Vines singer Craig Nicholls is back after being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in November 2004."I was working out how to deal with everything that had happened to me and to the Vines," says Nicholls. "And I'm sure that influenced the songs. I had a lot of stuff in my head."
2004 was a wild year for the band: Nicholls' erratic behavior led to an assault charge, bassist Patrick Matthews departed and everyone had to come to grips with the singer's health condition.
Ultimately, the Vines regrouped as a trio -- Nicholls, drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffith -- and spent a year working on Vision Valley, due April 4th, throughout their hometown of Sydney, with their usual producer, Wayne Connolly.
"We used quite a few studios because we kind of split the recording up into sections rather than doing it in one big hit," Nicholls says. "That way it's a lot more creative and enjoyable -- well, for us anyway." One of the string of spots the Vines worked in was Niki Nali, which Nicholls loved "because you can walk outside and look at the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House."
Despite his struggle with Asperger's, Nicholls says his songwriting process "hasn't really changed at all." And, he adds, once back in the studio, "Everyone was really excited to be making another album."
The result is thirteen cuts that splice together the garage-y punk of early Vines on tracks like "Anysound" and "Fuk Yeh" with sunny, Beatlesque pop ditties like "Candy Daze." Nicholls even throws in a twangy country ballad, "Take Me Back," while the title track sounds a lot like Oasis' "Wonderwall." And "Don't Listen to the Radio," the last song the band recorded, touches on the personal need the singer had to cut himself off from outside influence. "I was just feeling like I really couldn't be exposed to the stuff that gets forced onto you," he says.
As for the future, the Vines have no plans to tour behind Vision Valley. "We're just going to be in Sydney and write some more songs," says Nicholls, "and hopefully we'll get to make another album."