12 Major Questions Deluxe With Craig Nicholls

Source: TwelveMajorChords

Text: Angus Truskett

Published: September 12th, 2006

Walking past the excited line of Vines’ fans twisting around the corner of the Annandale Hotel, I have no idea that the following interview is going to take place. This was the third and final night of sold out shows at the famous venue, which has almost been acting as a ‘home base’ for the band since they relaunched their status as a touring act.

It had been arranged earlier that the interview would be with Hamish Rosser, the long time drummer for the group. But when I meet the tour manager, Sean, I am told that Rosser isn’t on the premises yet, as it is his girlfriend’s birthday and they are still out dining. I was actually pretty relieved to hear this, and was more than happy to wait around a little longer to go over the prepared questions for Hamish, as well as shake off any last minute ‘interview jitters’ that might have set in.

No more than five minutes pass and Sean heads back into the room and approaches me again. He tells me that Rosser hasn’t yet returned, but that Craig Nicholls is upstairs in one of the dressing rooms and happy to go ahead with a short interview. Though I was really looking forward to having a chat with Hamish, I automatically accepted the offer and slipped the piece of paper with the prepared questions back into my bag, knowing that the opportunity to speak with Craig is nothing short of rare.

Before I can even begin to get my head around what is about to happen, I am being taken backstage past the hotel’s kitchen and am walking up the stairs that lead to the to the band area. I try to formulate a very rough series of new questions for Nicholls in my head, but before I know it we turn and enter a small room with no more than two couches and a table.

Nicholls, who is lying back on one of the couches sits forward upon us entering and politely greets us. While we shake hands I explain to him that this was completely unplanned and apologise for the extremely short notice, and he seems quite happy to go ahead with the interview.

I take a seat next to on the couch next to Nicholls and quickly hit ‘record’ on the dictaphone as we begin talking about his band’s return to the spotlight…

12MC: How did it feel to be able play back at the Annandale Hotel with The Vines again?

Craig: I thought it was great, I really enjoyed it. I think Thursday’s (show) was a little bit better. We’re gaining more confidence so we feel as the shows keep getting better and better.

12MC: What’s it like being in The Vines now in 2006, compared to two or three years ago?

Craig: It’s a lot more exciting now because we have time off. I mean it was exciting in 2003 – we did an album. 2004 wasn’t our best year because the touring was getting to me and I was a bit unwell, so I didn’t really feel that so well.

12MC: Was it time for a rest?

Craig: Yeah. We did the album (Highly Evolved) in 2001 and in the beginning of 2002, we were busy all that year and in 2003. And we went straight from playing shows to going to the studio. So by the time we got to that point we were like “yeah, time to take a break.”

12MC: Was there ever a point where you thought it might be the end for The Vines? Or was there something inside of you saying that the Vines will live long?

Craig: I thought we were going keep going, it just was a matter of time before we started again. We didn’t know when that would be.

12MC: So was it hard to convince others that the band was still alive and kicking? Or was it something people didn’t even ask?

Craig: Yeah, a lot of people didn’t ask because we were out of the public eye so I think people didn’t really care. ‘Cos we put out two albums but since we stopped doing anything I guess that’s when we don’t get much attention - which is only natural. But I always knew that we were going to do something.

12MC: How was it then to record Vision Valley with virtually no expectations? Did being out of the public eye allow you to go in and record the album under the radar?

Craig: Yeah it was cool because there wasn’t that pressure and we just felt like we could do what we wanted. We did it in Australia for the first time with Wayne Connolly and he was great to work with.

12MC: So it was a lot more of a laidback approach?

Craig: Yeah, because we were in New York when we did Winning Days and in LA for the first one. So, it was cool to be able to do that. And we got to go home at night.

12MC: And to your own bed – so that’s got to count for something.

Craig: Yeah, so it felt a little more relaxed.

12MC: Was Vision Valley like a dark diary for the last two years of your life?

Craig: Yeah, it was while I was in a pretty dark space when I wrote it. Some of it’s happy, but a lot of it’s kind of aggressive as well.

12MC: Are you enjoying playing the new material to an audience after having played the same songs from the first two records during your previous shows?

Craig: Yeah. Obviously we’ve played a lot of songs from the first and second album, but we still enjoy doing them. But most of the show is based around the new album, which is the way it is with most bands. But I’m not sick of playing the earlier ones because we had some time off, so it’s like they’re new again.

12MC: How did it feel stepping out on stage before the thousands of people at Splendour in the Grass as the surprise act?

Craig: That was amazing, it was a great reception.

12MC: Was it completely different walking out there compared to the secret ‘Joe Dirt’ show earlier that week?

Craig: I guess it was different because the crowd was a lot smaller when we played here (Annandale Hotel), but it was still a nice reception.

12MC: Since you had no permanent bassist at the time of recording Vision Valley, what was it like having Andy Kent from You Am I taking over the bass duties?

Craig: It was cool. We toured with them a couple of times before, so we kind of did know him a bit. But it was pretty amazing - I never thought that we would have a member of You Am I play on our album. And he’s a really cool guy.

12MC: Now you can check that off your to-do list: ‘make record with someone from You Am I’.

Craig: Yeah, done that (laughs).

12MC: Is there anything else you’d like to cross off that ‘to-do’ list with the band?

Craig: We’re kind of trying to keep the expectations pretty low. Even though we have had a lot of drive now, we want to really get back out there. We just want to keep doing albums. Hopefully the shows will get bigger, and with each album we get across to more people.

12MC: So there are some more albums up your sleeve?

Craig: Yeah, I’ve already got ten new songs, and we’re going to put out an album next year.

12MC: After this short Australian tour are there any more shows planned for the near future?

Craig: Yeah, we’re going to go to America in October.

12MC: In smaller capacity venues, like the ones you’re playing here now?

Craig: Yeah, we’re going to be doing clubs in New York, LA, Chicago and Boston. Just like the major cities.

12MC: When moving around the world with the band, is there a big difference between the fans in other countries compared to the fans back home?

Craig: Not really, it’s good everywhere. Like the fans are just into the albums and they come to the shows. All the time they’re very nice, so it’s really great.

Interview by Angus Truskett.
Photography by Maria Papoutsis.
Click here to see all of the photos from the show at Flickr