The Vines are an Australian garage rock band notable for producing a raw musical hybrid of 60's rock and 90's alternative with the band being popularly promoted as "The Beatles meets Nirvana".
The original version of the Vines met in suburban Sydney in the mid 1990s where Craig Nicholls, Patrick Matthews and David Oliffe met while working at their local McDonalds. They decided to form a band with Nicholls on guitar and vocals, Matthews on bass and vocals and Olliffe on drums. The band played Nirvana covers at parties while working on developing a sound of their own on Nicholls' four-track recorder. The band was named the Vines because Nicholls' father played in a Sydney band called the Vynes.
Their debut single "Factory" attracted little interest in their native land, but the Vines signed with Heavenly Records in the United Kingdom. They funded the recording of Highly Evolved with Rob Schnapf who had worked with the Foo Fighters, Beck and Elliott Smith. The single "Highly Evolved" earned them more critical hype as NME made it a single of the week in March 2002. That single also charted in the UK at #32 on the singles chart and also in Australia's ARIAnet top 100 singles chart. The release of the album saw more critical success with the band appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone and the NME. The album debuted at #3 in the UK's albums chart, #5 in Australia's ARIAnet albums chart and #11 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 albums chart. The band played high-profile slots on The Late Show with David Letterman and the MTV Video Music Awards. A few more singles were released from the album, including "Get Free" which charted in the UK at #24 and Australia at #44, while also being the #5 song in Australia's Triple J Hot 100 of 2002. A third single, "Outtathaway" also charted in the UK, at #20, and also in Australia at #38. A fourth single was also released in Australia titled "Homesick", reaching #50. Highly Evolved then went on to sell 1.5 million albums throughout the world with distribution through Capitol Records.
The instant success put great strain on the band. Olliffe did not appreciate the other band members' drug habits and performing whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol. They added guitarist Ryan Griffiths and drummer Hamish Rosser. Nicholls and Matthews had a serious fight after a gig in Boston in late 2002.
In May 2003, the band went into a studio in Woodstock, New York with Rob Schnapf again on production. While Craig Nicholls had talked of having a highly produced album, he told the Australian edition of Rolling Stone in March 2004 that they decided to stick to a less-is-more philosophy. "I wanted it to be - in my head - something grand, with big ideas and that vision sort of thing. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that something can't be special if it's just simple. Because I think that the songs are the main thing".
Their second album, Winning Days, was released on March 29, 2004 and debuted at #7 in Australia, #23 in the US and #29 in the UK. "Ride" was the first single off the album, reaching #25 in the UK and #44 in Australia. The Vines had recently finished their "Australian Invasion" tour with Jet and The Living End, which started on March 11, 2004 in Houston, Texas. A second single off the album, the title track "Winning Days" was released in Australia (where it did not chart) and the UK (where it charted at #42). There was speculation that "Animal Machine" would have been the next American single, and early American promotional flats for the album note this. However, there was no American follow-up to "Ride". "Ride" was featured on a Nissan Cars commercial and an iPod commercial in the US in 2005.
After the conclusion of the Winning Days tour, the band found itself in harder times. Winning Days had not lived up to the success of Highly Evolved, and had gotten a lukewarm reception from both critics and audiences. Lead singer Craig Nicholls was becoming increasingly erratic, and had to be barred from doing media interviews after several bad experiences on the American tour.
This came to a head in late May 2004, when bassist Patrick Matthews walked off stage, after Craig bleated at the crowd, calling them sheep, in frustration after repeatedly asking the crowd to stop talking, during the first song of a radio promotion performance for national station Triple M at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. In the aftermath, Nicholls assaulted a photographer, and charges were pressed. Triple M also permanently banned The Vines from airplay on their network (ironically they hardly ever played music by The Vines and the following week the song "Ride" appeared on the Planet Rock countdown aired through the Triple M network). After the incident the band's management stated that the Vines would cease touring in support of Winning Days, but would record another album.
In mid 2005, the group had reported that they were working on their third album with producer Wayne Connolly. Andy Kent (bassist of You Am I) filled in on bass playing duties. In November, the band's management announced they had finished recording all the songs that will be on the album. Mixing and mastering of the tracks commenced January 2006. In mid December 2005, it was discovered that one of the songs from the album had been leaked. Although the song was as-of-yet untitled and unfinished, it contained guide vocals and instruments. The band's manager asked for the song to be taken down from the blog it was found on, drummer Hamish Rosser also issued a statement on the band's fan club forum asking fans not to post or distribute the song on the internet.
* "Don't Listen to the Radio" was released as the album's first single and was digital download on March 7th on iTunes.
* "Gross out" was made available for digital download on March 18th, and was the first song leaked from the album.
Vision Valley was released on the April 1, 2006 in Australia, the April 3 in Europe and the UK and the April 4 in the United States. Vision Valley was packed full of short, immediate songs; the album running little over 30 minutes in length.
"Anysound" was the second official single from the album, and an animated music video was released exclusively through YouTube.
On 19 November 2004 it was revealed that Craig Nicholls has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. His diagnosis was revealed at a court appearance at Balmain Local Court in Sydney where assault charges stemming from the incident at the Annandale Hotel were dropped. The Vines may never undertake a major tour again because of Nicholls' condition but plan to perform occasional concerts according to several newspapers and interviews.
On July 19, 2006 The Vines played a gig at the Annandale Hotel under the name "Joe Dirt". They rocked the crowd and announced to their official fan club website, Dreamin The Insane, that they are ready to perform again and are going to schedule shows "any day now." On the 23rd of July they appeared as a mystery guest at the Splendour In The Grass festival. Their set, which culminated in Craig's signature smashing of his guitar and trashing Hamish's drum set, received rave reviews. The Vines were also revealed as a Special Guest slot on the Radio 1 stage at the Reading and Leeds Carling Weekend 2006.
As of 2006, the band consists of:
* Craig Nicholls - Lead vocals and guitar (2002 - present)
* Ryan Griffiths - Guitar (2002 - present)
* Hamish Rosser - Drums (2003 - present)
* Brad Heald - Bass guitar (2006 - present)
* David Oliffe - Drums (2002)
* Patrick Matthews - Bass guitar and vocals (2002 - 2004); left to tour with another band, Youth Group, and is now a permanent member.