Dazed But Not Confused: Kurt Vile
Even a Philly guitarist gets stressed sometimes
By Luke Winkie, 10:35AM, Tue. Aug. 20
Kurt Vile gives us hope. He never had a big break, but rather became popular in the most elemental of ways – good music over a goodly period of time. His smoky voice and gently diffusing guitar now welcomes an audience far beyond any cultish origins. Tonight’s show – outdoors at Mohawk – prompted a call to the six-string virtuoso.
Austin Chronicle: How’s the tour been?
Kurt Vile: The tour’s been good. We’re just starting another leg today. We had a few days off [at home] in Philly and we’re getting right back to it.
AC: Gonna work this new album for a while I’d imagine.
KV: We’re keeping at it, which I’m excited about. I’m one to really go for it, and people seem kinda impressed by how much we tour. I can chill out in a couple years or even a year. I’m going to have a nice disappearance, and then a reappearance.
AC: I feel like a good musician always knows when to disappear and reappear, like that's important to the myth or something.
KV: Yeah, but this disappearance might be longer though.
AC: You don’t seem like a guy who’s actively disdainful of playing shows. You always look like you’re having a good time even if it’s a random festival set or whatever.
KV: Yeah, it only really hits me at home. It makes me feel bad that my family sees it when I’m really stressed, because I’m comfortable and all of a sudden the whole process is starting over again.
AC: That’s interesting because you seem like such a low-key guy in your music. How often are you stressed out?
KV: More than you might think, but like I said, it only really shows up in the in-between times. Because in the moment when I’m up onstage everything feels really natural. It’s not nerve-wracking. Or even when you’re laying down a track and being like, "I don’t think I got it," there’s the payoff of hearing it back and being super stoked. It’s the yo-yo of being an artist.
AC: Would you say that your music reassures you?
KV: Sure, I have a confidence, but I’m the kind of guy who puts a lot on my plate and once in a while it gets a little heavy.
AC: Are your parents in touch with your success now?
KV: I think so. They’ve watched me every step of the way. I mean, I was writing songs all the way through high school.
AC: A lot of your press lately has focused on your wife and kids, and how you’re a “family man.” Is it weird to you that people are fixated on that part of your life?
KV: Yeah, that’s happened more on this record, because maybe lyrically it’s a little more referential to that part of my life. It’s a thing where once somebody talks about it everybody talks about it. Obviously my family is important to me, and that juxtaposed with the life of a touring musician creates a dynamic.