For an imminent indie rock icon with the (real) last name of Vile, the creator of the twee-ly named EP it’s a big world out there (and I am scared) is pleasingly chipper and unpretentious.
Philly native son Kurt Samuel Vile is calling from Canada, in the midst of a tour with his band the Violators behind his most recent release(s): His fifth solo album, 2013’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze. That was followed by a deluxe edition of the CD, a hefty 18 songs clocking in at an hour and 18 min, plus the aforementioned EP.
…Big world, the singer/guitarist explains, “is more of a companion piece than an actual EP.” There’s the single version of “Never Run Away (String Synth),” where he seemingly channels Frank Black, and “some psychedelic instrumental things.” That said, Vile’s already immersed in writing and recording for his next outing, and tracked some songs in Venice, California. While his tunes are personal, locales and literature are influences, including, for Wakin on a Pretty Day, Barney Hoskyns 2007 book on the Cali folk rock scene, Hotel California. “I flew to California for Farmer Dave [Scher, of Beachwood Sparks] and my friend Jennifer Herrema from Royal Trux. I went over to their world, to go into their cosmic vibe and pretend it’s the 70s. I’m inspired by that free and easy thing, but I have the East Coast edgy thing.”
What he’s also got, at least according to one critic is: a “half-baked musical savant” thing going on, albeit with a “method to music’s disarming aloofness.” Vile laughs. “Yeah, no, I’ve kinda discovered– not that we won’t try to tackle this situation–but when you play a festival, you usually play 45 minutes. So it’s ‘let’s play all the bangers,’ but it’s all this sorta spaced out rock, so if you play the ‘hits’….well, our set has this arc,” he muses. “If you see us in a club, we really got it down, because we open with something epic, like ‘Wakin on a Pretty Day,’ but also there’s walls, so they’re holding in this loud rock energy and there’s a crowd there just to see you, so there’s that. You play the ‘hits,’ and then you have this down-slope where you play the heartfelt finger pickers and stripped-down things, then you come back and rock really hard, with ‘Hunchback’ [off 2009’s Childish Prodigy], and melt their faces off with ‘Freak Train.'”
With a disarming self-awareness, he continues, “You get all walks of life going to festivals, and our music in particular… someone could hear the name a lot, and people dismiss things; they could see me and say, ‘Kurt Vile sings “yeah” too much,’ and I agree. My songs ‘Wakin on a Pretty Day’ and ‘Goldtone’ have refrains that are just ‘yeah,’ and all of a sudden you become a parody of yourself. And people are tweeting, “everybody says Kurt Vile’s so great, but it’s just a bunch of yeahs.'” He laughs, carrying on with the imagined Tweets: “He might as well join the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. No no no.”
Kurt Vile and the Violators play June 5 at Governors Ball Kick-Off Party at Brooklyn Bowl, and June 6 at Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island.