Following the release of their debut album A Complete History of Witchcraft, it may be time to familiarise yourself with this eclectic, Welsh, Garage Rock quartet
If you like music and artists that take themselves very seriously I have bad news. The Vega Bodegas are not one of those bands. The self-described “former sausage roll technicians from Wales” are however, very good at creating genre-bending Garage Rock that wouldn’t sound out of place on an old school Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game.
With tongue in cheek lyrics, chunky riffs, psychedelic vibes and a wonderfully distorted DIY sound, The Vega Bodegas have created a thoroughly enjoyable world for their music to live inside of on their new album ‘A Complete History of Witchcraft’. We caught up with the enigmatic four-piece to find out a little more about them.
Hi guys, we love your album A Complete History of Witchcraft, can you tell us a bit more an album that you describe as being about “aliens, love, monkeys, earthquakes and food”?
Jimmy Watkins: I started writing some of the songs for the album a few years ago. Trig, Rupert are You Ready? and Days of Meat are based on demos from 2016 or something. This was before The Vega Bodegas existed. We made an EP later that year, and then started focusing on an album.
As soon as we had a few album titles knocking around, the sense or shape of the album began to form in my mind. I knew it had to be circular and the last song would take you back to the beginning. I tried to follow some kind of story with the album… One that begins with someone or something arriving on this planet, and then ending with the voice of the record disappearing through space and time. It felt complete. We always knew that we’d make this album with Charlie Francis and he understood the vibe immediately.
Nathan Griffiths: Most bands go down the route of current affairs, but why do that when we can write songs that involve, the luggage policies of budget airlines, how big Wales is and why being vegetarian isn’t for everyone.
What was the process of bringing this album to life like?
Jamie Roberts: We had all the songs gig ready and road tested for a while… apart from porridge which was written a few weeks before the recording sessions. Personally this album was the easiest recording process I have ever participated in. Everything just clicked into place so easily which is testament to Charlie Francis and the lads… considering we completed everything over three days…
JW: I discovered that I don’t own a single guitar that can stay in tune, and that Charlie Francis really is a genius.
NG: When you work with an actual real life wizard in Charlie Francis, he captures every sound that you imagine hearing prior to recording. So the process was very easy due to Charlie being so good, he also brings cannoli which is an added bonus because once drums are done there’s a lot of sitting around whilst Charlie works his magic.
Do you guys have a favourite track from the album?
JR: Magnitude 4.2… I love the punky vibe and the story, plus the breakdown is joyous!
NG: Size of Wales for me. (It’s huge, like it’s literally the size of Wales)
JW: I love the jammy bits on Trig when all the guitars kick in, and I love Porridge Doesn’t Fill Me Up. I’ve never tried anything like that lyrically before. I set out to write something honest and say, and I still managed to get a line in there about sweating on bacon.
The band has a unique sound that is hard to pin down to any one genre, was this something that you had hoped for when cultivating these tracks?
JW: We really hadn’t planned that but having different sounds for each song helps colour and inspire the lyrics. When you jam a riff like A Complete History of Witchcraft all these strange images fill your imagination and all you have to do is let them come out of your mouth.
JR: I think we all have historically varied tastes in music. We didn’t purposely look to have a varied sound, it just happened via our varied musical tastes and influences.
NG: With such a mixture of personal influences it’s kind of been a happy accident rather than intention. But we live variety that the album offers.
How would you describe the band to somebody that had never listened to you before?
NG: Humorous, energetic rock and roll.
JR: Full on, genre crossing alternative rock and roll.
JW: Tenacious Drop D.
The only place I could find the album in its entirety was on your Bandcamp page. Is this an intentional decision that you’ve made?
NG: We just didn’t want to be exploited by the major music sharing services yet. It also has allowed us to raise funds to produce physical copies of the album, which will be coming soon.
JW: Yeah, it seemed like a good place to start before raising some money to pay for physical copies. We’ve exceed our expectations in terms of sales and will be getting CD’s very soon.
What would you say are some of the biggest influences you have as a band?
JR: Personally, I’ve grown up listening to old school heavy metal, funk, prog and alternative rock music. I feel there are many elements that make up the Vega Bodegas sound. I’m struggling to pin point an actual genre to our music which I think is a good thing.
NG: For me, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Electric Six.
JW: I’m always inspired by books. This album reminds me a lot of the worlds created by Richard Brautigan. The next album will be based on some books about mathematics which I read in Tenerife.
What should people expect from a live The Vega Bodegas show?
JR: Good vibes, loud tunes…
NG: Jimmy does a cool trick with a bottle and Marc does power slides.
JW: I love introducing the band members during quiet bits in songs. I have no idea where this has come from. Apart from this very strange habit, I will go as far as to say we are probably the best live band on the planet. Put us on a stage anywhere and we will blow you away!
You guys seem to have a lot of pride in the artwork of the album. Do you feel that the image and aesthetics are an important part of the package that the band offers?
JW: My friend Mared is an incredible artist. She goes by the name of Swci Delic. When I see her work, I think the colours look like our songs sound. My dad always said that bands should have photos of themselves on album covers. I really dig this idea. It shows a confidence and, in a way, lets people know there’s no pretence in your music. You’re not hiding behind a cool drawing of a wolf or something like that…you’re just there with your naked, tired and hungover faces saying “this is us, and this is the music we make. HELLO.”
We’re also fans of music videos and are so lucky that a good friend of ours called Peter Tainty wants to work with us and film us being silly. The new video for A Complete History of Witchcraft is brilliant. He’ll film you, disappear for a few weeks and then send you something complete and magical.
What is next for The Vega Bodegas?
JR: More of the same… As a band we trust our personal influences to come to the fore and hopefully write more great songs.
NG: Write more fun, high energy rock music and as many gigs wherever and whenever we can squeeze them in.
JW: Hopefully some really good support slots and then we’ll get cracking on the next album.