The Auditory Battlelines of Vega
The Auditory Battlelines of Vega
British hard rockers Vega have just unleashed Battlelines, their 8th studio magnum opus, via Frontiers Music Srl. Jam-packed with stunning tracks such as Love To Hate You, Heroes And Zeros, and God Save The King, Battlelines is a raging ultrasonic album well worth seeking out. Highwire Daze recently interviewed Vega vocalist Nick Workman to find out more about the unveiling of Battlelines, toxic people, the monarchy (or not), his previous bands Kick and Eden, plus many other topics of intrigue. Read on…
We’re here with Nick from Vega. First of all, let’s go right into the new album Battlelines. Is there any overall story or concept behind that album and that title, Battlelines?
Not really. It was just when we looked at the songs – I’m not saying how there was an epic feel about it, but it had something about it that was okay. Kind of reminiscent across the whole of the lyrical content to a degree. I guess when Tom and James, who founded a band with me, left, a lot of people maybe were saying, “Oh, that’s it. We’re done with.” So maybe we had something to prove, but it wasn’t really the reason why, because that song just came out naturally. It wasn’t anything to do with that subject matter. So, it was just a cool title for that.
So co-writing the album with Pete Newdeck, who is relatively new in Vega (since 2020). What was that like working with with Pete to create this album?
We had such a good time. It was so much fun. Pete only lived about 35 minutes from me at the time. So, we would literally be having ideas, and the studio was there. So, I would just go to him and we would just record, and it was just good fun. He would send me musical ideas, similar to what I did with previously with Tom and James. Then I would come up with ideas, and we didn’t do demos on this album. It was a case of… Pete had some music down. I would put my vocals over it. We would analyze it, tear it to pieces, rebuild it, and we had that opportunity because it was Pete’s studio. So, we were really able to fine tune the songs and get them sounding as good as we liked in terms of songwriting perspective, you know? Love To Hate You went through about three different choruses before we got to the chorus we were happy with.
How did Pete become involved with the band? This must have been around the pandemic.
Well, Pete has known Marcus, who’s in the band. He’s known Marcus for about 30 years, and I’ve known Pete for, I don’t know, 15 odd years. And, well, funny enough, Pete was the one that suggested Marcus for the band, and then when it when it came to needing a drummer, Marcus was the one that suggested Pete, but Pete was really the only name on the list, anyway. We knew we were going to go to Pete because we’ve known him for years and he’s a great bloke. So yeah, it was an easy one, really.
The opening track Heroes and Zeros, give me a little background on that song.
Well, I think it’s about the fact that we all have this hero complex maybe where you might see in the news where there is maybe some terrorist thing or some guy attacked someone else, or what have you, and we all think, yeah, if I was there, I’d have stepped up, I’d have dealt with that crap. When it all comes down to it, do we step up or do we walk away? So, it was really from that side. There’s a lot of superhero movies out there at the moment where maybe we all kid ourselves that we would do that right thing, but it’s not always that simple, is it? When you’re really faced with it. So, it’s like that. Do you or don’t you, are you the hero or are you the zero?
Love to Hate You, tell me a little about that song.
It’s about those people who are maybe a little bit poisoned and negative in your life and they gaslight situations. They lie. They’re just about horrible people who are really good too. You love to hate them because they’re just assholes.
We love those toxic people, don’t we?
Oh, honestly, yeah. They’re just a waste of air.
God Saved The King, is that about King Charles at all?
No. When I wrote that, I said to Pete, “This is going to get people talking!” I don’t have a problem with the royal family, but I knew that that’s what people thought. Every interview brings it up, and I think, yeah, there we go. It did exactly what I expected it to. No, the song is about those people who, again, toxic people that have delusions of grandeur. It’s a very sarcastic song. When someone is a bit spoiled and maybe they just have some reaction, you’re like, “Ooh, your majesty, check you out!” You know? Someone who’s just acting a bit like a prima donna, and it’s even got the ooh lalala. It’s like, ooh, la la ooh, check you out. So it’s a very, very sarcastic song about people who think they’re a lot more important than they actually are. Hence, God Saved The King is just about people who’ve got delusions of grandeur.
Well, if you didn’t come up with the title Battlelines, you probably could’ve called your album Toxic, you know?
Yeah, but Britney beat us to it.
What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming tour?
Obviously playing the new songs is going to be fantastic. They’re quite challenging to sing, if I’m honest with you, but for the last week, when I go for a walk, when I walk the dog, I’ve been learning all the new songs for the lyrics. I thought I’m going to give myself this week. I learn the lyrics, then I start really trying to get the vocals in play and just get myself in shape in that respect. It’s always seeing the fans out there and seeing how much they love it, seeing them singing the songs back, it’s just such a good vibe. So, I think that is the main thing that is going to be fun. I love performing live. Anyone that comes to the shows, they’re going to have a great time. There’s going to be obviously a lot of new songs, a lot of old ones, and maybe a couple of surprises in there as well.
Has Vega ever toured here in the States, or is that something you’d like to do?
We’d love to do it, and we get a lot of fans asking us to do it. It’s just a case of as much as the currency that we have is enjoyment, none of us are in a position where we can lose money, and it’s so expensive these days. Since the pandemic with inflation and what have you, it’s so expensive to tour that we need to get an offer on the table whereas a minimum, we’re going to break even. So, there’s festivals and there’s cruises that we’d love to get on, but we haven’t yet. It’s going to take fan power to get us out there. So, if they are Vega fans in the US, which I know we’ve got, you’re going to have to start bullying all these Monsters Of Rock Cruises and other festivals to try and get us on there, and then we’ll see if the phone rings and someone comes up with enough money to… Doesn’t break their bank and it breaks us even.
10 years ago, you released an album called What The Hell? When you look back on that album, the fact that it’s been 10 years, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
You know what? It’s an album I’m extremely proud of. The first album, Kiss Of Life, when we did that together, it was very much a project. We weren’t going to be a real band, but after writing two songs together, we realized that it was going to be a band. At that point, we promised that the record label, that it would be a specific album. It was going to be quite AOR – quite keyboard-driven. So, it wasn’t necessarily the true identity of who we were as a band. So, I think What The Hell? really marked the start of who we were as a band. It started to forge our own identity. So yeah, it’s an album I’m extremely proud of for that reason. It’s got some great songs on it. As I said, I see that album as the foundation of the beginning of the evolution of the band.
Looking back on your work in your other bands Kick and Eden, what do you think of them now in retrospect?
Eden, I think, that just kept me going. It was okay. Yeah, it was just, okay. It was with a label that was really tinpot. It was a rubbish label, awfully managed, and it was just a bit of a ripoff, if I’m honest with you. Again, I was enjoying doing it. I was getting myself back out there because it was what I was doing after Kick. Kick, I’m always going to be proud of. It was my start in this world as a professional. My first albums, obviously, it was on Iron Maiden’s record label, so that was a buzz in the first place. The first album’s got some cracking songs on it, and the second album got a little bit lost because that’s when things fell apart with Sanctuary. Then the third album was almost self-released really, but the first album in particular, I think is an absolutely cracker of an album.
What do you think has kept you so passionate about Vega now that you’re like eight albums in?
I just love doing it. When I don’t love doing it, I guess there’ll be no more, but I’ve written every song that Vega has ever done with people and without, and I still love performing. I love singing it. I still get excited by it. Pete says I’ve got ADHD because sometimes I get overexcited. I love doing it. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s a passion. It’s medicine to me. I suppose it’s medicine and its therapy for me. It really does keep me even. Keeps my feet on the ground. Most people that know me say I’m probably one of the most positive people that’ve met, and I put that down to the fact that music is definitely medicine for me. It keeps me sane to a degree. Without it, I’d probably be on the news as a serial killer or something.
Do you have any messages for Vega fans here in the States?
Oh, I love those questions. It’s really hard. Like I said, they need to stop bullying all the festivals and they need to start putting out there that Vega from the UK needs to be over there and tour, and see who can be the festival that gets us to pop our cherry in America first!
Nick Workman – Vocals
Mart Trail – Bass
Marcus Thurston – Guitar
Billy Taylor – Guitas
Pete Newdeck – Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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