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Archive for Thursday, August 22, 2002

The Vines creeping toward stardom

August 22, 2002

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The Vines are into only the second month of the release of their first album, "Highly Evolved," and already the widely heralded Australian band is ready to implode.

"I could go back in January if I get jacked off by the whole thing," bassist Patrick Matthews says over the phone from Los Angeles, where the Vines are shooting their next video with controversial photographer David LaChapelle. "I have days when I'm sure I'm going to go back. I just walk away, and that makes me feel calmer."

Matthews took a break from medical school to pursue rock stardom; he has something to go back to. But for the band's co-founder, the already notorious singer/songwriter/guitarist Craig Nicholls, the Vines are it.

"This is the only thing he can do," says Matthews, 26. "He's so unsuited for anything else in life. This is his chance."

Nicholls, 24, has already earned a rep for classic bad rock star behavior: locking himself in bathrooms, destroying hotel rooms, ditching his press responsibilities.

"He's sort of freaked out a bit," says Matthews, who formed the band with Nicholls in Sydney eight years ago. "We've been getting worked really hard. He's a bit tired."

The good news is that "Highly Evolved" debuted at No. 11 on Billboard's albums chart (falling to 21 the next week) and has already sold 173,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The band is drawing comparisons to Nirvana, not just because Nicholls is mercurial and self-destructive, like Kurt Cobain, but because he mirrors Cobain's raw power and song craft perfectionism.

While Matthews says being in a band is "much harder than going to medical school," he also admits, "it's more debauched, which is quite fun."

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