It’s difficult to mask the excitement Vintage Trouble drummer Richard Danielson feels for his band. The band has both a new album, a two-part EP and is returning to the road following the longest hiatus in its nine-year career.
“It feels great to be back out on the road,” Danielson says enthusiastically. “Ticket sales are up, crowds are getting younger and sexier; it’s feeling good.”
The title of rock and roll’s best kept secret may be in jeopardy as the band continues its positive trajectory. Vintage Trouble has earned a badge as road warrior, and for good reason: upward of 3,000 shows in 30 countries. Danielson takes pride in the band’s commitment to touring, but also says it’s now a reality of life as a professional musician.
“The age of the rock star that can make records, sell them and sit in their house is gone,” Danielson says. “Musicians have to get out and make money the old-fashioned way. They actually have to work for it.”
Professional realities aside, Danielson says there’s something undeniably addicting about the allure of playing music on a stage.
“For a lot of musicians, that is the drug,” he says. “To get to do that all over the world, with all these different cultures, and feel our music through all these different vibes—it really is the gift that keeps on giving.”
Danielson, vocalist Ty Taylor, guitarist Nalle Colt and bassist Rick Barrio Dill came together in Hollywood in 2010 after the group of mutual friends found a natural chemistry. With Vintage Trouble’s high-energy presence, much of the foundation of the band’s live sound is built through its rhythm section. Danielson says he likes the onstage feeling to be excitable and groovy, but also have an added element of musical danger.
“I love it when my band gets into situations that there’s no way out of but to play your way out of,” he says. “I’m always starving for improvised moments.”
Danielson lauds Taylor’s ability to be the catalyst for that on stage “danger.”
“Sometimes I’ll give him something and he’ll go off on it and start making up words and melodies, then the bass and guitar comes in, and all the sudden we’re jamming with the crowd,” Danielson says. “It becomes a moment that’s unique to that night and that crowd; we’re making something of it.”
On its most recent EP, Chapter II, Vintage Trouble took its collective throwback influences of rock, soul, funk and R&B, and filtered them through a modern lens. Each band member’s unique background and musical influences create clashes that make the band’s sound more diverse.
“We actually lean into our clashes and try to use them to our advantage,” Danielson says. “It’s cool when things clash, you can feel the tension in it, and that works for us.”
On the EP Vintage Trouble wanted to incorporate its live show to its studio sound. The band wanted to put on headphones and while recording and feel as though each musician was in a stadium.
Along with their own tours, the band got the endorsement of some of the legends of rock, playing alongside The Who, The Rolling Stones and AC/DC. Danielson says being able to play with those bands was a confirmation that they were on the right track. Danielson points specifically to The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who took the surprising step of giving Vintage Trouble full stage production capabilities, a rarity for an opening band on an arena tour.
“We were going through our computer files trying to figure out how we were going to fill out all those screens,” Danielson says. “That was just Pete being super-gracious to us and liking what we do, and not being threatened at all—why would he be?”
Vintage Trouble has a close connection with Northern California, playing a number of stages around the Bay Area, including a return engagement at BottleRock. Danielson notes that one of the band’s most memorable bloopers happened when the band opened for AC/DC at Oracle Park. The gig was one of the final dates on a long tour, when Taylor’s enthusiasm sparked a rivalry with the San Francisco crowd.
“We had been all over the world and we were so happy to be home. Ty said, ‘We’re so happy to be home, we’re from Los Angeles, we’re here’ up on stage!” Danielson recalls. “The crowd booed, we were like ‘what the hell is happening!’ But we won them back.”
With continued heavy touring on the horizon, Danielson looks forward to continue to carry the torch of old-school rock and roll.
“To be a road dog; we wear that as a badge of honor, we take a lot of pride in it,” he says. “We have a band full of alpha males, we don’t let ourselves off easy, we have to go out there and hammer it out every night. And it still feels fresh.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald