When the Vines burst onto the post-grunge celebrity scene in late 2001, the British press was first in line to claim them for their very own. The band was quickly compared to Nirvana while being thrown into the swarm of impacting acts like the Hives, Haven, and Doves. Still, they weren't just hype. Craig Nicholls (vocals/guitar), Patrick Matthews (bass/vocals), and David Oliffe (drums) were a tight-knit bunch eager to rock.
Founded in their native Sydney, Australia, in the late '90s, the Vines met in high school while working at a neighborhood McDonald's. Nicholls saw it fit to name the band the Vines, for his dad had fronted a '60s group by the same name, the Vynes. While playing Nirvana covers at friend's parties, the Vines worked a glamorous, punk- inspired sound. Debut single "Factory" led to a deal with Heavenly in the U.K., allowing the band to jump ship to Los Angeles to make a record with producer Rob Schnapf (Foo Fighters, Beck, Elliott Smith). During those sessions, the 90-second juggernaut "Highly Evolved" was written. The song's gutsy guitars, scowling vocals, and overall bravado earned top nods from NME as Single of the Week in March 2002.
Tours across the U.K. continued throughout the spring. Oliffe, who's not a fan of the touring life, returned home to Australia while the Vines added guitarist Ryan Griffiths and drummer Hamish Rosser to the lineup. The Vines made their American debut at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA, that April. They made their proper debut with Highly Evolved in July 2002. Two years later, the studio-obsessed Nicholls and company returned with Winning Days.
Shortly after the release of that album, Nicholls was diagnosed with the neurobiological disorder Asperger syndrome; this, coupled with Matthews' decision to leave the band to play with Youth Group, seemed to spell the end of the Vines, but Nicholls sought treatment for his condition and the remaining trio soldiered on, delivering Vision Valley in spring 2006. [AMG MacKenzie Wilson]