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Troublemakers: Vintage Trouble Want To Slap You In The Face

… With their high-energy cocktail of R'n'B'n'soul, obviously. Working with Booker T, touring with AC/DC, signing to Blue Note – inside their unstoppable rise…

It’s an unforgivingly hot summer’s day in London.

Most folks are shedding layers in an effort to keep cool, but when Vintage Trouble arrive for their interview with The Blues, they all look sharp as tacks, suited and booted and making no concessions to the heat. The LA-based quartet – frontman Ty Taylor, guitarist Nalle Colt, bassist Rick Barrio Dill and drummer Richard Danielson – stand poised to release 1 Hopeful Rd, their first album on Blue Note Records and the long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s The Bomb Shelter Sessions. It’s a heady blast of raw, soulful energy produced by Blue Note’s president, the legendary Don Was, a man who has worked with musical titans including BB King, The Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt. But it was another nigh divine member of the R&B pantheon who introduced Was to the band. 

“We started working with Booker T Jones from Booker T and the MGs,” says Nalle Colt. “We ended up writing some music with him that ended up on this new album. We had a local show in Los Angeles, we invited Booker T Jones to come and play. I think Don Was heard that Booker T was playing with this band he’d never heard of, he wanted to check it out. He came down and he couldn’t believe it.”

But although Was signed the band to Blue Note – the first rock’n’roll outfit in the label’s storied history – he needed a little more convincing to produce the album. “Initially he was like, ‘No, no, I’m too old for this,’” says Colt. “Everyone was like, ‘Are you kidding me? You’re Don Was!’ Eventually he came around and thank God – he became the fifth member of the band.”

“It was amazing to be in the studio with him,” says Ty Taylor. “To watch his body transform from being the producer to being a regular person listening to it. He does this thing where he drops his head down, you 

just see his head moving back and forth and you can tell that he has become a feeler of the music rather than a thinker of the music, and once it gets into his body then he moves onto, ‘Okay, this is good.’”

The band were keen to retain the live energy of their self-released debut for their vital second album. “On our first record we recorded live with no click,” explains Richard Danielson. “And we were a little nervous that a producer might want to come in and really overproduce on this sophomore record, and what Don did was 100 per cent the opposite. He stripped us down even more.” The band members played live in one room with Taylor in a vocal isolation booth. But to everyone’s surprise, Don Was often sat in the room with them at EastWest Studios in LA. “He sat there as if he was a microphone and he would try to find the sweet spot,” says Danielson. “He would tell the engineer, ‘Look, this is my sweet spot, this is what I want the band to sound like.’ At one point he even asked us to take our headphones off so we could just hear what was going on in the room. He really kept us so honest and pure, which is probably what you want to do with this band. That’s how we love to record. What was nice is that we didn’t have to fight some producer for it. Don Was steered us right back to where we started and that’s a beautiful thing.

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