Edinburgh four-piece Vistas are an essential addition to all your best indie playlists. Formed in early 2016 by vocalist and guitarist Prentice Robertson, guitarist Dylan Rush, bassist Jamie Law, and drummer Graham McDonald, the band have caught the ear of playlist curators at Spotify, becoming regular fixtures on their New Music Friday playlist with tracks ‘Hold Me’, ‘Strong Swimmer’, and brand new single ‘Retrospect’. They’ve built up a significant live presence with shows with Clean Cut Kid, Model Aeroplanes, and The View. Their feel-good indie rock vibes with characteristically rich vocals from singer Prentice Robertson look set to earn them even more fans in the coming months. Spindle caught up with Prentice to discuss the story up to now, and whether being in an indie rock band is really as cool as it looks.
Hi Prentice! To begin with, tell me about how the band came to be.
Sure! So, we all met in high school, and myself, Jamie our bass player and Graham our drummer were in a band and myself and our guitar player Dylan were also in a band, and we were just sort of doing it for fun. We never took it very seriously, and then just after we left school we got booked for a good festival – we were still pretty bad at that time – and we played the festival and we were like ‘Ah – we could maybe actually make a go of this!’ So we took some time off and then started planning out what we were gonna do, then we brought Dylan into the band that was the three of us, and then we started Vistas in 2016. So it just came about because we wanted to take it a little bit more seriously.
Who would you say are your musical influences?
It’s quite wide-ranging. I suppose the big indie bands of the past few years have obviously got a big influence on us, like The Strokes, Kings of Leon, Two Door Cinema Club, for example. But Jamie likes a lot of Chicago-based garage bands and Graham likes bands like Led Zeppelin and things like that – Dylan is a massive Beatles fan as well, so it’s quite wide-ranging to be honest.
Yeah! Tell me about how you wrote ‘Hold Me’.
Sure! If I remember right, I was walking home from work, and I just sort of started humming the melody for the verse in my head. Then I got my phone out and started recording it and I’m sure everyone who was walking past me in the street thought I was incredibly strange, but yeah [Laughs].
So, I did that and obviously that’s a really strong melody and the chorus just kinda followed on from there. And then I just sort of sat down, made a little demo of it, kinda worked out different parts, and then that’s how it came to be. It’s quite a simple song itself so it was a relatively painless one to write, it was a good song to write. And that’s kinda how it came about.
And then the lyrics are just kind of about, like, if there’s sort of things coming along in your life – opportunities, things like that – to just sort of go for them as opposed to letting yourself be held back by other things. And that’s just how the song came about really.
The video’s really good and really funny as well – whose idea was it?
[Laughs] Cheers! That was sort of a melting-pot of, like, the whole team – our manager helped out a little bit, and then we’ve got a good friend who helps to shoot videos back in Scotland and stuff and it was all a big sort of melting pot of ideas from everyone. It started out totally different from the way it actually is and I think we’re really happy with how it came out – it’s a fun video, you know?
Yeah, it looked like a lot of fun to film! So, you’ve been doing a lot of live performances – are there any highlights you can tell us about?
Yeah, absolutely – we just played Neighbourhood Festival, just a couple of weeks ago, and that was really good. That was our second time in Manchester and it was good to see that there were people coming back to see us, ‘cause we’re coming from a totally different end of the country, so that was really cool. The whole festival was great for us – it’s such a brilliant festival so it’s great to be part of that.
We played our first show in London as well just last week, and that was great as well… The venue was really cool, so that was good – and, to be honest, just the fact that we got to go on tour for the first time. Just like – it’s every small band’s dream, you know what I mean? Just to be able to actually go on tour solidly for two weeks, playing in a different city every night, so the whole tour was generally a highlight. And I think now as a band we’re sort of getting to the stage where we’re properly gelling live and we think anyway that we’ve got something special there so… Yeah. I think it’s all been a highlight, really, all the gigs.
Yeah! Being in a band is often perceived as being extremely cool – what do you think are the coolest and the most uncool parts of being in a band or being on tour?
[Laughs] I dunno! The cool side of it is definitely – I mean, we’re not a very cool band, like, I mean, we try and be cool but I think that the time that you start to focus on actually being cool is the time that your music doesn’t mean anything anymore. So we’ve more focused on playing better live and having a good live stage presence and just generally being a good band as opposed to worrying about being too cool to be honest, so…
The time that you start to focus on actually being cool is the time that your music doesn’t mean anything anymore.
I suppose the uncool elements are like… When you’re onstage and you do this thing that looks so effortless but you’ve actually spent, you know, forty hours practising it in the rehearsal room. But I think that the whole sort of illusion of it really helps out. But there’s a lot of uncool sides about being in a band, like moving your equipment from one side of a city to another because you can’t drive through that bit of the city and stuff… Again, it’s all about how people perceive you. But we just try and be casual and chill out – we don’t really worry too much about being cool.
Definitely – it’s more important to be good than cool.
So what are your goals for the next year? (Don’t be afraid to dream big on this one!)
Absolutely, yeah! I suppose our goals are pretty similar to a lot of bands – we just want to write a lot more music, hopefully get a first album together and kind of ready to go whenever that comes about. And just really focus on build[ing] our fanbase really, because it’s starting to grow – everywhere we’re going there’s people singing the words, and it’s great to see. It just spurs you on to just build that more and more.
So the goal really for the next year is [to] keep doing what we’re doing – hopefully just keep writing good songs, keep building our fanbase round the country. Obviously there’s a lot of key festivals we’d love to play and things like that, and obviously a massive goal for us is to play outside of the UK as well. But, you know, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We’re all happy with the way we’re doing things at the moment.
Thanks so much Prentice!
Listen to Vistas’ brand new single, ‘Retrospect’ below, or catch them at their headlining show in Edinburgh at the Mash House on 17th November.
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