The Vasco Era talks to us at Falls Festival 2005/06

Apollo Bay locals The Vasco Era are forging quite the reputation all around Australia for their blistering live shows and foot stomping brand of rock and roll. Growing from humble beginnings, The Vasco Era are fast becoming one of this countries best young bands. “The Miles EP” showcased some of what this band are capable of, and fans are eagerly awaiting the release of their debut album. caught up with The Vasco Era’s guitarist and singer Sid O’Neil shortly before he took the stage to a huge crowd at Lorne’s Falls Festival.Chris Mitchell- OK well firstly, Falls Festival main stage, how are you feeling?

Sid O’Neill- Pretty nervous actually….yeah. Excited, but nervous.

Chris M- Well I’m sure there is heaps of people down to see you. Have got many coming from Apollo Bay Surf Coast area where you guys are from?

Sid- Yeah…all of our friends pretty much, yeah.

Chris M- Yeah….cos I know when you first started the Apollo Bay crew was really supportive and you had a lot of them at all your shows….

Sid- Yeah!

Chris M- How are you coping with having your brother in the band with you?

Sid- Yeah it’s alright, we get along pretty well. He kind of doesn’t party as much and I always party so it’s a good balance. And he likes organising things and stuff…..

Chris M- How’s the warehouse going?

Sid- hahaha yeah

Chris M- cos I remember after you played with TZU at the Corner and everybody was like ‘Come back to Sid’s Warehouse!!’

Sid- Well did ya go?

Chris M- Nah I didn’t I went home to do something else…

Sid- Ohhhhhh haha….nah it’s really good. It’s a good place.

Chris M- Is that where you rehearse?

Sid- Nah we just live there. We don’t really rehearse all that much. We’ve been playing a lot of gigs so we get to rehearse then….

Chris M- Ok cool. Well how was the tour with TZU?

Sid- Yeah it was fun. Some of the crowds were a bit hip-hoppy and some of them were a bit our way….it was good to mix it up a bit.

(We all spy a monopoly game in the room we are in)

Chris M- What’s with the Monopoly?

Sid- I love Monopoly!

Chris M- It’s awesome!

Sid- Is that like a special edition or something?

Chris M- It does look weird….

Marc Brooks- Is there anything you do before a gig to help you relax or pump yourself up?

Sid- I don’t do anything really…a lot of the time I’ll have a few beers but I’ve lost my voice and that kind of makes it a bit worse so not today…

Marc- Will you get a chance to go out and check out any of the other bands on the line up?

Sid- Well we’re playing next…

Marc- Will you get a chance to after that or are you of to Tassie pretty quickly?

Sid- Yeah as soon as we finish we’re going….

Chris M- When you play festivals do you try and get out and see other bands?

Sid- Yeah you do. Yeah definitely. But you’ve always got other shit to do as well. It’s a good place to watch bands from as well.

Chris M- 2005…Do you think its been a bit of a breakthrough year for The Vasco Era? You’ve had the ‘Miles’ ep come out in April 2005….

Sid- Yeah….that’s pretty much all we’ve done for the year. Just pretty much that single and that’s all we’ve done. We’ve nearly got enough for an album now.

Chris M- Are you planning an album release?

Sid- Yeah definitely, in the next hopefully two or three, no, three or four months. We’re excited, but we’re not going to rush anything. We are only young, I’m only 20…….

Chris M- Yeah! Same age as us! Do you do anything else for money, or do you just play music?

Sid- Nah just play music. I don’t need that much money….

Chris M- Well that was my next question, do you manage to make a living out of playing music?

Sid- About as much as the dole. But it’s kinda, you’re doing what you love, you get to travel all the time, we don’t live like we’re on the dole really. But you get paid like you’re on the dole. I don’t care about the money. I don’t have anything to spend money on anyway.

Chris M- How would The Vasco Era catergorise themselves? Blues? Roots? Dirty Blues?

Sid- I wouldn’t call us blues and roots. Live we do a couple of things which could maybe be blues and roots. Especially when the album comes out it’s definitely not…. like it’s got some slow songs but they’re more Neil Young than roots. It’s more….yeah, blues I guess, but not roots, I don’t think. We’re not the political kind of blues and roots.

Chris M- We were having a chat with a lady in Torquay and she was saying there is a lot of artists coming out of the Surf Coast scene. How do you see that scene?

Sid- Well we don’t have that much to do with that scene. Like, we see Ash Grunwald all the time at festivals. But I don’t think…wasn’t like there was a scene down there when we grew up or anything. Everything was separate. It’s just like coincidence.

Chris Duell- So was it like, everyone’s gone ‘yeah that’s great’ and everything’s kind of spawned from that?

Sid- I don’t really know. We just, we started and we didn’t really know that much about Ash Grunwald or Xavier Rudd……We’ve been playing for just over a year, so we are just as lucky as anyone.

Chris M- How did the Vasco Era begin? Did you and your brother grow up playing music?

Sid- Yeah….Originally I played drums and I was in a band. Ted (Sid’s brother) was the bass player. Then that band ended and I started playing guitar. Then Fitzy was like…we knew him well, he was probably the best drummer in Apollo Bay. So it made sense.

Marc- Did you have many outside influences or did you try to be as original as possible?

Sid- Like who has influenced us?

Chris M- Yeah…. Well what did you grow up listening to?

Sid- Umm…. Neil Young and Lou Reed…heaps of shit. Then when I was 13 I used to listen to punk. I liked singer songwriters as well, like Bob Dylan and all those other characters. Probably the obvious influences as well, like the White Stripes and the Black Keys.

Marc- Has it got to a point where you are getting recognised when you go out?

Sid- Yeah, sometimes, but not often. A fair few people know who our band. A lot of people know the name, but don’t really know what we sound like. So that’s why we have to do an album.

Chris M- The song ‘Kingswood’ has got a bit of airplay this year, even on commercial radio stations like Nova. Has that helped the band?

Sid- I don’t think its made a difference to tell you the truth. Before we released that song we had the same sized crowds as we did after it. You need more than just one song. A lot of people who listen to Nova would just hear the song at work and go ‘yeah cool song’ but not necessarily go out and watch that band.

Chris M- So do you think you have established your following through live performances?

Sid- Very much yeah.

Chris M- Are you stuffed after you’ve played a live show? You guys go pretty hard and it’s awesome to watch…

Sid- Nah not really, like you’re sweaty and shit but you don’t really notice.

Marc- What emotions do you feel on stage? Do you notice the crowd when you’re up the performing?

Sid- Yeah, but I think you notice that but you’re thinking about your sounds and all that shit.

Chris D- So when you’re playing, can you hear what’s coming out? Are you picky about the sound?

Sid- I wouldn’t call myself picky, but I like it to be pretty loud.

Chris M- What do feel when you come off stage?

Sid- Well I usually want to talk to the people that always watch it and see how it was. And then get pissed or something.

Chris M- Growing up around the Otways, do you prefer to be playing a stage like this where you’ve got the grass and the trees or somewhere indoors?

Sid- It just depends really. I’ve had fun playing to no one. It just depends how you’re feeling. We did some gigs recently at the Northcote Social Club. We did two gigs there, we only should have done one because they were both half full which was so much shitter. It was a bit of a let down in terms of crowds but the gigs were awesome.

Chris M- How do you see the Melbourne scene?

Sid- Yeah it’s good. We aren’t playing another of own gigs in Melbourne until we do an album. But it’s been really good for us.

Chris M- When’s the album coming out? Are you recording at the moment?

Sid- Well there’s no supposed to be date. We’re not recording. Just doing demo’s and stuff.

Marc- Like you said, you’re not in a rush…

Sid- Yeah. Hopefully by the end of the year or something. But it doesn’t really matter when you bring it out, I don’t think……Playing a few festivals like this, people are going to start to know who we are…..

Marc- Yeah….well all of our group of friends do….fuck we brought a crew….

Chris D- We brought 18 carloads….

Sid- That’s a lot of people….

Chris M- That’s a fuckload of people…

Sid- So you guys are coming to watch us…

Chris M- Yeah for sure…

Sid- What are your names again?

Marc- Marc

Chris D- Chris

Chris M- Chris. Or Mitchy, Duellsy, and Brooksy.

Marc- Just go Marc, Chris and Chris. It’s so much easier. You only have to remember two names.

Chris D- Do you feel like you’ve accomplished something? Like, you’re only 20, but you’re about to play the main stage of the Falls Festival to 10,000 people plus…

Sid- Yeah, but I kind of always…ever since I was about 13 I always saying this is what I wanted to do. I was pretty set in my ideas. I didn’t expect it would be like this when I was 20, but I thought if we kept playing, maybe one day we could be doing this. We were always playing, I really didn’t have any other options.

Chris D- So it’s not freaking you out?

Sid- It’s not freaking me out at all. Because in the last 6 months really, we haven’t really….like in the first half of this year we did the EP, and there was lots of stuff happening, but it hasn’t been much. It’s not like it’s gonna…..I mean it’s good. I love it, but I don’t find it scary or anything. For about two minutes before I go on stage I probably get a bit scared but yeah…….

Chris M- Don’t worry, I’m sure we are gonna love you guys anyway. We’ll be front row centre going nuts….. At what age did you first pick up a guitar?

Sid- I started guitar at about 16 or 17. Probably 17 actually. It hasn’t been that long….but I was always a drummer

Marc- So did you finish school or leave to play music?

Sid- Nah, I finished school, but I was never concentrating really. I didn’t do anything at school. I knew what I was going to do, but I couldn’t fucking leave home from Apollo Bay and go to Melbourne when I was 16. Like I always knew, well I didn’t know, but I didn’t give myself many options.

Chris M- Well I reckon that’s about it. We’d better let you go get ready….

Sid- Alright. Thanks guys.

Us- No, thank you

Chris Duell - Founder / Developer at LoudNLocal, currently working at VentureCraft