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Nick Workman (VEGA)

posted 3 Jul 2016, 10:17 by Paul Woodward

So the unusual album artwork for ‘Who We Are’, what’s the story behind it?

We knew it would be equally loved and disliked and that much is true. Hey, the best covers are all like that. But we just wanted to do something eye-catching that we liked and to be honest with you the feedback we have got has been mainly positive. Some of the negative comments were pretty predictable so they are water off a ducks back.

Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess come over to the UK to go into the studio with you guys to produce the album. How did this come to be and what was it like working with Hess in the flesh and what did you think he brought to the process?

We hooked up with Harry at the Frontiers Fest back in 2015. We were nattering away and it literally went like this: “Hey, you should produce our next record” “Hey, I’d love to” “ok, lets Skype nest week” “Ok” “burp” haha. Harry was great. He is so chilled and really knows what a song needs and what it doesn’t. We got around a piano before each track and made sure we were all happy with the structure and arrangements and just went for it.

‘Who You Are’ is the band’s fourth album and yet again you have surpassed the impact of your previous album. When you were writing the album did you ever get nervous or frustrated that the next batch of songs would fall short of your fan base’s high expectations? How do you as song writers manage to keep these high standards up?

Yeah, we started off a little nervous because Stereo Messiah had gone down so well. But to be honest by the time we had written a few songs we knew it was going to be ok. I came up with the chorus to White Flag the morning after Frontiers Festival and was singing it to Tom at the airport. He had the music from that idea down the next day and I finished it off the day after that. For Our Sins and Nothing is Forever were already written as they came too late for Stereo Messiah.

Nick as a lyricist you always like to work outside the box and frequently use ambiguous lyrics to allow listeners to make their own connections or meanings up. Can you tell us about the inspirations about a couple of the songs lyric’s especially ones you may feel people will mistranslate from your original idea on the new album?

That’s a toughie cos they all make sense to me haha. Let’s see, White Flag is about NOT surrendering. It was inspired by things like the Invictus Games and seeing people overcome the things that could be the reason they would normally give up. We all go through crap on different levels but if you can come out the other side you will be stronger for it. Most of the songs are about the fight we are all in at the moment. Explode was a little simpler….it’s a love song with attitude and a hand grenade haha.

For me on the new album the song ‘Hurt So Bad’ is huge in many ways and has me thinking this is the sort of song that wins awards as well as critical acclaim from the lyrics to the melodic hooks it’s a perfect song which also manages to have an extremely radio friendly feel. Have you ever listened back to a song after it’s recorded and think wow this is going to really hit people? Or do you only get the sense of the impression a song makes once a fan has told you it has and why?

We always write a song that appeals to ourselves first because we have to love it to give it the passion it deserves. We knew that track was a little different but there was no agenda when we wrote it. As with all the songs, it just happened. We spent ages trying to come up with the album title and then the whole cover /title thing clicked in one go. That song lyrically sums up the whole album. But as you know, everyone has a different favourite song. I’m glad it hit the spot with you though.

I’m a massive fan of the band and the new album is to me even better than the last but I’ve tried not to repeat myself in my review so rather than going nuts like I usually do declaring it the best album ever (which it is!) I’m trying to focus on the why I think it surpasses your other albums. One of those things I feel is your vocals are more diverse than previously, there’s a couple of vocal melodies or styles you’ve thrown into the album that are not stereotypical of you. This album does see your finest overall vocal performance, did you push yourself more, experiment more or was this just naturally how it came out?

Wow, thanks mate. Very kind of you to say so. Once again, it’s just how it comes out, but at the same time I am always inspired by different types of music and vocalists not all from ROCK so that will have an impact. Don’t get me wrong, my fave singers are people like Ray Gillen, Joe Elliott (of course) and Dan Reed etc, but you can’t just copy what these guys have done. I also love singers like SEAL and Pink. During recording I was taken into hospital and out of action for 3 days. This meant that when it came to my vocals I couldn’t fuck about as time was precious. I am quite obsessive in my pre-production though so I was well prepared. Each song was recorded in about 45 minutes to an hour and then me and Harry put together the best bits. But you know what the biggest help is? I bloody love doing this and loved the songs, the band and my brothers in the band.

All bands declare their latest album as their greatest, even it’s a steaming pile of poop! But from your angle, what is it about ‘Who You Are’ that you think makes it your best album to date?

Easy. With each album, we won’t even think of going into the studio until we know in our hearts that we have 12 songs better than the last album. We can only go off our own quality control really. We can’t predict what people can like. All we can do is our passionate best.

I’ve just seen the video for ‘White Flag’ and extremely impressive and professional it is! I know you guys always put a lot of effort and money into creating as high quality video’s as you can – can you tell us about the video and why you find it important to produce a pro video, in a time when it can be quite cheap to get a video up on YouTube?

It certainly wasn’t cheap in this day and age but when I discussed this with Joe Elliott he told me that the food budget alone for the “Let’s get rocked” video was double what we paid! We just thought that the song deserved some special treatment. Who knows if it will make any difference but we really are at a stage where we just want to do things that we can be proud of. If it fails, then we have failed delivering some special in our eyes. But we will always continue to keep raising the bar for ourselves, working hard and enjoying what we do.

Anyone who knows or has met any of the band members of VEGA will know you are all very down to earth and relatively ordinary guys – whilst on one hand a lot of fans love the approachable nature of the band, do you ever think it affects people’s perceptions of you as a band in a negative way? as there is no mystery, aloofness or rock star bullshit with you guys – do you think this could affect your success or how people view your music?

I don’t know mate. I don’t think that being aloof will make someone want to buy our record. They may think we are a bunch of twats though haha. We can’t fake it mate. We are what we are or rather we are “who we are”. We let the music do the talking. I think we are pretty good blokes and other than Tom, we are all doting Dads now, but we are going to make mistakes etc etc. But you don’t have to be in band to do that! It’s just the way life is.

VEGA have always played live a lot and have toured, played Festivals and even supported some big name bands like Joe Elliott, Magnum and FM. Is it important to you guys as a whole to perform live regularly especially as touring can be very expensive?

For sure. Playing live is where the fun is. We write the songs so we can play live. Yes, it is an expensive game but playing live is what being in a band is all about. I said it before, but we LOVE doing this. That’s why we do it. It can’t be about No.1 records now and all the stuff we dreamed about back in the 80’s and 90’s. The industry is unrecognisable from those times now. We have to enjoy what we are doing in VEGA because that is what makes Vega, VEGA. We don’t intend on recording anything new now for 2 years. We just want to tour and gig as much as we can in that time and see where we are at the end of it.

You’re just hitting the road with Midlands legends Magnum with a headline show squeezed into the middle – do you have any other shows and or Festivals in the pipeline you can tell us about – anything as a band you are particularly looking forward to?

We are also doing Steelhouse in July and Hard Rock Hell AOR next year. We are playing in Italy and Spain this October. We are working on Germany as well.

Rather than me getting rather excitable and dribbling everywhere waxing lyrical about VEGA as a live act – from your perspective what can fans who have never seen the band live before expect from you live?

Lots of opportunities to sing some woh woh’s and hey hey’s and now with the added yeah-e-yeah-oh from Saving Grace. Haha. Loads of energy, good fun and a band on stage who just want you to walk out of the venue hot and sweaty but with a big smile on your face.

Is there anything else you would like to add or share with the Fireworks readers?

Dan has had a rash for a few weeks now, any idea what it is?