It’s April 2011, and it seems like more and more live reggae acts are popping up all over Aotearoa, certainly something we ain’t complaining about!  One band pushing forward and punching above their weight are the Newtown/Porirua based live band, Vintage.

Art catches up with two of the crew, Lafaele and Wiremu, as they set off on their Crucial Connexions Tour, alongside their friends and also Wellington based band, Aio.

First up, can you tell us about the name Vintage, where you are from, and how you all came together?

We all come from the Porirua and Newtown areas and came together with a purpose of doing original music. We all have similar tastes in music such as RnB, Reggae etc. We’ve all known each other from playing in various original and multiple covers bands over the years so got the ‘Vintage’ unit together in early 2010 and just started jamming out.

The Vintage Name? It was out of a hat, lol! We wanted a name that was not obviously directly related to music, but could be easily associated to music in a more ‘cryptic’ way, I guess you could say.

The word Vintage pertains to a time period of when something of ‘high quality’ was produced. Hence, we chose this word as our band name to signify the 60’s 70’s and ’80s.  This was a time that we perceive to be when a ‘high quality’ of music was produced, in particular the Reggae, RnB, Soul and Funk music that was produced during these ‘vintage’ years which heavily inspired us as aspiring musicians. We pay homage to the artists/musicians of that time period that made us want to become musicians.

Who are some of your influences and what was it that sparked the idea to form Vintage?

There are too many to name them all but there are the stock standards such as Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Dennis Brown, Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru, Black Slate and of course Bob Marley to name a few.

Some other major influences from other genres would have to be the Motown Era, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Brothers Johnson, Al Green, Earth Wind and Fire and more recent artists such as D’Angelo!

The music that these greats produced have undoubtedly moved and inspired us, which is probably the main reason why we as individuals picked up our respective instruments in the first place. Guess you could say we want to ‘move’ people also and to give back something to the craft, to be able to say we’ve contributed to the Aotearoa music scene.

How do you express your strong Polynesian roots in your music?

Within the Vintage whanau we have members of Maori and Samoan heritage, and as proud Polynesians living in Aotearoa we like to think that this coalition of cultures represents not only our own respective native origins, but all Polynesian peoples, as we believe we all share a common place of origin.

We see Aotearoa as the hub of Polynesia, and we see our music as a reflection of the surroundings and the environment that we live in and have grown up in.  We feel that comes out in our music whether it be intentional or not.

Our songs at times definitely portray who and what we are, where we are from and what we represent. No doubt you will hear some of these tracks soon!

I’ve noticed there is an affinity between Reggae music and the Pacific and Maori peoples here of Aotearoa – why do you think this is?

Yeah definitely. We all grew up listening to the same music such as Bob, Tosh, Toots and The Maytals and also UB40! Not only loving the music and vibe, but the messages that were sung about.

Reggae music is definitely the music of the under-dog, and many of us feel that we are often looked upon us such, so you could say this music has an ’empowering’ effect on a lot of us.

This music spans across generations, Bob Marley in particular, we listened to Bob ‘cos it was what we were exposed to by our parents and our children listen to Bob ‘cos it’s what they are exposed to from us as parents.  Most of us have been listening to Bob and reggae music all our lives, there’s no doubt that it is has been woven into the fabric of our upbringing, alongside of course our respective cultures and family life.

Also, it’s hard to describe but there is definitely something about the ‘One Drop’ that resonates with our people – its infectious and addictive as.

With some top quality reggae bands on the scene today offering a range of sounds/styles, what things are important to Vintage that you bring across to your audience?

First and foremost our aim is to produce music of a high standard, we don’t want to be classed as just another Reggae band, we take a lot of pride in our music and especially our live shows, with the goal of the musicality being tight and on point. We emphasise strong vocals, musicianship and also stage presence, making it a quality show to remember for the people who see us live.

As was mentioned previously, we have been inspired and influenced as musicians not only by Reggae, but also by RnB, Soul and Funk, so its important that these styles come out now and then, it’s our way of paying homage our musical roots.

What have been your most memorable gig/gigs and why? And what other shows/plans do you have coming up?

Most memorable to date? Otaki?? Lol!

We’ve been fortunate to have played alongside some well known Reggae acts such as Three Houses, House of Shem and also J-Boog. So, all of these gigs have been memorable.

We’ve lined up quite a few gigs around the North Island. Not only our own gigs but we’ve also teamed up with another Welly band called Aio under the name of the Crucial Connexion Tour, where we’ll be going up and down the North Island most weekends over the next three months starting in May.

So that will definitely keep us busy getting our music out there.

With a full live band sound, multiple singers and all, are there plans to attack recording and music releases?

We definitely plan to release an album this year, we haven’t really set a date on it but it will be out prior to summer. It’s going slow but we will eventually get there.

Finding the balance of working full time, spending time with our own families and kids, and trying to do the band can be challenging, but we’re focused on the bigger picture and long term.

Do you have any lessons or advice to share with other bands/artists taking up live reggae music?

Listen to Reggae from the past, listen to the styles and the way they played reggae through the instruments. Put your own spin on your songs and believe in it.

Expect some trials and tribulations, and be prepared for them so that you can better deal with them when they arise. Stick at it, and do it because you love it….as long as the love and passion for music is there, everything else will follow. It will be the love and passion of what you are doing that will get you through the rough patches, the down times.

A live performance can often be a hard thing to ‘pull off’, but when you do ‘pull it off, it’s magic – celebrate that, celebrate the good things
that happen when you are part of a crew.

And remember, the stage is just one part of being in a band, there needs to be that synergy on and off the stage.

Most importantly ya need to MASH IT!! Bless up! Vintage Massive!

More info:
Vintage website

Art Official