Vintage Trouble, a band from L.A., went abroad to make it big
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA firstname.lastname@example.org October 7, 2012 2:16PM
WITH VINTAGE TROUBLE
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield
Info: (312) 595-5600; www.etix.com
Updated: November 8, 2012 6:15AM
The Los Angeles-based rock ’n’ soul band Vintage Trouble did a classic cultural end run by planting roots in Europe before building an audience in America.
The quartet’s management used the careers of English vocalists James Blunt and Amy Winehouse as a template. Each flopped in America before gaining traction at home.
Vintage Trouble is managed by Doc McGhee, the legendary manager of Kiss, Guns N’ Roses, James Brown and others.
Vintage Trouble — think Black Crowes meet Otis Redding — opens for Joss Stone at Sunday at the Vic. Catch them now: Next month Vintage Trouble begins opening for the Who on the first leg of the classic rockers’ U.S. “Quadrophenia” tour, including Nov. 29 and 30 dates at the Allstate Arena.
“We did our research,” Vintage Trouble lead vocalist Ty Taylor said from Los Angeles. “People like Jimi Hendrix went to Europe first. People understand there’s something really special about soul and rhythm and blues there. We started doing college shows over there. The press got ahold of our record [‘The Bomb Shelter Sessions’] and named us breakout artist of the year.
“We did one showcase in England and did the Jools Holland show [in April 2011]. We walk into the Jools Holland show and k.d. lang is singing. Then Jools Holland walks over to us and says he’s a big fan of ours. We didn’t even know he knew who we were.”
The Vintage Trouble appearance on “Later … With Jools Holland” ignited Twitter as the sixth most tweeted topic worldwide just hours after the show.
The next day, the band’s self-released “Bomb Shelter” debut entered the charts, becoming the No. 1 R&B album” and No. 2 rock album on Amazon U.K., and No. 6 on Amazon overall, charting in the U.K. Top 40 by the time it was officially released in July.
Over summer of 2011, the band played 80 shows in 100 days in front of an estimated 400,000 people throughout England and Germany. The musicians even found themselves at the Sonisphere festival the day before Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer headlined. They opened for Bon Jovi in stadiums on the Great Britain, Ireland and German legs of the tour, playing to more than 200,000 people in just under two weeks —while also headlining smaller venues, after-hours clubs and pubs.
“Because of the Jools Holland show we were playing in front of 60,000 people every night,” Taylor said. “In our first year.”
The band had formed in 2010 in Los Angeles.
McGhee first caught Vintage Trouble at Harvelle’s, a blues club in Santa Monica, Calif.
“They had been together like three months,” he said. “I don’t sign anything, but I went because [rapper and reality TV star M.C.] Hammer said, ‘You gotta see them, they’re amazing.’ And I signed them right there.
“Kiss was the only band I signed in the ’90s. People said, ‘Why didn’t you sign anything in the ’90s?’ I said, ‘Pearl Jam was gone. Rage Against the Machine was signed. Dave Matthews was signed. They had managers and were on their way. The rest of the stuff was crap.
“We’re like handicappers and have to pick the best horse to ride. Finding the connection between the people and the band is the most important thing, not whether someone can play music well. When I signed Motley Crue I couldn’t understand what they were playing, they were rolling around on the stage. But I saw thousands of kids going out of their minds.”
That’s how the multiracial Vintage Trouble works.
“The Bomb Shelter Sessions,” which had a U.S. release in August, ranges from the gritty Stax-Volt of “Nancy Lee,” a homage to Taylor’s late mother, to the hard-driving Rolling Stones-Faces leadoff track “Blues Hand Me Down.” The group’s uncanny sense of grit and soul makes a perfect support act for Stone, touring in support of “Soul Sessions, Vol. 2,” which includes a scorching cover of the Chi Lites’ “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To the People.”
“People have been so nice to help our career,” Taylor said. “Bon Jovi couldn’t have been any nicer to us. Every little thing that has happened to us makes us work harder because we’ve worked so hard all our lives. We’re not 22 years old. We’ve been around town for a long time, and we had a lot of friends who gave up on us.”
Taylor, 32, grew up in Montclair, N.J., and North Carolina. His mother, Nancy Lee, was a nurse, and his father, James Taylor (“Yes, I know ...”), was a construction worker.
“It was all soul music around the house,” Taylor said. “James Brown, Aretha Franklin. My family got it right away that the Rolling Stones were a soul band. I grew up singing in church, so there was always gospel around my house.
“I came to California because I was in a band called Dakota Moon on Elektra Records. [Vintage Trouble] got together because [guitarist] Nalle Colt and I had known each other for about 14 years since I first got to L.A.”
Colt and Taylor started writing songs together, but their early material veered towards the vintage L.A. rock scene. “Then I heard our bass player [Rick Barrio Dill], who had this whole Stax-Motown vibe about him,” Taylor said. “He had a different edge to him but the same kind of style. We got Richard [Danielson, on drums] and that was it. Going into it I was looking for a straight blues band, but Richard pounded so hard he was the person who reminded me how much rock ’n’ roll is in my body.
“And we never really looked back.”