VEGA’s Nick Workman and Pete Newdeck talk about their new album and UK headline tour coming in September 2023

We get influences from everywhere – we can be in Pizza Hut and hear something over the speakers and I’ll be holding the phone up trying to record it

INTERVIEW BY VICTORIA LLEWELYN

UK melodic hard rockers VEGA have announced the release of their eight album this September accompanied by a headline tour. Taking inspiration from classic bands such as Def Leppard and Bon Jovi and fusing it with more modern sounds, this album sees the band go bigger than ever. Founding member Nick Workman and drummer / producer Pete Newdeck have co-written the album – ‘Battlelines’ and can’t wait to take it out on the road for the UK to hear.

MGM: You’ve been around a while – since 2009 – and have released no less than seven albums with ‘Battlelines’ following as number eight. VEGA have made big changes over the years with their line up and their musical direction. Was there a plan to create a serious band from the outset, now being one of the most well-known known AOR bands of the current time?

NW: We never set out to be an AOR band! I don’t even like the term AOR, it makes me think of bands like Toto and Journey, and I don’t have any of those kind of albums. When we first put the band together it was going to be a project but as soon as we’d written the song ‘Kiss Of Life’ we thought – this is too cool! We have to make a proper band! The album ‘Kiss Of Life’ was written with ‘project’ in mind but AOR was never really our style of music. Frontiers released it after about twelve months, they liked it, then we sent them the demo for our next album ‘What The Hell’ which is much more our preferred style, and they said – What’s this? We don’t like it.  We want an AOR record like the last one!

We really wanted to release ‘What The Hell’ so we agreed with Frontiers that they’d let us go, it was very amicable, and we released it through another label but then we went back; it was like an open relationship, we went ‘on a break’ and then got back together! Frontiers have released everything else since.

I think VEGA’s identity has formed from album to album, each one has evolved into something different, but it all carries our foundation. Each album is noticeably VEGA but has a different flavour to it. So no, AOR isn’t really my cup of tea, and since Pete’s joined we get different influences again – Pete was really into bands like WHAM! and Culture Club.

PN: I listened to a lot of melodic rock, definitely WHAM! in that era, then more aggressive pop-rock, anything really! I’m not very narrow in my listening preferences any more!

MGM: Do you think you might have brought some pop culture influence to the band when you joined in 2020 Pete?

PN: I did, yes, and there’s an element of that on the new album, and you can hear the influences from the modern rock bands I listen to, such as Bring Me The Horizon. What you’re choosing to listen to can’t help but be reflected in the music you’re writing.

NW: We get influences from everywhere – we can be in Pizza Hut and hear something over the speakers and I’ll be holding the phone up trying to record it because I think it’s cool, I’m going to nick that! It doesn’t have to be rock music, but obviously we are a rock band so it will get turned into that.

MGM: VEGA are a different incarnation now from when the band was born, since founder members James and Tom Martin moved on, and with Pete being the third drummer who stepped in to ‘help out’ and is clearly going nowhere! As a song writing duo you both seem to have hit your stride with the band as it stands now – do you feel that the current line-up is your strongest to date?

NW: Tom and James left after we did the Magnum tour, around a year ago, the door was always left ajar for them, but they decided it was time to move on. Pete and I, we just got straight back into it and started writing a new album. Twelve songs, and Pete and I wrote pretty much all of them together; Billy co-wrote a few of them and of course the other guys had their input, but essentially, we created it.

PN: We weren’t intending this to be like a new lease of life, it just evolved by itself. As we were going through the writing process, we’d be on the phone to each other going – Oh my God this is awesome! Certain people on various media platforms took the view that once the Martin brothers left that was the band over, but when you know you are totally headed in some great new direction then you cross into thinking that you now have a point to prove. We have proved that point, we are ridiculously proud of the new album; it’s the best album I’ve had any part in writing.

NW: Pete’s got his own studio, and we live fairly near to each other so we were able to work on it closely together. On this album, for example the song ‘Love To Hate You’, we both had different chorus ideas and we were able to say okay, let’s just try everything! Even if I had an amazing idea – and all my ideas of course are amazing – Pete could say well, now try singing it this way, and I’d do it and have to say yeah, allright then, we’ll do your bit, it’s better!

We wouldn’t stop writing and recording until we felt like it was our best work yet, and no disrespect to anything we’ve done before, I could see even halfway in that it was going to be. The other thing for Pete and myself, this was the first time we had done this, sat down and written songs together, it was all fresh and shiny and new!

However, even though we’re doing our own thing on the new album we’ve paid massive respects to the old VEGA and tried very hard to make sure that the new VEGA appeals to the old VEGA fans. We paid massive respect to Tom and James, the Martin brothers for the same reason.

MGM: Have you decided on which tracks you want to release as singles? ‘Love To Hate You’ has been the first release, what are the plans for a follow up?

PN: Every time we finished a song we’d look at each other and say – there’s another single! We’d given ourselves a problem! We decided the album was strong enough to release four singles. Every band member had a difference of opinion on which they should be, so we decided to have a barbecue and invite loads of friends, play them the whole album and tell us what they thought the singles should be. The we shortlisted it again and came up with a final four, and then we changed our minds again. A bit like the United Nations!

NW: It’s a win-win for us really. We took an opinion from the record label as well, which was aligned with ours, and I don’t think any of us are disappointed with the four that we’ve gone for. Won’t say what they are though!

Pete and I, we’re not going to run out of ideas anytime soon. We feel that we’ve only just scratched the surface as a writing duo and have so much more to tap into.

MGM: Your next tour starts at the end of September, with Kim Jennett Band supporting, 14 dates across the UK. You’ve toured repeatedly over the years – do you still get excited about going out live? How are you feeling about this tour? Will you host another barbecue to decide on the set list?

NW: We were one of the first bands to get back out there after COVID and tour. It wasn’t particularly well attended as people were still nervous about going out, but someone had to start things off again! We’ve done a lot of great supports, but this is our biggest headline tour to date.

PN: Again, it’s all about being proud of the album. I’m really excited for people to hear this music live, because that’s the best environment for the songs to be listened to in. With the set list, there’ll be the four singles, we won’t change our minds about them! The we are going to pick what we think is going to work best live. We want everyone to hear everything! We may mix the set up a little too, swap a couple in and out and try different songs on different nights.

NW: Yeah, we’re just going to play everything at double speed!

MGM: Which venues are you particularly looking forward to playing this time around?

NW: Yardbirds, in Grimsby, is where the first ever VEGA gig was played, to around 15 people I think! That will be a special one. If we get more than 15 in I’ll be happy!

PN: We love playing The Waterloo in Blackpool, it has this great pizza place out front!  And it’s one of the best venues on the circuit of course, it’s not just about the pizza. We’ve never played The Musician in Leicester before, but I have been there and it’s a fantastic little venue, always a great crowd in there. London too. We are looking forward to playing venues we haven’t played before of course, because we always want to widen our reach; also, we didn’t get to gig the last couple of albums as much as we’d have liked to, what with COVID and the situation with Tom and James leaving the band. Now though, we’re fully set up, ready to go, and this will be the biggest UK tour we’ve ever done. The relationship between all five band members is fantastic.

MGM: What does the future hold for VEGA? Any post tour plans?

PN: I’m going to go on a cruise!

NW: We have still more gigs to come, we’re looking at some dates out in Europe after the tour. After this tour though, looking towards next year, the next time we play the UK we’d like it to be as support for a bigger band – there’s no point in continuing to preach to the converted and we like having different experiences. We’ve done some great supports in the past – Skid Row, Magnum, Dan Reed Network. If people want to see a full headline set from VEGA this is the tour, it’ll be the last time for a while, so come and get the full shebang!

Nick in 2017 supporting DRN

VEGA on tour with Kim Jennett Band

September 28 – Grimsby, Yardbirds

September 29 – Cannock, The Station

October 1 – Sheffield, The Corporation

October 5th – Blackpool, The Waterloo

October 6th – Newport, The Patriot

October 7th – Bradford, Nightrain

October 8th – Stoke, Eleven

October 12th – Leicester, The Musician

October 13th – Dover, The Booking Hall

October 14th – London, Boston Music Rooms

October 15th – Cambridge, Portland Arms

October 20th – Glasgow, Ivory Blacks

October 22nd – Newcastle, Trillians

 

Tickets for all shows available from Vega Official Website

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