Interview with Craig Nicholls

Source: Skream - Part 1, Part 2

Text: Sayako Oki (沖 さやこ)

Published: September 2011

🟥 This article is translated from Japanese.

Member: Craig Nicholls (Vo&Gt)

Interviewer: Sayako Oki

The Australian-born 4-piece band THE VINES, who debuted with the album "Highly Evolved" in 2002, and the album "Future Primitive", which will be released for the first time in about 3 years, have landed in Japan! After the release of the previous work, Vo & Gt’s Craig Nicholls broke his mental condition, and all schedules including the performance in Japan were cancelled. After that, they kept their silence, and finally made a full-scale return with this work. We asked front man Craig to talk about his 5th album, which makes us feel both "future" and "primitive”.

-It's been about 3 years since the previous work “Melodia” was released. Three years ago, I was worried because your planned visit to Japan was canceled due to your illness. How have you been in the last three years?

Craig: I took a break and then made demos and practiced songs in the studio. It seems that the other members also took time off as they wished. Some members are married. I had the producer join me during the demo production stage, and it was so good that I just started recording.

-This work had a positive impression as if it had absorbed new power. At the same time, I felt the determination and spirit to devote your life to music.

Craig: Yeah. This time I chose the ones to be included in the album from the many songs I made. I was trying to make many songs with happy elements on this album. I thought it was good for us.

-The same is true for the song “Future Primitive," which is also the title of this album. It's a party-like, easy-to-humor song.

Craig: When this song was made, we thought we want to focus on this song. It's a song that also incorporates electronica elements, so this song is also the axis of the sound.

-By the way, why did you choose the title "Future Primitive", which combines two words with opposite meanings?

Craig: I mean, I want to always stay basic even in the future, and I want to live like a primitive man (laughs).

-It's true that The Vines songs have been around for a long time, but they have a wide variety of musicality, including Britpop, garage rock, psychedelic numbers, and folky songs. Like "Future Primitive", this work has an exquisite balance of driving rhythm, synths, and effector usage, and is perfect.

Craig: There is always the concept of "I want to make the song arrangement a little strange and interesting". This time as well, I tried various approaches while incorporating various elements from arrangement to sound production, and narrowed down the ones that fit.

-There are mountains and valleys in life, and I think there are many things that are good and bad and sad, but this album has the same aspects as life. There is also a mysterious part. Even if there were various facial expressions, I felt a mysterious sense of unity without being distracted.

Craig: Yeah. Some are sad and some are happy. Some are abstract. Most of the songs are personal, so I think they show all the personal feelings. I wanted to make the jacket colorful. It also means that there are many songs in various colors that are recorded.

-I think the songs you make are very honest and full of purity, without any sense of lies or pretense. 

Craig: When I make a new song, one of the big themes is to make a song that I have never made before. But above all, I think the important points are “what you want to write, be faithful to what you want to write", and "can you like the song yourself?"

-It's easy to see that the songs were made based on that belief. How fast is the songwriting?

Craig: It's completely different depending on the song. Some songs were completed in a short time. But there are some songs that have been completed and that I started working on after completing other songs. The songs were completed within last year.

-The previous album also had relatively short songs, and this new one does as well. Personally, I find it feels good to race through the songs while still maintaining the tension and energy. Was there a particular intent behind this approach?

Craig: I don't have any idea to make it short, but most songs are finished in about 2 minutes. It's just that it's the result of thinking about the arrangement and composition.

-I see. This time, you have appointed Chris Colonna of the same town band The Bumblebeez as the producer.

Craig: My manager knew him and suggested "Why don't you ask Chris?" When making a demo with 5 songs. So when I tried it together, the relationship was good, and the sound was so good that I asked him to produce the album too.

You said that you wrote the song last year, but are you recording at the same time?

Craig: That’s right. The demo was recorded in the studio at Chris's house and the album was recorded in a large studio in Sydney. It was a recording in a place we were familiar with, so we relaxed and went smoothly.

You have always appointed a producer for 5 albums so far, but have you ever considered self-producing?

Craig: Actually, I'm already working on the next album, but I'm moving towards producing it myself.

That’s great! I'm really looking forward to it.

Craig: Yeah. Until now, there were producers, and we felt like we were co-producers.

Well then, it seems like you'll be quite active and productive after releasing this album.

Craig: Now that the album is out, I'm going to do more and more shows. I go to various countries. I think we can go to Asia later this year. Of course Japan too. Then we'll be back in the studio soon and start recording our next album... We’re going to be so busy!