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The Vines Biography

Last updated: 07/10/2009 11:00:00 AM

The Vines-photo

Craig Nicholls - vocals and guitar
Patrick Matthews - bass and vocals
Ryan Griffiths - guitar
Hamish Rosser - drums
David Olliffe - ex-drummer
Brett - guitar (live helper)

When the Vines burst onto the post-grunge celebrity scene in late 2001, the British press was first in line to claim them for their very own. The band was quickly compared to Nirvana while being thrown into the swarm of impacting acts like the Hives, Haven, and Doves. Still, they weren't just hype. Craig Nicholls (vocals/guitar), Patrick Matthews (bass/vocals), and David Oliffe (drums) were a tight-knit bunch eager to rock.

Founded in their native Sydney, Australia, in the late '90s, the Vines met in high school while working at a neighborhood McDonald's. Nicholls sought it fit to name the band the Vines, for his dad fronted a '60s group by the same name, the Vynes. While playing Nirvana covers at friend's parties, the Vines worked a glamorous, punk- inspired sound. Debut single "Factory" led to a deal with Heavenly in the U.K., allowing the band to jump ship to Los Angeles to make a record with producer Rob Schnapf (Foo Fighters, Beck, Elliott Smith).

During those sessions, the 90-second juggernaut "Highly Evolved" was written. The song's gutsy guitars, scowling vocals, and overall bravado earned top nods from NME as Single of the Week in March 2002. Tours across the U.K. continued throughout the spring. Oliffe, who's not a fan of the touring life, returned home to Australia while the Vines added guitarist Ryan Griffiths and drummer Hamish Rosser to the lineup. The Vines made their American debut at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA, that April. They made their proper debut with Highly Evolved in July 2002.

After finishing their 18-month world tour with a triumphant sold-out show at London's Brixton Academy, The Vines jumped on a plane completely exhausted, promptly fell asleep as soon as they boarded and woke up in New York. From the city, they drove upstate to the famous Bearsville Studios in Woodstock and found themselves in the middle of a woodland idyll that must have seemed a million miles from the confines of the tour bus and hotel rooms they had come to know as home.

Finding themselves in the unusual situation of eating regular meals and getting enough sleep, they began rehearsing songs for the new album in a barn in the kind of laid back solitude they hadn't experienced since leaving Sydney. With producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Guided By Voices, Elliot Smith) back on board, the band settled into a relaxed rural lifestyle like the refined country gents they always aspired to be, starting work early in the afternoon and working late into the night. Setting up and playing together as a band, they laid down the basic tracks quickly before settling in and taking their time to lay down guitars, keyboards and the centerpiece of all Vines songs, Craig's vocals. Layering his unique trademark harmonies on each song while Patrick, Hamish and Ryan tinkered about the studio, The Vines were able to finally relax and get back to their main love - recording.

From the title alone, it's obvious that The Vines' second album takes a warmer approach than their grittier debut. The positivity of Winning Days as an album is reflected in the lyrics, the sounds and the songs. The drums sound like they did in the Bearsville room, the electric guitars come straight through old valve amps onto the tape, and Craig and Ryan's acoustics are pushed to the front throughout the record. While the band retain their ability to produce incredibly primal rock n' roll in songs such as the two openers "Ride" and "Animal Machine," this album sees The Vines moving into even more complex and textured melodic territory than before. Upbeat folk songs like "Rainfall" and "Sunchild" mix with the beautiful acoustic balladry of "Autumn Shade 2" and "Amnesia," while the off-kilter psychedelia of "TV Pro" prove that Craig Nicholls' songwriting talents are burning even stronger here. The songs themselves, and Craig's vocals - the melodies and layered harmonies - are testament to a one-in-a-million musical vision.

Winning Days is an album recorded by a band that exists purely to make great albums together. This collection shows a band not only living up to the promise they displayed on their first album, but moving way beyond it into a territory occupied by the genuine songwriting heavyweights, bands who run their own race.. artists of genuine substance.


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