Vista Kicks Dig Deep to Crank Out Good Time Rock-n-Roll

Credit: Anna Maria Lopez

For Los Angeles-based via Sacramento outfit Vista Kicks, persistence is the best policy. Ever since their inception in late-2015, the quartet have relentless in their pursuit of their boyhood dream.

Growing up blocks from each other from an early age, Derek Thomas, Sam Plecker, Trevor Sutton, and Nolan Le Vine all hunkered down in a one-bedroom apartment in their hometown and soon enough, were on track to creating a successful band.

Last September, the group released their maiden album, Booty Shakers Ball, that’s as rollicking as the title would suggest. Having garnered praise for that and their Chasing Waves EP released in 2016, along with a tenacious live show, conventional wisdom would suggest that the band would wear itself on the road for the better part of the next year until it came time to hit the studio for album two.

That wasn’t the case — well, at least part of it.

With an assist from the heavy lifting of a late-push from a Kickstarter campaign (“All we want to do is tour and make music, while remaining independent”), the band raised over $30,000 — with $12,000 coming in the final four hours — for subsequent campaign for their sophomore effort, which was recorded in January. Due out on July 13, Twenty Something Nightmare, could have been the start of another long haul for them. With a few California shows lined up in the coming week, along with an appearance at KAABOO festival in September, Vista Kicks should be ready to play to the masses.

Now in Nashville, the band is already almost done with their third album. Once again hunkering down with engineer Joe Napolitano, who mixed their last record, it has allowed Vista Kicks to produce the album themselves. Without needing Plecker to move away from engineering duties, they’ve been able to focus on bigger picture things, such as album art, instead of solely on the album itself, and to help with little things like packaging merch.

“We’ve been prolific ever since we started making our own records,” lead singer Thomas explains. “It’s really freed us in the sense that there’s no expectations for anything or anyone to make anything. That’s allowed us to be way more creative.”

Not having to deal with a deadline has also allowed Vista Kicks to flourish. Unlike other bands who operate well under duress, the quartet operates much better without the pressures associated with having to cobble together in a tight manner. Thus, their creativity and songwriting has been able operate in an optimal fashion, which in this case, is reflected in over 20 new songs written.

“Setting deadlines helps often, if you’re setting your own one,” Thomas says. “If you’re following your own sense of what you should be doing, then you’re making something that’s honest to yourself and there’s no substitute for that. Nobody told us we had to make a record, but if we didn’t make it then, it was going to be another September until we have another one and properly be ahead of things.”

That’s not to say there wasn’t pressure internally. Vista Kicks had their own motivations to ensure that this period of writing would be a fruitful one. They were keenly aware that a time when song ideas came to them so fast wouldn’t be forever, so they wanted to capitalize and sustain the momentum that came during the recording of Twenty Something Nightmare.

After a brief run supporting Twenty Something Nightmare at the end of June, Thomas says that Vista Kicks are free to do as they please. A few dates withstanding, the band recently parted ways with their booking agency, which has allowed them to spend time tracking in Nashville and at their home studio in Highland Park. “At our level, it’s more practical to record than to do headlining tours,” Thomas says. “In a year, that will be different.”

As for album four, it’s going to come sooner than later. Though he started to divulge plans for it, Thomas caught himself mid-thought and shut down any further detail, but says that the band is trying to knock out the next yet-to-be titled one first.

“The album that’s about to come hasn’t even come out yet,” he says with a chuckle. “We’re just going to keep recording until we book more shows. But for now, things are easy.”

 

Vista Kicks perform with Spendtime Palace and Locus Pocus tonight at The Wayfarer, 8 p.m., $15. For full details, click here. 

Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.

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