On his albums, Philadelphia rocker Kurt Vile presents a lackadaisical swagger, riffing on fatherhood and relaxation with a vocal delivery like Bob Dylan on muscle relaxants, and layering his smoky sound with long and ambling compositions.
But in conversation, Vile is excitable, with a stutter that emerges when he fights to finish a thought faster than his mouth can move, especially when talk of the influences on his ambitious and well-received new album, "Wakin' on a Pretty Daze," veers toward a tangent on early-1980s new wave songs.
"I remember we'd always used to watch videos in my cousin [and ex-drummer] Dan Bower's basement, and I was totally obsessed — even now — with the Gary Numan song 'Are Friends Electric?' " the 33-year-old guitarist recalls from his home in Philadelphia, while on break from a tour that will stop Friday night at Miami's Grand Central. "Some weird, early-'80s stuff made its way into this album, for sure. [The song] 'Was All Talk' sounds like 'Boys of Summer.' I heard [Don] Henley's version and then mine, and then, I was like, 'Screw it, I'm not changing the opening riff.' "
Vile, who records and tours with the Violators, a duo consisting of rhythm guitarist Jesse Trbovich and multi-instrumentalist Rob Laakso, is hardly the slouch "Wakin' on a Pretty Daze" may have listeners believe. Amid the extended guitar jamming and the sweeping, psychedelic reverb found on the nine-minute leadoff track "Wakin' on a Pretty Day," Vile drops the first of several references to the singer's so-called lethargy ("to these lives that we are livin'/Livin low, lackadaisically so"). And laziness continues on a deluxe reissue of the album, which contains a seven-track bonus EP that includes "Feel My Pain," a chilled-out finger-picker with Vile's signature mellow delivery.
"It's this style I've tapped into that really comes off laid-back," says Vile, who counts Sonic Youth and Silver Jews- and Pavement-era Stephen Malkmus among his influences. "I'm going to write about, you know, not wanting to move, or being completely lazy to the point of not wanting to move. It's just my personality, and I have clusters of my life where I'm running around like crazy, so who doesn't want to chill out for the length of an album?"
Heavy touring since April, when his most-recent album was released, and being dad to children Awilda and Delphine has helped Vile appreciate the lost art of doing nothing. Vile assembled the new album during flurries of creativity, writing between tour stops and recording at five New England studios, including Dreamland Studios in Kingston, NY, and Miner Street in Philadelphia.
"These days, I just book rehearsals wherever, because I don't have my ultimate rehearsal space yet," he says. "A lot of times, I'm trying out a drummer, and I'll book the jam in the studio, and let them fly off the handle with their own intuition. That's the ultimate audition. I'm used to it. I can't expect someone to always be as stressed out as me."
Kurt Vile and the Violators
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1
Where: Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami
Cost: $15Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun