By: Sun Noor
The Los-Angeles based four piece indie-rock outfit Vista Kicks have made their return with the release of their gritty, groovy and guitar driven third studio album, Twenty Something Nightmare. Similar to their previous records, the band manages to incorporate elements from a multitude of genres throughout the record while staying true to their signature soul infused rock n roll sound. My favourite aspect of this lengthy record is definitely the luscious appeal to most tracks, in terms of the instrumentation. The endlessly replayable and melodic guitar riffs are equally as enjoyable. The fact that certain songs including the title track start off in such a grandiose manner, while the slower numbers build up to an exciting finish or take on a different turn midway through undoubtedly increases its dimension. In terms of the record’s concept, the notion of making commentary regarding the aspects deemed nightmarish about being in your twenties and overcoming those hardships allows for many to relate to it, while finding a source of inspiration given it’s uplifting turns. This album is quite the million dollar seller in terms of the production, the layering of the vocal harmonies on various tracks, the transitions between songs and reprises, definitely my favourite from their catalogue thus far. I caught up with the band’s guitarist Sam Plecker ahead of the record’s release in order to discuss the direction and inspiration behind Twenty Something Nightmare.
First off I’d like to congratulate you on the release of your sophomore record. The release date is quickly approaching, how do you feel about finally letting Twenty Something Nightmare out into the world?
SP: Thanks! We’re stoked. I think the writing and production of TSN is relatable to our previous record (Booty Shakers Ball) but much better.
Derek had previously mentioned the creative process for this record to have been very quick. Have you always worked efficiently when working on music? Do you find that having deadlines allowed you to work better?
SP: I think it’s easy to get carried away with infinite possibilities when creating without a deadline. You have to really rely on your gut when working under a time crunch. I like working that way, personally.
You’ve also mentioned working on Twenty Something Nightmare immediately after the release of your debut, did you start this creative process based off other ideas, using that as a mould?
SP: We released our debut in September 2017 and toured on it til’ Mid-December 2017. We had a bunch of new songs ideas, and left overs from the prior released that we wanted to make a new record. We finished writing, arranging and demoing them in 10 days. We didn’t base the creative process off of anything really more then we like making music and we want to make as much of it as we can.
This album is equally as lengthy as the debut, which is something I really like as it appears more like more of a full body of work, do you normally produce a larger quantity of songs then choose from them?
SP: It’s not like we have a quota or any thing like that — we just make as much music as we can and then release what ones we like. Believe it or not, there is songs that didn’t make the record! Most bands usually have one or two creative forces… All four of us have an input. I think that’s why we make so much music.
Was the process of making this record entirely different compared to your debut or did you once again proceed in an organic manner?
SP: Not much! Just made sure to improve on the things we thought we’re lacking from the first. Organic is the way to go!
Are you all mostly on the same boat in direction of your songs or do you often find yourselves having different opinions?
SP: Welp, we all certainly bring our own unique pizzaz into the mix of VK. We agree and disagree fairly equally. But since we have such deep roots in our friendship, there’s a lot of respect even when we disagree.
One of my favourite aspect of the album is how it sounds like a live album especially with the riffs towards the end of songs such as the title track, “Victim of the Times” and “ The Wrong side of Town” as well as the reprise in “Numbers,” are these stylistic choices derived from your studio sessions? More precisely, do you record music in that live manner or are those just finishing touches to your initial ideas?
SP: No man, we’re just having fun! We definitely took a more ‘live’ approach to this album, recording multiple instruments simultaneously. Usually getting to the end of the songs, we would just jam out and try things to impress each other knowing that if it was bogus, we could just fade it out. Just having fun with it!
Tell us a bit about the idea behind “Numbers” and why you decided to insert a quote about creativity by (who I believe is) Jacque Fresco?
SP: To my understanding, it’s a song for the people. Mainly the largest group of people in the world, the lower class. Since there is so many different cultures and types of people we angled the music to cover as many genres as we could… for the people! Also, it belongs to the public domain, which means ANYBODY can use it for ANYTHING for free 🙂
There are elements from different genres such as jazz and pop incorporated into this record even though it is guitar-driven, were there any particular artist/ type of music you’ve been heavily influenced by while working on the album?
SP: Man, to truly answers this question, I’d be here all day typing. We listen to sooooo much music in every genre. We’re very inspired. This record was really inspired by John Lennon, Dr. Dre, Neil Young and Hank Williams.
Why did you decided to split “Million Dollar Seller” into two parts?
SP: Because some people don’t like instrumental boogies, they just want the song… also because James Brown does that with his ‘Super Bad (Parts 1, 2 & 3)’ And we always thought that was cool.
What was your main source of inspiration during the album’s creative process?
SP: I think I already answered it in the past couple of questions.
What would you all individually consider to have been the most difficult (and I say this very loosely) aspect of making this record?
SP: ‘It’s got to be perfect!…’ it’s pretty easy for me to cut a guitar solo or vocal take again and again when in reality, the first 2 takes were perfect! Perfectionism is a difficult tango to have… especially when you’re making records on your own time in your own studio.
What are your favourite tracks from the album?
SP: ‘I’m Yours’ and ‘Kelly Come Back’ are 2 of my faves.
If you were to sum up your record using one word only, how would you describe it?
Would you ever consider collaborating with other artists? If so who?
SP: totally! Actually, after we got TSN mix and mastered, Derek and I went to Nashville for 2 weeks to write and demo a record we’re gonna do with our friend Audra Mae. We collaborated with tons of different Nashville writers. I guess you can soon expect another record after this one…
If you were to curate your own festival and pick two other artists (dead or alive) to co-headline with you, who would you pick and why?
SP: Alive, Lukas Nelson + Promise Of The Real and Arctic Monkeys because they’re 2 of my favorites out there today.
Dead, well… the Grateful Dead and The Beatles because they’re my favorite classics.
Lastly, what are your current favourite records at the moment?
SP: Just to name a few:
Arctic Monkey’s ‘Tranquility Hotel Base + Casino’
Blank Tapes’ ‘Candy’
Ty Segalls’ ‘Freedoms Goblin’
Brent Cobb’s ‘Providence Canyon’
Click here to download or stream Twenty Something Nightmare.
Watch the video for “Live, You’re Gonna Die” Below