Vintage Trouble: Rock 'N' Roll Finds Its Soul
Vintage Trouble has enjoyed a pretty quick rise since forming just two years ago. The soulful rock outfit has gone from playing small clubs to large halls, and has toured with the likes of The Cranberries, Lenny Kravitz, Bon Jovi and Joss Stone. Now, the band is courting rock royalty: It's the opening act on The Who's current North American tour, playing songs from its recently reissued debut, The Bomb Shelter Sessions.
NPR's Scott Simon spoke to Vintage Trouble singer Ty Taylor and guitarist Nalle Colt about arena crowds, mutually supportive fans and the unexpected perks of new-found visibility.
On the quirks of an inter-generational tour
Taylor: "It's amazing, actually. We get to look out at an audience that is maybe 7 years old to probably at least 80 years old. And the craziest part for us is everyone, each generation, seems to know the words. I love the fact that people who love a certain kind of music keep that music alive in their homes. Music that is classic like The Who — when you create these songs that are timeless, and this kind of rock 'n' roll that's not about trends and things — it shows that it does stay around for a long time."
On Vintage Trouble's community of fans
Colt: "They kind of named themselves The Troublemakers. It's been growing, amazingly, all around the world; we have Troublemakers in Japan and Australia and Europe. They kind of take care of their own. Even when some English Troublemaker wants to come to the States to see us play, they kind of figure out how they can pay for their flight ticket for them to get over there."
On Taylor's late mother
Taylor: "Rest her soul, my mom passed away last year. But she had the honor, before she was even getting sick at the end, to hear 60,000 people at one time singing her name, back while we were on the Bon Jovi tour. ... The idea that she got to know that her name was going to live on in such a way, it made me feel like I was actually fine with what I'd done in life at that point. The fact that my mom could pass away knowing that her name would be sung on — through the end of time, hopefully, if we're lucky — it's almost too much to talk about."
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Vintage Trouble has had a pretty quick ride since they formed just two years ago. They've gone from playing small clubs to huge halls to touring Europe with the likes of The Cranberries, Lenny Kravitz and Bon Jovi. Recently, they were on the road with Joss Stone. And now...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready?
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I said are you ready?
SIMON: The soul-rock group is opening for The Who on their North American tour.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
VINTAGE TROUBLE: (Singing) High times are coming, high times are coming, high times and coming. High times are coming, yes they are, yes they are, yes they are, yes they are. Let me hear you, D.C.
SIMON: That's Vintage Trouble, performing earlier this week at their concert with The Who is Washington D.C. They're playing songs from their CD, "The Bomb Shelter Sessions," which is being re-launched this month. We're joined now from our New York Bureau by Vintage Trouble's lead singer Ty Taylor. Thanks for being with us.
TY TAYLOR: Hello. Thank you for having us.
SIMON: And their guitarist Nalle Colt. Thank you for being with us.
NALLE COLT: Hey, thank you.
SIMON: So, how is this intergenerational tour going? Mr. Taylor?
TAYLOR: It's amazing actually. We get to look out at an audience that is everyone from maybe seven years old to at least 80 years old. And the craziest part for us is that everyone, each generation, seems to know the words. So, I love the fact that people love a certain kind of music keep that music alive in their homes. Music that is classic, like The Who. You know, when you create these songs that are timeless and this kind of rock and roll, it's not about trends and things, it shows that it does stay around for a long time. I hope that it'll be here for forever.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
TROUBLE: (Singing) I'm walking alone in the shadows, dark in my mind...
SIMON: Otis Redding...what else do I hear there?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
TROUBLE: (Singing) My heart was trampled in the past, love left me blind. And then you came around and found me, baby, you took my hand and let me stand like the man I am again. Do you see what you've done to me, darling, washed away my misery with your touch...
TAYLOR: Definitely a lot of Otis Redding. But definitely - the thing that people always say right away is like an Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett or Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, those kind of thing...
SIMON: Sam Cooke, yeah.
TAYLOR: ...and I think it's, you know, but it's kind of sexist of them to say that 'cause what they don't really realize is my main influence is Tina Turner. And I think if people really listened to me and watch me and my movement and kind of who I am, you'd probably understand that's who it mainly is. But I love Ruth Brown, I like Etta James, I like Little Richard. I mean, anyone that really feels soul. And a lot of people tend to want to over-sing and perfect the way things are supposed to sound. Anyone who had to do with something that had to do with feeling first and had to do something with crossing rock and roll with a rhythm and blues, those are the people I was inspired by.
SIMON: How do you take a searing, but really very intimate song like that, and take it out of a smoky club - although I don't think people smoke in clubs anymore - and bring it to Madison Square Garden, performing before 50,000 people rather than 500?
COLT: Well, it's funny. When we started this tour with The Who, you know, a lot of people had been asking us, they'd say, you know, like, how do you get up in front of this huge amount of people? And - but I don't know. It feels the way, you know, Ty is our frontman and the way he kind of takes in the audience right away. And we always trying to think of it as, like, be in a small room and all those people smoking in there. So, it feels good. We grew into it, so it feels nice and warm.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
TROUBLE: (Singing) Love me gracefully...
SIMON: Here's a song that might scream stadium performance - "Blues Hand-Me-Down."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLUES HAND ME DOWN")
TROUBLE: (Singing) I got the blues hand me down, blues hand me down, in alligator shoes they gave me, the blues hand me down, moonshine victim, you left me thinking, blues hand me downs.
SIMON: Nalle Colt, you guys have a group of people called the Troublemakers who follow you?
COLT: Yeah. They kind of named themselves the Troublemakers, and now it's been growing amazingly all around the world. And we have Troublemakers in Japan, Australia and Europe and they kind of take care of their own. And even when some English Troublemaker wants to come to the stage to see us play, they kind of figure out how they can pay for their flight ticket for them to get over there and stuff. So, it's beautiful.
TAYLOR: Which is cool about the Troublemakers, it actually feels more like a community or culture than fans of a band.
SIMON: Oh, my gosh. Have the Troublemakers ever met the Deadheads?
TAYLOR: Not yet, but I hear there's a meeting next week somewhere happening. We'll let you know.
SIMON: Another song we want to listen to and follow up with, "Nancy Lee." Ty Taylor, there's a family story to this song?
TAYLOR: Yes, it is. My mother and father, they met in the 1950s. And it was a quintessential almost, like you see in the movies, one of those '50s barn dances. And my mother was dancing and she had on this white dress, of course. Like it's like "West Side Story," so the white - so there's a white dress. And my father is - he comes outside - he drove a truck there - and my mother even said he had on overalls when he saw her. And I wrote this song as if I was my father seeing my mother for the first time. Because I knew my father wasn't a very romantic person by any means, and I feel like if he could though, if there was somewhere inside of him that was more poetic or, you know, the kind of guy that would give someone flowers, he would like to have written a song for my mother. So, I figured it'd be nice to do something from his point of view.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NANCY LEE")
TROUBLE: (Singing) I see you, Nancy Lee, I hope that you see me. I see you, Nancy Lee. I hope that you see me. I'm not the only other man who wants your hand to be in his hands. But I don't just want you, I need you, Nancy Lee.
TAYLOR: My mother was just - I refer to her sometimes as the black Jackie O. And she was just this beautiful thing, like a flower in the middle of a field of cotton. And the cool thing is - rest her soul - my mom passed away last year. But she had the honor and kind of before she was even getting sick at the end, she got to hear 60,000 people at one time singing her name back while we were on the Bon Jovi tour. And the idea that she got to know that her name was going to live on in such a way, it made me feel like I was actually fine with what I'd done in life at that point. Like the fact that my mom could pass away knowing that her name would be sung on through the end of time - hopefully, if we're lucky - it's kind of almost too much to talk about, but that's the story.
SIMON: Ty Taylor, the singer, and Nalle Colt, the guitarist, of Vintage Trouble. They and other band members - Rick Barrio Dill and Richard Danielson - are currently on tour with a band called The Who. Their CD is called "The Bomb Shelter Sessions." Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us.
TAYLOR: No, thank you guys for having us.
COLT: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NANCY LEE")
TROUBLE: (Singing) I'm not the only other man who wants your hand to be in his hand, but I don't just want, I need you, Nancy Lee.
SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.