From the wilds of Iceland loom three silhouettes of youthful intent. Two of these foreboding shadows belong to 19 year olds and one is 20 years of age. Thus far beyond the boundaries of their native country, not too many people are aware of their impending presence unless you’re an eager eyed fan of psychedelic fueled rock music, which can be quite abrasive one moment or quite mellow the next.
To fully comprehend the audio creation that is The Vintage Caravan, you may find it easier to digest the visual delight which lurks online masquerading as Expand your Mind. Not only is this the first official single from a forthcoming second album called Voyage, but it’s an eight minute or so epic music video which prods at the funny bone at times, and baffles the most intellectual mind on other occasions.
Óskar Logi is the guitarist and vocalist of this three-piece rocking sensation and tends to tell things how they are without the necessity for embroidery or exaggeration. “I have a pretty lame story about how i got into music, I was nine and I watched School of Rock and I thought to myself “huh, if these kids can form a band, maybe I could as well?”… So I did! I found an old acoustic guitar my mom owned and started playing and haven’t stopped since. There was never a question of what instrument I would pick up, the attention whore that I am.” Knowing what it is that he’s saying, he laughs before continuing. “I did not think I could sing, then one of my friends fooled me with his compliments about my voice, and then I started singing for the band – because someone had to! This was around 2007.”
When you stop to think about the relationship between rock music and Iceland, it would be easy to imagine the tumbleweed rolling by. So what is the music scene like in the country where Logi lives? “Always growing; both in popularity and the number of bands. A lot of metal bands, much, much, much fewer retro bands. The worst thing about it though is that in the capital (Reykjavik) we only have like three rock venues that a band can play at, legendary venues being demolished to make way for hotels!” With this, Logi lets out a deep sigh of disgruntled remorse. Then with a satisfactory smile he adds, “But a shitload of awesome bands like Brain Police, Sólstafir, Dimma and Skálmöld.”
His reference to Iceland being the home of so few ‘retro’ bands was his way of suggesting their style and sound echoes the golden era of rock music. The trio is quite young, so how did they discover the old guard of rock? “Partially from my parents; they like Cream, Fleetwood Mac and many others. My brother gave me a bunch of Black Sabbath vinyl albums when I got interested in music, and in 2004 I went to a Deep Purple concert in Reykjavík. I passed out during the best part because I was so excited that day that I forgot to eat. But I am a music nut and quickly started digging around for something new and not so new.”
Something within bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple continues to touch a nerve with generations that weren’t even born when they were plying their trade. “The raw power of that format is hard to match; there is something so soulful and real about many of these older bands. There is a huge retro rock revival going on, maybe people are feeling the same way I feel about this type of music?” He hovers on his rhetorical question as if feeling that this is really significant. The flavour of the music and their style isn’t the only thing that feels retro, or that mirrors the bands of old, their band name also hints at something down the same road. “originally we were named “The Vintage” but in 2010 we changed it to The Vintage Caravan so it would stand out more. Try googling “the vintage,” you are going to find everything but an Icelandic rock band! We literally put loads of ideas in a hat and picked a random one out, because we could not agree on what one would fit best.” Almost as an afterthought, Logi adds “Nothing very deep about the band name, but maybe Guðjón’s great, great-grandfather had a Cherokee nephew who had a friend named Walter and his father used to live in a vintage caravan?” As it happens, Guðjón Reynisson is the drummer of The Vintage Caravan who Logi makes reference to.
They have released two studio albums to date. The second of these albums is raising the bar regarding promotion as they hope to reach out further than their established territory. Voyage is this second album which is receiving a worldwide release despite already being familiar to those in Iceland. Most bands would tell you that they hope and sometimes aim for different objectives with each consecutive release. “With the first one it was about getting our music out there basically. With the second one we wanted to make a huge sounding album with the songs we had written over the time span of 2010 to 2012. We never sat down and discussed what we expect to achieve, whatever happens, happens. We just love recording and sharing it with people.”
Despite their collective youth, they acknowledge there is a learning curve. “We have learned a lot. Like on the first album (we were 14) we had no idea how being in a studio worked; “what the hell is mastering?” So needless to say we have learned a lot. On the second one I was thinking more about the production than on the first one. I knew more about what I wanted to hear, but the learning has just begun; fun ride ahead!” Logi ends his answer with a tone of enthusiasm contemplating what other exciting discoveries await them.
In 2012, The Vintage Caravan recruited their current bassist Alexander Örn Númason. So what happened in their ranks for this change to take place and what has happened to their previous bass player? “He died in a freak gardening accident. No we had communication difficulties that I should not get too deep into. Alexander is the best bass player I know. I contacted him about joining the band before the previous bass player, but he was in three bands! Then two years later he joined. I often went to concerts just to see Alex play, he has a unique style. He is a great guy and composer and one of my best friends, he made the best possible replacement ever.”
Voyage is the main topic of conversation as Logi is keen to explain. “People may expect a hard-hitting album filled with up tempo and some mellow songs. The album is diverse and filled with animalistic power. We hope people will give us a try!” On the subject of the album title Voyage, “Because we wanted the album to have the effect when you listen to it that you enter another world. Just drift off or something as pretentious and arty farty as that!” At this point of explaining aspects of the new album, Logi can’t resist a chuckle to himself.
Before the subject of their remarkable music video is discussed, Logi tackles the question regarding how he feels about playing live on stage in comparison to dealing with the creative process and recording music in the studio. “Very different creative release – we love being in the studio to try to get the sounds that we hear in our heads onto tape. Spending a lot of time together and playing music, it’s so exciting for us. On the other hand there is nothing better than playing a great show and getting a good response from people. We play better live for sure. If i had to pick, I’d have to say playing live. Our live shows can be very intense, anything can happen.”
Now the focus points towards the music video for Expand Your Mind which is such a unique presentation and incorporates such a curious storyboard. “Bowen Staines made this crazy video from start to finish. He made the script with little input from us. Making the video was extremely fun but very difficult as well. For example, we had to set up all of our gear 14 times, get the stage lights to work, that was not easy; cables for playback were always lost; sound system at the venue wasn’t always present. We set the fire alarm off like 18 times because of the smoke machine, and it took seven months to edit! A lot of love, tears, blood and sweat was put into this video, and we could not be more pleased with it. Good luck to us trying to top that one!”
Listen out for their new album Voyage which is certain to turn some heads as they join the rally of newer bands carrying the torch for the classic rock sounds of days gone past. It feels like this new wave of bands like Orchid, Scorpion Child and Blood Ceremony amongst so many others, are ready to take the reins when bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath finally call it a day. You could say that we’re in safe hands.