Monday, November 20, 2017
Interview :: Vistas
"[Vistas]...We think it’s a good band name, easily chanted. And it looks good on a t shirt."
Vistas, the high energy guitar-pop four-piece, have had a hugely successful year, from playing Trnsmt and Bestival, to amassing hundreds of thousands of Spotify plays of their single 'Strong Swimmer', to latest outing, 'Retrospect'.
Little Indie's Richard Cobb caught up with frontman and rhythm guitarist Prentice Robertson, and lead guitarist Dylan Rush from the band, ahead of their sold out hometown show at The Mash House in Edinburgh last Friday.
To cut to the chase, we're sitting here in Edinburgh, you're due on stage shortly....what are you guys doing it for?
Dylan: I think we just enjoy playing music with each other.
Prentice: I think we just like being in a band. As a band we’ve always set our sights quite high. We want to make, it, well, whatever you define as making it. We want to be able to play gigs for the rest of our lives. I guess it just stemmed from a love of being in a band and the fact that we didn’t want to get proper jobs, so we’d just do this. Nah, I’m kidding. We really just wanted to be successful with the music we make and create as much of it as we could and play live as much as we could. That’s what started it for me anyway.
Dylan: I think for myself, I just wanted to continue doing things that are creative. This band was just a really good outlet for that.
What song of yours are you most proud of?
Dylan: I dunno if this is a cheesy answer, but usually for me it’s whatever our newest song is.
That’s pretty much been the Gallaghers' approach since the mid-90s, hasn’t it? It’s like yeah, honestly the next one’s amazing!
Dylan: Well, I mean it’s usually the song that you’ve not heard yet, is the favourite.
Prentice: I guess there’s some key songs that mean a lot to us, like ‘Sign Language’ is the first song we ever put out. It was one of the first songs we ever learned to play together so that’s obviously pretty special for us. Then our track ‘Medicine’ I think after we had that written and recorded we were like that’s a proper song and that could go somewhere. That was the first tune that got added to some Spotify playlists and things. ‘Medicine’ will always hold a really special place for me anyway. Its’ hard to say, I mean every song is special. We’ve only been a band for about a year, so we don’t have hundreds and hundreds of songs, so I think the songs we have, we all have a really special connection with.
This might feel a bit like a second album question, but now that you’ve started getting your sound together, has it made the song writing any more difficult or are you getting into the groove a bit now with it?
Prentice: I think we’ve definitely carved out a bit of a style for ourselves. You can maybe hear Vistas elements in all of our songs, like things that are maybe characteristic of our songs. I think at the moment we’re happy with the way our sound is. As you say, it’s maybe like a second album thing where we need to maybe experiment a bit more or whatever. Yeah, like we’re happy with the way the songs are at the moment, I guess it’s not necessarily harder to continue to write songs because we’ve always got inspiration to write new tunes, we’ve always got little ideas and riffs going about. It’s always ok from that point of view.
I suppose if you’ve got the structure of it, then it could almost be like a jigsaw type approach to the songs, which in a way might make it easier as you’ll be able to piece it together to create a Vistas song.
Prentice: Yeah, I mean we never write tunes in a way that’s like “oh, we want a slow song”, or “we want a fast song.” It’s always whatever idea comes, that’s what we run with.
Dylan: There’s definitely some songs, like maybe I’ll be working out a guitar part and we’ll decide to do something else as it sounds quite characteristic of a Vistas song, so we don’t want to do something that’s in too many of our other songs.
Prentice: But I guess we’re not really at the stage in our careers, where we would be like “we want to completely change our genre” just because we’ve not even got our first record together yet.
I guess when you’re still on the upward slope, and with a sold out show tonight, it doesn’t really make sense half way up to be like “Yeah, we’ll start from the bottom again with a completely different sound.” This year you’ve played TRNSMT, Bestival and other festivals, what were the most important experiences that you learnt from these bigger gigs?
Dylan: I think what I learnt at TRNSMT was, it’s harder to see if your pedals are on during the daylight, than playing inside a venue.
Prentice: That is a valuable lesson. I think it gave us an insight into the fact that we don’t actually need to be as nervous as sometimes we make ourselves. At the end of the day, it’s a very important gig, but it is a gig, so we should just treat it in the same way we treat other gigs. Obviously, we put a lot of importance in every gig we play, but I think sometimes when we played these festivals, like we played Belladrum, TRNSMT and Bestival over the summer and sometimes we were freaking out before we were playing. Probably more so myself than the rest of the lads, but for me anyway it taught me just to chill out a little bit and just embrace the fact that you’re there, because you’re there for a reason.
This one’s a bit of a loaded question, and I know that because I put in brackets afterwards, this is a loaded question. Can you name one good thing and one bad thing about music in Edinburgh just now?
Prentice: Yeah, sure, good thing is us… I’m kidding. Nah, the good thing is the bands, there are a great pool of bands that are coming through and it’s nice to see that from Edinburgh, because we maybe previously didn’t have that so much, so it’s nice to see that there is a scene developing. The bad thing mainly is the curfews. A lot of them are a strict 10pm curfew and you have to be out by then. If you’re like the first band on, you’re on at like half 7, just after tea time... nobody wants to play a gig just after dinner.
Dylan: Most of the gigs are paid entry as well, which I think for just your average punter going on a night out can be off putting.
I found that at, particularly the venue where you guys had your first Edinburgh gig last year. People would come in and think “Great, there’s a gig on.” Then they’d get to the doors to the music room and you’d need to pay, even though it’s meant to be a music bar. Especially on quiet nights, just open the doors so folk aren’t playing to an empty room.
Dylan: Yeah, so if your average punter wouldn’t pay to see a band they’ve not heard of.
Prentice: It’s got some way to go and it’s no secret I guess that it’s got a long way to go to catch up with Glasgow, but it is making steady steps, like the EH6 festival was really cool. I think as long as it keeps cracking on the way it’s going, it’ll be great. Like The Mash House is one of the best small venues in Scotland. You’re always so relaxed when you play the venue as opposed to maybe other places where you’re thinking, “Is this extension lead going to break mid-set” or whatever. I think with venues like this one, if they continue the way they’re going, it’ll be good.
Do you read your reviews, or are you getting to the point now where you think it’s best to avoid that side of things?
Dylan: We do read reviews, but they’re mostly positive.
Prentice: I’m sure if we got like a really, really negative review, it probably would knock us a little bit, just because we’ve never really had that experience. Not in the way that it’s like “our songs are so amazing” that it would be impossible to get bad reviews, not that at all. I guess we’ve not had that experience.
Dylan: I guess we’d kind of just shrug it off.
Prentice: It’s everyone’s opinion, regardless of how good you think you are, it’s not going to be for everyone. I just don’t think you can get too worried about reviews, and if there’s a nice review here or there, that’s grand.
What advice would you give those that are about to go on their first tour?
Dylan: Eh.. probably bring as many pairs of socks as you can.
Prentice: What I was doing on tour, which I thought was quite clever was, I was going on stage without socks on. Just wearing shoes without socks, you know, quite indie.
Saves packing space too…
Prentice: ...means your socks aren’t as sweaty, actually, that’s maybe not that good advice.
Dylan: Just have a shower every day, because you will feel pretty gross.
Prentice: I think the best advice I could give for someone going on tour is, be prepared for the fact you will feel minging for a little while and you just have to accept it. Like if someone’s going bald, they should just accept that fact and just shave their head as opposed to keeping little bits of hair. Just accept that you’re going to be a bit gross and minging.
So basically, every day on tour is like the last day of a festival?
Prentice: Yeah, exactly. So just get used to that and just deal with it.
What are your plans after the tour?
Dylan: Just doing what we always do and cracking on with stuff. The plan is we’re taking about a month off over Christmas just to get more songs and stuff like that and then go out, bring out a couple more singles and preparing an album that will hopefully happen at some point. Writing album songs, touring, play more festivals.
It’s may be a difficult question, like when I was at school people would always ask me what my future plans were and I’m like “ I dunno, leave me alone, I’ll think about it later!”
Dylan: Yeah, I mean probably just playing as many gigs and having as much music as we can for people.
Last question. Does your name mean a) a pleasing view, b) a long narrow view as between rows of trees or buildings, especially one closed by a building or other structure; or c), a mental view of a succession of remembered or anticipated events?
Prentice: It means, two syllables. Because we heard somewhere that good band names have two syllables and we were like “Oh, that’s a nice word.” And then we looked up the definition of it.
Dylan: What’s good about not really having a solid meaning about the band name is it can mean whatever it means to you.
Prentice: We think it’s a good band name, easily chanted. And it looks good on a t shirt.
Terry Edwards [band’s manager]: That’s a good answer!
Vistas are: Prentice Robertson (vocals/guitar), Dylan Rush (guitar), Jamie Law (bass), Graham McDonald (drums).
For more Vistas information, see Facebook