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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE

Over the last five years, Kurt Vile has risen to the status of slacker-messiah to the US indie-rock scene: but he’s also a phenomenal guitar player, a pin-sharp songwriter, and a Jaguar evangelist. Josh Gardner meets a laid-back Philadelphian with a competitive streak…
© Jo McCaughey
© Jo McCaughey

There’s something a bit different about Kurt Vile. With his plaid shirt, skinny jeans and a grungey mop of hair that obscures large portions of his face, the gangly 38-year-old Philadelphian should blend seamlessly into the bar of this ultra-hip Shoreditch hotel. And he does… but at the same time, he stands out. But then perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at his ability to occupy two states at once – given that, over the last few years, Vile has managed the impressive feat of remaining an enigmatic outsider while still capturing the zeitgeist of contemporary alternative music.

He might not be topping the pop charts (though his signature tune, 2015’s Pretty Pimpin, was a sizeable US radio hit), but make no mistake, Kurt Vile is popular with the right people. Neil Young has taken him on tour, as have Thurston Moore and J Mascis; he’s played with John Cale and Cyndi Lauper, and released a critically acclaimed album, Lotta Sea Lice, with Courtney Barnett in 2017. He also straddles genres and generations – country megastar Keith Urban is a noted fan, as is Kiwi indie-pop sensation, Lorde. So if you’re yet to catch up with him, what’s all the fuss about?

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