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The Vines
Australian rock sensations The Vines have always been known to make headlines, be it for their popular music or lead singer’s antics. The Aussies are back in the news and their third album Vision Valley is receiving rave reviews. While the first single Don’t Listen To The Radio has not fared exceptionally on the charts, it was offered as a download on iTunes a month before its official release and the album has climbed the charts purely on the strength of this song.

We say The Vines are “back” because although they never officially went away, for the past few years they have not exactly been at their best. Their second album, Winning Days, fared well but failed to live up to the hype created by their debut and to top it all off, the band began to unravel. Lead singer Craig Nicholls spent most of 2004 throwing tantrums that would have made Courtney Love proud. Nicholls’s outbursts ranged from the small to the large and he antagonised everyone from journalists to television hosts to his fans. During an interview with UK newspaper The Guardian, Nicholls trashed the hotel room because security knocked on the door to ask whether he was smoking pot…which he was. They were also invited to perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but Nicholls reportedly threw a tantrum at rehearsals, breaking and even throwing some equipment at drummer Hamish Rosser. Their performance was subsequently cancelled. At a 2002 concert in Boston, Nicholls and then bassist Patrick Matthews even got into a fistfight on stage.

The breaking point was in May 2004 when Nicholls insulted the crowd during a radio promotion performance for national station Triple M in Sydney. This was the final straw for Matthews who walked off, never returning to the band. Triple M initiated a permanent ban on The Vines on their network and assault charges were filed after Nicholls damaged a photographer’s camera in the fight. During a hearing for this incident it was revealed that Nicholls had been recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism that could explain his erratic behaviour. The assault charges were dropped.

The band can never undertake a major tour due to Nicholls’s condition, but this has not embittered them. “You’ve gotta take it all as one,” says Rosser. “You’ve got this guy who writes amazing songs and behaves the way he does. That’s who he is. Just accept it really. I’m sure if Craig was a straight, law-abiding boy he probably wouldn’t write amazing songs.” Since his diagnosis, Nicholls has cleaned up his act. He gave up smoking marijuana, adhered to a diet more balanced than his preferred junk food and set about writing Vision Valley. Although they can’t play at stadium-sized venues or go jet setting on a world tour, The Vines plan to sing at smaller venues and intimate stage shows. “I think it’s more of a mild case for me,” says Nicholls. “It is there but it’s not crippling to my lifestyle or anything like that. That’s why I think there’s a good possibility we can tour successfully.”

You can read the rest of our feature on The Vines in the April 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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