Nick Workman from Vega talks about Who We Are.
Just before their headline show at Islington Academy on Saturday the 28th of May Rockgig had the pleasure to catch up with vocalist Nick Workman to talk about all things Vega.
Rockgig As a long time fan of yourself what were your earliest musical influences and what made you take up a career in the music business?
Nick I grew up in the best era when I started to get into music in 1987/88.Hysteria, Whitesnake, 1987, The Final Countdown, Appetite For Destruction what else do you need?You couldn't go wrong it was the hey day.Every kid in my class wanted to be in a band and they all got guitars for Christmas so I thought I will be the singer.
Rockgig That was my next question always the singer?
Nick Yes I play guitar as well but not on stage I can do my dad dancing.
Rockgig I loved your work with Kick how do you look back at that time now?
Nick Good it was a learning curve I was very young back in those days it was good times. I have stayed good friends with Mikey and he came down to the London show the other week.I haven't spoken to Chris for a while not that we have fallen out or anything.
Tom and Martin from Vega loved Kick that is where they knew me from.
Rockgig Vega how did it come together and when?
Nick I was doing gigs with my other band Eden not like I am doing now and we played Z Rock and Tom and James were there and their band The Station Club had stopped and they said they had been given the go ahead by Frontiers to do a project at that time and would I be interested.I said send me what you have got and I had a listen to the music which is what they write and I started to write the lyrics and they were just happy not to have to write lyrics anymore as they hate doing that and all they had to do was concentrate on writing the music and leave the rest to me to do the melodies and arrangements.
Rockgig Where did the band name come from?
Nick Band names is like the worst thing ever with banding names around and Dan came up with it and you know what that will do.We had a list of 20 to 30 you know what?Drop the pin and that will be it.
Rockgig Four albums in now how do you see that the band and it's sound has evolved in that time?
Nick It has just naturally evolved and there has been no intentional direction change or anything like that.We have just grown as a band from when we were writing probably the first half of the first album with the intention of it being a project but then we got on so well with these big idea's and hopes and dreams together it turned into a band.That was very much the starting point with myself Tom and James writing songs together and we have grown and include our own inspirations and ideas.
Rockgig Do you demo before hitting the studio?
Nick Everytime.Tom and James write the music and then send it to me and I start writing the rest of the song.
Rockgig Do you put ideas back and forward?
Nick We might say this bit works that bit doesn't or re do a little bit.If a song makes the album and from that first session it will be demo'd once and we may then if we need to make any major changes we write it down.
Tears Never Dry from the last album we wrote that before What The Hell but it didn't make that one so we ended up demoing that 3 or 4 times and on this album Nothing Is Forever didn't quite make Stereo Messiah.We will always make a fresh demo and with songs that don't make the album no idea is a bad idea.If it is good we will come back to it.
Rockgig You recorded in Monnow Valley in Wales. How was it to record at such a special place?
Nick Amazing but really hard work.Such an inspiration to work there and we wanted a big drum sound we never use drum machines and that has the best drum room around and we think the album sounds amazing.
Rockgig How long did it take to record?
Nick We were there for 3 weeks.We work pretty fast and we work long days to get it done.
Rockgig Harry Hess from Harem Scarem produced the album how did that come about?
Nick He mastered Stereo Messiah and stayed in contact with us from there and then we played the Frontiers Festival in Milan with Harem Scarem in March 2015 and we had a drink in the bar with him well he doesn't really drink but we were and we were like " Harry you should do our next album?" and he said sure.
So when I get home a couple of days later we Face-timed or Skyped and we sent him over the demo's and we worked out when we were going to do it.
Rockgig Would you use him again?
Nick Yes Harry is a good mate of mine now in fact we were out the other night in an Indian restaurant and we said let's Face-time Harry. He has the same dry sense of humour that we all have.
Rockgig Did you have any preconceived ideas of how you wanted the new album to sound before you hit the studio?
Nick Not really but we wanted it to sound massive.The songs and arrangements for the most part didn't change dramatically from the demo's apart from being better played and sound.We wanted the bass drum to hit you in the chest we had lots of ideas we wanted to utilise and we would say listen to this song we want it like that.
Rockgig All the album reviews have been very positive is the album title Who We Are you saying to everyone this is us love us or hate us?
Nick Kind of.The song Hurt So Bad was written from my point of view like everything that is going on with the news is just shit isn't it?It is always bad and they always end the news on a happy bit like here is a bunny rabbit. It is an observation and a fact this is who we are and you have to accept it for what it is. One it is the world as it is where we can bitch and moan all we want but it is what it is. And with the album cover we thought how many album covers do people really discuss?The best album covers in the world are loved as they are hated.We knew some would love it some would hate it but they will talk about it.
Rockgig I love the fact you turn it over and it is the photo of you.
Nick Exactly It is about who we are and when you are in a band don't take our onstage persona seriously because Alice Cooper doesn't walk around with make up and a snake around his neck all the time.It is who we are this is what we do and we have had some grief from the AOR circle because we don't play by the rules and that is fine and if we fuck up it is who we are.
Rockgig Do you think as a band you are difficult to pigeonhole?
Nick That is what people say but we have always been regarded as an AOR band but I have never regarded us as that.We have had some parts that have been AOR particularly on the first album but we just want to be a rock band.
When I was a kid growing up when I bought an album I didn't try to pigeonhole it.Heavy metal or classic rock or AOR I just liked it.Rock is rock at the end of the day. We are just a rock band.Pure and simple.It is who we are.
Rockgig Any song titles or specific stories you can tell us about from the new cd?
Nick A lot of them say like White Flag is like when you see these war veterans coming back and doing these amazing things even when they have lost limbs.It was like never to give up on anything.There is a theme that goes on through out the album like not giving up.
Rockgig Explode in my opinion is one of the best opening tracks in years did you specifically write a song to say this is us in 2016?
Nick Every time we start writing a song we don't know if it will make the album until we record it and mix it.We knew when we had done this one that it has a different riff for us and is a bit different from the demo. We knew that yes this was the song to punch you in the face with it and to start the shows too.
Rockgig On the track Nothing Is Forever in my review I said that it showed a new level of maturity and playing.Would you agree?
Nick That is the last word to use in this band.A lot of people have said that and it is really just the way we write.Jim would write the chord progression and then when we came to the studio and we stood around the piano with Harry just working out the arrangements that is how it came out.The demo came just too late from Stereo Messiah and we thought it was too good to rush.Let it sit there and we can come back to it.
Rockgig Do you have a favourite track on the album?
Nick All of them really.Live we love playing White Flag and Saving Grace.So much fun.
Rockgig With the live shows you add an extra guitarist and it is very high energy.Do you think you have managed to capture that on cd?
Nick Yes I think so.What we put on cd is what we know we can play live unlike other bands.
The whole reason I go and see a band live I don't want to see them duplicate everything that is on cd I want to see a different kind of energy.On cd it is very polished and precise and live we pretty much put everything down.We have christened this tour this is what it is tour.
Rockgig You are coming to the end of a series of shows with Magnum how has it been?
Nick Brilliant.The intensity everything. The best tour we have ever done.As a support act you don't expect the fans to come to see you but we have played to the same amount of people Magnum have every night.People have come to watch the shows from the beginning and the energy has been amazing.We only played London 2 weeks ago and tonight's show is close to selling out.We have been amazed at the response.
Rockgig Tonight is a one off headline show what can we expect? Many new songs?
Nick 6 which is 2 more than the Magnum shows.
Rockgig Generation Now?
Nick Er no.(Much laughing) We could play it all and at some point we will..A lot of bands say hold this one back for when we come back again when we change the set around a bit.
We only had enough time to fit 10 songs in with Magnum so we have to be really careful as we need to play something from each album.We do have fans coming to multi shows.
Rockgig So with the positivity level at a new high are you looking to line up more head lining shows?
Nick Not at the moment no.We are hoping we can jump onto another support tour.If we headline now yes we will play to more people but that isn't the way to keep building the fan base so that we can play on a bigger stage.We are a band playing small venues but in our heads we are an arena band playing small venues.We always try to put on an arena show and if we go to play headline shows now we will play to more people than we have ever done before but we want to keep building the fan base.The great thing about the Magnum tour is we have had so many people say we have never heard of you before and that is great.That was the point of this tour. New fans and we will play headline shows at some point and if we don't get that support tour we will do headline shows.There are so many people who haven't heard of us like the Magnum fans that we just want to get out there and just build the fan base.That is how it should be done really.
Rockgig What does the rest of 2016 hold for Vega?
Nick We have Steelhouse Festival in July and shows in Italy and Spain near the end of the year in October and booking more shows.We have been so busy in the studio the last 4 years with an album every year more or less it is good to be out and we have said we don't want to go back in the studio for 2 years we want to gig this album to death.
Rockgig Where do you see Vega in 5 years time?
Nick Split up!! (We had been joined by the rest of the band at this point and lots of laughing) No seriously we are realistic about our goals and build that fan base up as we have seen what is possible after the Magnum tour.
Rockgig At the Oxford show I could feel that.As a long time fan it was like everyone else suddenly got it.
Nick Manchester no every gig has been a highlight and there are people out there who can like our music and build the fan base.Keep on doing what we do.
Rockgig Any last word for the fans?
Nick Keep supporting us we are going to keep delivering what we do and keep giving you high energy shows and anthemic songs and being who we are.
With that and after a couple of photos with the band we all made our way from the Hilton hotel back to the Islington Academy where Vega ripped London a new one with an outstanding show and showed why they are one of the UK's premier rock bands.
Big thanks to Nick for taking the time out of a hectic pre show to talk to us and to Gary Levermore of Red Sand PR for setting up the interview.