You join us onstage at a Grammy benefit concert, year uncertain. Neil Young, roped in to a charity supergroup, wanders over to the session keyboardist for a between-solo chat.
“You know when people are playing and they go over to each other and say something in the ear?” says Kurt Vile, recounting the anecdote he’d heard from said keyboard player for a rapt audience at the third and final Uncut Q&A of End Of The Road 2022. “You never know what they’re saying and they go away and rock away. So Neil Young was doing this, he was rocking out, just getting in the zone, totally shredding his guitar. And then he came over to the keyboard player and he goes, ‘Who’s that guy over there? That guy right there’. And the [keyboard player] is like ‘that’s Joe Perry’. He’s like, ‘Oh, OK, OK’. And he goes away, rocks away for 30 seconds, plays this solo, comes back and he goes to the keyboard player, he says, ‘Who’s Joe Perry?’ ‘Joe Perry from Aerosmith’. ‘Oh, yeah, OK’. And then he goes off and does another solo, comes back and he looks at the keyboard player and he goes, ‘He fucking sucks!’”
Fresh from a secret set at the Piano Stage, Kurt is comfortable in the woodland surroundings of the Talking Heads stage, particularly since it reminds him of his home in Mount Airy, Philadelphia. His home environs play a large part in his discussion with Uncut’s Tom Pinnock, as talk turns to the home studio he’s constructed there, complete with famed producer Mitch Easter’s personal console. “He recorded the first couple REMs and Pavement’s Brighten The Corners,” Vile reveals. “So I knew it was coming from a good place, somebody who knew what they were doing and somebody who knew how to also instal it into my house. It’s his personal board. It’s like an old ’60s console, very Abbey Road vibes.”
Vile also, Tom uncovers, “loved” the pandemic. “Obviously there were scary parts, but it saved my life,” he says. “I feel like before the pandemic maybe I just wasn’t as confident as a performer but the combination of realising I’m lucky that people even like my music, I’m lucky that I got a record deal.”
A major label record deal, with Verve, Tom notes. “Yeah,” Vile chuckles. “You gotta play the game… it can be whatever you want it to be. I like the idea of trying to do something outside of the box and see what happens, so that that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m stoked to be labelmates with The Velvet Underground and Stan Getz.”
Vile claims he can’t remember his 2011 set at EOTR because “I was partying really hard”, but otherwise his memory is so good that “people are scared of it.” He certainly recalls his brief youthful dabbling in bluegrass music. “I took a few banjo lessons,” he admits. “My dad convinced me to play the banjo first, he was into bluegrass. I immediately got him to teach me chords to songs with guitar.”
News that Kurt is eager to get on with the follow-up to this year’s ninth album Watch My Moves (“I got all kinds of new instruments lately that I’m going to use and start recording again when I get back from tour. In the late fall I’m gonna hit it. Hit it hard”) leads the discussion around to collaborators past (Cate Le Bon, Courtney Barnett, Uncut favourite Terry Allen) and possibly future.
“I’m afraid to say certain people out loud,” Vile giggles. “Like I’m obsessed for instance with Charlie XCX, but I shouldn’t even say that out loud.” Tom suggests a supergroup of his own: Vile, Terry Allen and Charli XCX. Kurt nods. “That’s the perfect band.” Just nobody invite Joe Perry.
Catch up with the rest of Uncut’s End Of The Road 2022 coverage here:
Khruangbin, Sudan Archives: End Of The Road Festival 2022 – Day 1
Black Midi Q&A: End Of The Road Festival 2022 – Day 2
Naima Bock, James Yorkston, Black Midi: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 2
Tinariwen, Fleet Foxes, Beak: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 2
The Weather Station Q&A: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 3
The Magnetic Fields, Kevin Morby: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 3
Pixies, Margo Cilker, The Weather Station: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 3
10 Highlights From End Of The Road Festival 2022 – Day 4
Yard Act, Bright Eyes: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 4
Aldous Harding, Ryley Walker, Cassandra Jenkins: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 4