Remember back in the day, in the golden era of MTV, when the venerable cable network actually programmed music videos? The band Twisted Sister’s anthem “I Wanna Rock” was in heavy rotation, the video a standout amongst the other now-iconic clips from the 80s all because of one pivotal moment: A rather sadistic teacher bursts into a most outrageous rant in the classroom and demands of one student, with an overdose of drama and quivering upper lip, “What do you wanna do with your life?!?!?” The mullet-coiffed kid (who looks like the prototype for Family Guy’s Chris Griffin), unphased by his spaz-tastic teacher, replies calmly, “I wanna rock,” and with that, a blaring guitar riff blasts Mr. “I Am in Command” through the roof of the classroom. (Interesting note, this same scene plays out with the teacher as a father, posing the same question to and receiving the same response from his son, in the band’s video “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”)
In my modern re-imagining of this epic showdown, it isn’t Twisted Sister who suddenly appear in the classroom, all dazzling with schmeared make-up and gigantic 80s hair, but rather the deceptively demure but provocatively raucous outfit, Vintage Trouble. Dressed like perfect gentlemen, they look like the kinds of fellas who are going to gingerly take the stage, strum a few lovely bars, and deliver sweet melodies about how much they love some girl named Donna. But as soon as the music starts, the guys launch into some of the most in-your-face, grimy, gritty grooves this side of a juke joint. Vintage Trouble’s finely crafted tunes are not only sonically masterful, but they mingle just enough naughty to keep it sexy and a sense of humor that keeps it fun.
Hailing from Los Angeles and fully committed to bringing audiences across the globe all of the sweaty, pelvic-thrusting, root chakra-stimulating energy they can stand, the four-piece–consisting of Ty Taylor (vocals), Nalle Colt (guitar), Richard Danielson (drums) and Rick Barrio Dill (bass)–is the present-day embodiment of throwback soul, rock, and R&B, from a time when the lines between these genres were far less distinct and no one seemed to mind one little bit. Their critically-acclaimed premier offering, The Bomb Shelter Sessions, debuted in the spring of 2012 and has, along with their Earth-shaking live performances, positioned the band at the epicenter of one massive soul quake. Pulling from forebears such as Otis Redding, Ike & Tina, and Sam & Dave, and citing greats such as The Rolling Stones, Prince, and The Beatles as sources of inspiration, Vintage Trouble lets you know off jump that they didn’t come to glide gently and inconspicuously into your consciousness. They came to rock, and rock, they do.
For this first Artist to Artist installment of 2013, SoulTrain.com presents Vintage Trouble.
SoulTrain.com: Who is Vintage Trouble, and how did this band come to be?
Ty: Vintage Trouble is me, Richard, Rick, and Nalle. Nalle and I knew each other awhile ago–we were in another band but it wasn’t feeling grounded enough. We knew Rick from a recording session we’d done, and we knew Richard because I used to do a late night jam up in Laurel Canyon. The first time we met he was like, “Let’s get together.” As soon as we were all free to do this, we got together in a room and from the first downbeat, we knew it was meant to be.
SoulTrain.com: Tell us, where does the name Vintage Trouble come from?
Ty: I was in the airport one day with my friend Debbie, and we were talking about my dad. At the same time, Nalle and I were writing the riffs and ideas for [what would become] “Blues Hand Me Down.” So Debbie was asking me about my dad and I said, “He was vintage trouble,” and then I put that into the lyric of the song. The song ends, “I come from vintage trouble/but look out if I’m the one you found.” So kind of, without trying to, we gave ourselves a name.
SoulTrain.com: You guys have amazing chemistry on stage. When you first began playing together, did you immediately click, or did it take some time to get into a groove?
Nalle: The whole thing with Vintage Trouble originally was just to gather the guys and just let it go. We all come from the same backgrounds as far as music and we connected really well. It came so organically–the style of music–we didn’t think much about it. And our thing right away was to get out and play live as soon as possible. We basically just rehearsed for a few days, booked a show, and said, ‘Let’s play!’ You change so much as a band when you start interacting with an audience, and that was really important to us. We started booking a lot of shows in Los Angeles, because we couldn’t afford to travel anywhere else. So we stayed in LA and did a lot of residencies for almost a year, playing five nights a week.
Richard: We kind of knew what was happening after the very first song was over. Things were happening so fast, we went out and played shows right away. We also recorded our first record, which wasn’t even supposed to be a record–we went into the studio to demo some songs we had come up with, and that turned into The Bomb Shelter Sessions. It looks like things happened very quickly for us, but it wasn’t for lack of putting in the time. We did ten times the amount of work in a short amount of time.
SoulTrain.com: Each of you is an essential element in this band–not just because of the specific instruments you play, but also because of the distinct personalities each of you exudes. How do you keep it from becoming too disjointed, while maintaining that individuality?
Rick: Our manager came up with the idea that we should make it like a pie throw [laughs]! One of the beautiful things early on was a main credo we were going by, basically to devolve and be the simplest part of who we are and who we wanted to be individually. We had a collective vision in terms of the style of music, because inherently there is a strong chemistry that’s already there between the four of us. We’re very fortunate to have found each other. On the big picture, the band philosophy is kind of the same, but individually we’re also constantly working on being our best, stripped-down, devolved selves.
Richard: We’re only four guys, so as far as ego, we’ve already done all that. We started this band trying not to make those same mistakes, and being four guys we really have to rely and depend on each other. We only have one guitar player, and a drummer, and a bass player, and a singer–there is nobody else. The parts we’re playing carry a lot of weight; Nalle might have to play horns when he plays guitar, Rick might have to take organ and I have to take percussion. Ty is the singer and he’s got a lot of real estate to fill. We really need each other, so there’s no room for ego in this band. It would disintegrate very quickly, and we all realize that.
SoulTrain.com: What about your look? It’s tight, polished, and harkens back to earlier times.
Richard: The music that we love is more of an era of music–late 50s, early 60s, old soul and R&B, rock n roll. Our heroes would put on suits to go to work, and that’s what we were looking at. From that it just kind of evolved–we love art and old films, we pick up ideas from all kinds of places. Also, we’re four individuals, so there’s going to be four individual feels and styles and tastes. We don’t try to over-think it; we just try to let it be what it is.
SoulTrain.com: Let’s switch gears just a bit. Can each of you tell us the very first record you ever bought?
Nalle: My first record was Jimi Hendrix jamming with Curtis Knight. Great album! I might have been six or seven years old, I think, and I basically burned that album because I played it so much!
Rick: I’m pretty sure it was Van Halen, “And the Cradle Will Rock” [from The Women and Children First].
Nalle: Rick brings the hard rock into the band [laughs]!
Ty: Mine was Carole King’s Tapestry. I got it from Brown and Sons Barber Shop, which also sold records.
Richard: The first record I actually remember buying was Van Halen, Fair Warning. Super early 80s–I was probably 12.
SoulTrain.com: Every band has nightmare gig stories. Is there one that stands out in your minds as the absolute worst gig you ever played?
Ty: The night before the story I’m about to tell you, we’d played in Japan. Our album had been released and was #4 in Japan–we were playing for 1,000 people. We get on the plane and fly to Anchorage, AK. Here’s where my story begins…We were booked at a university, playing in the middle of a field. Everyone’s running to get to their classes–no one’s stopping to watch a band! So we go from having the masses watching us in Japan, to people walking past us and not even looking toward the stage!
Richard: I was at that same show [laughs], and it turned out to be a really good show. And we met a reindeer that day!
Rick: My most interesting gig was at a nudist colony. There are things you don’t want to see at a gig like that, but it was definitely an adventure!
SoulTrain.com: Rick, did you know you were playing at a nudist colony before you accepted the gig, or was it a surprise?
Rick: It was a Halloween concert and it was a three-piece band. We knew [it was a nudist colony], but we didn’t have to be naked. It was fun.
SoulTrain.com: What’s next for Vintage Trouble?
Nalle: We’ve released two new songs on iTunes and Amazon as digital downloads. We also have a documentary coming out, called 80 Shows in 100 Days. We shot that when we were touring in Europe.
SoulTrain.com: We’d love for each of you to share your personal musical influences with our SoulTrain.com audience.
Ty: When you look back it’s great to see people like Jody Watley dancing in the crowd. I used to love the Scramble Board!
Richard: I actually got the chance to do an episode of Soul Train with the band Calloway (“I Wanna Be Rich”), so I got to be on the set and be a part of history. It was “mock rock”–we didn’t actually play live. I knew even then at a young age, there was history there. I soaked it in. It was a good moment.
Rick: I remember looking forward to Soul Train all the time. One of my first vivid memories was Rick James and those boots! He was such the mack!
SoulTrain.com: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Richard: We’ve been on a mission to expose this style of music to [SoulTrain.com’s] demographic, so thanks so much for coming to us!
Ty: We have a really great community of people who follow us–they’ve labeled themselves TroubleMakers. We welcome one and all to join this dynamite community of people, where new friendships are made everyday, love affairs, lust affairs, new bands being formed–a bunch of like-minded and cool people. Come find us!
Get some Vintage Trouble in your life! Stay up to date with their live performances and music releases on vintagetrouble.com, get up with them on Facebook, and follow the fellas on Twitter @VintageTrouble.
–Rhonda Nicole, Proud TroubleMaker!
Rhonda Nicole is an independent singer/songwriter, lovin’ and livin’ in Oakland, CA, currently performing with San Francisco-based soul band Midtown Social. Download her EP “Nuda Veritas” on CDBaby and iTunes, check her out on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @wildhoneyrock.