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Kurt Vile

"Coming up with a new song or new riffs, being that it’s what moves me as if I’m listening to someone else’s record, it just gets me. It’s all the same, it’s in my blood." In this episode Ernie Ball artist Kurt Vile discusses his influences, his history with playing guitar, and his Ernie Ball strings.

Transcript

Kurt Vile:
What's guitar playing to me? It's kind of weird. Just because I've been doing it forever, it's just like me and all my friends who play music, we just do it all the time. I guess it's an extension of soliciting to records and just being euphoric from hearing music.

Kurt Vile:
I was just into listening to my dad's records and stuff. Then I got stoked by that at an early age. It made me feel like the good kind of crazy. Then I probably fantasized about playing guitars. Friends of mine were in bands. Then one year, I was going to get a guitar for Christmas, but I was particularly bad that year. That's what they said. They, being my parents. Maybe the next year or so, my dad got me a banjo because he was a bluegrass freak. I took some lessons, and I kind of strummed it as if it was a guitar. Then like a year later, neighbors across the street just heard me playing all the time, so they gave me a guitar.

Kurt Vile:
I've been playing Ernie Ball Strings since I was teenager. I played them right away. They had that bright packaging that attracts teenagers. I think I use 10s first with electric strings. Then I moved up to the 11th pretty quick, and I've been playing them ever since on the guitar. They're the best, but also, in a way, they're just nostalgic too.

Kurt Vile:
As a kid, it's amazing the things that come out of your head because you have so much wonder really. You're not jaded by life or have as many obligations, responsibilities. I think things just come to you in a different way when you're older.

Kurt Vile:
I don't go out and perform a new song before I record it. Sometimes a solo song I do, but definitely not. I don't get something together with the band and go, "This is a new jam. This is a new number. I hope you like it." Then it goes on YouTube, some bad version of a half finished song or whatever. But I think the most rewarding part, it's fun going in there and recording it and getting lost in the moment if you have a true musical moment. I get excited to record, and I go in there and when it's actually time, often I get really freaked out and think it's not happening. Also, my band is usually hearing it for the first time or the producer is, so I feel under a microscope. Maybe the lyrics are sensitive or something. I usually think it's all a wash and then I hear the playback, and that's the most rewarding thing when you're like, "Oh, another hit." But I don't mean like a hit in the charts per se, but a hit to my standards.

Kurt Vile:
I'm a professional musician now and there's like rough patches and a tour where I used to get worried. I'd go through patches of not writing songs. I'd be like, I guess I'm washed up, but I know it comes and goes. But also I'm just forced to play guitar every night because it's my job. You get better, and that gets inspiring. You just have to. Coming up with a new song or new rifts, being that it's what moves me, as if I'm listening to somebody else's record, it gets me. It's all the same. It's just in my blood.

Kurt Vile:
I guess. Yeah, you could say I wear my heart on my sleeve. I've got kind of sad songs, sensitive songs, whatever songs. Well, I love rock and roll too. And I want to look cool too. I definitely have rockers. One song we love to play, kind of my favorite, is KV Crimes and it's very stonesy and just the right amount of shredding. Then there's other songs like Peeping Tomboy or Stand Inside that are just sensitive folk jams. Everything in its right place for me. I used to be more shy and not look out at the crowd, and if I feel like the show is not going good, I do get paranoid. People can feel the energy, they can tell if you're withdrawn or not, but if sometimes you just look them in the face for a second, you can sort of tell. You can tell if the show is going good. That's definitely a rewarding scenario.

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