14 July 2012

I am a Vine, all twisted and frayed...

Hey everyone,

It's very rare I open my blog up to anything not fashion/beauty/lifestyle-ish related - but I think I can make an exception today, as ten years ago today (well, the official release date flits around from 8th-16th so let's take a guess!) - my all-time favourite album from my all-time favourite band was released:

Highly Evolved by The Vines

Like every relationship, me and The Vines have had our ups and downs.
But it's been a belter ten years.

(Warning: Coming up is a bit of an essay - but there are some great videos at the end, so feel free just to check those out, if you'd like!)

In the beginning was the word. And the word was "mothaFOCKah".

Once upon a time there lived a girl called Carla, who lived in a working class town in Northern England.
It was 2002, she was aged around 13 and into girly metal bands such as Jack Off Jill, Kittie, My Ruin etc.
Then one day, she was doing her usual Saturday routine of walking around Music Zone, spending her pocket money on posters and cds.

She was flipping through the poster section, and came across these four unfamiliar faces:

Now although it is bad form to judge people on appearances, the didn't-know-better teenager thought the boy centre-right with his floppy hair, huge eyes and pouty lips was a cutsey-cute cutie.
She noted down their name, went home and trawled through the internet for examples of their stuff.

She didn't like it, and soon forgot all about them.

However a few months later, someone in a music based Livejournal community (where I discovered most of my favourite bands in my less-than-tortured youth) somebody linked this:

And that was it.

"I'm feeling happy, so Highly Evolved..."

Within weeks, I had thrown away my spiked collars and black hair dye.

I started wearing ripped t-shirts, holey jeans and vintage t-shirts with sports jackets. I cut my hair short and wore it messy and unwashed.
A severe case of Nicholls-itus had begun - and it wasn't just me: They were on the cover of Rolling Stone, The Face, NME and countless others.
The press called them 'The Saviours of Rock and Roll' and hinted at the second coming of Nirvana.

Stories about the seemingly erratic lead singer/guitarist/songwriter began to emerge, painting a character from everything from a tragic artist, a prima donna to someone on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In one infamous NME interview, he didn't like how the line of questioning was going - so he tore the tape from the dictaphone before locking himself in the bathroom for hours.
Sometimes he simply fell asleep in the middle of an answer.

Some called him a pothead, others a musical genius.

To a 13-year-old fangirl, there was nobody cooler than Craig Nicholls.

However, the good times couldn't last forever.

"The Winning Days are gone."

In 2004, The Vines recorded and began promoting their new album Winning Days. With the hype surrounding Highly Evolved, it was always going to be a tall order to follow and reviews for the album and their live performances were mixed.

At their peak, just before they were due to support Incubus on an extensive American tour - what happened was what Vines fans refer to as 'The Annandale Hotel Incident.'

Craig lost it on stage, insulting the audience after asking them not to talk during their set. When a photographer tried to snap a photo, he kicked out and broke her camera.
Bassist and original member Patrick Matthews walked off stage, and would never play with The Vines again, Triple M radio station removed their songs from playlists, the band fell off the Incubus tour and charges were pressed.
The Vines ceased the promotional tour and went home. The winning days were gone.

On my end, (Notice how I stopped doing the third person thing? It stopped being cute two paragraphs in, didn't it?) I had followed all of this in slight disbelief.
In just two years, the poster boys for the new wave of rock and roll had seemingly lost all their credibility.

"Through the Vision Valley, waiting to be found."

As a fickle teenager, when news of the band began to run dry - so did my interest.

By 2006, I was 16-years-old. I'd left school and went to college.
I had changed from the shy goth girl to someone quite loud and borderline obnoxious.
I started wearing bright neon clothes, and wearing glitter to classes. I started listening to electro music such as Robots In Disguise, Freezepop, IAMX, Hyperbubble, Client and YMCK - plus sneaking into electro nights in town.

Guitar music didn't interest me at all.
I got my first boyfriend, and stopped obsessing so much about boys in bands.
I bought The Vines' third album Vision Valley, gave it a spin, then put it on my cd rack to gather dust.

One day, my dad gave me a copy of an Observer newspaper supplement featuring their first UK interview in years. I found out that Craig had been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, the assault charges had been dropped and was seemingly healthy, which made me incredibly pleased.
But when tickets to a London show went on sale, I didn't buy one.

And nothing much changed for the new few years.

(Unlike other Vines albums, there isn't a song on which shares the name of the album. 
Though it was originally rumoured to be called 'Braindead', for which there is an adjoining song. Watch the video anyway just for the adorable interview at the start!)

In the summer of 2008, freshly single and with a new look (I'd wiped the glitter off my face, grown out my asymmetrical fringe, and started using fake tan. This was my 'serious' phase...) I shot off to Virginia to visit my friend Jessica.

The age of social networking had arrived, and while travelling I used MySpace (and it's new-ish frenemy, Facebook) to communicate with my family.
In the bulletin board (remember that?), was a notice from The Vines who were releasing their fourth album - Melodia.
Signed copies were available directly from them, so the fangirl still inside bought it and shipped it to the UK where it was on my return. I'd recently bought my first iPod, so put it on there along with Vision Valley when I got home.

I started a new job working in Sunderland, which is a good 30 minute metro journey from where I live. So I thought I'd finally give it a listen one day.
And to this day, I still remember that all the funny fangirly feelings came rushing back! I was even five minutes late to work as I had True As The Night on repeat.

I was back in the game!
And that's how it's been ever since.
Ta-dah, so now you know the story!

And what's occurin' with them now?

"I'm a Future Primitive, I came from the sky..."

Well last year they released their with album Future Primitive. It was their first without producer extrodinarie Rob Schnapf, and has a very psychedelic sound which they've only previously touched upon before.

Sadly, the self-funded album didn't do very well and there has been a few lineup changes - notably the departure of drummer Hamish Rossier, and original guitarist Ryan Griffiths.
But in interviews they seem the happiest they've been in years and the sets have been more consistent - at least there are no longer any on-stage punch-ups.

Personally I think their performance at last years' Splendour In The Grass is the best they've played in years!

Although unconfirmed, it is assumed that The Vines now consists of...er...just Craig.
In a very sweet reply to a fan letter, he confirmed a solo project (fans did some digging and apparently it's in cahoots with  Nick Littlemore of Pnau/Empire of the Sun) and new Vines material early next year. Hoorah!

I apologise again for this essay, but I promise to only do one every ten years!

In the meanwhile, (and for most of you who've rightfully just skipped to the end) I'll leave some of my favourite Vines 'moments' from the past decade:

 An awkward and unintentionally hilarious interview on MTV Germany. 
(Parts 2 and 3 also available)

 The "barking seal" performance on Jools Holland. Uhhmazing.
(Feel free to skip to around 2:10. I know - wow.)

 An advertisement for a Vines special.
Only 30 seconds long and pretty much sums them up perfectly.

 One of my favourite songs which they sadly don't play enough live.

 Craig's guitar goes AWOL at the end of a gig...

 And finally, my favourite ever interview - everyone is just plastered, haha!

"Songs have a beginning, middle and an end. Well, when we're lazy they don't have a middle."
- Craig Nicholls.

How about you guys? Do you have a favourite band? 
Have you always followed their career or have you had a break too? 
I'd love to hear your stories!

Muchos love,


  1. I'm pretty much like this with Maximo Park, its not even just cos they're North East. Their music just speaks to me somehow. I'm not like it with any other bands but I have bought every single one of their albums and been to see them a lot of times. Our Velocity is probably my favourite song of ALL time and it was always stick with me.

  2. Aww I love Maximo Park too - they're awesome!! :D xxx

  3. Ive been like that with MCR. When i was around 13 i basically adored the band and refused to listen to much else. Then they sort of dropped off the face of the earth for a while, to my knowledge. Then they came back with a new look and Desolation row single for the watchmen film and i fell in love again. I love their new album 'The true lives of the fabulous killjoys'. I listen to it almost every day. Plus is doesnt hurt that Gerard is cute :3
    Ive actually never listened to The Vines, but i think i may peruse youtube for a while..

  4. Aww my best friend was a big My Chemical Romance fan too, and went to their gig last year - she was even interviewed on a video for some website and got all fangirly, it was so funny! :D

    And also - Gerard Way is a big fan of The Vines! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psRb6o5NqvM :D

  5. you know, when i stumbled upon your blog a year or so ago, i scrolled through the entries and thought "uh-huh, uh-huh... oooooooh, the vines! let's check this out properly!". i remember being really excited about that weird german interview and watching it on telly after school. i was mad about that band! my best mate at school (you have an uncanny resemblance to her, btw!) and me and a picture of craig on a magazine cover became smoking friends which was just a way to not smoke quite so much because we would only smoke together after offering imaginary craig a cigarette (i think we were drunk when we came up with that). the second album i got a year after it came out and it became the soundtrack to my delayed teenage depression while stuck reading landscape architecture at uni which i hated from day one but kept doing for a term to please my dad (he only allowed me to drop out after i had secured an internship at a newspaper). a year later, enrolled to read english, the newspaper-past came in handy when i had to write a review on something for grammar class - i wrote a review on vision valley and it was picked out by my lecturer for being especially well-written. life got in the way of being quite as fanatic about music as i was back in school but i have all their albums (the last one purchased only a couple of months ago because nobody cares about them anymore in germany, rude!) and i probably annoyed my neighbours a lot when future primitive was on repeat very loudly the day it arrived in the post. oh well, i moved house since.

  6. Oh wow I love this so much! Yeah they aren't very big anywhere anymore - I remember Craig saying in an interview lately that it's interesting as they're on the cusp of mainstream as a lot of people recognise the name, but don't really know anything past Get Free!

    I had to get their last two albums online, which is a shame as I purchased the first three instore, and I like to support music shops! But they were just impossible to get hold of otherwise.

    I quite like Future Primitive, but it's not one of my favourites. Though Weird Animals is great - they've only done a psychobilly-esque song once before with Hey Now (b-side) and I love that side of them! Yayyy for pinky Vines! :D xx

  7. I did this with Placebo, had a break from them when they released Meds, after being completely obsessed and never really got back into them. Got all the albums though.

  8. Well actuallyyyy if I'm being completely honest, The Vines are tied at first spot for my favourite band with...Placebo! Ta-dah!

    I'm the same, I got into them around the time they released Sleeping With Ghosts, and got all the back catalogue. I didn't like Meds as much as other albums (except Post Blue which is marvellous!) but Battle For The Sun hasn't got a bad track on then. Meds was released after Brian's latest stint in rehab, and BFTS was written when he was clean - and he explains it's much more positive and poppy than their others! :)

  9. The Vines are my favorite bands since 2004. Not as fan-girly like as you :D , but I would say I am a really big fan.
    I've always wanted to see them live, but couldn't because of Craigs illness. And then they released their third album and done a world tour, but never came to Germany :( I've done an internship in London in August 2006 but left 2 days before the concert. You can't imagine how sad I was...so I decided with a friend to go to Australia someday, to see them live. We said that just for fun, but 2 years later I bought a flight ticket for Australia. Not to see the Vines ... I've been there with a working holiday visa. I didn't plan to see them, but then I read about a new Australia tour...in November 2008. I arrived in Sydney in september and went straight to a ticket shop. I got a ticket a week later because the pre-selling hadn't start yet and I lost it while I was moving from one hostel to another :D
    But as a really fangirl I took a picture of my ticket and the ticketshop guy just printed another ticket for me just one day before the sold out concert(here in Germany they would have just laugh at me when I tell them that I've lost my ticket).
    And yeah ... it was one of the best or maybe the best concert I've ever been to (and I've been to a lot). I mean ... The Vines in Sydney! Craig destroyed his guitar after the gig! I've always wanted to see someone who destroys his guitar on stage :D