It's been said that there's nothing new in rock & roll, and that may be. Even in its early days, rock was a spinoff of the country scene, infused with a touch of the blues, as witnessed by the early Sun Records recordings.
Usually, it's a matter of a band touching on influences and reference points and incorporating those elements into a sound of its own. Rarely these days does a band take something classic and soulful and not try and spin it into something thoroughly modern. Even more uncommon is a band that can keep it that classic vibe and not come off as either tired and dated or a mere tribute band.
The four gentlemen in Vintage Trouble have achieved just that -- and surprisingly, they've done it coming out of the haven of all things trendy and chic, Los Angeles -- without losing touch of the band's roots in the classic R&B of the Stax Records movement and the early rock roots of Sun Records, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
After starting out by playing regularly in Los Angeles, the band built its following the old fashioned way: by playing as often as possible. As lead singer Ty Taylor explained, "We decided we didn't want to be like most bands in L.A. and just pay to play and just be responsible for having their friends come around all the time, we wanted to find places that had an audience we could capture and have them become 'Troublemakers' with us."
As a result, the band started out at Harvelle's, on the west side, and branched out, also playing at The Tar Pit in Hollywood, The Rockwell (formerly The Vermont) in Los Felice, and The Edison in downtown Los Angeles. By playing four nights a week, those shows were the band's training ground and rehearsals, creating a chemistry and feel for improvisation as Taylor laughed about the fact that in those early days, "Of course, when we started we didn't have enough songs, so we'd stretch them out as long as we could, which gave us a real feel for on-the-spot arranging and getting a feel for the audience and what they need in the moment."
After building a buzz in Los Angeles and gaining the attention of legendary manager Doc McGhee, the band set off for England to win over the U.K. When asked the motivation behind that move, guitarist Nalle Colt replied "When we met up with Doc, he asked us what we wanted to do. We had been watching all these old Stax videos. We always had Europe in mind.
"U.K. is a great launching pad for music as I feel the U.K. audience is more open to new music and new artists. It proved to be right," he continued. "With Doc's help, we managed to get there and we really connected with our fans over there."
After taking Europe by storm, Vintage Trouble returned to work the States, but got a huge jump when it won the opening spot on The Who's Quadrophenia tour, which brought the group to Tulsa for the first time in February.
When asked how the Who tour came about, bassist Rick Barrio Dill shared that as the band played around the U.K., it gained enough attention to be invited to make a television appearance on Later with Jools Holland, which catapulted the band into the public awareness.
"By the time we left the BBC parking lot that night, we were trending on Twitter," Dill said. "Before we knew it, we were touring and playing everywhere large and small for months and months on end."
As the band won the magazine's "Best New Artist" award in 2011, it crossed paths with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey as The Who was being honored for Quadrophenia. When the band was asked to play Daltrey's Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concert, it was happy to participate, and as Taylor shared, it ended up being a small example of "paying forward" with a good deed and supporting a good cause, as it put the band on The Who's radar.
According to Dill, "When it came time to tour for Quadrophenia, we were on the short list and were thankfully chosen for the U.S. tour. Excited doesn't begin to explain how blown away we were at the opportunity."
The band was a great fit and has been asked to rejoin The Who for this summer's Quadrophenia tour across Europe.
Before returning overseas, the band is doing a string of club shows across the U.S.
When asked about the difference in approach between clubs and large venues, drummer Richard Danielson said, "The approach is not much different in its most primal and basic form. We love to affect people, be it in a small room or a large arena. It all comes from the same place. There is something to be said about being able to smell a crowd sweating before you in a small, hot, sexy room of intimate music lovers: To see the whites of their eyes, to feel and be felt in that way, to have that personal connection -- although large arenas can also feel very intimate and personal on occasion.
"It is my feeling that this band will never stop playing small rooms," Danielson continued, a sentiment echoed by Taylor. "It is where we come from, and believe it or not, we are just as excited about a club show as we are an arena show."
Fortunately, Tulsa gets a chance to make that personal connection as Vintage Trouble brings its club show to The Vanguard on Wednesday night, May 29. Doors open at 7pm for the 8pm show. Tickets are still available for $12 in advance or $15 at the door for a show that gets back to the roots of rock and R&B.
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