Vega have just released their debut album ’Kiss Of Life’ through Frontiers and the band features Nick Workman (Kick/Eden) and the songwriting brothers James and Tom Martin, who have provided songs for many artists including House Of Lords, Sunstorm, First Signal. Proof indeed that the UK AOR and melodic rock scene is still alive and well…
1. What are you currently up to?
Nick: We have just finished a couple of gigs last week. We wanted to do something alongside the release of the album so we hooked up with Danny Vaughn. We haven’t any plans for recording at the moment but we have recorded 20 demo’s for album No.2 so we are ahead of the game there. Right now we are looking at gigs for 2011 and seeing what is out there. HARD ROCK HELL in Ibiza is the only confirmed date but more will follow I’m sure.
2. Could you take us through the songs on the new album ‘Kiss Of Life’
INTO THE WILD
I was channel hopping one night and there was nothing on (as usual), then i stumbled on to the film “Into the Wild” which is based on the true story of Chris McCandless. He let go of all material possessions and went native. Throughout the film it had Eddie Vedder doing his “folk” thing which was nice, but I thought it deserved a “rock” contribution! Lyrically it is based on the film’s message and musically we discussed having a Billy Idol style rocker. Written July 7th 2009
KISS OF LIFE
This was the song that we are most proud of. It just ticks all the boxes for us. We love the atmosphere of the verse and the BIG chorus. For us, it was always going to be the centre of attention for the album (hence the album title). The “Kiss of life” can be anything that gets you out of a hole you can sometimes find yourself. It can be a person’s actions something someone says or you just wake up one morning and say “enough of this shit, let’s get on with living”. Written JULY 15th 2009
ONE OF A KIND
Haha. Tom and Jim were my inspiration on this one. They live life in reverse. Throughout the years they have taken a lot of shit from people for being the way they are. But here’s the thing, Tom and Jim don’t ever hide who they are and how they live or have lived their lives. If you come in to their backward lives they will be honest from the start so you know what you are getting in to. It works great for us though because it means VEGA is active 24/7. Dan and me run the day shift and Tom and Jim run the night shift. For this track we just wanted to do a Def Leppard inspired song. We always talked about how good it would be to hear a crowd chanting the chorus……….can’t wait. Written August 25th 2009
STARING AT THE SUN
I remember being on the phone to Tom when I heard Jim playing the riff in the background. I think Jim was just tinkering with ideas and I said stop tinkering that sounds great. It didn’t take long for the backing track to arrive. There are quite a few different subject matters through-out the album because quite honestly there are too many “hearts beating as one” lyrics out there lol, but this one is about a dysfunctional relationship. Sometimes you can’t avoid the pain that goes hand in hand with love and there are something’s you just don’t want to know about and would rather bury your head in the sand. Written August 13th 2009
Too young for wings
As usual this one started out as a conversation about the kind of song we wanted to write. We had written a big AOR ballad called” A wing and a Prayer” but it didn’t really fit with what we were doing. Once we decided the vibe we wanted T and J set to it. The next day when i got the backing I knew instantly what it would be about. The music is really beautiful and full of emotion and didn’t deserve a lyric about lost love etc. My inspiration was my daughter. Once you have kids everything changes and you spend the rest of your life worrying about them. In the cd booklet we dedicate the song to the VEGA kids (Dan has been busier than me and has 3, haha). Written August 17th 2009
A N OTHER
I would say this is the heaviest track on the album. It was not what I expected the guys to come out with so i was pleasantly surprised when I got the music. I thought they were going in to WAR PIGS at the start! Lyrically is was inspired by the front pages of all the newspapers showing pictures of the hearse’s driving through the streets with the soldiers lost in Afganistan. It seemed that everyone was questioning what was going on and how things were being handled especially when Gordon Brown wrote his letter of condolence to a family and spelt their sons name wrong. We can’t expect our leaders to know every soldiers name but these men and women need to be more than just “another“ soldier. Written August 20th 2009
I think of all the songs on the album, this one has the potential to cross over to mainstream. We just wanted a really hooky pop/rocker. We wanted to verse to be very mellow and then big up the chorus. I pictured a film in my mind when i wrote the lyric. It would be great to do a video for this. Written October 8th 2009
HEARTS OF GLASS
We originally intended to write this as the album’s opening track. There is so much going on in this musically. I think this sums up Tom and Jim really well. Jim put in some great keyboard lines (some are even a bit “dance”) and Tom adds some great guitar nuances that you may not notice are there but you would notice if they were taken away. Once again, when we go out live I can’t wait to hear the audience sing this one back so c’mon guys and girls, all you gotta do is sing “hey hey hey” lol. Written August 17th 2009
STAY WITH ME
My old mucker Steve Newman will claim to have come up with this title first but I say bollocks…..The Faces did! Haha. This was always going to go on the album. Just a real bright, fun rock track. We recorded the album in two stages. We did 3 songs together in August so we could seal the deal with Frontiers and then we did the rest in November. Tom and Jim wanted to do this in the original 3 but Dan and me pushed for “Here comes the Rain”. We did “Rain” but that ended up as the bonus track! 1-0 twins. Written July 13th 2009.
I don’t have anything against the X-Factor as an entertainment show, but please don’t call it a talent show!! The whole set up is fake, fixed, whatever. That’s what this is about, fake people, fake lives and “fitting in”. The music we love is not en-vogue right now, but we have to stick to our guns and do what we love otherwise what’s the point? Written October 8th 2009
WHAT IT TAKES
This is as AOR as we get and we love it! I guess this is the BIG ballad of the album but it still rocks. I love Jims intro on the piano, very haunting. I’m sure we could have tried to make this sound more current, but why? It is what it is and we are very proud of it. Written September 3rd 2009
When we first demoed this we thought it was great but it would be the bonus. When we recorded it, we were blown away at how it turned out! It sounds huge and it was one of the moments in the studio where we all had massive grins across our faces on playback. Loads of stuff going on (John Greatwood had fun mixing this one, ahem) and all held together by the rock solid Dan Chantrey on drums. Dan really is an unsung hero on this album. He has the ability to go mad all over the songs but he doesn’t. He plays for the songs and I think that is a rare trait in drummers these days who tend to want to sound like they are juggling drums all the time. Written September 9th 2009
3. How did Vega come together?
James: Tom , Dan and I approached Serafino with the idea of putting together a project with nick workman , he liked the idea , we approached Nick at uk rock festival , we sent Nick an idea of a song , he loved the idea , ironically the song never made the album , and the 3 of us wrote the album , Nick writing the lyrics and melodies to our backing tracks after discussions of what type of song we were in the mood for writing. What started as an initial project soon turned into our only focus, and Vega was born, a full time kick ass band ready take on the world.
4. Nick – What were the highlights of your time in Kick? Why do you think the band never broke out to a wider audience and achieved more success?
Nick: I think the main problem with KICK following “consider this….” was that we were trying to change the music to suit the label. Not at the labels request but because we thought we would fit in better with the other artists and get on their tours. With the first CD we recorded what came naturally but with album’s 2 and 3 we were chasing what was popular and it didn’t happen. The record company also admitted that they didn’t know how to market us, we weren’t “metal”, we had a “pop” element! They basically drop the ball I think after a while and that’s when things fell apart. But after all that I have a lot of good memories like touring with Thunder and Bonfire.
5. The Martin brothers – When writing songs do you write them specifically for an artist or do you write your songs & then approach artists you think would suit the song?
James: with the AOR stuff , sometimes Serafino at Frontiers might ask us to write for a specific act , in which case we do our homework and try and write what we would like to hear from the act were writing for , this happened with the 2 songs we wrote for house of lords and also first signal , Serafino approached us with a title , “First Signal” and asked us to write a song around that title , and other times we can send Serafino a bunch of songs and if he likes them he places them on albums accordingly kinda , that happened with Issa, Sunstorm and Los Angeles , it changes from time to time…
6. What have been the live highlights for you in your previous bands and why?
Tom: playing party in the park in front of 60.000 people was pretty amazing with a band we started called sugartown , aswell as playing the london astoria with another band kryah and also playing for simon gavin ( head of A&M/UNIVERSAL ) and other record companies with our last band the station club
7. Do you think there been an upswing in interest in melodic/hard rock in the UK of late given the success of Journey via ‘Glee’, songs used on games and specialist magazines like ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Classic Rock Presents AOR’ in High Street stores?
Tom: yeah,kids go mad for ´Don’t stop believing´in clubs and stuff and it just goes to show that if they had a chance to hear more stuff like that then aor/rock would become massive again. I do think it’s becoming more popular nowadays and its pretty cool to say your favourite music is melodic rock.
8. As a new band how easy/hard has it been to try and get a decent set of live dates together? Will Vega be limited to festivals e.g. Firefest or is the ambition to get on a support tour to an established name?
Nick: We have only really just started looking at dates now so it hasn’t been a ball ache yet. lol. I know it will be tough and Yes festivals are likely to be the way to go so we can play in front of as many people as possible. Having said that we are looking at a couple of possible tour supports, so watch this space.
9. In this age of downloads and declining CD sales has the internet helped you get your music out there or has it in some ways hindered it by websites offering free downloads etc
Nick: It’s just the way it is now but you kind of hit the nail on the head in that it’s gonna help and hinder. Illegal downloads will be a major pain in the arse but in the old days we all taped albums our mates had, this is just on a bigger scale. But if the internet wasn’t there our video would not be seen by anyone.
10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?
Tom: Well me and Jim like songwriting, drinking beer ha ,cooking Indian food, football, just getting out and having a good time!
Nick: In my spare time I do the school run haha. I love watching movies, hitting the gym and swimming and generally not doing much.
Anything else to add and a message for your fans…
Tom: thank you for all the support and to the people that have bought/downloaded the album…we really appreciate it. Please try and get out and come and see us live, then we can meet you all
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Power Plays w/c 17 August 2015
BLACK When It’s Over (Nero Schwarz)
OZONE Save My Soul (Escape Music)
DIAMOND DAYS I Rewind (indie)
EAT THE GUN Electric Life (SPV)
JAMES STEVENSON Twilight Riders (indie)
THE JOKERS Run 4 Cover (SPV)
IAN PROWSE & PAULINE SCANLON – Mississippi Beat (indie)
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14:00-16:00 MAURA KENNEDY Villanelle: The Songs Of Maura Kennedy & B.D.Love (Varese Sarabande)