Last night before they opened for The Bravery in Philadelphia’s The Fillmore at the TLA, I got to sit down with Mat Steel and Coyle Girelli of Your Vegas to talk about everything from tour stories to their upcoming debut record, A Town and Two Cities, which hits streets on April 22nd.
Jessica Popwreckoning: Thank you very much for taking the time for the interview.
Coyle Girelli/Mat Steel: No problem. Thank you!
JP: So how did you come upon the name “Your Vegas?”
CG: “Your Vegas” was a song which preceded forming the band. I’d written it just before we formed the band. And then we got the band together; me and Mat and Jon had been playing in bands together years before. Mal and Mark sort of formed and we started again. First thing was finding a name; we already had songs and we decided we needed to find a name.
We spent so many nights drinking with a hat and words and pulling out words going “Yeah! That’s great!” and we’d wake up in the morning and it would be rubbish. Or if we found a name we liked, it was taken by someone from the 60s or some American rock band that we’d never heard of that was selling millions of records; and we’d never even heard of them! There were just so many problems. We knew we wanted quite a strong name and three syllables and eventually someone just said, “Well what about Your Vegas?” and we were like “OK.” We Googled it and checked it and it was free and that was it; we were settled. That was it.
JP: It’s tough; there are so many names taken.
CG: Yeah, it’s hard to find. It’s hard.
JP: You guys started around 2004 as “Your Vegas” and I read that it was more of a grunge sound, kind of, like, in the vain of Nirvana?
CG: When we were, like, kids, you know, young teenagers, that’s what was going around at that time, well kind of the back end of it. That and Brit pop. We were learning Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and Oasis and Blur, like you do, you know? You play what’s cool at the moment, and then it kind of developed from there.
JP: What influenced you to come up with the sound you have now which is a little poppier?
CG: I think if you probably listen back, although we did have a grungy sound, I think if you probably listen back to our demos when we were 16, 17, 18, the actual sound isn’t probably that dissimilar to what it is now. I think we found our sound pretty quickly. We just developed it and the songwriting needed to improve, you know? And it did. It got there.
But um, as far as our sound goes, we always had hooky melodies and we always sort of had that driving sound and knew pretty quickly. We got a memory man and were messing around with delay on the guitar. So as far as the basics of the sound, it was there pretty quickly. The songs were probably darker and more angst-y when we were younger because we were teenagers…angry at the world. We’re still angry at the world, we’ve just got a better way of getting it across. But, yeah, I guess it’s sort of just happened quite quickly whereas a lot of bands [pauses]
JP: It takes ages.
CG: Yeah, they sort of change their sound purposely from this to this: “Now we want to sound like this.” We always sort of sounded the same, even very early. Like the basics of the sound were always very similar.
JP: You guys, 4 of the 5 of you, are from a small town outside of Leeds in the UK. How did you end up in New York City where you all live currently?
CG: Well when we first formed Your Vegas, we were signed pretty quickly to an indie label in London and we were out on the road and we were releasing indie singles. Then we went into negotiations with Sony for a four-off deal or whatever it was, a proper thing. They sort of funded our touring and everything else and it got written up but then that deal wasn’t gonna happen.
We were sort of at a cross roads and we were recording new songs at the time and I decided I was gonna nip over [to New York]. We’d finished a tour and we didn’t have another single planned to come out so I decided I was gonna nip over to New York for a little bit. I had some people I knew in New York who were in the industry so I was gonna play them our songs and just get a little bit of feedback. And I bumped into some guys in a bar and gave them a CD; they became our lawyers the next day and then they pretty quickly found us managers and very quickly there was a buzz around the whole of New York. The rest of the guys came over and we played showcases and signed our deal and got sort of rushed along by it. We sort of went with the flow really and that’s brought us to where we are now.
JP: You have a new record coming out on April 22nd, A Town and Two Cities.
CG: Yeah, our first; that’ll be our debut record.
JP: What went into making the record and do you think you succeeded in what you were hoping to accomplish?
MS: Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to make it a big sounding record with great songs start to finish, you know? We’re pretty sure we did that; we’re all really happy with it. We worked really well with the producer David Bendeth, to get the sounds that we wanted. Yeah, we’re all really happy with it. We definitely got what we wanted to do.
CG: When we went in we had a lot of songs. We went in with 60, 70 odd songs. We were very conscious that we wanted a record that…you know there are so many records, especially now with iTunes, which are so weak but they’ll have like 2 hits or 1 hit on them or something. We wanted to make sort of a more traditional record which is solid all the way through. So we made sure that the standard of the songs were all up with each other. I hope that comes across; the fact that we earmarked seven singles hopefully says something about the level of the songs on the record.
JP: It’s rare to find nowadays that there aren’t CDs packed with fillers.
CG: Yeah, I don’t ever, ever, want us to put filler on a record.
JP: You’re currently on tour with The Bravery and Switches, tonight playing in Philadelphia. How’s the tour been?
MS: Amazing! It’s our first US tour so it’s just seeing the country and we kind of got more of an understanding of what America is and what American music is. Why it is how it is, the wide open spaces and stuff. How that influences the big sounds, you know? It’s been great. All the shows have been packed. We’ve had a great time with both bands, Switches and The Bravery, having fun in every town. It’s been great. The crowds have all been great.
JP: Any good stories from the tour? Anything you wanna share…I don’t wanna ask if anything embarrassing. [laughs]
MS: Lots of fun things have happened every night. I fell asleep once on The Bravery’s bus and someone painted my nails. Pink. I think it was one of the guitar techs. I’d fallen asleep after a night of drinking on the bus and I woke up with pink nails. They stayed that way for a few shows. You know, practical jokes, crazy stuff.
CG: We’ve been driving a lot as well. I mean, we’ve driven to every show.
MS: We’ve not had the luxury of flying everywhere. [laughs]
CG: So we’ve had some crazy drives like 22 hour, 18 hour, 19 hour. We’ve had four or five of them. So it’s been, um…
CG: It’s just been good fun, you know? We’ve just had a good laugh in the van driving, seeing silly things. It’s always an experience to stop in at a service station in the middle of nowhere like in a desert or down south.
MS: One service station we stopped at – that really weird one!
CG: Yeah! ‘Cause we stand out like a sore thumb in a place like that. We really do. Our accents, our hair, our tight jeans and pointy shoes; we look like we’re in costume or something. It’s funny.
MS: It was cool, we all went to a place in Atlanta in Georgia called Fat Matt’s, like a proper American barbeque place, which we’d never really had proper Southern soul food or barbeque. We all piled into our van, which you can fit like maybe 8 people seated in there, but we had 18. It was all 3 bands plus 2 techs and somebody else.
CG: All of us crammed in like this [squishes up next to Mat]. It was 8 in the boot where the equipment goes.
MS: I think 9 on the way there. When we got out, that was funny, in front of the restaurant it was people just walking out, 18.
CG: 18 people out of the van and obviously 3 bands. We drew attention to ourselves.
MS: And then the people who were serving the food nearly had a heart attack because there’s like so many of us. And we all…
CG: “Can we have ribs?! Can we have ribs?! Can we have ribs?!” Like 10 cows.
JP: How were the ribs?
CG: Amazing! Really amazing.
MS: Yeah, it was cool. The Bravery’s producer, Brendan O’Brien, treated us all, so that was nice. I think he’s got a studio nearby so they went to meet him. That was great.
JP: What do you guys listen to while you’re on the road driving? Any new bands worth a listen?
CG: We were listening to Band of Horses and Rogue Wave on the way down. I guess they’re both new bands.
MS: We just got the new Ryan Adams album that we will be listening to on the way back from here. So that’s the next thing. We listen to the radio a little bit; surfing the country. You just get to some places in the south and like every station is just country.
CG: [mimics banjo sounds] Whenever we walked into a service station down there, it was like it had a theme tune. It was like [mimics banjo sounds again]. But we’ve been listening to all sorts. I mean, we’ve had the iPods plugged in. There was a lot of Queen for a little bit.
MS: The Smiths.
CG: Arcade Fire; I loved their last album, so listened to that.
MS: And we had to listen to some Steve Miller and Tom Petty, because when you’re driving on the big open roads that’s what you’ve got to listen to for driving music.
CG: Lot of Springsteen as well.
MS: We went to Pointe Pleasant with our producer when we were doing the record and had fish and chips and stuff and The Asbury Dukes were playing, the house band there. It was cool.
CG: I’m trying to thing what else we’ve listened to. Everything pretty much. We just hit play and let it go.
MS: Muse today. We listened to the last Muse album today.
JP: That was good.
CG: Yeah, it’s a killer album, that one. It’s their best by miles.
JP: Well thank you so much for taking the time to do this.
CG/MS: Thank you for coming in!
The guys were absolutely fantastic. Check back tomorrow for a review of the show! Sadly, no pictures because I was lied to about a photo pass — turns out The Bravery doesn’t allow photos (bugger all), so I wasn’t allowed to bring it in.
[where: 334 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147]