Interview with Craig Nicholls

Source: Rockin'on

Text: 粉川しの (Shino Kogawa), 岩田桃子 (Momoko Iwata)

Published: September 2011

🟥 This article is translated from Japanese.

The Vines' new album, "Future Primitive," is a surprisingly healthy masterpiece, a new chapter for the Vines full of positive vibes. Craig's illness, which recurred while touring for the last album "Melodia," was a reminder of the difficulty of healing and the fact that we still don't know for sure if he's cured. However, this new album, his first in three years, is filled with the resilience to accept himself as he is and to celebrate his life to the fullest, even though he is still able to make music. The beauty of "Highly Evolved" and the beauty of "Melodia", in other words, the punk of destruction and the eternal melody, which have always been the key for Vines, complement each other in a perfect balance. It's a work that makes me feel as if the 10 years of Vines' history, which has fallen into many unpredictable situations and had to be interrupted many times, has once again been connected by a line. I spoke to Craig after a while.

- "Future Primitive", this album is really great. The noisy, punkish momentum of early Vines meets the brilliant, warm melodies of Vines from the mid-period onward, and it's the culmination of Vines' work.

Craig: We're really happy with the way this album turned out. We had a lot of fun working with Chris Colonna from The Bumblebeez as a producer on this one. The Bumblebeez is a band that makes dance music, and Chris was able to bring those elements into the rock and roll sound of this album. So you can see the point that this album is a compilation of Vines' work so far, but it also has overdubs and sound effects that we haven't had before. And we’re already working on a new album, which is also very different from anything we've done before. It's mellow and laid back. 

- This is your newest album, three years after "Melodia". Some time after the release of "Melodia", you got sick and had to go back to recuperation, which may not be a memory you want to look back on. What kind of twists and turns have you gone through in the three years since then to make this wonderful album? 

Craig: Well, first I took a little break... Because I was pretty crazy. I took some time off, and then I started writing songs again, and making demos, and then I slowly got back into it. But I never felt like I took a break from music or stopped writing songs. That being said, I've always wanted to write songs and make an album, even before I made my first album, so making music and writing songs is my life. Sure, touring is pretty hard for me, and it makes me crazy at times, but that doesn't mean I ever want to stop writing songs and recording. And now I'm back playing live again, and I'm really enjoying it. So I'm hoping to keep going like this again.

- What concept did you have in mind when you started writing the songs for this album? 

Craig: I wanted this album to have a different, more spacey sound... I was listening to quiet music at first. Then I moved on to heavier bands, and then I started listening to a lot of 60's ballads. For the album...we had a lot of songs written, so we chose the ones we liked best and the ones that would give the album a lot of different sounds as a whole. We tried to create a futuristic rock album, or a combination of sounds that are futuristic, but still primitive and simple.

- One of the things that I find amazing about this album is that even though each song changes its expression from punk to psychedelic to rock and roll to folk, there is a natural harmony and unity between them all. 

Craig: I'm so glad you said that. We were really happy with how each song turned out, so we were very careful about the order of the songs. Also, I think my vocals are what ties the whole thing together. As you said, there are a lot of different styles in this album, but the most important thing is the quality of the original songs, and I think that helps to create a sense of unity as a whole. I'm particularly attached to "Future Primitive". It started out as a very simple song, but we kept tweaking it, pulling out the guitars and adding electric sounds. 

- This year marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Vines' first single "Factory". Did you have this milestone in mind? 

Craig: No, I just realized that you said that, but you're right. That single was released in 2001, so... I mean, wow, yeah. I'm happy, and it's the perfect time to release this album like this. Well, yeah, I feel pretty good about it. I just have to do what I can do, and I'm really happy that the band is still going on like this, and that we're still working on music. We're in much better shape this time around than we were on the last tour, or when we did "Winning Days". When I think about it now, that was the worst time to be touring. But I think next tour is going to be really good. I've made some radical changes in my lifestyle. I've decided to take more responsibility for myself...I've also decided to take a semi-professional approach...not to be serious, but I'm not going to cancel any tours or shows this time. When I started the band, playing live was just crazy for me and I honestly didn't know what was going on, but lately I've been thinking a lot more about giving the audience the best show possible. Also, my vocals have improved a lot in the past few years, even though I have a bit of a cold right now, and I feel like I'm reaching the audience better because of it. We’re planning to go to Japan later this year, but I won't cancel this time, and I guarantee a good show.

- What's the biggest change you've experienced? 

Craig: Well, I guess it's because I got...clean (laughs). It's allowed me to work on shows and stuff like that. 

- I'm glad to hear that (laughs). Going back to the album, "Future Primitives" is a very good title, or rather a title that makes me happy as a fan. Can you tell us about your thoughts on this title? 

Craig: We had the song first, and then when it came time to come up with a title for the album, we thought it was perfect. It's futuristic, it's rock, and it's old school at the same time, and when I thought about it, that was the theme of the album.