Traditionalists will tell you the young ones have strayed too far from the paths Hank, Johnny, Patsy and Dolly paved, but love it or hate it, modern country music is one the most powerful machines in the industry, with a fan base of epic proportions happy to go toe to toe with anyone to argue why. With the likes of Morgan Evans and Catherine Britt already making inroads into Nashville, yet another Newcastle country music powerhouse is hot on their heels. The Viper Creek Band have just released their second full length ‘Just Press Play’ to much acclaim and the world is starting to get excited. Regardless of how you feel about country music, I can assure you Damien Baguley is a lifer. He has devoted his life to learning his craft and you’ll walk a long way to find anyone as genuine. I remember sneaking into the Imperial Hotel in Tamworth to watch his band Valhalla in the late 90’s. The bloke has well and truly done his trade and the hard work is finally starting to pay off. We caught up with the main man behind VCB last time they were in brushing up on their set before dates in New Zealand.
2016 has been pretty big for VCB. Give us a wrap up of the boxes you’ve ticked this year.
The past 12 months has been a rollercoaster ride really. We have played shows in the USA,Canada and New Zealand as well as heaps of gigs/festivals in Australia. We released our most successful album to date and added another Aria chart top 10 to our belts. 2016 has been by far the most successful year for VCB by a long shot.
Now that the album, ‘Just Press Play’ has been out for a while, how is it sitting with you?
I am still so proud of this album. I worked my ass off for it and I also feel I wrote and sourced 10 really great songs. As a piece of art I think it is pretty damn good! I love the sound and production on Just Press Play. I wanted an album that sounded like it came out of Nashville in 2016 and I really think we achieved that
Considering the short time you’ve been together, the new band sounds stronger and tighter than ever. Do you feel like you are gelling as well as it sounds and do you feel like there is longevity in this line up?
I am more than happy with how the band is sounding at this present time. The beauty that came with the disbanding of the old line up was the fact that I got to choose the players I wanted. To me Viper Creek has never sounded this polished or felt this right. One thing I have learnt is that nothing is set in stone when it comes to this band. I’d be more than happy if the new line up stayed together for a long time because they are not only amazing players but good dudes as well but you never know what’s around the corner. If anyone decided to leave I couldn’t do anything to stop that. Viper Creek has always really been a solo project disguised as a band with members bringing their own flavour to the live show and if any member decided to leave VCB would still continue. As long as I want to stay on this crazy ride we will keep playing and releasing new music
Tell us about you’re writing process. What is Damien Baguley’s typical formula? Do you have a particular ritual or inspiration you go to or do the songs just come to you?
Depends on the day. Normally I will start with a melody and a few lyrics and just pick up the guitar and see where it ends up.Typically I am not a fan of songwriting. I like the idea of it and I love the finished product but it’s a bit like pulling teeth for me. Somedays it’s fun but more often than not I’d rather be somewhere else. I like to co-write and bounce ideas off other people. The couple of songs I wrote on Just Press Play were co-writes with a mate (Matt Scullion) in Nashville. I had a title, melody and and a few lyric ideas and we just sat down and worked out what I was trying to say.
You lived out somewhat of a lifelong dream when you appeared on stage with Keith Urban in Sydney recently. How does a young fella from Narrabri get to kick it with the biggest name in popular country music of the last 20 years?
I have been a fan of Keith Urban since I saw him play in Kmart Tamworth in 1997 with about 30 other people. I have followed his career since then and watched him skyrocket into the superstar he is today. I have been lucky to meet him on quite a few occasions over the years and he is exactly the same guy in real life you see on TV. Just a down to earth nice dude. Anyway I got tickets to an industry event Keith did in Sydney where he played live on the 2day FM rooftop. He played and acoustic version of Somebody like you and towards the end of the song he asked if anyone in the crowd knew the song. I had a few friends in the audience who all pointed me out and next thing I know I’m singing on stage with KU. It was terrifying at first but then I decided to have fun with it. An experience that I won’t ever forget.
What can we expect in 2017 from VCB?
2017 is already looking crazy! Our first show of the year is in the USA onboard Country Cruising with US superstars Chris Young, Kelsea Ballerini and some of the cast of the TV show Nashville. We then head back for the Tamworth Country music festival and the big one CMC rocks in March! There’s already talk of another 3 week tour of Canada mid year and a bunch of other festivals. I’m heading to Fiji as part of Tunes in the tropics with a bunch of Aussie artists. We are also stoked to have been invited back on board the Australian country music festival at sea ‘Country Cruising’ with Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts , Adam Harvey amongst others and then hopefully we will get out to some of those places in Australia we have been trying to get to for the last few years and keep building the fan base.
Finally, why should the folks out there get off the couch and get their hands on a copy Just Press Play and get to the next VCB gig?
I think people are missing out on a lot of great music because they are scared of the word ‘country’. The most common thing I hear from punters is ‘I don’t like country music but I love you guys’ I don’t know wether to be offended or happy about that. Country music has evolved so much over the last few years that to me it lends itself more to 70’s rock like The Eagles, Creedence Clearwater and Fleetwood Mac as opposed to Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash. I think it’s important to never forget the roots of country music but it has to evolve in order to survive. Come on out to a show or grab the new album and I think you’ll be very surprised with what you find. You will at least see and hear a band that gives 200% every time they walk on stage and puts their heart and soul into every album they release so that’s gotta be worth something