Q&A: Spirit Vine

16 Aug

By Allison Flaker

The hard rocking sound of LA’s Spirit Vine is captivating in a way that makes you turn up the volume to full capacity and air guitar around the house. Their volatile guitar solos, seven minute jams and seriously crazy vocals are a combination unable to be ignored.

Karri Bowan Photography

Though they have yet to release a full length album, their EP, Golden, has gotten plenty of buzz by fans and critics alike. Between writing new material and getting ready to headline a residency at Hear Gallery in Downtown LA, Spirit Vine have been keeping busy. As they spread their contagious sound through Southern California and prepare to record their album, they were also gracious enough to talk to us.

I spoke with Aaron Bustos, guitarist for Spirit Vine, about the future and where they draw their rock inspiration.

Allison: Your music is so reminiscent of the classic rock era. Where do you draw inspiration? Have you all always been fans of classic rock?

Aaron: That’s the second time we’ve heard that classic rock reference, which strikes to us as really odd. I mean I don’t hear it.

My father listened to a lot of Elvis, Little Richard, The Rolling Stones, Fats Domino, and Willie Nelson. My mother Motown and The Beatles. My sister who is 11 years older listened to R.E.M. , The Cure, The Clash, The Smiths, and unfortunately all that Hair Metal stuff, but I just remember the good stuff.

As far as inspiration, its pretty much when we are given free time to day dream a bit and put our bodies on zombie mode, usually when we least expect it. It’s pretty much anywhere our sub-conscience tells us we can write a lyric or play a few chords and it’s usually at work!

I know that myself and the others carry a recorder with us for such occasions, I mean it could be in a book, movie, song, newspaper, a person, or just something random that catches your eye. There’s really no science to it you just gotta be able to remember it by the time you get home ya know?

Have we been fans of classic rock? It’s weird to even call it classic rock cuz it’s music you grew up on, I mean who doesn’t like CCR, LED Zeppelin, Aerosmith or Black Sabbath as kid?

The only thing I could tolerate as a kid was the Steve Miller Band, because whenever I’d cruise with my old man in his Chevelle he’d pop that 8-Track in, it’s good memory I have, but CCR’s Green River is a better album.

Kelly (drummer) and his brother have a thing for KISS, which is hilarious, oh and I share a birthday with Ace Frehley. I know that Gabriel and I share a dis-taste for Santana, the man just noodles way too much on his guitar, blagh!

I know Jackie through way of her step mother loved Fleetwood Mac, but she can explain it better….

Allison: You’ve recently released a 3 song EP, Golden, which is a good taste but I know many of your fans are ready to hear more. Are you still in the recording process right now for the album? What has that process been like?

Aaron: We’re in the writing songs process right now. We’re really focused into writing a great record. Recently we’ve been getting into a nice groove so we’re just harnessing that in the mean till we are ready to record.

Allison: Do you have any kind of a release date or a hopeful one?

Aaron: Release Date? We don’t know that yet. We do want to put it out on vinyl though and have it it for digital download as well, but most importantly we just want to make a well crafted record, one that will live beyond the ages, music that’s for everyone.

Allison: The EP has received a lot of positive attention and reviews from fans and critics alike. Has that been fueling the recording for your new album? Do you find it at all daunting?

Aaron: Lovers and naysayers are all welcomed, it gives us good balance! We’re happy that people enjoy the EP, it is a type a fuel you could say. Without the fans I don’t think any band could prolly move on or find motivation, unless you’re Van Gogh, but I doubt it. That’s what gives great shows you know at least from our perspective we’re really watching the people out on the floor, you’re performing for us.

Photo credit: Lynette Peluso

Allison: We’ve seen an influx of female leads in the past few years. In your case, it’s very refreshing to hear a front woman who truly knows how to rock. How do you think having a female lead changes the dynamic of the music?

Aaron: Hm, that’s a good question. You know I’ve never thought of Jackie in that way really as being a “female” lead. If you really think about it though aren’t all leads related to the female anyway? Elvis with his hips, Jim Morrison “The Lizard King,” Little Richard’s flamboyancy, Kurt Cobain’s small stature, Bowie’s androgyny, Jagger’s silly dancing, and Prince! It doesn’t change thing because the reason she’s in the band is because of her talent. Anyone could of been the singer, she just came along at the right time.

Allison: Jacqueline, your voice can sometimes sound androgynous. Do you do that on purpose or is that just one of the many great facets to your voice?

Jacqueline: No I try not to do anything on purpose and that way it just feels right….I think I can have multiple personality disorder when it comes to different styles…it is what I admire most about Bob Dylan….one day I want to master ” Ball and Chain” by Janis Joplin and the next trying to find Etta Jame’s howl and tone, the next Iggy Pop’s yelp, Bowie’s falsetto and Mr. Cash’s heart….it gets addicting…there are so many inspirations and stories to draw from…we as artists are very lucky to have all of these legends…even hidden legends to look to

Allison: I really like the vocals and instrumentation on “Roam.” Can you tell me more about that song?

Aaron: The instrumentation came along one night I was goofing off with these 2 chords while Kelly was doing a kind of “Tomorrow Never Knows” beat on the drums. Gabe heard something and instantly made a riff to go with what I was playing and then Jackie just came along and started singing a melody to it and the rest is history.

I think we finished the song on the same night or at least structure and we just worked it out for a few days and had a song. Jackie worked on the lyrics, as she usually does outside smoking a cig with her composition booklet and the only thing I contributed was “the walk was better than the ride.”

Speaking of inspiration by the way here’s an example. I have no car and one day I was walking on a busy street with tons of traffic, it was incredibly hot and I noticed that I was moving faster then the vehicles stuck in traffic. I just found it hilarious that I had gotten to my destination before they moved to the next block and that imagery helped me contribute. Things like that are what SPIRIT VINE are about and everyone in the group brings it in their own way.

Allison: How do you see your music being relevant in today’s music scene? Do you feel that your filling a void that lacks heavy guitar solos and epic vocals?

Aaron: I think we’re totally relevant. Ya know it’s not so much what type of music you grow up on or listen to right now because we’re just lovers of music. I mean as a group, collectively, not as individuals, we’re really into blues, old country, American Folk, things that Harry Smith put out, but as SPIRIT VINE it’s really what we make of what we’ve taken and I think we’re doing something unique that no one is doing.

The heavy guitar solos and epic vocals, that’s just who we are. And if we’re filling a void, awesome! The great thing about this band is that we’ve never been stuck for filling our own void, we’re always progressing.

Allison: What is next for Spirit Vine? Do you have more shows lined up? A tour maybe?

Aaron: We’re playing a residency in September at the Hear Gallery at the 5 Star Bar in Downtown LA. That should be a ball, we’re inviting everyone that can play, that has played with us. I know we’ll be heading out on the road doing a few shows in San Fran, San Diego, Portland for the weekend later this year. And just focusing on putting out something this year and writing better and better material.

Catch Spirit Vine at Piano Bar/Beachwood Rocker’s Night in LA on August 31. http://www.myspace.com/spiritvine

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