Making a Scene Presents an interview with Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble!
Since forming in 2010, Vintage Trouble have quietly become rock ‘n’ roll’s best kept secret anointed by its very gods on international tours in every corner of the globe. Distilling swaggering rock, soulful blues, R&B (rhythm& blues) grooves, and pop ambition into a bold and brash brew, the quartet—Ty Taylor [vocals], Nalle Colt [guitar], Rick Barrio Dill [bass], and Richard Danielson [drums]—have logged 3,000 shows across 30 countries on tour with divinities such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz, and Bon Jovi, to name a few. Along the way, they also performed on Later… with Jools Holland, Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Conan, The View, and The Tonight Show (four times in one year!) in addition to receiving acclaim from New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and more. With a trio of albums under their collective belt, namely The Bomb Shelter Sessions, The Swing House Acoustic Sessions, and 1 Hopeful Rd., they challenged themselves like never before on the Chapter II – EP I in 2018 and the Chapter II – EP 2 in 2019.
Inspired by this sterling reputation on the road, Vintage Trouble aimed to seamlessly translate that stage spirit into the studio setting for the first time.’
“We’ve gotten the opportunity to play literally the biggest shows in the world,” says Ty. “However, we weren’t catching the same feeling on record as we did live. That sent us back to the factory, you could say. We started to listen to a lot of popular music—everything from Amy Winehouse and Adele to Bruno Mars and Lauryn Hill. We wanted to take something from the past and put it in contemporary framing. That was the impetus. We decided to play what felt like pop songs would be with rhythm & blues and rock ‘n’ roll tension. There’s a different life to the music. That was the entire mission behind this new phase.”
“We jumped into it without any fear,” adds Nalle. “We wanted to show the other side of who we are. It’s definitely Chapter II in the story of Vintage Trouble.”
In order to bring that vision to life, the guys traded Southern California for the Cayman Islands. Throughout two ten-day trips to a private studio, they recorded a bevy of songs and culled them down to what would become Chapter II alongside producer Jeeve [Bruno Mars, Carlos Santana]. Instead of recording live a la previous releases, the musicians tracked individually for the first time and incorporated keys and horns into an expanding soundscape.
“We used to record everything live, but it was difficult to edit and you’re stuck with the full take, mistakes, a lot of bleed, and all,” says Richard. “We decided to make music with today’s recording techniques for the new EP. Instead of just being a live band in the studio, we got to be a studio recording artist. We didn’t paint ourselves into any corners. It’s a major evolution for us with a bigger sound that can speak to a much larger audience.”
The first single “Can’t Stop Rollin” most definitely did. Hinging on an unshakable beat, it steamrolled forward on disco-style shuffle and sinewy guitar before culminating on a slick and show-stopping refrain (Think The Police covering Off The Wall). Elsewhere on the EP, “The Battle’s End” encased a message of social justice underneath a simmering groove and echoing (Ty’s trombone). Illuminating the airtight songwriting at the EP’s core, Vintage Trouble included acoustic takes on all five new cuts.
Between “My Whole World Stopped” and “Do Me Right,” the first installment of Chapter II generated over 2 million streams and counting within a few months’ time as the musicians played to packed crowds.
EP 2 arrived in 2019 and upped the ante again in terms of songcraft and lyricism. This time around, the music honored and paid homage to the group’s soul roots. Finding “ways to be impactful with softer sounds,” Ty notes, “The records ring of Marvin, Al, Sam, Otis, and Percy, but with the fullest of modern soundscaping.”
Case in point, “How It Is” highlights the singer’s show-stopping soulful delivery over stark clean guitar and dreamy keys, while “Don’t Stop Forever” channels doo-wop spirit punctuated by sparse horns and funky cadences. Meanwhile, “One More Last Goodbye” serves as an angelic send-off with swells of cathedral organ and heavenly harmonies. “Everyone Is Everyone” conjures up the stomp of seventies Motown with its melodic guitar, steady beat, and confident and charismatic vocal performance. Over this backdrop, a powerful message rises to the forefront.
“We were in Italy, and a show was canceled due to terrorist threats in the airport,” recalls Ty. “I sat in my hotel with the news on. The fact I was feeling more hate in the air than I ever had in my life started to really hit me. In order to not feel so heavy and dark, I went to the laundry mat to wash our tour clothes. Still, every story on the news was about people trying to take down others based on their histories. I found the closest scrap of paper and started feverishly writing lyrics. The song was fully written in two hours. There’s nothing better than the zeitgeist penning a song out of necessity and using me as its vessel.”
To round out EP 2, Vintage Trouble included live renditions of five favorites captured everywhere from San Francisco and New Orleans to Toulouse and Edinburgh. Not only does it showcase the band on fire on stage, but it illuminates how “each time we play this music, it’s an education to us about us,” as Ty says.
In the end, Chapter II – Parts 1 and 2 represent the beginning of what might be Vintage Trouble’s greatest chapter yet.
“We’ve been known as a live band for so long, and we’ll always have that,” Rick leaves off. “We really took our time to make sure the song always comes first in the new music. We’re taking that part of our art seriously and gut-wrenchingly making sure we don’t leave anything on the table. This music had to be able to hang with the greatest records we love in our record collections. That was the goal.”