Kurt Vile has made a name for himself through fuzzy devotion to the FM radio dial circa 1974. His distorted guitars and echo-laden vocals conjure a slacker re-imagining of classic rock staples like Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Tom Petty. Since signing to Matador for last year’s Childish Prodigy, Vile has continued to update his heroes, but has also begun losing some of the noisy layers that separate his work from theirs. The Current caught Vile for a brief Sunday chat, delving into the young rocker’s feelings on employment, aging Lou Reed, and premature musical ejaculation.
So last month you played the Matador at 21 shindig in Vegas. How was that?
It was awesome. It was insane. Wild, wild party. Lots of good music.
Between that and All Tomorrow’s Parties, 2010 has been a pretty busy year for you. Have you had a chance to catch your breath, or has it all been go, go, go?
It’s been … I haven’t been non-stop go, go, go, but definitely close enough, to my standards. I would find out things… You know, I found out we could open for Dinosaur Jr. Stuff like that. Last minute things that you have to take on, and you want to. This is the last thing I have booked for a while.
The stuff on the recent Square Shells EP seems to be, in general, a bit mellower than last year’s album; what determines the particular feel your releases have?
To be honest, contrary to popular blog belief, a fair amount of that stuff is older than the Childish Prodigy stuff. I knew I wanted to put them on something, and it just evolved into this EP. The new record, the one that’s not out yet, will be the one thing that’s all kind of from the same time.
Is any of that stuff a good indication of what you’re next album is going to sound like?
You could definitely say that Square Shells will be a pretty easy transition into the next record. My next full length, John Agnello produced it, and worked really hard on it, produced the hell out of it, and just really went for it, you know.
Is the lo-fi element just an artifact of recording music on your own, pre-label, and the thrift required, or do you think it would be a part of your sound regardless?
The new record is not lo-fi at all, so that answers that. You know, there’s charm in `lo-fi`, too. After awhile, I realized that it was cool that way. Early on, I was so embarrassed, but I got over it, and conveniently it was in vogue.
It seems like you’ve worked a lot of odd jobs over the years. Do you still have to do that, or do those Matador checks keep you rollin’ in it?
I’m not just rolling in money, but we’ve been touring a lot. I got fired from my last day job, but at a time when I was gonna have to quit soon, anyway. I had just signed to Matador, and I couldn’t keep them both afloat. I was like “which one am I gonna go for?” obviously knowing the answer, but I didn’t even have to bother with a speech, cause I got fired.
What did you get fired for?
I got fired for, basically a whole bunch of things. I worked there forever, and it was a good job; it was at this brewery. I was coming in late. I think I had a beer on the job, but people do that sometimes. Maybe it was the time I did it. I think he was just fed up with a bunch of other stuff, and used that as an excuse.
Which musician, living or dead, would you most like to perform with?
I definitely would love to play with Neil Young. Out of anybody, I think he’s the coolest one, and I could step up to. In a way, I feel like it’s my aesthetic. Say you love the Velvet Underground, then you’ve got Lou Reed today. I’m not gonna say anything about Lou Reed, but it just wouldn’t make sense to jam with him. I’m not saying I wouldn’t if it came about, I could be proven wrong. My musical vibe, though, I think I could get it on with Neil Young pretty smooth.
All right, how about to record with?
I was actually going to say Neil Young for both. Well, I actually got to record with one of my heroes recently, but I don’t know if I should say it. I don’t know if it’s a secret, but I played on somebody’s record that I’m really stoked to be on.
Any hints about whose record you’re going to be on, without giving it away too obviously?
No, I can’t. I’m paranoid that I shouldn’t until it’s underway. I like this person too much to blow a load that’s not mine.
Kurt Vile and the Violators
With Purling Hiss, Microwaves, Ghost Lapse
8pm Wed, Nov 17
107 E Martin St