“So far we’ve seen a gas station and the road toll spots…” That’s what the musicians from The Vintage Caravan say when asked about their initial impression of Poland. It’s the early evening on November the 3rd and I’m sitting with these three guys backstage in Progresja Music Zone club in Warsaw. In about three hours from now, the Icelandic power trio of Óskar Logi (vocals, guitar), Alexander Örn (bass guitar) and Stefán Ari (drums) will rock the house, supporting Europe on what is going to be their very last performance of the War Of Kings Tour. They don’t know yet they’ll have the most staunch Europe fans calling for the encore after their set is finished (a wish that just couldn’t have been made reality, with Óskar pointing at his wristwatch suggestively). They don’t know yet they’ll have people in queue for their merchandise, photos and autographs long after the gig. By now, their only positive experience related to Poland is the friendliness of people they met at the venue – a clear sign the traditional Polish hospitality wasn’t really put to rest. Although the group’s soundcheck is already finished, there’s no rest for the trio as they’re going to be interrogated exclusively for Hard Rock Service. We’re on to discuss the band’s recent experience of touring with Europe, their third album Arrival, the Icelandic music scene and their future plans. Ladies and gentlemen – The Vintage Caravan!
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Tonight you’re going to play what is actually your last show with Europe on their War Of Kings Tour here in Warsaw [The Vintage Caravan‘s decision was to cancel what was supposed to be their very last support show of the tour – in Vilnius, Lithuania on the 4th of November – A.M.]. How’s the tour going on so far? What’s been the feedback of audience from Odense to Berlin?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: Well, it’s been fantastic. Europe, we think, are by far the nicest band we’ve toured with so far and the shows have been really great. The Europe crowd usually don’t know us before we start to play – but after we finish our set, they’re usually on our side as well. We’ve sold a lot of merch, met a lot of friendly people and drank a lot of beer – so it’s been nice.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: What’s been the most memorable night of the tour so far? Is the War Of Kings Tour a valuable experience altogether?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: For sure! But the most memorable night… Well, all have been good, but perhaps Oslo? It was a really, really good one. Mostly because of the great people there.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Have you had a chance to listen to a Polish band Coria who’s going to open the show tonight?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: Actually, without sounding too douchey… we didn’t know they were as well a support act until yesterday I think, so sorry, no. We haven’t checked them out but we met them and they’re really nice guys. We’re really sorry they can only use, like, half of the half of the stage… [laughs] But we’re surely gonna check them out, sooner or later.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: And have you ever listened to any Polish music, in general?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: For sure – Behemoth, Vader, Hate, Vesania… All that black/death metal kind of stuff is very good.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Talking about geographical issues, many journalists put emphasis on the fact you come from Iceland. Your country is usually not associated with rock music, that’s why I have to ask about the local music scene and perhaps some bands you’d like to recommend us.
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: Yeah, there’s tons of good bands and a really close-knit scene back home. Everybody’s friends and blah, blah, blah… [laughs] As for the recommended bands, anybody who likes psychedelic Pink Floyd stuff should check out Lucy In Blue. Then Churchhouse Creepers – good friends of ours who play stoner/party rock, Agent Fresco – they’ve been touring Europe and perhaps even been in Poland [on November the 29th they are going to play in Hydrozagadka club in Warsaw – A.M.]. They’re really, really good. And for people who like heavy music we’d recommend Sólstafir, Skálmöld, Shrine [an experimental black/death metal band with Stefán on drums – A.M.].
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Another thing that is characteristic about the band is the retro late ’60s/early ‘70s hard rock vibe to your music. What are your inspirations and how were you introduced to the music of the past you can now incorporate into your own sound?
ÓSKAR: I was very young when I started listening to the oldschool music and rock’n’roll in general and I think the movies had a big part in it. Stuff like Almost Famous, The School Of Rock, Detroit Rock City… This kind of movies definitely had an impact and from then I started digging around myself. My brother gave me some Black Sabbath albums… I was playing Need For Speed and listening to the soundtrack… and I’ve been going this way ever since. To name a few bands – Rush, Captain Beyond, Cream, Blue Cheer, Yes, Gentle Giant…
STEFÁN: It was probably my parents that introduced me to Deep Purple when I was really young and from then I just went searching for other bands like that.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: The power trio formula the band plays in is quite demanding. How do you overcome certain limitations coming from the fact there’s only three of you onstage?
ÓSKAR: First of all, we don’t include any hurdy-gurdies or any such instruments – we try to keep it simple and powerful. I think that’s the part of it. But also, there were three-piece bands over the years – especially Rush – that have overcome those limitations in every way possible, including [Rush‘s – A.M.] Geddy Lee‘s playing synthesizers with his feet and bass with his fingers while remembering all the lyrics and so on… multitasking.
ALEX: Yes, I think that’s just an interesting format in such a way that everybody has to give a hundred and ten per cent every single time, because if you fuck up, everybody will hear it [laughs]. That’s kind of fun in a way.
ÓSKAR: It’s very interesting for me since this is my first and only band and it’s always been a three-piece. I’ve never had a chance to hide behind anyone. Even if I have to – if I was to play a concert with a lot of people I would find it very weird not to be playing at one hundred and ten per cent. For me, that’s very weird to be onstage and be able just to chill, to play just a few notes and then go and get a water of something.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Onto the topic of your third album Arrival, which saw the light of day this year. Are you satisfied with this album and the feedback you’ve received so far?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: Yes. We accomplished what we set out to do. We wanted to make a proggy, heavier album that would still be catchy – we think it’s good for what it is. We got very nice reviews, so we can’t really complain.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Could you take us through your personal highlights of the new album?
ÓSKAR: For sure. For me, Innerverse is one of such highlights, with the guitar solo in it being also one of my favourites. It was totally spontaneous, [recorded – A.M.] just in one take and in that take only.
ALEX: Also Winter Queen is something we’ve managed to do very well, especially comparing to what it sounded like before we actually recorded it [laughs] I’m also very proud of the bass tone over the song number two, Monolith. It sounds like a…
ÓSKAR: …car crash.
ALEX: Yeah. It sounds like people dying [laughs].
HARD ROCK SERVICE: For Arrival, you decided on collaborating with the same producer again – Axel “Flexi” Árnason, who also worked on your previous album Voyage. Why?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: Well, he’s a really nice guy and we still like him [laughs] But seriously – we love the guy, he’s a great producer and has a good ear for what is – for the lack of a better word – shit and what is nice [laughs]. So it’s nice to come to him with some ideas and to be sure that he knows what it’s all about. We have a good working relationship with him and this is why we’ve decided to do a second album with him. But for another one, we’ll see what the future holds.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: The cover artwork of the album was designed by the renowned American artist David Paul Seymour. What’s your interpretation of it? Is it only me, or is it a bit similar to the cover of Uriah Heep’s Demons And Wizards?
ÓSKAR: Yeah, it obviously reminds me of all that era, maybe Yes even more… you know, with the floating moutains… And you see, the caravan we see on the [cover of] the Voyage album is leaving for outer space and on the Arrival album it’s like it’s landed on the mountain on the psychedelic planet…
HARD ROCK SERVICE: So it’s like another chapter…?
ÓSKAR: Another chapter, yeah. With this album we think we arrived somewhere.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: You’ve also released a couple of videos to promote the album. However, probably the most popular videoclip of yours is the surreal, psychedelic one that illustrates a song from your previous album Voyage, Expand Your Mind. It has nearly 412 thousand views on YouTube now. What’s the idea behind it?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: We got this idea about each member having their own trip sequence – in a comedic way. It’s our friend Bowen [Staines, an Iceland-based New Hampshire-born filmmaker – A.M.] who did all the work behind it – it was like seven, eight months working on it… And the other video of ours we’d like to say something about is Crazy Horses of the new album. It’s really good, like a miniature Icelandic short film – three minutes. It was made by our friends Einar [Karl – A.M.] and Nikki [Nicholas Karl – A.M.].
HARD ROCK SERVICE: There are several editions of Arrival available – also the vinyl format. What do you think about the recent revival of the format? Are you vinyl collectors yourselves, a representatives of the generation who’s used to mp3 files and Spotify rather than that?
ÓSKAR: It’s very, very good to use as frisbee as well [laughs] It sounds really good in the air [laughs] But seriously I think it’s perfect. I’m a big vinyl guy and I think it’s the nice way to experience music… to really experience it, not just download it or go to Spotify or something…
ALEX: Yeah, also with everything being digital nowadays… you know, even if people buy CDs, they end up importing them into their computers anyway and then they might just as well throw them away… Actually, what I usually do goes like this: even if I buy a CD, the CD drive in my computer is so fucked that I usually just buy a CD and then I download it… pirate it in a way instead of inserting the CD into the drive… I don’t feel bad about it because I actually have the physical CD. But anyway, now everyone just has music on computer, phone or…
ÓSKAR: …the spaceship? [laughs]
HARD ROCK SERVICE: Talking about Spotify, what do you think about streaming music services and their largely criticized payment policy? Especially you as the young band?
ALEX: Having not seen that much money out of the actual physical or digital album sales, it’s hard to be not okay with that. There is some money coming in from there and it would be fantastic to make more… It would certainly help a young band like us as we’re not going out buying gold watches and Ferraris… [laughs] But for me as a user, it’s awesome. I’m a big fan of Spotify. I pay nothing a month and I get everything.
HARD ROCK SERVICE: What about social media such as Facebook, Instagram etc. Is it vital for a contemporary band to use them to promote your music and connect with the fans? Do you think a band can just go without it?
ALEX: It’s definitely impossible to go on without it. Even if you’re in a band that’s not even that active anymore, you still have to be active on social media – even if only to reminisce. So especially for the young band like us, with the limited press and limited exposure, social media is really all bands like us have. It’s like ninety per cent of our actual output into the world is from social media. Rest is just from playing shows and getting featured in magazines. Most magazines are online anyway, so it goes through the social media again… So it’s weird that even if I’m not a big fan of social media, it’s the very handy way of reaching out to people you wouldn’t usually call or whatever.
ÓSKAR: To poke people on Facebook, that’s very important! [laughs]
ALEX: Yes, we usually poke a lot of people with our band Facebook! [laughs]
HARD ROCK SERVICE: After the current tour with Europe, you’re going to go on tour with a Swedish doom metal band Avatarium. Any expectations? Different kind of audience that this of Europe, for sure…
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: Yes, definitely different kind of audience – probably more like the audience we’re used to. But it’s gonna be nice – it’s a short tour that lasts just two weeks and we’re playing mostly places we already played so we think it’s gonna be great. It’s pretty funny that on this tour people are like, I wish you’d come back, maybe next year and we’re coming back in less than a month [laughs]
HARD ROCK SERVICE: What are your other plans?
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN: We’re going home not tomorrow but the day after that. We play at the festival in Iceland called Iceland Airwaves – our favourite – than we’re playing a festival kind of supporting Mastodon in December, also in Iceland [Rokkjotnar Festival on the 5th of December 2015 in Reykjavík, Iceland – A.M.] There is also a tour in the works for February and March which should go through all of the Western, Southern and Eastern Europe as well – so we’ll be back not before long!
HARD ROCK SERVICE: We certainly hope so! Thank you very much!
The interview was originally published at http://rockhard.pl.