The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
DAVY VAIN INTERVIEW 2015

 

DAVY VAIN of VAIN

TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT ABOUT A NEW ALBUM, INFLUENCES AND SONG-WRITING

MAY 2015

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VAIN is one of the best bands that the eighties ever saw, with songs you would kill for, a sound you would die for and a look your om woukd throw you out of the house for they had that indefinable X-factor some bands never get close to in their entire careers...

Then that familiar story - a label that didn't care or understand, a seismic change in music with grunge and all other other bad luck you could pack in there. Vain never really went away though and left us with one of the greatest rock debuts ever 'No Respect' as well as a host of other great records up to and includig the latest release 'Enough Rope' and the re-release of what would have been their second record 'All Those Strangers'.

We caoght up with Davy Vain a few days before a short run of dates on the West Coast...

 



Mark: Hi, Davy thanks for taking the time to speak to us.


Davy: Hey, no problem at all.


Mark: There are a few dates around the corner for Vain and we’ll be out to see you at the Whisky, do you have any other dates planned?


Davy: Yeah, we play San Jose and Denver after the date at The Whisky.


Mark: Last year was the 25th anniversary, of one of my favourite albums, “No Respect”, and I’ve noticed ever since I first saw you on first overseas tour, with Skid Row in the UK, that you’ve had a real affinity for Europe, you always seem to head back there, what is it about those crowds that keeps taking you back?


Davy: I love touring Europe, one because the cities are close together, so you don’t have to drive too far to get anywhere! And I think the whole rock resurgence is really going on over there, and I really love that we had our biggest shows there, as well as Japan, and I think our record company was working better there, as were the press, it was bigger, and everything was just hit harder over there, America was more about the television and MTV all day, all it cared about was showing in America, and our record company at the time really wasn’t firing on all cylinders over there. Then other countries in Europe like Germany and Sweden were all about the music, and embraced so much, so I found myself just going there. I have other projects working with other artists and producing, and doing studio stuff, so have a whole other career doing that, so I don’t play every month, I take a break, of a few months, and then when I want to play, the people who I work with usually have something in Europe, so I haven’t played in the States for quite a long time, and I’m quite excited about it!

 



Mark: Yeah, it will be fantastic to see you on home turf! Who’s in the band these days?


Davy: It’s all the original guys except for Shawn Rorie, one of the guitar players from back in the day; he also played with us and Steven Adler in the band Road Crew. But everyone else is original, our original lead guitar player, Jamie Scott, and yeah, it should be really cool!


Mark: I remember going to see you at a record signing back in the day in Nottingham, but you didn’t actually play there on the tour with Skid Row.


Davy: Oh, wow, I can remember that, yeah!!


Mark: One of the questions we are dying to ask has to be is there a possibility of any new music?? Either as a solo Davy Vain, or are there any songs you have as a follow up to “Enough Rope”


Davy: Oh, yes. We haven’t recorded anything yet, but that’s what we’ve been working on, we’ve had a few rehearsals, worked on some new ideas and stuff we’ve been batting around, and a few other things I never got to record, and I revamped some songs that never made it. And there might be another version of ‘Holding On’ as the demo version was out there and since everybody loves that so much, that I did a version a few years back where I changed the key and everyone wants to hear that. So, yeah, there’s quite a lot of stuff from all the ideas I’ve had over the past few years, some of the ones that never made “Enough Rope”. I’ve got like a zillion ideas, so we’re working on those and hopefully we’ll get together and maybe try like a ‘kick-starter’ thing, we won’t have to worry about a label, I can take a big block of time at my studio, and get in there and work on it. After this block of shows I’ll try that and see how that works out. I’ll spend a lot of time focussing on it, like I did with “Enough Rope”.

Mark: It’s a fantastic album; I was blown away with how good it is, probably my second favourite Vain album.

Davy: Oh, thanks! I went to Europe for a while, did some travelling, got some new ideas to mix with the old Vain, and I’d be in the studio singing and say I don’t want to do that anymore, and the guy in the studio with us, our sound engineer was like “ No! I love it! I’m a Vain fan; you’ve got to finish it!” So I mixed sort of new and old, and doing it all was cool! So, that’s how some of the ideas I’ve got now, are from stuff I wrote a long time ago when I was creative, and there’s brand new fresh ideas too. I think it’s a cool concept having those played by the same guy who played them the first time around!  I’ve listened to a million demos too! I’m producing a record right now, for this band, Work It, and I was going through a whole load of cassettes, and I found a whole load of stuff that we never really used, that I really like. I think the reason we didn’t use it was because we had like twenty songs, and ended up putting eleven on the record, and at that time we thought they meshed together better, but there’s something I like about the direction better now, that I did then, but I hear something more now, with more experience, and I think I’ll cut that part out and it will make it so much better and maybe that’s why we didn’t use it because it would be too much. Its great listening to those old tracks because you can hear us talking between the songs, it’s the same voices but a little younger!!

 


Mark: That is cool, and I think it will please a lot of people as well, to think you’ve been looking back at the past. Taking you back a little bit, one of the things that always struck me about Vain, was that you were always thought of as part of the “Hair Metal” scene, maybe it was the look you had, but you had something different about the sound of the band, there was a “hardness”, and an old style “Glam Rock” that seemed to be based in the seventies. Who were your influences growing up? What sort of bands did you listen to?


Davy: Well, I listened to a lot of seventies stuff, for sure, but then I listened to a lot of soul music when I was a kid, so I think that all mixed together, and then of course I listened to Zeppelin and Aerosmith, old Aerosmith, so much stuff and I love The Isley Brothers, and stuff like the Jackson 5, there was so much that moved me. My first favourite rock band was Aerosmith, the old stuff, the “Rocks” era, but I listened to everything, Hendrix and the sixties stuff. I love the Stones too, especially from the seventies, AC/DC were a big influence, especially the Bon Scott years, I loved his vibe and attitude, and how the music was just laid out for the vocals. I think that’s how Vain work too. When I’m writing I usually just have one really great riff, and if I don’t feel like I’ll put a great big melody on there, then I’ll just write a verse first, and if I don’t feel like I’ve got something to go forward to go right in there, then I’ll just move on. Sometimes in a lot of bands the guitar player will write the riff, and you have to figure out how to do something with it! I like to get the verse right, that’s the most important part of the song, part of the story, and the most “vibey” part of the song. That’s what I love about some of the old records like that, older production that sounds like a band playing!


Mark: That’s a fascinating insight in to how you write, is it a case of you hear it and it feels right, a real feeling about the song?


Davy: I’ve got to feel that I’ve been moved by it, sometimes I’ll play the guitar for a couple of hours, and I’ll hit a bunch of chords and think, that’s cool! I’ll just hear it and think I’m on to something, and then when I get back I know where I’m going to take it, because I’ve got the chords I’d better make up the verse melody and the verse music, it makes it a lot easier to know where the next part’s going to be, so that’s usually how I do it. I usually write the chords first, and then all the music of all the song, and then figure out what I’m going to do to it. It’s more challenging, but fun, doing it that way.


Mark: That’s great that you’re looking to put some new material together. I just have a couple of quick questions to close with. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any great album, at any point in time, what would it be for you and why?


Davy: God! That’s tough!! I have so many ulterior motives, I’d want to see the guys playing, that would be one side of it, and the other side would be to see how they did it, if I was the engineer, I’d want to see what their tricks were! That would be really hard for me to decide, probably one of the Led Zeppelin sessions would have been pretty interesting, to see Bonham doing his drum takes, and Page doing solos, and Plant cutting his vocals. Or, maybe the Highway to Hell session, or AC/DC’s “Sin City”, I think that would be pretty over the top too! I heard Brian Johnson talk about walking up to the microphone for the first time with AC/DC, that would have been pretty heavy to check that out too! He talks about being so nervous because he’d made a commitment to be in this big band, and he finally realises he has to replace this loved guy, and he walked up to the mic and said he’s never sung harder in my whole life, because I knew what I had to do, that would have been a cool session to have been a fly on the wall for that! What about you?

 


Mark: Well that particular AC/DC album would have been great! We are in Perth in Western Australia, and Bon Scott means a lot to us over here. From a studio point of view I would have been blown away to have seen Queen in action, on one of their classic albums, how they got the sound with the technology back then, and the time it must have taken to do it, would have been amazing!


Davy: Yeah, that would have been cool, there are so many, The Stones session doing “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” or something like “Sergeant Pepper”, there’s so many, I have hard time thinking!!


Mark: We actually interviewed a young English band a few years ago, and they actually said “No Respect” by Vain!!


Davy: Oh, really, that’s so cool!! That’s funny! But that would have been a pretty boring session as the band all played at the same time back then, because those recording session people are kind of building something, so it’s probably not quite as interesting as you think! First we’re doing a drum take then later someone is overdubbing and we never tore anything down, so the drums were up the whole time. I remember we only had “Icy” completely recorded, that was completed, and then we had a night off and went out to a club that evening, and there was a band playing in this little bar, and there were doing all these big rock star gigs who were doing a record out of the big studio, and we jumped up and played “Icy”. We got off stage, and the producer was sitting there, he’d literally never seen us play in front of people, he’d seen us in pre-production and in the studio, and he said in the morning bring the tape, we’re going to record “Icy”, and I said I thought we’d recorded that one!  Everything was  set up still, so we went in there, they had a vocal booth, and we just pretty much played “Icy”, one take, and boom that was it, that’s the “Icy” that’s on the record!


Mark: That’s great. In other news I believe you’ve just been announced for the West Coast version of the Monsters of Rock cruise next year?


Davy: Yeah, that’s going to be interesting, hopefully we’ve got enough life rafts there!!


Mark: We actually just came over for this year’s cruise; it’s such an incredible thing to think that who would have thought 25 years ago that, we’d have all these great rock bands like Vain playing on the high seas!!! There’s nowhere to escape to!!


Davy: God, you’re making me scared now!!!


Mark: No, it was great, it’s not like a gig or a festival, and you’re just part of a group of people on a ship! It opens your eyes, and you see all these bands as real people, nice guys who still do music for a living, it’s so cool. You guys will be great!


Davy: It sounds awesome!


Mark: I have one final question, a real easy one, what is the meaning of life?


Davy: Oh, I think being moved, I think if somehow you can be moved by something, whether it’s your significant other or by music, or by film, your cat, your children or whatever, just being moved by something, something that gives you a little bit of joy. You can hear a song or something new, some people go and work out and feel this little rush, and I think that for me is what I think.


Mark: Sounds good. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it.


Davy: No problem.


Mark: See you soon, take care.

 

 

 

CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF "ENOUGH ROPE" HERE

 

READ OUR REVIEW OF VAIN AT THE WHISKY IN MAY 2015 HERE

 

 

By Mark Rockpit

 



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