I seem to have bad luck with seeing the bands that I crave at Stubb's. This is somewhat to mostly my own fault, as with Bloc Party a few years back, by not getting there on time. The same thing happened with Nic Armstrong & The Thieves. About a year ago, I was driving down from my then-home, Dallas, to catch these guys on a Friday night, only to miss them by ten minutes. Then, a month ago, I was prepping to catch the newly titled band and their newly written material, again at Stubb's, only to have venue personnel laugh in my face after I showed up a day late. Like I said, my own fault.
This would not happen Saturday, I would finally see these guys, and bask in the throwback glory of the tunes. I had decided to not listen to any of the new material and thus be pleasantly blown away by the full on change that has occurred - hopefully.
So, an hour early at this small venue, which as it turns out is not only the last show on their tour before the release of their new album, but also a homecoming for the band. More on that later.
The guys show up on time, maybe fifteen minutes late, and proceed to rip through nearly every track on the new album, driving through the crowd like a Mack truck. They were trading off vocals every other song, Glynn Wedgewood's guitar crunched, Armstrong's voice fluttered with delightful falsetto tones, and Shane Lawlor supplied the perfect muffled bass with which to carry the noise on it's shoulders. There was a new drummer there, one that I had not noticed in press photos, who did a stand up job whilst sitting down. The show was everything Chip Adams posted in a previous Tripwire review, here. The new material is a delightful departure from the bluesy, Brit Invasion sound of the first album/band. Where that was Yardbirds, this feels like a faster, edgier, (better) Oasis. On top of that seeing them in a small venue like The Hole in the Wall was a special treat. The place is tiny, which made the sound even bigger.
Now, show's end and I am still abuzz with the loudness that has just poured over me, I need more. I walk out back with my friend, looking for an interview, pitcher of Guinness in hand as a bargaining tool. The inner monologue was bouncing through my head, "There's Nic in the back, I'll just grab a seat and ask, oh crap he's leaving, now's the chance."
After I used The Tripwire as leverage for an interview, Nic met me at the bar outside and was kind enough to let me unleash a barrage of hard-hitting questions to test his moral fiber.
Me: Starting off, how has the tour been so far?
NA: Absolutely fantastic, and this was our last show, so it's nice to be back home playing to friends.
Me: Back home?
NA: Yeah, we all moved here to Austin when we began recording our album. We liked the area so much we just decided to stay.
(We bullshat for a second on where he lived and how much he loved Austin.)
Me: Right on, so what was it like recording your album here in Texas, as opposed to back home in the UK?
NA: Well that first time was strange because I felt like I was just thrown in the studio with my material and they said, alright, go for it. I sort of fell into studio time. This time around, I've got the new band, and they all came in and there was more of a contribution from everyone, sort of a team effort.
Me: Speaking of the band, you guys changed your name, changed your sound, how did all this come about, what's different now from the Nic Armstrong days?
NA: Well I hope it's still the Nic Armstrong days; I'm still here (insert me laughing like an idiot). Apart from that we've got a new drummer, that's all that's changed in the lineup.
Me: And your sound?
NA: That was the easy part. The rest of the guys were sort of hired on as tour musicians, or to help me with the first album. Throughout the tour, trying to come up with new material I would ask them if they had anything, and they would bring it. So it would be Glynn's song, "You Can't Love What You Don't Understand," for instance, that's Glynn's. So he would bring that, and we would all bring something to the table, our own little bits and pieces. It really was like a full band integration. I don't know if you've listened to the album yet, but the songs are written by everyone in the band.
Me: That's something I was going to bring up, the new sound is bigger, louder, driving. Not so much of the late 50s/early 60s sound to it, is that the result of having everyone else here?
NA: Oh yea, the first album sounded that way because you write what you know. That's just what naturally came out when I was writing those tracks because that's what I know. It's really great to have this new feel to the band where we are just progressing each time we come out.
Me: So what's in store for the future of IV Thieves?
NA: I hope everything. We are doing a tour of the UK for a little bit, then coming back over here, gonna do the whole thing. The album comes out mid-October and we will just tour. We might also try to work in a show around ACL (Austin City Limits Festival).
Me: And after that?
NA: Well hopefully we keep going. The way I feel about it is even if I'm not here, IV Thieves will carry on, they will always be writing and making music.
I thanked him for answering and he was on his way, to converse with friends. By the sound of it, he and everyone involved is very happy with where the band has been and is headed. He almost made IV Thieves sound like a state of mind or philosophy, where no matter what happens, the music carries on, and that's what I like to see in a rock band. No ego, so sense of self-righteousness, just existing for the music.
By: Kyle Rother