Mary Jane’ while a murderous ‘Animal Machine’ achieves the until-now impossible synthesis of Suede and Nirvana. Guitars go un-totalled. Afterwards, all are agreed it is one of the best gigs The Vines have ever played. Later, three-quarters of the band apply maximum concentration to the art of getting drunk. In the small hours Ryan discloses that the band have turned over a new leaf and have been rehearsing three times a week solidly for the last two months. The chaotic gigs of the past, he implies, may at last be behind them.

Saturday at the Homebake Festival, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, 5pm

Patrick Matthews gave up medical school to become a Vine two years ago. Even today he still retains the air of a young doctor puzzling over the diagnosis of a troublesome patient (Nicholls, perhaps). However, backstage at Homebake – the Oz equivalent of Reading – he is gripped by a more easily defined medical condition: nerves.

“I’m only going to have two drinks before the show,” he says through gritted teeth. “But afterwards…”

Hamish is less affected by stage-fright. A Bondi Beach-dwelling surfer who as a youth would think nothing of scaling Sydney Harbour Bridge for a midnight toke, he seems immune to almost anything. With 30,000 fans out-front and the entire Australian press corps gathered in the backstage bar, however, even Hamish is a little twitchy. As if to compound the portentous mood, bats circle overhead and storm clouds gathering over the site as the afternoon creeps by. Something is about to give.

Onstage, 7:30pm

The gig is total chaos. Hidden in the depths of the dressing room since arrival, Craig strides onstage and goes completely berserk. Dressed in ripped jeans a Jane’s Addiction T-shirt and a scruffy black cardigan he does everything but self-detonate.

During opener ‘Highly Evolved’ he screams incoherently, knocks the mic to the floor and writhes around in a tangle of cables. As Tony winces, Craig trashes his brand new customised guitar during second song, ‘Ride’, balances on top of a monitor and causes the gawping faces of the largely female front row to shriek in a mix of horror and delight. The ‘mental’ Craig of old is clearly back with a vengeance.

“You want this, are you happy?” he screams prior to a murderous ‘Fuck The World’, before totalling Hamish’s drum kit to roars of approval. It’s a stunning reminder of The Vines’ ability to defy convention at every turn.

Backstage, with Hurricane Craig having passed, the rest of the band lapse into their own form of mania. Patrick disappears in search of some “Serious liquor”. When he returns half an hour later he is blind drunk and clutching a three-quarters empty bottle of tequila. He only calms down after a wrestling match with Ryan ends with the softly-spoken rhythm guitarist delivering a series of well-aimed rabbit punches to the kidneys. In the middle of it all Craig sits happily in the corner, demurely listening to Muse on his walkman. It’s too bizarre for words. Hamish’s evening will end at the aftershow where, insensible through booze, he will fall flat on his back at the feet of the sultry female singer of Oz-rock legends The Superjesus. As dawn breaks, it’s clear that The Vines’ reputation among their peers is intact.

Sunday in Room 305, Kirktown Hotel, Sydney

Let is be noted: The Vines have not been idle in the seven months they have been away. Having flown to Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, New York State, last May, they spent the next three months recording their second album with ‘Highly Evolved’ producer Rob Schnapf. Having received a copy of the album the day after Homebake it is NME’s solemn duty to report that the results are truly startling. Forget any notions of a ‘Room on Fire’ holding pattern of, as Patrick clamed to NME, a “part metal album”, it’s the perfect reflection of their schizophrenic live shows. Recorded in stark, stripped down tones and – unlike their session men-heavy debut – played entirely by the four of them, ‘Winning Days’ is by turns heavier and more mellow than their debut, and in ‘Autumn Shade II’, the title track and a revamped ‘Sunchild’ is also home to some of the most sublime songs you’ll hear this year. First single ‘Ride’, meanwhile, sounds like ‘Get Free’ recorded in a wind tunnel while live favourite ‘Fuck The World’ sounds like the ceiling caving in on Seattle. Puberty-addled teens and ‘classic’ rock-loving 30-somethings will worship here in droves.

“From the moment I saw Craig I thought he was a cross between Sid Vicious and post-Beatles Lennon and the songs, more than ever, reflect that,” confesses Andy Kelly in a nearby coffee house. “The extremes are so total. I’ve never met anyone else like him, have you?”

Monday at Luna Park, Sydney

The next day, in front of Luna Park amusement park, The Vines are assembled for an NME photoshoot. To the relief of all concerned, the demons which afflicted Craig at Homebake appear to have evaporated. Not that this brings him any nearer to normal behaviour. Munching on a veggie pizza and performing an elaborate Morrissey-dies-Tait Chi dance, he appears ever more adrift from reality. Especially when, staring up at the skies on one foot he coos, “Aaaaah, the sun, it’s so great, so great,” to the bewilderment of passing tourists. Judging by his unphased bandmates, however, this is as normal as Craig Nicholls gets.

Chat moves gently on to the last few nights’ gigs. How does he feel about the last two shows?

“They were cool. I think I enjoyed the festival better. It was in Sydney, there were thousands of people there.”

Does something else take him over onstage?

“I dunno. I’m in control, but I’m not in control, if that makes sense. Sometimes there’s great moments, confusing moments and awkward moments. I think people don’t realise that it’s my sense of humour.

Looking back, did 18 months on the road send him slightly insane?

“You mean the Jay Leno thing? I dunno. I’ve got a bad memory. You got to all those places and things get so crazy, it’s hard to remember. (Pause) But I feel good at the prospect of going back out there again. I’m fine. There’s no question of us splitting up or not touring.”

Is his happier mood to do with the fact he’s had seven months off at home?

“Yeah. It all seems easier now. I don’t feel the same way about the whole process as I did when we still on tour. It was real crazy for us then. Looking back it was a great experience but it was a little confusing. But I always had in mind the fact that we had to record this album. When I recorded the vocal for ‘Amnesia’ it was the best thing. It was like a shot of ecstasy. I was so relieved that I’d finally captured it.”

There is something both naïve and utterly focused about Nicholls. At turns hopelessly detached from reality and yet keen to address the issues which touch him, he seems to have little control over his moodswings. Is a lyric like “I speak like I’m fucking mad” from ‘Autumn Shade II’ a conscious attempt to communicate how he feels about the position he’s in?

“I guess so. Being in the band is a way for me to say things which I can’t explain through words. It’s really difficult for me to do that. I’ve always wanted to say more. Like ‘Winning Days’ is about the death of Aaliyah. I was really upset when that happened.”

A lot of people might hear a song like ‘Fuck the World’ and think his outlook is getting even more bleak and lead to those old enquiries about suicide.

“Yeah I can see why people might think like that,” he sighs. “People could take that song as sounding negative and that’s not what it’s about. What I’m trying to say is that’s the last thing I feel. I’m being sarcastic. It’s that feeling you have as a teenager which I still have, where you don’t want to deal with anything. That old cliché. And at the end I say ‘Fuck the world, don’t’ so that’s the twist.”

Indeed. While every great rock star from Bowie to Bono have adopted alter-egos to cope with fame’s landslide, Nicholls appears to have two quite distinct personalities co-existing. These two strands (dysfunctional rocker; blissed-out stoner) are echoed in his conversation. On subjects he’s comfortable with (Muse, The Kinks, Basement Jaxx) the peculiar accent drops and you find yourself in the company of an enthusiastic Aussie music fan. At others, his well-meaning psychobabble proves close to impenetrable. Bowie sang in ‘Fame’ that it puts you where things are hollow. Has success made him more lonely?

“No. I’ve always felt hollow (laughs). I think I’m bi-polar, but no-one has ever said that to me so I can’t be. It’s hard for me to describe what is real and what isn’t. I can’t tell the difference, y’know? I don’t use the internet, I just sit at home on my own thinking about music and painting. That’s what I do. If I wasn’t in the band I’d just sit there daydreaming, and that’s not good. I’m probably a compulsive liar.”
When he disappears in the direction of the funfair, it’s hard to imagine that Craig – now limping and with a brown shirt tied around his leg – is the same young man whose songs are of a quality none of his peers can currently touch. Even less so, when having slid down an ancient ride on an old doormat, he yodels dementedly like a farmyard cockerel. When he puts his head through a Victorian fairground attraction depicting him as the baby of a dysfunctional Vines family with Hamish as mum, you imagine even Freud would give up on the psychoanalysis. “Eat your greens!” bellows Hamish.

Later that evening Patrick confesses that his personal highlight while recording ‘Winning Days’ was the time Craig drove into Woodstock in the dead of night with him and Ryan hanging off the roof-rack, drunk as lords. The only problem was, Craig had never been behind the wheel before in his life.

Wasn’t that dangerous?

“Oh, Craig’s mad alright,” he laughs, medical prognosis complete. “But he’s not insane.”

Right. Now if he was dressed up as a monkey…












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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:12 pm

THE VINES
The Most Stoned singer in Rock & Roll has some advice: Don’t Drink (or think) too much.

by Austin Scaggs.
Rolling Stone Australia, February 2003
*many thanks to Tristan who typed this baby up happy.gif

World Tour? A Gold Record? Adoring Groupies? All the drugs a kid could want? Sounds like a dream come true. But after skyrocketing to global success with their 2002 debut, Highly Evolved, all the Vines want to do is go home to Sydney and make their next album. “It has to be 100 times better than the first one,” says perma-baked frontman Craig Nicholls. “Just because I’m really bored.” Though introverted and prone to drifting midsentence, Nicholls tries to make sense of 2002 from a tour stop in London.

-------------------- & ----------------------

Was it a good year?

I think so. It’s all blurred into one big thing. I don’t know what month it is, but we’ve really been enjoying playing.

How many times this year have you woken up with a hangover?

I think that’s, like, every secound night.

And how much weed have you smoked?

Woah! I couldn’t really measure it. I think that means I’ve had a good amount.

You must get some serious munchies. Do you remember your favourite meal?

When we were in Paris, we got some really good seafood. Swordfish and crab and oysters. We ate so much we almost made ourselves sick.

Nice. What was the most extravagant thing you bought?

I got a ring with a skull on it out of a machine at a gas station. It’s plastic, but it looks like metal. It was about 10 cents.

Do the Vines have a favourite 2002 record?

The new Supergrass record [Life on Other Planets]. They’ve mastered the craft, whatever it is. It’s really melodic rock & roll, and the vocals are really perfect, I think.

How about a live show?

The White Stripes at a festival in Scotland. I love Meg and Jack. They’re amazing.

What will the next album sound like?

We want to move with the technology that’s available. I guess it’s more futuristic. A lot of times I think we should go completely hi-fi with a lot of production, but also do some stuff that’s stripped down – go to a little studio and do some acoustic songs. There will definitley be some electronica and a song with synthesized strings. And weird things like homemade percussion- like cookies in a big tin, or cofee and some rice.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned this year?

Not too think too much. Also, not to drink too much.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:12 pm

Band Biography 2006
Capitol Press Release


It's an album that no one ever expected to hear. And it comes accompanied by a truly remarkable backstory -- hidden inside a blast of pure rock and roll. The release of Vision Valley not only marks the return of Australian sensations The Vines from the brink of collapse, it actually solidifies their standing as one of the world's most exciting bands.

"It's more raw, less produced than our first two albums," says Vines singer/guitarist/songwriter Craig Nicholls of Vision Valley. "It still sounds alright, just a little more real."

The Vines (their name taken from a '60s band called the Vynes, which featured Nicholl's father on guitar) were one of the leading lights of the Great Rock and Roll Renaissance of 2002, but they were the hardest of that wave to pigeonhole. Though they seemed like an overnight success story to the outside world, the truth was that the songs were the result of more than five years that Nicholls had spent writing and recording material with no idea whether it would even see light of day. Drawing from British-invasion garage-pop, high-octane punk, and swirling psychedelia, The Vines had created their own thing, with an energy and a diversity that instantly stood out from the bands to whom they were compared.

Their 2002 debut Highly Evolved, powered by the blistering single "Get Free," shot them to worldwide stardom, including the covers of magazines from NME to Rolling Stone (the first Australian band to reach that slot in twenty years) and a legendary appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman." The 2004 follow-up Winning Days demonstrated the full musical range of the quartet from Sydney, from folk to punk, retro to futuristic.

But then, as fast as they rose, everything seemed to collapse. In the tour that followed the release of Winning Days, Nicholls' behavior - which had earned him a reputation as a wild child from day one - began to spiral out of control.

Things came to a head in May 2004 when he was charged with assault after an onstage incident at Sydney's Annandale Hotel. In the aftermath of that episode, which also resulted in original bass player Patrick Matthews leaving the band, Vines guitar tech Tony Bateman mentioned a medical condition known as Asperger's Syndrome - a neurobiological disorder which is a mild form of autism.

People with AS are generally considered exceptionally intelligent (and often obsessively focus their attention to music or art), but have difficulty reading social situations and coping with change.

Nicholls was subsequently examined and diagnosed with Asperger's, but the universal assumption was that this was almost certainly the end of the Vines. Nicholls, with the help of his family, needed to concentrate on how to manage his daily lifestyle, and had to spend time away from his music. Remarkably, though, drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffiths held out hope, and stuck by Nicholls through this most difficult period. By the spring of 2005, he had worked up some new songs, and it was time for The Vines to rise from the ashes.

"Most people thought the band had broken up," says drummer Rosser, "so the expectation was zero as far as I'm aware." And with that freedom came a chance to completely start over. The trio went into a Sydney studio with veteran Australian producer Wayne Connolly (best known for his work with local heroes - and Vines favorites - You Am I), and instantly knew that they were firing on all cylinders. In fact, the two opening tracks on Vision Valley - the powerhouse rockers "Anysound" and "Nothin's Comin'" - came from these very first sessions. "They were intended as demos," says Nicholls, "but they were so good we couldn't lose them."

Sessions went on over the next ten months at a variety of locations, and the band's full palette was revealed. "A lot of the songs are coming from a pretty dark place," says Rosser, while Nicholls counters that "it's kinda dark, but with some color in it as well." The first single, "Don't Listen to the Radio," is an anthemic slab of garage-pop, while Nicholls describes the title track as "laid-back and very peaceful." The 75-second-long "Gross Out," meanwhile, "assaults you," says Rosser, "it leaps out of the speakers at 100 miles per hour."

Perhaps most notable is the closing track, a six-minute epic titled "Spaceship" that gives full rein to the band's proclivity for psychedelia. "It starts mellow acoustic," says Nicholls, "and winds up space-rock." Producer Connolly takes pride in the song's "wild, insane sound," saying that it features a "psychedelic fuzz mandolin - there's hundreds of things like that layered in." Guitarist/keyboardist Griffiths says that Connolly's presence at the sessions was "almost therapeutic - he could calm things down, but he also has a good punk ethic."

Even before the album's release, the music press began to take notice of the Vines' new music. "They're back!," trumpted NME in a review of "Don't Listen to the Radio," adding that Nicholls is "back to full songwriting fitness."

With the completion of Vision Valley comes the next challenge in the Vines' rollercoaster career. Obviously, Nicholls is unable to tour or do much in the way of promotion since the consistency of routine is the most critical part of managing his Asperger's Syndrome. But the truth is that this is an album that doesn't need a lot of fancy marketing to convey its power. This is music that speaks for itself.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:13 pm

Stop Making Sense
by Craig McLean
March 5, 2006
The Observer Magazine

Two years ago, the band hailed as Australia's Strokes went into meltdown. Even industrial quantities of dope couldn't explain frontman Craig Nicholls's erratic and violent behaviour. Then a diagnosis of Asperger's put the singer on the road to a triumphant new album. By Craig McLean

The end, when it came, was horrible. And it had started so well. It is spring 2004. The Vines, one of the most wildly acclaimed bands of recent years, are touring in support of their second album, Winning Days. Their first, 2002's Highly Evolved, has sold 1.5m copies. Part 'Australian Strokes', part 'Antipodean Nirvana', they have quickly become one of the hottest bands in the world. Massive in America, huge in the UK.
Winning Days. Their first, 2002's Highly Evolved, has sold 1.5m copies. Part 'Australian Strokes', part 'Antipodean Nirvana', they have quickly become one of the hottest bands in the world. Massive in America, huge in the UK.

Singer and songwriter Craig Nicholls is a proper star, out-there and bonkers. He's a prodigious and ostentatious marijuana smoker who survives on a burger-only diet. He's occasionally been rude and uncommunicative in interviews and pulled funny faces in photographs. But so what? Nicholls's wild-eyed guitar-smashing antics have afforded him iconic status among a new generation of young music fans. Rock'n'roll!

In Manchester in 2002 the Vines were the first live band seen by a kid called Alex Turner. Watching Nicholls careen round the stage like a man possessed - or just really, really stoned - the future Arctic Monkeys frontman was impressed. 'I thought, "That's what being a singer is all about,"' Turner tells me. 'When we play, I'll do what Craig Nicholls does, be all spaced out.'

But within the Vines camp it was becoming increasingly apparent that there was a dark side to being all spaced out.

Now, after beginning 2004 with a gruelling US tour with fellow Australian rockers Jet, the Vines are in Japan. Their manager isn't there but later sees footage of one of the shows. 'It's almost unwatchable,' Andy Kelly grimaces.

In the video, Nicholls is screaming at the crowd, abusing them. No mean feat - or a particularly mean feat - in a country where rock audiences are bewilderingly polite. An exasperated Patrick Matthews, the Vines's bass player and most longstanding member alongside Nicholls, walks off stage, just as he did in Boston after the singer attacked him mid-gig. Burly drummer Hamish Rosser tries to convince Matthews to come back on. Reluctantly, Matthews retrieves his instrument and he, Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffiths prepare to start another song. Then Nicholls walks off. The gig collapses in utter chaos.

'You had to laugh,' says Kelly, shaking his head. 'Craig's kind of a genius like that. But yeah, it was pretty hard. People bend over backwards for you in Japan, but he gave his hosts a hard time.'

The Vines's touring party lurches on to the Australian leg of their world tour. The second gig is at a 450-capacity pub called the Annandale Hotel in Sydney, the city in which school kid and sometime McDonald's employee Nicholls had formed the band in 1994. The show is sponsored by national radio station Triple M and is full of competition winners and music biz types.

'Why the fuck are you laughing?' Nicholls says to the audience. 'You're all a bunch of sheep. Can you go "baa"?' He kicks out at a photographer, smashing her camera. Matthews has had enough. He leaves the stage, puts on his hoodie, then catches a cab home.

Patrick Matthews will never play with the Vines again. Triple M ban Vines songs from their station forever. The band cancel all touring commitments. The photographer goes to the police and Nicholls faces assault charges.

It is May 2004. The Vines's second album has been out for little over two months. Even their supportive UK record label is fed up with the opportunities wasted. The American label, which had already seen their erstwhile golden-boys trash the set of The David Letterman Show and be kicked off Jay Leno's show for the same, were also less than chuffed. It's all over already for this once-great band, their promise and thrill squandered by the brattish unprofessionalism, appalling manners, violent temperament and all round jerk-off attitude of Craig Nicholls. There's no excuse for behaviour like that.

***

"I rolled back on to the lawn and pressed my forehead to the ground again and made the noise that Father calls groaning. I make this noise when there is too much information coming into my head from the outside world. It is like when you are upset and you hold the radio against your ear and you tune it halfway between two stations so that all you get is white noise and then you turn the volume right up so that this is all you can hear and then you know you are safe because you cannot hear anything else. The policeman took hold of my arm and lifted me on to my feet. I didn't like him touching me like this. And this is when I hit him."

· From The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

***

Sydney, February 2006. In his office in the Vines's management's building, Andy Kelly says that no, Craig Nicholls doesn't like being touched. 'He shakes hands now though, which is great. But I'd never go and put my arm round him like I would with Ryan and Hamish.'

Shortly after the Annandale Hotel debacle, Craig Nicholls was diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome, the mild form of autism that the narrator had in Mark Haddon's Whitbread-winning novel.

Those with Asperger's - which is usually but not always diagnosed in childhood - find two-way conversation difficult. Keeping eye-contact is a challenge. They like routine; familiar surroundings and smells and tastes. Otherwise they can suffer from sensory overload, which can lead to bizarre motor, speech and language idiosyncrasies.

The syndrome, while at the 'high-functioning' end of the autism spectrum, explains why Nicholls - tasked with performing daily in rapidly changing, unfamiliar, uncontrolled and sensory-challenging environments - freaked out so much, so often and so alarmingly. And why he subsisted on a diet of Big Macs, bongs and cola. It was a small rock of routine in a sea of change.

'He really was in pain, and it was awful to watch,' Kelly says slowly. 'I used to sometimes think, on tour, "Are we gonna be the end of Craig? We love him and yet..."' Kelly pauses. We're killing him? 'Yeah. "Why are we making him go on tour when it clearly makes him so unhappy?" Although he would, every third show, turn in an absolutely incredible performance.'

Asperger's also goes some way to rationalising the complete communication breakdown that could occur between Nicholls and journalists. During his very first UK interview, with NME at an American rock festival, he tried to smash the writer's tape recorder. Then locked himself in the bathroom. For 90 minutes.

Nicholls's erratic behaviour, then, ticks all the Asperger's boxes. He's not another messed-up rock star who's an accident waiting to happen. He's neuro-divergent. In other words, 'rock star' is the worst career Nicholls could have chosen.

'That's what the professor told me,' Nicholls smiles, presumably referring to his therapist.

The Vines are gathered round a circular table. The reason for their first interview in more than two years is that, against the odds - in the shadow of their creative lynchpin's mental instability - they have made a third album. Even more surprisingly, it's brilliant. Vision Valley is 31 minutes and 27 seconds of punchy power-pop. It sounds like the work of a New Wave Beatles. Their scorching first single 'Gross Out', all 77 seconds of it, is already setting fire to radios.

Hamish Rosser, 30, has the build, attire and chipper, gregarious attitude of a surf dude. Ryan Griffiths, 27, is friendly but quiet and dressed like a scruffy British indie kid. And Craig Nicholls, 28, is, well, Craig Nicholls is definitely odd. As Andy Kelly says of the youngster who began inundating him with CDs full of 'amazing songs' more than five years ago, no one who met Nicholls back then would idly wonder, 'Oh, is there something slightly different about Craig? Absolutely obviously there was.'

But the strangely boyish-man was an artist, and a herbally enhanced one at that, with a genius talent for short, sharp rock songs. He was meant to be different.

Nicholls is polite but skittish. He chain-smokes cigarettes, five in our 90-minute conversation (by some margin, apparently, the longest interview he's ever endured). His lank curtains of hair are in need of a good wash. He is overdressed for this baking Australian summer day. He doesn't take his coat off. Heavy lidded and talking as if his mouth's been numbed by the dentist, he looks and sounds doped up to the eyeballs.

It was Craig Nicholls's guitar technician, English roadcrew veteran Tony Bateman, who first suggested that rather than just being a wanker, there might be something clinically wrong with the Vines's singer. Bateman had toured with the Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Black Sabbath. He'd seen his share of rock'n'roll craziness. But as, night after night, he patched together Fender after Fender that Nicholls had smashed, he got to thinking. He downloaded some info on Asperger's from the internet and showed it to Kelly.

Nicholls's condition was revealed in Balmain Local Court in Sydney on 19 November 2004, where he faced assault charges arising from the Annandale gig. The judge dropped the charges on the condition that Nicholls sought immediate treatment. He was in therapy for six months, took Valium (but is off it now) improved his diet, and - to the amazement of all - stopped smoking marijuana. Did the diagnosis come as a relief?

'Yeah, it made a lot of sense to me,' says Nicholls in his peculiar, drawled, quasi-Australian accent. He talks haltingly. 'Just in my life and the experiences that I'd had, growing up and stuff. It was kind of a relief. It was more like an explanation.'

Given his extreme behaviour, why wasn't it diagnosed earlier? 'I wondered the same thing,' Nicholls says wryly. The looming court appearance brought things to a head, recalls Kelly. The Vines couldn't do any more gigs, and not just for reasons of their frontman's own health - 'there was a liability issue. It was just getting too dangerous. He was really terrified about the court case, terrified he was going to go to jail. He didn't want to go through that ever again. It was the start of him trying to make changes. After that he actually stopped smoking pot. Which was unimaginable - unimaginable.'

What did smoking pot do for Nicholls?

'Ahm. It just fit with my personality. I never drank alcohol. [Smoking] was just the thing I did. It made me calm. But it started not making me calm at all. It made me edgy, so that wasn't good.'

Whether cannabis use caused Nicholls's mental and emotional problems, or exacerbated existing ones, is unclear. But Robin Turner, the Vines's A&R man and long-term confidant at their UK label Heavenly, always thought his habit was a hindrance, not a help. He witnessed the toilet incident with NME in America. 'It just wasn't rational behaviour,' he recalls. 'But because Craig was smoking such massive amounts of spliff, I wondered whether his behaviour was down to a schizophrenia caused by cannabis.'

Growing up in the Sydney suburbs with his brother and two sisters, Nicholls was an introverted and borderline obsessive teenager - he escaped into art, songwriting and skateboarding. He was remote, and occasionally troublesome; his waywardness once compelled his parents to call the police (he can't remember why). Did they never take him to the doctor or suggest help? 'I remember when I was maybe 15, I spoke to a couple of psychologists. But I don't think they diagnosed me with anything. So. Maybe it grew. Maybe it became more intense when I started in the band. But I'm not really sure.'

If you have Asperger's you can be good with numbers or words, or have focused, narrow interests. Nicholls feels 'comfortable writing songs. It's a good outlet for me. Seeing as though I'm not that social, it's a way to communicate.'

'You've definitely got a way with words,' says Rosser. 'I notice Craig has an incredible retention of lyrics and song, or even lines from comedy shows. He can see it once and have the jokes down. We're like, "Wow, how'd you remember that?"'

Reading social situations comes less easily. 'Mind blindness' prevents easy understanding of body language, facial expressions and sarcasm.

'I think it's a mild case that I have,' says Nicholls. 'But that's not one of my strong points.'

'You've got the sarcasm down,' interjects Griffiths, to laughs all around. 'He was great at counting cards when we were playing Black Jack!' says Rosser. 'You could never beat him.'

I give Nicholls a copy of Haddon's book. He mumbles an embarrassed thank you. He seems never to have heard of it. But Rosser has read it and tells him it's a great story. 'The kid's different to you, his Asperger's is probably a worse scenario.' Certainly, Nicholls's life doesn't seem to be governed by rules about how many red cars he sees in a row. 'But [Haddon's character] is really good with numbers, a mathematical genius,' Rosser tells Nicholls, who's handling the book gingerly, like an unexploded bomb.

'I tell you,' says Andy Kelly later, 'a year ago you wouldn't have even got to the point of giving him that book. Or him even saying thanks.'

Craig Nicholls has been off the dope for nine months now. You can hear his clear-headedness in the muscular, focused pop of Vision Valley. He's been a joy to work with, says Kelly. He can't remember details of many of his more outrageous 'stunts' - he's a complete blank on the Jay Leno Show fiasco - but when told of them is fairly contrite. He acknowledges his inner turmoil, in the opening line of the album's first song, 'Anysound': 'I am a Vine, all twisted and frayed.'

There's no pressure. Winning Days sold 600,000 copies which, as failures go, is still impressive. But the circumstances surrounding the album and tour were so disastrous and painful that there are no expectations as to how the new album will do. The fact that the band survived - that, let's be frank, Nicholls survived - to make a new album, is victory enough.

The routine of recording has suited him, and he's thrown himself into the pernickety sonic details involved in mastering the new album. Our interview only happened because Nicholls had two weeks' notice. That's how things need to be.

'The worst thing in a way, even though he has to have rest periods, is if he's got too much time on his hands,' says Andy Kelly, who clearly has as much a paternal love for Nicholls as a professional one. 'Then he overthinks things and really beats himself up about stuff. But it's a sign of how good he is now that if he rings me at midnight to talk about a song, that's fine, I don't mind taking the call 'cos I know he'll be logical about it and reasonable. We can have a two-way conversation and he'll listen. Whereas before, you used to have to walk on eggshells.'

All of which begs the million-dollar question: will - can - the Vines tour again?

Kelly winces and sighs. 'The thing we said to them a few months ago is, if they're gonna play live again, they pretty much have to be the best live band in the world. I don't mean that flippantly. If they performed disastrously, it'd be horrible - for them, for everyone around them.

'But if they were to tour again I worry that it's just gonna go back to how it was. More and more pressure, changes every day, expectations - if they're in Toronto, why can't they do this TV show? So yeah, it's a matter of managing that. It's down to us and his family and the band to keep a lid on everything so he doesn't just go the way he went before.'

What do the band think? Will they be back in the UK this spring?

'Ooh, wouldn't like to promise it,' says an eager but once-bitten Hamish Rosser.

'But we will,' says Craig Nicholls. And behind the sleepy-eyes and the greasy fringe there's something like determination.

· The Vines's new album, Vision Valley, is released on 3 April. The single, 'Gross Out', is out on 21 March




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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:14 pm

Vines Promise a Killer Album
Daily Telegraph
May 2005

The Vines were slated to begin recording their third album in Sydney on Monday.

Singer and guitarist Craig Nicholls has written more than 10 songs and hopes to pump that number up to 20 before settling on a final list.

“I’ve heard a good deal of them and it’s going to be a killer album,” Vines drummer Hamish Rosser told me.

“I’ve always had faith in (Nicholls’) songwriting. It’s the one thing he does better than most people.

I patched a call to Nicholls’ father, Terry, who said his son was in an ‘upbeat’ and ‘creative’ frame of mind.

“He’s not telling us a lot (about the songs), as he likes to keep things close to his chest, but I’ve heard a few and they sound promising.”

Rosser is currently playing with spoof hair-metal band Bigphallica and is considering other offers.

Mick Hart rang me this week wanting to contact Rosser about playing some gigs in Hart’s band, Monkey Boy.

Nicholls’ suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that causes some sufferers to feel uncomfortable in public situations, and it is unlikely that the Vines will tour again.

“I’m committed to The Vines, and it is my first priority, but (with Nicholls’ condition) there’s not much of a touring future for us,” Rosser says.

“A doctor has said being on the road is one of the worst environments for a person like Craig.”

Meanwhile, The Vines’ bassist Patrick Matthews has been playing with a local band, Youth Group.

One source told me that Matthews is no longer a member of The Vines.

Rosser said: “I want (Patrick) to continue playing in The Vines, but I don’t know what his decision will be.”

One of my spies saw Nicholls hanging out with a woman in a park in Oatley recently. Another tells me the talented, self-described pothead quit the wacky weed about two months ago.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:18 pm

Winning again
By Kathy McCabe
Daily Telegraph
March 08, 2006

user posted image

THE Vines frontman Craig Nicholls has revealed his excitement at the band's return to music more than a year after he was diagnosed with a career-threatening disorder.

Nicholls suffered a breakdown in May 2004 during a Sydney concert for Triple M listeners after enduring months of rigorous touring and promotion for the band's second album, Winning Days.

His erratic behaviour led to an assault charge when he kicked a photographer's camera during the Annandale Hotel show.

Nicholls was later diagnosed with asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, and the charges were dropped in November 2004.

Sufferers of the syndrome require routine in their lives and the touring demands on Nicholls pushed him beyond his limits.

The singer said he now manages the condition "by having someone to talk to" and is ready to undertake limited promotional and performance commitments to support the release of their third album, Vision Valley, on April 1.

He said he threw himself into songwriting after the assault charge was resolved.

"There was a cloud for a while but it had lifted by the time we started writing and recording the demos," he said.

"It felt like we were just doing it for fun, just like when we first started out.

"It's good to have a new album. I knew we hadn't broken up. I knew we were going to do a new album but at the time after the second album, we weren't sure when it was going to be," he said.

Drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffiths said yesterday they were equally proud of the new album and were looking forward to unveiling it to their fans.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:19 pm

Star's secret agony
November 20, 2004
Daily Telegraph

THE Vines' frontman Craig Nicholls, who put Australian rock back on the international stage after 20 years, has been diagnosed with a disorder.

Nicholls' condition, known as Asperger's syndrome, was revealed in Balmain Local Court yesterday when charges of assault and malicious damage were unconditionally dismissed.

The charges followed an incident at the Annandale Hotel on May 27 when the singer-songwriter allegedly kicked a photographer's camera during a performance for radio station Triple M competition winners.

After the brief hearing, an elated Nicholls walked out of court holding up his arms and said: "I'm free."

He attended the 10-minute hearing with his brother Matt and managers Andy Kelly, Andy Cassell and Pete Lusty.

US and European tours to support the release of the band's second album Winning Days were cancelled in June to allow Nicholls to recover from "mental and physical exhaustion".

Despite years of examination by psychologists and psychiatrists, Nicholls was finally diagnosed after his management team were alerted to the existence of Asperger's syndrome (AS) by one of the band's crew members.

They engaged a world authority on autism spectrum disorders, Professor Tony Attwood who is based in Brisbane, to examine Nicholls.

His family completed two extensive surveys relating to Nicholls' behaviour during childhood, which are used to diagnose the syndrome, and Professor Attwood confirmed the condition after meeting the singer in August.

Nicholls' behaviour has perplexed fans and critics for the past three years.
The gifted songwriter became more erratic and abusive on and off stage as the band's success and touring commitments increased.

Professor Attwood said yesterday extensive touring would cause extraordinary stress and eventual nervous breakdown to AS sufferers because of their inability to socially interact and the changes to their environment.

But sufferers can excel at music, mathematics and mechanical skills.

"Craig lives for his music. It's his therapy, it's the way he communicates, it's his life," Professor Attwood said.

The Vines' management said Nicholls and his fellow band members – Patrick Matthews, Hamish Rosser and Ryan Griffiths – would now start work on the band's third album.

They have sold more than two million copies of their debut Highly Evolved and follow-up Winning Days since bursting on to the international arena in 2002.

"He can't wait to get back into the rehearsal studio and we can't wait to hear what he's going to come up with," Mr Kelly said.

The Vines will be unable to undertake major tours because of Nicholls' condition but plan to perform occasional concerts.

Capitol, their record label in the US, and EMI, their Australian label, have confirmed their support for the band and will release the new album.


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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:20 pm

Reflowering of the Vines
Iain Shedden
March 17, 2006
The Australian

The Sydney band burst on to the planet's rock stage, then faded. Now, as a three-man outfit, they're back, writes Iain Shedden
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE offices of management company Winterman and Goldstein are like a shrine to one of their most successful charges, Sydney rock band the Vines. As one climbs the stairs of the outwardly innocuous suburban house in Sydney's inner west, gold and platinum records share wall space with blown-up magazine covers, most bearing the faces of four fresh-faced musos who, four years ago, found themselves to be the hottest rock'n'roll property on the planet.

In 2001 the Vines emerged from their garage in the Sydney suburb of Hurstville with a bunch of demo tapes and signed to Capitol Records in the US. They released a debut album, Highly Evolved (2002), that went on to sell 1.5 million copies and inspired praise of them as the new Beatles and Nirvana for the noughties.

They looked - and sounded - like contenders for world domination.

It's difficult to reconcile these statistics and emblems of the Vines' rock stardom with the three figures huddled around the conference room table in front of me. The remaining members of the band - singer and guitarist Craig Nicholls, drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffiths - look as if they would be best placed in a hospital waiting room. Rosser has a brace on his left knee following a tumble in the surf last weekend. Griffiths is walking with a stick after dislocating his knee while wrestling a dog called Jet, the name, ironically, of the Melbourne band that has replaced the Vines as our most promising rock export (and also in the Winterman and Goldstein camp). Then there's Nicholls, the songwriter, frontman and focal point of all that has been good and bad about the Vines during their short career. He doesn't appear to have any physical scars but he is looking pale and distant.

This is hardly the kind of shape you'd want to be in when you're about to release your third album, one on which your collective future may depend. Still, it will come as a surprise to many that the Vines even exist after the events of the past 18 months.

It was in 2004, during a world tour to promote their ill-fated second album Winning Days, that the wheels began to fall off the Vines' juggernaut. Nicholls, notorious for his difficult personality, stage tantrums and run-ins with fellow band members, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism that affects the sufferer's ability to function in social situations.

The diagnosis, while explaining - and to a degree admonishing - Nicholls's volatile behaviour, did not bode well for the band's future. Playing in front of thousands of people every night is hardly the ideal environment for someone with his condition.

An incident at a show in Sydney's Annandale Hotel in November 2004 in which Nicholls damaged a photographer's camera and disgruntled bass player Patrick Matthews left the stage early, never to return, brought matters to a head.

The show's sponsors, radio network Triple M, banned them from the airwaves and suggested that Nicholls and Matthews would soon be back where they had met, flipping burgers in McDonald's.

Afterwards, the band announced that they were taking an indefinite break, which in music-biz terms can often read as a euphemism for breaking up.

Yet here we are in March 2006 and the Vines, despite their physical and mental trials - and without a permanent bass player - are about to release a new album, one they hope will put their detractors in a spin and repair much of the damage that was done when Winning Days failed to impress the critics and Nicholls's behaviour put them and fans offside.

The signs are good. The new album, Vision Valley, boasts 13 short, incisive pop songs that bear all the hallmarks of Highly Evolved, combining Nicholls's gift for great pop hooks with the power and urgency of a dynamic and inventive rock band. If radio programmers can get their head around the title, the first single from it, the instantly gratifying Don't Listen to the Radio, should be enough to re-establish their commercial credentials.

"That song had quite a different arrangement initially," Nicholls says in a rare moment of enthusiasm. "But for the most part we didn't change the songs that much. They were all pretty simple ideas and they came together pretty easily this time."

The problem is whether the Vines will be able to build on any success that song or the album brings, whether Nicholls's condition will allow them to claw their way back to the top, no matter how good their album may be. In conversation, he doesn't strike you as someone capable of coping with the demands of world touring. He doesn't look well.

When Nicholls was first diagnosed the band's manager, Andy Kelly, said the Vines would have to seriously curtail the kind of touring that is required of an internationally successful act.

Their promotional campaign this time is being restricted as well. Interviews are conducted only as a band and any other commitments, such as photo shoots and making film clips, are designed not to put too much pressure on the singer.

So far so good. His interview technique remains brief and his attention tends to wander. (He frequently exchanges knowing, giggly glances with the other two, but it's not clear about what.) He won't talk directly about his health other than to say he is "definitely feeling good", before diverting the conversation back to his album.

Nicholls is, however, much more positive than when he was fending flak on the back of the last album, although he says he wasn't really feeling the pressure on him at the time. "I remember that tour being OK," he says. "It wasn't until after that tour, after a few months, that it [the pressure] started to build up." After his diagnosis and when the media frenzy had died down, Nicholls settled to doing what he does best, which is write and record songs. He says there was a freedom to work at his own pace for Vision Valley that was similar to the formative period of the band five years ago.

"Just having the time to do it was good," he says. "We could just focus on that. I could write as much as I wanted and record as much as I wanted. All the songs came together pretty quickly around the same time. We rehearsed and did a bunch of demos, and that seemed to work pretty well."

Unlike the previous two albums, which were recorded in Los Angeles and New York respectively, Vision Valley was recorded in a handful of Sydney studios, again to make life easier for its creator. Andy Kent, bassist in Melbourne rock band You Am I, was drafted in to play on the album and he may also be involved in any live performances this year. The group hasn't been actively looking for a permanent replacement for Matthews.

Although Rosser says "the future was uncertain for a while", Nicholls asserts that there was never any intention for the band to split. "I don't think so. We just needed a break" is how he puts it, while Griffiths describes post-touring as a period where "we just needed time to eat and sleep and do normal things".

Rosser expects the band to play shows again, "although we have to get ourselves fit first. It's lucky we didn't have a massive tour booked. We don't have a bass player either, but I think we'll overcome these obstacles and do a few shows."

Nicholls, too, is looking forward to playing live again, albeit in reduced circumstances. His volatile nature was part of the band's attraction live, especially when the band burst through, first in Britain and then in the US.

When Nicholls went slightly berserk on the set of the David Letterman show, as the band performed their first hit, Get Free, punters across the world took notice.

It will be interesting to see how much of the awkward, guitar-smashing, foul-mouthed banshee of old remains if, or when, that return to the stage takes place. The plan so far is to test the water with a few Australian shows this year before committing to anything overseas, particularly in the US, where Capitol will be looking for the band to capitalise on its investment. It was the US label that brought forward the release date of the album from June to April 1.

In the meantime the threesome will content themselves with making a few videos and conducting interviews with select media across the globe.

"I'm coping," Nicholls says. "I'm looking forward to doing the shows and we're not going to do as much promotion this time."

Rosser, who has been filling in with other bands during the Vines' down time, is philosophical about their chances.

He says there has been little pressure on them to bounce back because "most people thought we had broken up anyway. It's good to come back with an album like this when most people had already written us off. Just getting back together has exceeded most people's expectations. So we've proved them wrong. Take that."

The Vines' Vision Valley is released by EMI on April 1.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:20 pm

The Vines Rock Again on "Vision"
Lauren Gitlin
Rolling Stone online
24 March 2006

Craig Nicholls says Asperger's hasn't thrown his music Vines singer Craig Nicholls is back after being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in November 2004."I was working out how to deal with everything that had happened to me and to the Vines," says Nicholls. "And I'm sure that influenced the songs. I had a lot of stuff in my head."

2004 was a wild year for the band: Nicholls' erratic behavior led to an assault charge, bassist Patrick Matthews departed and everyone had to come to grips with the singer's health condition.

Ultimately, the Vines regrouped as a trio -- Nicholls, drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffith -- and spent a year working on Vision Valley, due April 4th, throughout their hometown of Sydney, with their usual producer, Wayne Connolly.

"We used quite a few studios because we kind of split the recording up into sections rather than doing it in one big hit," Nicholls says. "That way it's a lot more creative and enjoyable -- well, for us anyway." One of the string of spots the Vines worked in was Niki Nali, which Nicholls loved "because you can walk outside and look at the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House."

Despite his struggle with Asperger's, Nicholls says his songwriting process "hasn't really changed at all." And, he adds, once back in the studio, "Everyone was really excited to be making another album."

The result is thirteen cuts that splice together the garage-y punk of early Vines on tracks like "Anysound" and "Fuk Yeh" with sunny, Beatlesque pop ditties like "Candy Daze." Nicholls even throws in a twangy country ballad, "Take Me Back," while the title track sounds a lot like Oasis' "Wonderwall." And "Don't Listen to the Radio," the last song the band recorded, touches on the personal need the singer had to cut himself off from outside influence. "I was just feeling like I really couldn't be exposed to the stuff that gets forced onto you," he says.

As for the future, the Vines have no plans to tour behind Vision Valley. "We're just going to be in Sydney and write some more songs," says Nicholls, "and hopefully we'll get to make another album."

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:21 pm

Having a Vine Time
The Courier-Mail
Kathy McCabe
March 29, 2006


IPB Image

THE Vines frontman Craig Nicholls and guitarist Ryan Griffiths are laughing their heads off.

Band drummer and king of the quick quip Hamish Rosser is throwing one-liners up at them from the courtyard of their Sydney management offices.

There is an ease and excitement about the trio as they convene around the courtyard table on the eve of the release of their third album, Vision Valley.

This is the album few people believed would be made and Nicholls, Griffiths and Rosser are not-so-secretly chuffed they have defied the premature expectations of their demise.

Nicholls, in particular, looks happy and relaxed, laughs easily at Rosser's jokes that punctuate the frontman's pauses during the conversation.

No one in The Vines camp would have thought he could be either happy or relaxed back in 2004.

But he gave up smoking marijuana nine months ago and is "managing OK", dealing with Asperger's syndrome by "talking to someone".

"It's great to have a new album, just to be able to be back in touch with things on the music side. People thought we weren't going to have a new album, but I knew we hadn't broken up," he says.

To recap, The Vines exploded on the international music scene from a Sydney garage four years ago with their debut album Highly Evolved, spearheaded by the screamadelic single Get Free.

That album sold more than 1.5 million copies and critics scrambled to anoint them as the new Beatles or Nirvana, depending on how impressed they were by Nicholls' deft melodic touches or the band's aggressive live performances.

"I was in the band a month and we were overseas, playing festivals," drummer Rosser recalls.

"By the time I had been in the band for a year, we'd done the cover of US Rolling Stone (the first Australian band to grace the prestigious front page in 20 years) and played Reading and Glastonbury and America. It was amazing, a huge opportunity. Most bands play for years and never get out of Australia."

After touring around the world and back again, The Vines headed to a small town in upstate New York to record their second album, Winning Days.

They should have been on a high when they embarked on their promotional campaign to launch that album. But it all started to implode.

Nicholls' behaviour became increasingly erratic and occasionally violent, on and off stage, with many dismissing him as an indulgent rock star.

The controversial incidents stacked up, culminating with the now infamous gig at Sydney's Annandale Hotel in May 2004, when The Vines were to perform for Triple M competition winners.

Bassist Patrick Matthews, who met Nicholls when they worked together at McDonald's, stormed off stage following the first song after the singer kicked out at a photographer in the moshpit.

The gig descended into chaos from there, with Nicholls baiting the audience to "baa like sheep" after hearing someone laugh during one of their quieter songs.

Triple M staffers were furious and banned The Vines from their playlist.

The singer's bandmates, management and family shut down the touring plans for Winning Days and tried to figure out how to help Nicholls, who was obviously suffering and not just from the effects of fame and success.

The band's guitar technician Tony Bateman suggested the frontman may have Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism spectrum disorder.

Some of Nicholls' behavioural problems – lack of eye contact, unwillingness to be touched and the strange accent many journalists accused him of putting on – were typical of the syndrome, as was his extraordinary talent for music.

An Australian authority on the condition, Professor Tony Attwood, agreed to meet Nicholls, his family and the managers. After several tests and meetings, he confirmed the singer had Asperger's.

While all were relieved they now had a name for Nicholls' behaviour and could help him deal with it, there was another serious issue to deal with.

An assault charge arising from the Annandale Hotel incident was finally dismissed in Balmain Local Court in November 2004 and Nicholls and his bandmates were now free to contemplate the future.

Rosser and Griffiths said they never had any doubt in Nicholls' ability to write songs and while waiting for a sign of the future was sometimes frustrating, they had confidence The Vines would move forward.

Nicholls retreated to his home in Sydney's south and the songwriting floodgates opened.

As he completed a batch, he would summons Griffiths, a childhood friend, and Rosser to his home and they would record demos of his works in progress.

"There was a cloud for a while, yeah, but it had lifted by the time we started writing and recording the demos," Nicholls says.

Thousands of fans – and more than a few media types – would have loved to have pressed a glass to the wall of Nicholls' home to hear what the Vines were up to.

The trio seem amazed that none of the neighbours ever complained about the raucous rock 'n' roll emanating from the suburban home during the months they worked up the new songs including Take Me Back, Gross Out, Candy Daze, Futuretarded and the epic Spaceship.

"Craig set up a little digital eight track box, a couple of mics and a drum kit," Rosser recalls.

"We demoed all through the night on a few occasions. The neighbours are fairly close so we were playing very quietly, with little guitar amps and a lot of time I used brushes."

"If we felt we were making too much noise we would try to wrap it up."

Recorded in Sydney studios with respected producer and mate, Wayne Connolly, Vision Valley is both an insight into Nicholls' particular reality and a flight of imagination.

The soundbites detailing his inability to deal with the demands of success and touring are all there but this isn't just the therapy album.

"Writing songs is good for me . . . it's a good outlet being creative. I guess a lot of them are pretty personal. I can't really think of any theme. Most of the songs are detached, separate ideas," Nicholls says.

"There is positive projection in a lot of songs which is good."

Sonically, the album sounds like it has emerged from the late '60s, with psychedelic guitar assaults giving way to stunningly beautiful acoustically-driven melodies and orchestrations.

Not quite the retro rock of Jet or Wolfmother, the album's sound comes more from the fact that Nicholls doesn't listen to the radio – as evidenced by the first single, Don't Listen To The Radio – and is only in touch with what other music is out there via video shows.

While their fans will see them in action in at least two clips for singles from Vision Valley, the question as to whether they tour remains unanswered.

And at this stage, unanswerable.

Taking Asperger's sufferers out of their daily routine is a bad move, but Nicholls and his bandmates are itching to play their new material.

The frontman laughs heartily when Rosser suggests they do a stadium tour because "they all look the same", meaning Nicholls wouldn't be exposed to disparate environments.

And they have to find a new bass player with Matthews now a full-time member of Youth Group.

So they will start with one gig, sometime, somewhere and build from there.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm looking forward to getting back into (playing),"says Nicholls. "I wasn't the best at dealing with a lot of stuff that goes along with it. But this time around we're going to see what we can do to make it easier for us playing."

Vision Valley is released on April 1.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:22 pm

The Vines are back with 'Vision Valley'
Singer Craig Nicholls talks about his mild autism and the touring future of his Aussie band
By JANE STEVENSON
Toronto Sun

Remember Aussie rock band The Vines?

They came out swinging from Down Under in late 2001 as part of a so-called neo-garage-rock invasion that included New York’s The Strokes, Detroit’s The White Stripes and Sweden’s The Hives.

“It was great to be associated with those bands because we really liked them a lot,” said Vines’ lead singer-songwriter-guitarist Craig Nicholls down the line from Sydney in a Canadian exclusive interview with the Sun.

“We thought they were great new bands, so it was a compliment for us to be considered a part of that — if it was a scene or not. Maybe it was a little over the (top) but it was still a compliment.”

Subsequently, The Vines — who released their third album, Vision Valley, this week — were the first band from Down Under to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone in about two decades, and were seen as paving the way overseas for groups like Jet that followed.

The Vines’ 2002 debut, Highly Evolved, contained the Nirvana-like breakout hit Get Free, which was bolstered by the song’s frenzied energy and the strangled vocals of Nicholls, whose unpredictable, verbally abusive and often violent behaviour, both on stage and off, would soon make bigger headlines than the band’s music itself.

Two years later, The Vines’ 2004 sophomore album, Winning Days, followed, but despite that album title, the critics weren’t nearly as kind this time around even with another likable chart-topper called Ride.

More importantly, Nicholls’ erratic mood swings came to a head when he was charged with assault — after kicking and breaking a photographer’s camera during a gig in Sydney — and bassist Patrick Matthews walked off stage forever.

Later that year, Nicholls was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, and while it wasn’t the best news, at least there was finally an explanation for the band’s implosion.

“Yeah, it was a relief, it made some sense,” said Nicholls. “It gave some explanation of how I had been feeling. Obviously (those behaviour headlines), it’s not what we wanted. But, hopefully, this time around the focus will just be on our music.”

The good news is that Nicholls’ assault charge has since been dropped and the group remains friends with Matthews, who has since joined Youth Group. Andy Kent of You Am I played in the studio on the new record.

“There’s no bad blood between us,” said drummer Hamish Rosser, also on speaker phone. “Patrick came down to the studio while we were recording and it was like we were old friends; we even wanted him back in the band.”

Against the odds then, The Vines have stayed together, recording Vision Valley in Sydney with producer Wayne Connolly.

Nicholls’ penchant for combining noiser rock with dreamier psychedelic pop is evident once again but, obviously, he had a lot to draw on personally, too.

“It’s always been the extremes, the opposites,” said Nicholls, who was listening to Faith No More and The Beach Boys at the time. “Usually, the songs aren’t always the same. We try to make things as varied as possible.”

Those with Asperger’s syndrome generally don’t like to be touched, find two-way conversation difficult, avoid eye contact and like routine in their lives.

Thus, Nicholls’ condition leaves The Vines unable to tour for the foreseeable future.

“So far, there’s no show booked or no touring plans,” said Rosser. “But I do think that maybe in a year we’ll get ourselves a new bass player and start doing some shows. But it’ll have to start with a show or two in Australia. We’re not going to embark on a massive overseas tour straight away. At the moment, we’re just sort of trying not to burn ourselves out again. Touring for us is pretty exhausting, it doesn’t always bring out the best in us.”

Added Nicholls: “We’re going to see if we can do touring (for) not so long. We’re going to try and break it up so that I can cope with it.”

Nicholls said he manages his condition by “talking to someone once in awhile, that’s about all I do.

“It was good that they stuck by me,” he added of his two bandmates. “I’m grateful for that. We weren’t really 100% sure of what was going to happen but we kind of knew that the band hadn’t finished.”

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:22 pm

Redeeming Themselves
Drum Media
13 April 2006
Mark Neilsen

The epitaph for The Vines could have been written by now. Instead, they're back with a new album.
The vines drummer HAMISH ROSSER speaks exclusively

Two years ago it seemed the short yet bright career of The Vines had spectacularly exploded. The band that came out of south-western Sydney in 2001 to sell 1.5 million copies of the debut album Highly Evolved fell apart on the stage of the Annandale Hotel in May 2004. At the Gig, bass player Patrick Matthews walked off after only one song (and as it turned out, ended up leaving the band entirely), while vocalist and guitarist threw abuse and his guitar in the direction of various members of the audience and struck a photographer at the gig, destroying her camera. Charges were filed over the incident but were later dropped. It emerged that that Nicholls erratic behaviour (evident not only at that show but pretty much ever since the vines emerged), was due to Aspergers syndrome, a mild form of autism, which was only recently diagnosed in him

Most observers thought that was the blazing end of the band. But when it all happened, did the members themselves think that was it? "In short term I knew we were going to take a bit of time out and get ourselves together. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be all over. I didn’t really know myself," Rosser admits. "Most people wrote us off at that point, but I always held out hope for there being a future. We all had faith in Craig's ability to write really good songs; that was never bought into the question, but its just being able to function as a touring band was what we weren’t able to do so well (chuckles)."

Did Craig’s Diagnosis explain a lot of things? Did you think something was up beforehand?
"Yeah I did. It was funny, when I first joined up, because Patrick had a bit of medical background (Matthews was actually studying medicine during the vines tenure), I asked him once if he thought Craig was autistic because in certain environments, like if he was in a noisy bar, all the different conversations going on at once would really freak him out. He was never really comfortable in those social situations anyway. But Patrick sort of dismissed it and goes "no, he doesn’t have any other symptoms of it". But it wasn’t until a couple of years later when it was actually our guitar tech that out it together

"Craig himself has always told us he knows his brain is different to everyone else's, and it's always been pretty obvious. His brain is wired differently to the rest of us."

It was about five or six months after that infamous gig that the remaining members (Rosser, Nicholls and guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Griffiths) got together and focussed on making the bands third album. "Our management had told us that after it all fell apart, well, the best thing for you guys to do right now because we've cancelled all the touring is go and write a great album," Rosser says. "Redeem yourselves."

After rehearsing as just the three of them for a couple of months, Andy Kent from You Am I came on board to play bass and eventually ended up recording with them for the whole album. The end result is Vision Valley - 13 punchy pop songs, clocking in at little over half an hour- ranging from the buzzsaw punk feel of the frenetic Gross out to the sunny pop of (long time live favourite) Going Gone. Most songs clock under the three minute mark, except for the album closer, Spaceship- a dreamy psychedelic six minute jam

With Nicholls’ condition still untested with regards to playing live, there are no firm plans for when the band will next gig. They do, however have a couple of live TV appearances planned at the end of this month but actual gigs at live venues are still awhile off (and, in fact, unscheduled) The thinking at this stage is they may test the waters by doing a one off show in Sydney and then maybe a few shows around Australia. "If it works well and sounds good and everyone’s happy then we'll think about taking it overseas, but there’s no point in booking a four month overseas tour right now if it will just kill us then," Rosser says.

"We'll teak it one step at a time...Craig’s in a much better state of mind now than he ever was before when he was touring, so there’s always a chance. But we just don’t want to commit to anything that’s going to put us all back to where we were, like you said two years ago after the Annandale show. We don’t want a repeat of that."


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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:22 pm

Valley of the Vines
Kelsey Munro
Rolling Stone Australia
April 2006


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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:23 pm

Focused 'Vision'
by Barry Divola
SPIN
May 2006




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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:23 pm

The Vines Conquer Insanity
By: Alyssa Rashbaum
May 9, 2006

Drummer Hamish Rosser visits the U.S. to speak out about his band's future, its new record, and its troubled frontman, Craig Nicholls.

Fame has not been particularly kind to Aussie rock outfit the Vines.

In the four years since the band helped usher out the boy bands and forge a path for indie rockers to easily scoop up label deals, the Vines have witnessed the near self-destruction of lead singer Craig Nicholls (which they later discovered was due to the neurological disorder, Aspergers), alienated fans, the media, and each other, lost their longtime bassist, and somehow, put themselves back together again.

In April, the band released Vision Valley, an album of tight rock tracks, pumped up punk songs, and a few melancholy ballads. While the project is arguably their best, the band can scarcely promote it, since Nicholls is notoriously testy with journalists and his condition prevents him from touring extensively.

Enter drummer Hamish Rosser, one of Nicholls' biggest supporters and the member of the Vines who has stepped up to speak out on Nicholls' slow descent, his slower repair, and how the band plans to pull through it all.

SPIN.com: Despite all the problems the Vines have had over the last two years, Vision Valley is a solid album. To what do you attribute that?

Hamish Rosser: Well, I think a lot of the songs are coming from quite a dark place. I think every song except "Candy Daze" was written after the Winning Days touring finished. So I think it all came from Craig's mental state which, when the songs were written, was probably as bad as it's ever been. It's since improved now. He's stopped smoking pot and everything else so it's better now. That's what you can attribute the songs to really. There's a lot of songs about death and loneliness.

Was there more pressure this time?

Much less so than before. We'd stopped doing press a long time ago so there weren't really any articles in the papers about us. Capitol more or less left us alone. We said we wanted to record another album and they said, "Okay," and sent us a budget and left us to it. This time we had a lot more control than we had previously and that took the pressure off. A lot of people thought the band had broken up anyway so that takes the pressure off as well.

Was there a point when you realized Craig's behavior was getting out of control?

He was always teetering on the edge of falling apart. We're always trying to manage Craig, to make things as comfortable for him as possible and give him his space or give him what he needed. This was before we found out he has his condition, Aspergers. When we found that out it all sort of made sense. Right before that infamous gig in Sydney [where Craig smashed a camera, called audience "sheep"] we were in Japan, he wasn't happy and it was all sort of deteriorating. Him giving up pot sort of helped things out.

Craig's therapist reportedly said, given his condition, being a rock star was the worst thing he could do. That's the irony because with Asperger's people are usually focused on one particular thing. Craig is obsessed with music and writing songs. So that's the irony. He's a great musician, a great songwriter, but then the actual touring side isn't good for him. In his condition it's best for him to have a constant environment, be in the same place with some sort of routine and being on tour if you're in a different city each day of the week, yeah, it's the worst possible environment for him. So when he was diagnosed it came as sort of no surprise and didn't really change anything for us. It just let us go, okay, that's what it is, and now we can handle it better.

He's a lot more polite these days. He's always really concerned he's going to offend somebody. He sort of became aware that he was upsetting people and now he's taking steps to not offend people.

Do you ever feel resentful of Craig's condition because it keeps you from touring?

The thing I've realized about Craig is you can't separate the genius songwriter from the erratic personality he has. If he wasn't this crazy guy he probably wouldn't write such good songs so how do you separate those things.

What do you see in the future for the Vines?

There will definitely be another album. I'm just hoping there can be more shows in between but it's impossible to predict. There's never been a long-range calendar with the Vines. We never really know what's going to happen which makes it really hard to plan anything else. But the fourth album, that will happen.

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PostSubject: Re: Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)   Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:24 pm

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Lorna McPherson
April 2006








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Vines magazine and newspaper articles (from the old forum)
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