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Feature Interview: Brant Bjork 'Vista Chino'

Brant Bjork

Big Day Out is a filthy and sweaty affair. I’m several mid-strength Bundy and Colas deep, purely to ward of the weather, and sitting in the media tent. The knock-up building has air-conditioning and wi-fi that’s more temperamental than some of my ex-girlfriends. We’re all huddled over some long tables, huddled over laptops, phones, cameras, whatever. I’m trying to upload pictures of a wasted Mac Miller to Instagram when Brant Bjork, the man, walks in. A hush comes over the room. Maybe, I dunno.

I walk over to him and introduce myself. He’s possibly the most laidback guy you could ever meet. Standing around six foot, if he was wearing a tophat you could probably mistake the guy for Slash, but with a completely different oeuvre. We take a seat on the couches and I ask him how the weather’s treating him? 

“Oh you know, it’s not that different from back home, we’re used to this dry heat,” he drawls coolly.

“So with Vista Chino, how’s the reformation going?”

“It’s going well, we’ve gotten through the tweak, we’ve changed the name and obviously just recorded a great record and went to work. We toured, and here we go.”

“Was it difficult going from the cult name, Kyuss, and changing the name again to Kyuss Lives! and then again to Vista Chino?”

“Yeah, yeah, it was difficult. I mean, luckily for us, we’re just in it for the music. You do want to get your music out to as many people who will potentially like it and yanno, it’s always… it makes it a difficult task when you’ve got people trying to make that a drag. But yanno man, that’s part of our story and we’re just trying to make it work man.”

I look up at Brant, still wearing his aviators inside as any good rockstar should, try to figure out if he is stoned as hell, or if he was just that humble. Either way I figured, it was a good way to be.

“With the lawsuit, is there any bad blood?”

The reformation of Kyuss Lives! had been struggling with a lawsuit from other members of Kyuss for the continuation of the name and songs that went with the original band. 

“John (Garcia), and even Nick (Oliveri), and myself… we put Kyuss back together and it wasn’t a coincidence that it was the three of us. We were all on the same page, we always got along, there wasn’t any beef or anything. Josh (Homme) and Scott (Reeder) were always the kind of guys that made things more difficult than they needed to be. The lawsuit is a clear indication of that. As far as bad blood, I don’t even really spend the energy thinking about it. 

Vista Chino

“It’s just a bit petty at this point don’t you think? I mean, I’m a huge fan, I’ve been following this for ages… fuck, I’ve got Sky Valley on record.”

Brant looks at me and smirks a little bit and says, “Yeah… yeah… cool.”

Clearly that was enough on the topic. I clear throat and carry on:

“So how to shows in Aus compare to playing back home?”

“Well, Australia in general, I’ve just always found Australia in general to really enjoy rock music. And to be very appreciative and enthusiastic and very yanno, warm and welcoming. The States has elements of that, but the United States is a big country with a lot of people, and a lot of those people are into different things,” Brant chuckles, “but the people that are into it back home are stoked and loyal, it’s alright.”

“So with modern production—we’re going back like twenty years now almost when you started recording with Kyuss—I noticed the sound has changed a lot with Vista Chino, is it a technical thing or a step forward with the band?”

“Well, it’s a number of things. It’s the band themselves, the band members, Bruno (Fevery) playing guitar, and as you said the way we chose to produce the record, and just being twenty years later haha, it all changed. The spirit and the motivation is the same. It’s that same spark that was there from the very beginning. The same things fuel this fire.”

I gush a little and tell Brant how cool that is.

“So is there anyone on today you’re particularly keen on seeing?”

“Today? I dunno, honestly I dunno what I’m gonna do today. I think I might just play and go back and chill. That’s certainly not because I don’t feel there’s some bands worth checking out, I’ve seen the list of bands and Mudhoney is a great band, Deftones are cool, obviously Snoop haha. I’ll have to make the rounds, I’ve got a couple of weeks to do the rounds.”

“Being on a tour like this, with Deftones and stuff, is it similar to being at home? You’re touring with people that have been around as long as you guys, is there some camaraderie?”

“Um, I might run into the guys in passing and chat for a little bit. I’m not super good friends with any particular bands, but I do recognise bands, and there’s a level of respect, you see each other and you know do similar work and work hard and you’re both down with what you do.”

“That’s cool man. So you’re a busy guy, you’ve got Vista Chino, you’ve been in a billion bands and you have solo stuff, what’s your favourite project?”

“I’m always working on solo music and messing around at home. What I call like just sketching out ideas yanno. But I mean, I just enjoy the creative process at any given time, on any given project, I can’t say one more excites me than the other. Whatever I’m doing at the time gets all of my energy.”

So I wrap here. We chat for a little bit about favourite Australian bands, to which Brant tells me AC/DC. I tell him he should listen to Airbourne if he hasn’t checked them out, “AC/DC reincarnate,” I claim. “Cool man, I’ll have a look.”

He gets up to walk out with his atypical rockstar jangly swagger and disappears into the swirling dust kicked up by Arcade Fire’s convoy. A Triple M producer runs up to me and badgers me about who Brant was. I try to keep it cool and explain, but he has no idea who Vista Chino is. Even after the interview, I’m still not sure what I learned about one of my favourite bands of all time. Except that Brant Bjork is a fucking cool dude.

Pictures: Big Day Out 2014, Gold Coast

Vista Chino

Vista Chino, Photo: Markus Ravik

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