Chemistry without a textbook

Vintage Trouble members knew they had something special from beat one

Vintage Trouble hit the ground running.
Photo by Lee Cherry

Vintage Trouble might just have the best live show going.

Together for just a couple of years, the Los Angeles band has exploded out of clubs, playing festivals and opening for the likes of The Who, sending audiences into a frenzy with its dynamic performances.

Those shows start with singer Ty Taylor’s James Brown-like stage moves and powerhouse soul shouter vocals. Then mix in rock rhythms and stinging guitar, and it makes for an impressive package.

“All of our lives we’ve all listened to everything from gospel, to rhythm and blues, to soul, to rock ’n’ roll, to even some folk, and all this kind of stuff,” Taylor says. “When we first got started we said we wanted to stay out of the way of the creative flow. When we stayed out of our way, a marriage of these styles just happened.”

But getting out of the way of the creative process isn’t the only reason that Vintage Trouble works so well together. It also takes a rare chemistry, says drummer Richard Danielson.

“What is that word chemistry, like a chemical reaction?” he says. “Our favorite bands, it’s a group of guys in the right place at the right time bringing the right elements. That’s chemistry. Unfortunately some musicians in their lifetime might not ever find that. It’s a very delicate thing. To find a group of guys that you have a chemistry with, that’s what translates to great music and championships in sports. That’s what we have.”

The quartet had that chemistry the first time it got together in 2010.

“As soon as we hit the first downbeat in the first rehearsal, we just kind of opened our eyes and looked at each other, like, ‘Wow, this is something special,’” Taylor says.

“It made us want to move quickly, not take a long time and over-think things. Within the first three weeks, we played our first show. After only three months we were doing four residencies around Los Angeles, which is kind of unheard of. We needed something to sell at shows, to give people for music. We went in to record demos, which turned out to be a full record, and we recorded the record in three days.”

Not only did the band make its record, the 2011 release The Bomb Shelter Sessions, in three days, it shot videos in two hours or less and won awards for a video shot on an iPhone. That’s spontaneity, and that’s how Vintage Trouble works.

The band’s live show was there from the beginning as well — with their Trouble Tuesday shows at tiny L.A. club Harvelle’s as dynamic and involving as those they deliver on big stages today.

“We’ve been out touring for slightly over two years now,” says bassist Rick Barrio Dill. “So things have changed a little. But it’s more of that spontaneous thing. It’s almost like we just want to go. There’s something about that that just works for us.”

While the band has been touring, it’s also been in the studio, having finished enough material for three albums.

It’s also put together a documentary of its European tours opening for Brian May of Queen, Bon Jovi and playing headlining shows called “80 Shows in 100 Days.”

Shows in small clubs or on giant stages get the same approach from VT — deliver the best show possible and try to reach every person in the audience.

“It’s a great challenge for us. We walk on stage to an audience who has never seen us before,” says guitarist Nalle Colt, the other member of the four-piece band. “You get up there and just go for it.”

That said, Taylor sees an important contrast between the shows.

“It is different,” he says. “When you’re a kid, you stand in front of a mirror, you’ve got your air guitar, you sing into a brush. That’s your childhood dream. That’s what makes you practice every day. That’s what makes you aspire to be what we’re still trying to aspire to be. When you’re an adult, you’ve already seen porno movies and you’ve already had girlfriends, you’ve already had sex. The adult dream becomes a little sexier and darker. You want to be in a club. An arena is no better than being in a sweaty club.”

Regardless of where they perform, Vintage Trouble turns heads — even on TV.

The band grabbed national attention in December with a jaw-dropping, scintillating performance of the song “Blues Hand Me Down” on Late Night With David Letterman. The same thing happened when they played the English television show Later… with Jools Holland in 2011.

“Somebody else said they were upstairs and heard it and sprained their ankle coming downstairs to see it,” Danielson says. “I like that image … but we don’t want anybody to get hurt at our shows, just go wild.”

Vintage Trouble opens for Gov´t Mule at the Ogden Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $38 in advance, $40 day of show. 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 303-830-2525.