Kurt Vile played Babylon on Tuesday night, with the Holy Cobras opening for him. I had a chance to ask Kurt a few questions, this is how it went:
Daycaller: So, you just did your first half of the tour with Fucked Up? How was that?
Kurt Vile: It was awesome. They rule, they're super nice. And you might think that some of the fans would be, like, "Get the fuck off the stage!" But, um, they were nice - I don't know what it is. Especially Canada, we got the Montreals packed. And we played Quebec last night - it was pretty cool. We will be with Fucked Up in Toronto, their home town, in a 900-cap venue.
DC: Yeah, I was kind of bummed out that Fucked Up didn't come to Ottawa with you.
Kurt: Yeah, they were tired, they needed some sleepies.
DC: I know. Being a solo artist, do you find you get influenced by the bands that you bring on tour with you?
Kurt: A little bit. I was going to come with a full band for this. But then I was in my car for the first leg with my friend Rob, who was there, who is my best friend - we were born on the same day -
DC: What day?
Kurt: January 3, 1980. And I was in the car. And, well, there was different reasons, but there were financial reasons why I was like, I'm just going to stay in my car, and I'm going to go with Rob. 'Cause - this was interesting - in the middle of the tour, was Philly, where I live. After Chicago, we played Baltimore, and I drove home to Philly after the gig - I slept in my bed, played a Philly gig, I slept in my bed. Then I played New Jersey, and slept in my bed. Then I went up to New York. I did those three gigs solo 'cause Rob needed to recover, he was feeling sick, and then I met Rob up in Boston, and we kept going. So we're still in my little car that I own so there would be no expenses.
DC: Tell me about the difference between creating music for a studio recording, and then performing for an audience.
Kurt: Well, you can't think too much about the recording, 'cause in the past I have, but then it's like kareoke. Especially when you have a full band. You'll play, like, a certain song, like Don't Get Cute, or something. It's cool after a while, but then after a while you're just going through the motions. You shouldn't think too much about the recording, because it's just two different things. And also a recording is just, like, a snapshot, you know? Before you recorded it, it was just this song, but then all of a sudden it's like this snapshot, and then if you think it should always sound like that, that's just kind of silly.
DC: Then do you think you become more honest when you are performing?
Kurt: No it's not more honest. It's honest in recording too, it's just captured there. They're both their own thing.
DC: Totally. Tell me about some of your musical influences?
Kurt: Sure, there's a lot. Right now, it might seem weird, but Joni Mitchell is my favourite. Where is she from in Canada by the way? She's the greatest. Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Suicide, Hank Williams, The Fall, so many. All the greats.
DC: Do you have any influences un-music related that shape your work?
Kurt: Anything inspires you. You could walk down the street and see some urban decay or something...or, like, a book that you're reading...except lately I'm A.D.D.
DC: Are you able to read anything lately?
Kurt: Well, lately it's very loose. White Noise by Don DeLillo I'm reading. I tried to read it. But I haven't finished anything lately. I don't know.
DC: So what's been in your stereo lately?
Kurt: Joni Mitchell, Blue. Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon! And um, Rob just played this random Suicide song, from later Suicide. It was the best thing we heard all tour. I don't even know what it was about.
DC: What is Rob up to other than touring with you?
Kurt: Yeah, he's in a band called Sore Eros - that's his music.
DC: That's awesome. Is he from Philly too?
Kurt: No, I met him 'cause the only other place I ever lived was Boston, and he was going to college up there. And I was driving a fork lift. But he lived in Connecticut, that's where he is from.
DC: So, kind of unrelated, but I really like your hair. How long have you been growing it for?
Kurt: Um...How long has my hair been long? Since 2003, probably. I think I cut it once. Somebody said I looked like Tom Hanks.
DC: You don't look like Tom Hanks at all!
Kurt: No, I was very pissed. I was like, "Fuck you."
DC: Yeah, seriously. So, being from the states, how do you find your Canadian audiences differ from your American audiences?
Kurt: It's hard to say, I think because I waited so long, I haven't really toured Canada, except for one show in Kingston with Dinosaur Jr. very recently. I think I've had enough records out that there's an underground thing, which was exciting. I didn't know what to expect, people are very enthusiastic in Canada. But people are enthusiastic in most of the big cities [in the states], as well. Everybody's a little different, but the Canadian audiences have been pretty sweet. We played Montreal, and I played the show, and in my mind I was like, "This is the worst set ever, we fucking blew it, we blew it!" And then people were like, "Ah, great set!" So, it's funny what you can "get away with." I'm kind of a perfectionist.
DC: Really? In which ways?
Kurt: I don't know. But I'm getting over it. You'll be like, "ah this sounds insane, this sounds fucked up - my guitar is out of tune." But not every body knows as much as you know.
DC: Yeah, I actually heard great things about your show in Montreal. Last question, what do you hope to contribute to the music scene you are part of?
Kurt: I wouldn't say I'm part of any scene.
Kurt: No. I'm just my own thing. But there's tons of scenes out there, so, I feel like we can be in a lot of "scenes." I feel like we fit into a lot of things, so I feel like the sky's kind of the limit.
Photos by Ben Courtice
I received a Sore Eros demo album last night, and have been pleased with what I've heard. I'll cover them in a later post!