After a mini-tour that gave the U.S. a sample of what many are touting as the rock sound of the summer, Australia’s the Vines are returning to North America for another go-round in support of their debut, Highly Evolved.
The trek begins at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on July 9 and has 19 engagements scheduled, winding down with a pair of shows in West Hollywood, California, on August 9 and 10, according to the band’s publicist.
The buzz clinging to the Vines is fueled by the tough but terse “Get Free,” the first single from the quintet’s LP, which carries a July 16 release date. In just over two minutes, the song surges full throttle toward the breaking point and abruptly manages to rein it in before completely falling apart. Singer Craig Nicholls’ strained vocals are testament that the Vines rock for the present and worry about the consequences later.
The accompanying video for “Get Free,” directed by Roman Coppola (the Strokes, Phantom Planet), does well to purport the Vines’ aggrandizing “thunder from Down Under” label. The band – Nicholls, bassist Patrick Matthews, guitarist Ryan Griffiths and drummer Hamish Rosser – is shown performing on a hilltop under ominous skies. The song’s driving momentum and frenzied playing seem to draw the ire of the Almighty, who sends some wicked atmospheric disturbances to disrupt the action down below.
“It was great,” Nicholls said of the stormy set. “We got these dirt bombs in our hair. It was like, whoa. I mean, I thought I didn’t want to be a rock star before, but when I did that video and the explosions were going off, something inside me just [changed].
“[The video] was hard work,” he continued, “but the song was really intense and [Coppola] had this cool idea and it was simple at the same time as being chaotic.”
Just as a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, the Vines’ debut shouldn’t be assessed solely by its single. Highly Evolved is like the weather, if you don’t like its current condition, wait a while – which is easy to do, given most songs register under the three-and-a-half minute mark. The Vines wear their influences – from ’60s AM radio and psychedelic pop to post-grunge garage – on their sleeves, sometimes keeping them separate and other times spitting out an amalgam with snotty aplomb.
“It’s really a mixed bag of songs,” Nicholls explained. “It’s kind of colorful. I mean, it’s totally intentional, it’s meant to be that way. It’s what we want the band to be like. We even want to go further. It’s kind of half-traditional, half kind of strange. It’s primitive and futuristic.”
The Vines Tour Dates, According To Capitol Records: