The Vines is an Australian garage rock band that emerged along with a new breed of alternative rockers such as The Strokes, The Hives and The White Stripes in 2002.
The original version of the Vines met in suburban Sydney in the mid 1990s where Craig Nicholls, Patrick Matthews and David Oliffe met while working at their local McDonalds. They decided to form a band with Nicholls on guitar and vocals, Matthews on bass and vocals and Oliffe on drums. The band played Nirvana covers at parties while working on developing a sound of their own on Nicholls' four-track recorder. The band was named the Vines because Nicholls' father played in a Sydney band called the Vynes.
Highly Evolved - worldwide success
Their debut single "Factory" attracted little interest in their native land, but the Vines signed with Heavenly Records in the United Kingdom. They funded the recording of Highly Evolved with Rob Schnapf who had worked with the Foo Fighters, Beck and Elliott Smith. The single "Highly Evolved" earned them more critical hype as NME made it a single of the week in March 2002. That single also charted in the UK at #32 on the singles chart and also in Australia's ARIAnet top 100 singles chart. The release of the album saw more critical success with the band appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone and the NME. The album debuted at #3 in the UK's albums chart, #5 in Australia's ARIAnet albums chart and #11 in the US Billboard Hot 100 albums chart. With the band playing high-profile slots on The Late Show with David Letterman and the MTV Video Music Awards. A few more singles were released from the album, including "Get Free" which charted in the UK at #24 and Australia at #44, while also being the #5 song in Australia's Triple J Hot 100 of 2002. A third single, "Outtathaway" also charted in the UK, at #20, and also in Australia at #38. A fourth single was also released in Australia titled "Homesick", reaching #50. Highly Evolved then went on to sell 1.5 million albums throughout the world with distribution through Capitol Records.
The instant success put great strain on the band. Oliffe did not like touring and the band added guitarist Ryan Griffiths and drummer Hamish Rosser. Nicholls and Matthews had a serious fight after a gig in Boston in late 2002.
In May 2003, the band went into a studio in Woodstock, New York with Rob Schnapf again on production. While Craig Nicholls had talked of having a highly produced album, he told the Australian edition of Rolling Stone in March 2004 that they decided to stick to a less-is-more philosophy. "I wanted it to be - in my head - something grand, with big ideas and that vision sort of thing. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that something can't be special if it's just simple. Because I think that the songs are the main thing".
Their second album, Winning Days, was released on March 29, 2004 and debuted at #7 in Australia, #23 in the US and #32 in the UK. "Ride" is the first single off the album, reaching #25 in the UK and #44 in Australia. The Vines had recently finished their "Australian Invasion" tour with Jet and The Living End, which started on March 11, 2004 in Houston, Texas. A second single off the album, the title track "Winning Days" was released in the UK and charted at #42. There is speculation that "Animal Machine" will be the next American/worldwide single, as the Vines have only released high-tempo, distorted songs as singles in the US. "Ride" was featured on a Nissan Cars commercial and an iPod commercial in the US in 2005.
However, after the conclusion of the tour, the band found itself in harder times. Winning Days had not lived up to the success of Highly Evolved, and had gotten a lukewarm reception from both critics and audiences. Lead singer Craig Nicholls was becoming increasingly erratic, and had to be barred from doing media interviews after several bad experiences on the American tour.
This came to a head in late May 2004, when bassist Patrick Matthews walked off stage, after Craig bleated at the crowd in frustration after repeatedly asking the crowd to stop talking, during the first song of a radio promotion performance for national station Triple M at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. In the aftermath, Nicholls assaulted a photographer, and charges were pressed. Triple M also permanently banned The Vines from airplay on their network. The band's management state that the Vines will cease touring in support of Winning Days, but will record another album.
On 19 November 2004 it was revealed that Craig Nicholls has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. His diagnosis was revealed at a court appearance at Balmain Local Court in Sydney where assault charges stemming from the incident at the Annandale Hotel were dropped. The Vines may never undertake a major tour again because of Nicholls' condition but plan to perform occasional concerts.
As of 2004, the band consisted of:
Craig Nicholls - vocals and guitar,
Patrick Matthews - bass and vocals,
Ryan Griffiths - guitar,
Hamish Rosser - drums.
David Oliffe was in the band until late 2002.