EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: MR VEGAS LAUNCHES NEW BIG BAND, THE VEGAS SIX

Mr Vegas © Mark Tighe

Mr Vegas © Mark Tighe

Straight Razor Angels were easily one of the best bands to come out of Barnsley in the last decade; pure good old fashioned rock n roll, with lashings of rockabilly, punk and references to acts like Brian Setzer and Reverend Horton Heat. They also had one of the best frontmen around in Mr. Craig Vegas. Straight Razor Angels called it a day at the end of 2013, and while Vegas spent 2014 playing in the Tombstone Buzzards, we were always secretly waiting for the his next big rock n roll vehicle. Good news then because last month he launched The Vegas Six, with a gig at Sheffield’s O2 Academy, a cheeky video and a set of three awesome demo recordings all following. I caught up with Mr. Vegas to find out more about him and his new project.

For those unfamiliar with The Vegas Six, how would you describe the sounds you make?
The Vegas Six are ‘glam blues’. We are everything a good rock n roll band should be. LOUD.

Tell me about the band’s line-up?
Obviously a six piece. I’m the singer, joined by my former comrades from Straight razor Angels, Ross Keeble on drums, Eddie P Cleaver III on guitar (formerly bass in SRA); and now joined by Phil Gardiner on piano /keys, Andy Boyce on double bass, and Ali ‘Bison’ Adair on saxophone.

I was a big fan of Straight Razor Angels and also familiar with Tombstone Buzzards, but what was happening musically for you before those?
Before SRA, I was mainly in an authentic rockabilly band, The Tennesee Trio. Just guitar in those days, no singing.

Mr Vegas in the studio © Mark Tighe

Mr Vegas in the studio © Mark Tighe

You have a very distinct visual style. Which people, performers or films have influence your look, both on stage and off, over the years?
I had a quiff at fifteen. I was big into 50’s Rock n Roll and Blues, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran etc. Original ‘cool’. But also 60s/70s film icons, Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, Steve McQueen in Bullitt and so on.

As well as all things rockabilly, what other kinds of music do your enjoy?
My first love was blues; Howlin Wolf, Elmore James. I always come back to that but I’d say the most airplay at Vegas Towers at the moment goes to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The man’s peerless.

I like to hear about people’s favourite records. So let’s have a few from you. What record got you through school?
Hard to pin down the one record that got me through school, but if I was pushed, I’d probably say ‘Look On Yonder Wall‘ by Elmore James.

Which records inspired you to be a musician?
When I first started playing guitar, I just wanted to play one song well. Maybe ‘Smokestack Lightening‘ by Howlin Wolf, with the brilliant Hubert Sumlin on guitar. That song still blows me away.

Off the top of your head, if you could only ever play three records again, what would they be?
Three Records?! Nick Cave’s Lyre of Orpheus/Abattoir Blues, Elmore James’ Dust My Broom and Legendary Shack Shakers’ Swampblood.

The Vegas Six © Mark Tighe

The Vegas Six © Mark Tighe

What’s your favourite from the current crop of local South Yorkshire musicians?
My favourite local band at the moment has to be Hands Off Gretel.

You had your debut gig as The Vegas Six recently. How did that go?
It was great to play our debut at the Sheffield 02 Academy to such a great crowd. My first ever stage performance without a guitar to hide behind as well, so I was actually pretty nervous. Luckily I’m with some really awesome musicians, so once we started everything fell into place. It felt good to get the reaction we did. We nailed it! We wanted to play all night!

So what are your plans now?
We’re writing new songs relentlessly, as hardly any of our tunes last longer than three minutes, so we need about 20/30 songs just to do a show! We’re playing the Yellow Arch in Sheffield on June 13th and the Honey Bee Blues Club later in the year along with a return to the 02, but really were still a work in progress. It shouldn’t be long before we can start to get out and tour properly.

Thank you to Mark Tighe for the use of his awesome images. Mark is a regular photography for various publications, including Conterfeit Magazine. Visit www.flickr.com/photos/chimpola/sets/ to view more of his work.

If you want to stay up to date with all things The Vegas Six, visit the following links:
www.facebook.com/thevegassix
twitter.com/thevegassix
soundcloud.com/vegas-six/

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