After declaring his album the best of the year, we thought we’d call up Kurt Vile to break the news
And so we’ve announced our list of 2013’s best albums. Late nights were spent and harsh words were exchanged, but we all wholeheartedly agreed that Kurt Vile’s Wakin On A Pretty Daze is the greatest we’ve listened to this year. We spoke to Vile to offer our congratulations just before he hit the stage with his band The Violators for a Berlin gig, and we’d like to think the Philadelphian troubadour was pretty pleased to receive the call.
So, album of the year from us, how does it feel?
Amazing! Thank you so much! Wise fuckin choice, man!
When you put a record out, what’s your initial feeling on the moment of release, when you know it’s out there in the world and it’s out of your hands?
I feel like every time I put a record out…I freak out right before it comes out, when I can’t make those last minute changes, and…It’s perfect in my ears anyway. When Childish Prodigy came out, the first Matador record, I just felt like that was in the bag, I had my mojo, felt like it was going to blow minds. And then certain sites like Pitchfork didn’t get it, so I knew to basically have no expectations about it doing well. But you never know why people decide not to like it. Then there’s somebody who might love one of your records and then you switch to a different sound. People don’t know what to expect, and you set the bar high in their minds and they expect another psychedelic pop record or whatever, and all of a sudden you give them something different. Honestly you can’t worry about it; you can’t get your hopes up too much. Ultimately you hope it does awesomely but at the same time I can’t be too cocky…till later!
Do you still read your reviews now? Do you while away hours in the tourbus browsing them?
I do, I do, I totally do. I go through different stages of that. At first they pop off, and then it gets static, and anytime there’s a cheap shot and I get mad and it hurts my feelings, but then…I’m completely numb now. Like, when I get a bad review I just laugh. At this point now I know, for better or worse…especially like…reviewers might be good at writing but, honestly, they don’t know that much about the actual music. So they’ll throw out cheap shots, you know, saying that, “oh, this song sounds like another song,” and they don’t know anything about playing guitar per se, so you’ve just gotta laugh. I don’t feel any negativity or hostility toward the writer. Say someone gives you a good review and then that same writer gives you a bad one later, its not like I’m gonna go Nick Cave on them and write a song like Scum, which is what he did.
Do you feel that our age, the age of expected instantaneous response, has devalued the album as an artform, as an experience, somewhat? Do you think about that when it comes to considering the reception a record gets?
That’s the digital age we live in. I’m one of the few that still goes out and buys CDs just so I have the actual album and sit down with it front to back. But yeah, you go to check something on your phone, or you go to do something and see your phone and there’s a bunch or texts, or emails, and you’ve forgotten what you were meant to be doing. Everything is so interuppted and ADD. I’m pretty ADD anyway so I’m just as gulity as others in some ways. But when it comes to music, I’m devout. That’s my religion. I have to listen to albums in good quality.
As we’ve given you our album of the year slot, we’d love to know what your album of the year’s been?
Steve Gunn’s Time Off is an incredible record. He’s a fellow Philadelphian. He lives in New York now. His guitar playing is…he’s just a purist. His songs are super real and super…just beautiful finger picking…he doesn’t…it’s like me, he’s not stuck in the now-times, he’s happy in the classic-times. By far the best record I’ve heard this year.
How have you found 2013?
2013’s been pretty awesome. We’ve all had a great time, touring like crazy, and we’re still touring and that’s cool too, but we’re definitely feeling the effects of non-stop playing. For instance, I have to wear earplugs otherwise my ears will be ringing for days, and that kind of sucks. Once in a while they can send you into the loony bin like, “Man, your guitar’s too trebly! Turn it up” and you have to because you’re trying to hear it through the earplugs. But ultimately, yeah, it’s going good, it’s going great. People get to watch me crumble before their very eyes every night. Just kidding.
What comes next for Kurt Vile and the Violators?
Well, a big exciting thing is that we’re going to Australia for the second time. I like to joke that we’re like the Elvises of Australia (laughs). We love Australia. It’s going to be mayhem. I’ll definitely be working on the new album too. I don’t know if it’ll come out next year for sure, but you can definitely expect some EPs. I don’t know if it’ll be quick or long. Hopefully not too long – that’ll kill us.
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Words: Josh Baines
Photo: Charlotte Bibby