On Monday, April 11, indie darling Kurt Vile brought his signature lo-fi sound to The Blue Note for a crowd-pleasing set that began with “Dust Bunnies” and ended with “Peeping Tomboy” and “Wild Imagination.” Before he took the stage, I sat down with the “pretty pimpin’” singer-songwriter to talk about touring and some of his latest obsessions.
DR: Describe the ups and downs of touring
KV: Ideally [the best parts of touring are] a killer show and the adrenaline high post-show. Sometimes we’ll be on a roll and other times there’s technical difficulties, but for the most part we’re pretty tight these days. That’s obviously the most rewarding thing: people coming out, seeing fans, you know.
I think after a while you just get exhausted. I’m pretty exhausted right now. I get real healthy when I go home, and I get gung-ho about staying healthy on tour, but even just general eating is hard. I get pretty burnt out, but then it goes away. You’re happy to be home but eventually you want the rush back. You went to get back out on the stage.
DR: What do you do to kill time on the bus?
KV: Some people in my band are couch potatoes, so there tends to always be a movie on or you know, music, reading books, whatever really. Bullshit.
DR: Are you reading anything right now?
KV: “Lost Highway.” [It’s] about a bunch of roots-y, country and rock n roll artists like Ernest Tubb, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Elvis, Charlie Feathers, etc. These days I like to always have a book – sometimes I’m super obsessive and I plow through tons of books, right now I’m a little slower. When I’m home and relaxing, that’s a way that keeps me excited about music in general, like whatever my latest obsession is. Like George Jones [for example]; I read his autobiography, and the next thing you know I printed out like 10 shirts of a hilarious photo of him next to the Easter Bunny during his time when he was with Tammy Wynette. Just little things like that get me pumped.
DR: What are some of your latest obsessions?
KV: Certain country music for sure. I just picked up these records here [in Columbia]: original Mickey Newbury albums, Kitty Wells, a super early country lady; Bobby Fuller, George Jones and Charlie Feathers. I like early roots rock. I’m even into Elvis, I like the idea [of him] and Jerry Lee Lewis; all the original staples, and the the freakier the personality they had, the better. That’s why I say I like Elvis – sure he had a dark side, but he was like the nicer version of someone like Jerry Lee Lewis. I’m definitely on like the roots of rock and roll, country kind of kick.
DR: Are you currently working on anything new?
KV: I’ve written tons of songs. I just lost this notebook on the road that mapped out my next album, but I remember most of it. It was really just a bunch of bullshit notes about country music I should be listening to, but I kind of know what I’m doing anyways. The album before, I was putting everything in the notes in my phone and I got really annoyed because I would see all these other things [on my phone] and forget what I was doing, so I had this little notebook, but then I put it through the wash. When we dried it all off and put it in these little plastic things, my tour manager Craig said it looked like the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Shortly after] I just stonerly-mindedly lost it somewhere.
Kurt Vile tracks you need on your playlist RN:
- “Wild Imagination”
- “Pretty Pimpin” with Kurt Vile
- “All in a Daze Work” with Kurt Vile
Listen to Vile’s newest album, b’lieve I’m goin down, here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2uRTsStAmo7Z2UwCIvuwMv
This post was written by Danny Rosenberg, contributing writer for The Blue Note and Rose.