It’s exciting times, Geelong’s Vintage Crop have a new record on the horizon—Kibitzer—and Gimmie are here to share the first single and clip with you! Their fourth album of snappy punk has themes of resilience, identity and acceptance, while musically a welcomed extra dose of melody, and the introduction of horns on a couple of the tracks. Gimmie spoke to vocalist Jack Cherry.
JACK CHERRY: We’re really happy with how the new record sounds. The songwriting feels like something to be excited about.
The album Is called Kibitzer! That’s a Yiddish word, right? It’s a term for a spectator, usually one who offers advice or commentary, which is kind of what you guys do with your songs.
JC: Yeah. Last year I got into playing chess and that’s a term used in chess. I thought it was too good of a word not to use for something else. It’s a cool looking word, has a great meaning and I felt like it connected with what I do lyrically. It seemed to fit.
What got you into playing chess?
JC: I went to a friend’s place and he asked me for a game. I haven’t played since I was ten or eleven playing with dad. It was horrible playing with dad because he would not let anyone else win. I threw it away and never wanted to play chess because it is so hard. When I played against my friend, about two years ago, I was like ‘This is a really interesting game.’ I got carried away with all the different strategies and techniques, it was really engaging. I don’t play as much any more, it was really just a hot minute where I really got into chess, and some of the ideas really stuck around.
That would explain the album art work as well.
JC: Yes! We had a different idea for the album art that was literally a chess board but we thought it was a bit obvious and it didn’t click with what we were doing, so we didn’t use it. There’s definitely visual themes of chess as well. We had Robin Roche do the art again, they did Serve to Serve Again for us. We always love his work. He makes things look simple but there’s so much detail in them, that’s how we feel about the songs as well; simple sounding songs but there’s a lot in there when you listen to it. We think his artwork matches the songs.
How long were you writing this collection of songs for?
JC: As with anything we do, it starts pretty much right after the last one finishes. The first couple of ideas happened towards the end of 2020, we had two or three solid songs that we were happy with. Then it took all of 2021 to write another seven that we were happy with. So, there was the initial push. We didn’t really record the album until November 2021. Two of the songs were finished just the week before.
Do you find your songs change very much during the process?
JC: To be honest, I think they change after even longer. We have songs from the first two records that we still play live and we find those songs have morphed a lot since we first recorded them but a lot of the newer stuff feels a bit more finished. We took that lesson from the first two albums of, well, we’ll make sure that we really investigate these songs and make sure we have all the parts that we want to play. I feel like with New Age in particular we went in and recorded it straight away without developing the songs to their fullest extent. We’re able to now write a song and finish it, really finish it earlier.
The new album sounds a lot more melodic to me.
JC: Yeah, that was conscious as well. Tyler our drummer had said to me, maybe eight months before we were set to start really writing the album, ‘This time let’s get a producer in and get someone to really push us to do different things.’ I was so deeply offended… in a nice way, that he would suggest that. Out of spite I started to write melodies and tried to actually sing a bit to prove that I could do it and we don’t need a producer [laughs]. It’s a good push for us. Three albums of doing the same thing, it’s nice to have the fourth one where we branch out a bit. Same with the trumpet on a few of the tracks, we really wanted to play with some new tools.
I noticed that on Kibitzer you almost sing!
JC: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s scary to fully let go but it’s nice to have a go. I’d rather it be a flop and those sort of songs not hit as well but have tried it, then do the same thing and get the same result.
They totally did hit though! Your singing and the trumpet were things that got my attention.
JC: Thank you, that’s the reaction we’re looking for. Glad it worked! I think it keeps it fun for everyone, not just us.
You mentioned having a producer for this record; it was Jasper Jolley?
JC: Yeah, Jasper recorded it. Jasper is in Bones And Jones. He is a friend of ours, he grew up in Geelong as well, we’ve been friends for ten years or so. We’ve always been in similar circles but because Bones And Jones’ music is a little different to ours we thought recording with Jasper might make us sound like them, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just we have our own sound and we don’t want to mess with it too much. Recording with him was a treat though, everything sounds amazing, he was so patient. I think we want to work with him again because it was so good. He didn’t really produce, he didn’t offer a whole lot of advice but he was a good set of ears and a good set of hands.
Everything was recorded in one session?
JC: Yeah, we set up and started recording at 11am and was finished doing vocals by 7:30pm. It was eight and a half to nine hours in total and we had everything done.
Was that out of necessity? Was it because you wanted it to capture a spontaneity? Or the vibe you have live? Sometimes I see bands I love live and they’re amazing but then I hear the same songs recorded and it disappoints me because it feels pretty lifeless.
JC: Because they’ve spent seven hours choosing a guitar sound [laughs]. I think for us, it’s not to capture anything in particular, but we like to record together. None of us have the patience to do it over more than one day [laughs]. We have the songs ready, we just want to go in, get them done and get the ball rolling cos there’s not much we can do after the initial recording, we do it all at once and then there’s only vocals and keyboard left. We don’t want to muck around adding too much to it because anything else we add we probably can’t play live and tonally it’s a very simple sound, it’s not like we have to find the right tone or tune the snare a certain way; it’s just going to sound like us because it’s us playing it.
Lyrically, themes on the album have to do with resilience, acceptance, accepting your own limitations; were these things written from things you were experiencing in your own life? Often your songs are commentary and observations of other people’s experiences.
JC: Yeah, I find that with themes for albums, I develop them after I’m finished. I don’t try and dissect anything I’ve written a whole lot. Now it’s all finished I can look back and really figure out what I was trying to say. I think that looking inwards is more so a reflection of all of us settling in to full-time work and branching out, Tyler just bought house, my partner and I live together and we’re looking at buying somewhere as well—it’s a get-on-with-it attitude.
Everyone else is in the same boat and it’s just how you react to things, if you can try your best to be positive and just keep on going, because that’s really all you can do. A lot of times you don’t have too much control over life, the best way is to roll with it. That’s a lot of what I’ve been thinking about at the moment.
Maybe I will be in this job for fifteen or twenty years, or if I leave this job I’ll be in another job for fifteen or twenty years, thirty years or fifty. While it’s crushing to think that I’ll never be a rock star playing stadiums around the world, at least I have a job, somewhere to be and something to do, that’s all I can do.
I work another job as well as doing all the Gimmie stuff as well. My job pays my bills and then doing Gimmie we never have to compromise, we can keep it advertisement free and do whatever we want with it. It’s a wonderful thing not having to compromise on your art.
JC: For sure. With the band we’re paying for pretty much everything and we’re in control of everything, it’s our outlet. That’s the way that we can express those feelings, through the band. It makes it worthwhile in the end. Working 40 hours a week doing something you don’t really want to do, but the rest of your time you do get to spend doing what you want to do and you can afford to do it and it’s comfortable. It’s great.
We’re premiering the song and clip for ‘Double Slants’! I love the first line of the song especially: He’s got the keys to the universe / and they’re hanging from his belt loop. It’s such strong imagery.
JC: I thought it was a really good fusing of reality and fantasy. “The keys to the universe” is the funniest thing to say at the start of a song! If you take those abstract thoughts and ground them in reality somehow it makes it hit a bit more.
The whole song isn’t about anyone in particular, it’s an adversarial song. It’s nice to be able to poke fun at someone that everyone can relate to, everyone’s got that sort of person in their life. That’s all I can really give you; it just happens.
As Vintage Crop songs are often about everyday kinds of things, having that fantasy element in there was another unexpected surprise. Being surprised by music and art is one of my favourite things.
JC: That’s true. The belt loop part was a play on… that seems to be the trend, that for some reason people hang their keys on their belt loop, which is a little dig; to me, I just don’t get it.
Being sardonic in lyrics is also another Vintage Crop signature.
JC: Yeah! [laughs].
We love the clip for ‘Double Slants’! In it you get kidnapped; what do you remember from shooting it?
JC: We filmed most of it on the road out the front of the house I grew up in – which was totally coincidental! We just needed somewhere with a quiet road and no house, it just happened to fit the bill. It was actually a pretty painful day for me in the end; I was manhandled, thrown around and rolled down a few hills. But Leland [Buckle] did such a great job with it that it was worth it!
We’d previously worked with him on the clip for ‘The North’, so we were naturally pretty keen to work with him again. We really like a lot of his reference points for filming and editing, he’s got great taste and a bit of an unusual eye which is something that you just can’t put a price on. We spoke briefly about a rough concept for the video and then by the end of the day he had taken the ball and run with it. We trust him with the vision and pretty much everything you see in the video is straight from his brain.
What’s your favourite moment from the clip?
My favourite moment of the clip is probably the woman in the front seat of the car smiling back at the camera in the front seat. A brilliant piece of irony and it just makes me laugh every time.
Vintage Crop’s new album, “KIBITZER” is out June 24th through Anti Fade Records (AUS) – pre-order HERE – and Upset! The Rhythm (UK).