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By Rick Florino

Greatness begets greatness. The more time you spend around perfection, the more it rubs off on you…

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 2018 EP, Chapter II.

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 does. Hinging on an unshakable beat, it steamrolls forward on disco-style shuffle and sinewy guitar before culminating on a slick and show-stopping refrain. Think The Police covering Off The Wall…

“I was listening to The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness a lot,” recalls Ty. “That was a massive influence. As far as the lyrical message is concerned, we can all relate to the feeling of being with someone you want to get it on with, but there’s something separating you from having that happen. The only thing separating you is the little bit of fear you both have of how good it might be. So, the song says, ‘Try as I may but there’s no controlling. You got me rollin’. I can’t stop rollin’.” 

Meanwhile, the funky strut of “The Battle’s End” encases a message of social justice underneath a simmering groove and echoing (Ty’s trombone). Lyrically, it speaks the frontman’s emphasis on social responsibility. 

“It’s our responsibility (as artists) to write messages that are going to make people think about how we can change the fabric of the world right now,” he goes on. “Instead of demanding it from others, demand it from ourselves first. Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill invited others to be better people. When I saw Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, it really voiced my thoughts to writing that song. We keep repeating history instead of owning the responsibility of making the changes once and for all.” 

Illuminating the airtight songwriting at the EP’s core, Vintage Trouble included acoustic takes on all five new cuts. “That was important,” adds Ty. “They’re real (traditional songs) that can be played on acoustic guitars, percussion or piano.” 

In the end, Chapter II represents 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.”

Over the past few years, Vintage Trouble have wowed audiences across the globe by opening for The Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park, touring North America and Europe with The Who, and playing sold-out headline shows worldwide. Now, on their debut album for Blue Note Records, the Los Angeles-based foursome — singer Ty Taylor, guitarist Nalle Colt, bassist Rick Barrio Dill, and drummer Richard Danielson — channel the vitality of their live show into a fresh and urgent take on guitar-powered rhythm & blues. Produced by Blue Note president Don Was (a three-time Grammy Award-winner known for his work with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Al Green, and Iggy Pop), 1 Hopeful Rd. finds Vintage Trouble building off the groove-fueled sound that Yahoo! once painted as “James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin” and blending blues, soul, and riff-heavy rock & roll with joyfully gritty abandon.

Recorded at L.A.’s East West Studios and mixed by Tom Elmhirst (Mark Ronson, U2, The Black Keys), 1 Hopeful Rd. borrows its title from the album’s opening number and lead single “Run Like the River.” With its foot-stomping rhythm and gospel harmonies, “Run Like the River” embodies the infectiously irrepressible mood that runs throughout 1 Hopeful Rd. and gives even the album’s most pained moments an electrifying edge. The follow-up to Vintage Trouble’s debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions — a self-released effort praised by Paste magazine as “the stuff the best soul ’n’ roll is made of” — 1 Hopeful Rd. matches that emotional intensity with a raw yet sophisticated musicianship that’s prompted BBC Radio 6 to crown the band “the heirs of rhythm and blues.”

After kicking off with the bluesy snarl of “Run Like the River,” 1 Hopeful Rd. rolls on to offer up everything from lovesick ballads (the falsetto-laced “From My Arms”) to fired-up anthems (the thrillingly frenetic “Strike Your Light”) to stripped-back soul-folk tunes (the sweetly breezy, acoustic-guitar-driven closing track “Soul Serenity”). On the world-weary but determined “Doin’ What You Were Doin’,” Vintage Trouble slips into a soul-soothing melodicism and lyrics that gently plead for reflection and renewal (“Why don’t we allow ourselves to be the legends while we’re living?” asks Taylor in his show-stoppingly smooth vocals). And with “Angel City, California,” Vintage Trouble lay down a dirty and glorious, -rock-inspired ode to their hometown and all its sleazy charms.

Longtime devotees of incendiary artists like Ike & Tina Turner, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, Vintage Trouble possess sharply honed instincts for rhythm and groove and unabashed showmanship. Now based in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood, the band first played together in 2010 and soon brought their high-energy brand of soul to weekly residencies at local venues like the Edison and Harvelle’s Blues Club. As they steadily amassed a following, Vintage Trouble eventually drew the attention of Doc McGhee (a legendary music manager best known for working with KISS, Bon Jovi, and Mötley Crüe). Once under McGhee’s wing, the band set their sights overseas and — by 2011 — had taken the stage at Britain’s influential TV show Later…with Jools Holland, delivering powerful performances of “Blues Hand Me Down” and “Nancy Lee” (a stirring serenade to Taylor’s mother, penned from his father’s perspective).

After joining Queen guitarist Brian May on tour in May 2011 and Bon Jovi on tour that June, Vintage Trouble put out The Bomb Shelter Sessions and quickly saw the album hit the UK Top 40. Also charting as the No. 1 R&B album and No. 2 rock album on Amazon UK, The Bomb Shelter Sessions had its U.S. release in April 2012 and fast earned acclaim from such outlets as NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and Billboard. By the end of the year, in the pages of the New York Times, critic Val Haller had hailed Vintage Trouble as a modern-day answer to Otis Redding (“Like Otis Redding,” Haller remarked, “Vintage Trouble makes music that is a little bit of everything”).

Along with appearing on Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The View, Conan, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! — as well as at major festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Glastonbury, Vintage Trouble, under the management of Doc McGhee, has kept up a grueling touring schedule; This has included opening for such artists as The Who, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz, Paloma Faith, Joss Stone and Willie Nelson. At a hometown gig at the El Rey Theatre in summer 2013, Don Was caught the band live for the first time and found himself floored by their explosive performance. “Half of the songs were brand new and totally unfamiliar to the audience…yet the place was rocking from the first notes straight through to the final encore,” recalls Was. “Do you know how hard it is for a new band to pull that off? It requires tremendous charisma, thundering power, incredible grooves, and top-notch songwriting.” By the following spring, Vintage Trouble had inked their deal with Blue Note Records, and set to work on 1 Hopeful Rd.

With Vintage Trouble fiercely dedicated to constantly playing and creating new music — including a 2014 fan-only EP called The Swing House Acoustic Sessions, in addition to 1 Hopeful Rd. — Don Was isn’t the only music legend struck by the band’s passion and musical prowess. Admirers also include Prince (who name-checked Vintage Trouble in an early-2014 interview with MOJO) and Lenny Kravitz (who noted that the Vintage Trouble live experience bears the same feeling as “being at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967”). When describing their own sound, Vintage Trouble use the term “formatted recklessness”: a fantastically paradoxical phrase that captures the spirit of a band whose music is wildly unhinged but rooted in real musicality, gut-punching but thought-provoking, steeped in the heritage of old-school soul but utterly and irresistibly timeless.

It’s that kind of passion, together with hard work, talent and luck, that are taking Vintage Trouble right where they deserve to be: on our radios and our televisions, in our headphones and our cars, at our favorite venues and on the soundtrack of our most memorable moments in life.