Q&A: The Vines

No matter how hot they get, frontman Craig Nicholls doesn't expect Winona Ryder to call

The Vines, Enmore Theatre, Sydney Australia, September 13th, 2002. Credit: Martin Philbey/Redferns/Getty

CRAIG NICHOLLS' DAD Terry had a band called the Vynes, who wore Beatles suits and never left Australia. Nicholls is the frontman for a band called the Vines, who relocated to L.A. and released an excellent Nirvana-meets-Radiohead album, Highly Evolved, one of the most promising rock albums of the summer. There's no record of Nicholls' father attacking his band mates, ending interviews by locking himself in the bathroom for three hours or gaining a reputation for panic attacks — that's one more area in which the twenty-four-year-old Nicholls has outperformed Dad.

When was the last time you trashed a hotel room?
It was the first night we ever went on tour — I smashed the lamp with a phone. I was being sarcastic. And today I broke the table when I was walking on it, but that was accidental. That bookends our career, so I think we're going to retire now.

When was the last time you got in a fight?
About twenty minutes ago, checking into the hotel. Somebody told me there was a McDonald's in the hotel and there wasn't, so I started shouting at him, and then I was shouting at some other people, and then I was rolling around on my back in the parking lot. Somebody said, "Sir, do you want to move?" I said, "If I wanted to move, I fucking would!" I needed to reflect on the pavement. Most people just let me do my thing. And then I started saying a lot of four-letter words at high volume, squealing like a high-pitched wicked witch. I've started doing that lately.

Does that get results?
Mostly it gets me funny looks. I'm going to take some mental therapy. I was going to get into meditation, but I want to do more than breathe. Animals breathe. I would never knock animals, but I want to make things, to totally occupy my mind. I want to watch TV and play guitar and ride my skateboard.

How do you get ready for a show?
I just change my clothes, write the songs down, project in my head to the near future. I sit around, waiting to go on, drinking Red Bull, smoking a cigarette.

Do you smoke anything else?
I smoke banana peels.

What's the best advice you ever got?
"Be excellent to each other" and "Party on, dudes." That's from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

What cartoon character would you want to have sex with?
Pamela Anderson. She is a cartoon, right?

What would you be doing now if you didn't have the band?
Trying to live with my parents. They'd probably have kicked me out, and I'd be on the street and I'd die.

What's the difference between the Vines and your dad's band, the Vynes?
My dad never smoked pot.

What's the difference between Australian pot and American pot?
It's all great, man. We don't smoke anything second-rate. We throw it back and say, "Don't you know who we are? We're an unknown band from Australia with a lot of hype!"

What role did fellow Australian Kylie Minogue play in your sexual awakening?
I would not want to even bother talking about her. I don't want to say anything bad about her: She's got a good voice, she's nice-looking, she wears futuristic clothes. But what's more important — is it music or is it sex? I'm not trying to say we're all priests, but music is a sacred thing for me. We want our studio recordings to progress. I have fifty songs we could go record right now. Bands should get better. Everyone should be going forward. Songs have a beginning, a middle and an end. Well, when we're lazy, they don't have a middle

Are girls hitting on you now?
I don't think so. I'm too dumb to recognize anything. I'm kind of dull and slow.

What's the celebrity-stalker quotient? Has Winona been in touch?
No, she hasn't. She's in prison, right? Someone asked me what was going to happen when Courtney Love wanted to talk to me. Ain't gonna happen. I'm really shy.

What drug will you never take again?
Adrenaline from a bull.

You once locked yourself in a bathroom for three hours. What were you doing in there?
It just gives you time to sit down, reflect, bang your head against the wall. Sometimes I like punching myself in the head — everyone has the right to do what they want. [Pauses] I'm sorry, I would never punch myself in the head. I've run out of interesting things to say, and it's really important to me to further my career with crazy stories. I'm just an artist, even though we play rock music. Everything is positive, drugs are bad, stay in school.

What's next?
We're not coming out of the studio until we have three albums recorded. Our fourth album is where I think it's really going to get interesting. Being in the studio is like having a canvas at one end of the room and a paint gun at the other. You might get an incredible image, but it's definitely more rewarding than spending two years on a painting.

What would you want on your tombstone?
CRAIG NICHOLLS IS A COMPULSIVE LIAR. I CAN'T BELIEVE ANYBODY TOOK ANYTHING HE SAID SERIOUSLY. And there should be a statue of [Depeche Mode's] Dave Gahan without his shirt on, inscribed SLEEP IN PEACE, MY DARK ANGEL.