Christel Escosa • 9 June 2011

Like all bands who’ve been around the block a few times, The Vines are a difficult subject to profile. The bones of their story are well documented and well known; so to try and fossick around for new questions and a fresh angle on a world famous, critically acclaimed and intermittently notorious subject is a daunting prospect.

The Vines have left plenty of hype and havoc in their wake, providing plenty of material for the infinite number of interviews to accompany their CV, which includes: hit singles in three continents, countless tours, award nominations, award wins and magazine covers. Not to mention the two band members who walked out and the two members who replaced them, the wrecked hotel rooms, the tantrums, drugs, smashed equipment, the numerous breakdowns, the one diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and the endless line of wary, but fascinated journalists pen these very reports, all throughout the span of five LPs released (including the release of their fifth album this month, ‘Future Primitive’) in the ten years they’ve been professionally kicking around.

In the last week alone, frontman, singer and songwriter of The Vines’ Craig Nicholls has given about a hundred interviews to the media in the lead up to the album release; the insanity of having to answer the same questions over and over again from a rotation of disembodied voices over the phone and bland, overly chirpy television presenters, would imaginably be one helluva Groundhog day. But in the case of Nicholls, perhaps it’s that same kind of familiar, well-trodden path of general predictability that contributes to his even and easy calm these days.

Craig Nicholls’ phone manner is lovely. He’s mellow and thoughtful; his responses are frank, uncomplicated and guileless. Nicholls is gracious, courteous, and he even remembered my name at the very end of the interview. The question he most hates being asked, is “Umm…’Why are you crazy?’ That’s the most insulting one.” Understandably.

Even though it’s this ‘crazy’ (more formally known as Asperger’s Syndrome) that proved both the drive of the band’s success and their un-doing before their continued success. The karmic payoff, it seems, is that Nicholls will forever have to be subjected to those kinds of questions because genuine artists frolic between crazy and genius. And it’s those who make the most interesting stories. Nicholls is aware of this, and consciously makes decisions with this in mind, in his song-writing at least.

“You kinda draw on real life experience, but you also exaggerate, kind of, to make it more interesting. I’ve done that with a lot of songs. It’s kind of truth but it’s kind of…” With poetic licence? “Yeah, yeah! Cos you really wanna push it. Cos if you just say oh… whatever… then it doesn’t sound as…” he laughs. In reference to who or what he’s giving farewell to on the lovely ballad ‘Goodbye’ on the album, “Well, it could be about a goldfish, that’s the thing. You know, it’s like that Beatles song, the one about Paul McCartney’s dog? I think it’s called ‘Martha,’ ‘Martha My Dear’ or something like that. I think it was on the ‘White Album’ or something like that. So yeah. It’s [‘Goodbye’] about a…goldfish.” He laughs again at the thought.

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