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November 2020

Vistas are saving a washout summer with an album chock-full of feel-good indie vibes: "Hopefully, it will be some sort of relief to our fans"

Prentice Robertson tells us more.
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Published: 10:20 am, June 29, 2020Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photos: Niall Lee.
Vistas are saving a washout summer with an album chock-full of feel-good indie vibes: "Hopefully, it will be some sort of relief to our fans"

One of the minor music tragedies that 'all this' *gestures wildly* brought about is the abrupt state of limbo that many of our favourite artists found themselves in. With a debut record packed full of summertime bangers in the bag, Vistas were one band that seemed to be about to have A Moment. But as dreams of balmy festival evenings and sweaty rooms faded away, their time looked like it could slip from 'Now' to 'Later'.

Rather than lamenting a summer that, for now, will never come, the band look like they could yet triumph, however. With a record of anthems of supporting each other through thick and thin and of being there for your mates, this may just end up perfect timing for the Edinburgh trio after all.

As Dork catches up with frontman Prentice over Zoom, he's more than aware of the strange circumstances that 'Everything Changes In The End' lands in. "Yeah, for sure," he smiles slightly. "It's funny how a lot of the meanings and a lot of these tunes kind of translate into what's happening now. That wasn't our intention obviously!"

Leaving to one side the small chance that he is the greatest forecaster of all time, it's striking how prescient some of this record now is. From the title track onwards, these are messages of hope, of holding on, of sticking together with your mates through everything. In short, it's everything we need right now.

"One of my mates was going through a really tough period with uni and relationships and stuff," Prentice reveals of the earliest origins of the album themes. "And I was just kind of living and breathing that with him, just chatting everything through. So a lot of the songs I was writing was just reflective of that."

With a main message of "hold tight my friend, everything changes in the end" forming the huge emotional heartbeat at the centre of the record, it all began to slot into place. These thoughts held true for the band themselves as well.

"Being in a band is really difficult a lot of time, there are lots of periods where you feel like you're going nowhere," he admits. "We know how to wind each up, but we also know how to look after each other because we were mates first and then started the band. I get to do this with my mates, and that's important. That's why a lot of the songs are about being there for a significant person in your life."

"Being in a band is really difficult a lot of time, there are lots of periods where you feel like you're going nowhere"
Prentice Robertson

Vistas have always sounded like a band of mates having a perfect summer, with a mix of in-your-face guitars and choruses that sound big enough to be visible from space. Now their debut leans even further into that.

"I guess it wasn't deliberate, but that's just kind of the music we like, it's got to have that sort of festival chorus," Prentice explains, "A lot of the time, when we get a lyric or a hook, we ask whether you could imagine this at a festival? That moment when someone turns to their mate, puts their arm around their shoulder or hugs them, if we hit that mood then we know we're onto something. Because that's how bands made us feel when we were 15 or 16."

Seeing as that time period was when the trio, (Prentice, guitarist Dylan Rush and bassist Jamie Law) first formed the band, it is easy to see the importance. There is an air of the album existing in that last summer in-between school or college days, the one where adulthood starts to lurk around the corner, that last summer to take a deep breath and make bad decisions.

"Yeah, that's pretty much where Vistas started really, it's kind of that last period before real life actually kicks in and also just that weird middle period between being a teenager and an adult, where you get to find yourself." The memories for Prentice are good, classic Scottish tales of a T In The Park sunburn. "That's the thing, there are so many things that you do in these festival summers that's just because you're so naive. You're just a wee kid basically, and you're let loose in the world. So it's nice that we've got these songs now, because whenever we play them you'll get a different memory. It reflects our lives."

Carefully resisting the temptation to pack the album with existing live favourites, Prentice wanted to keep the momentum, and view, pushing forwards. "Obviously the way music works now, it's a singles game up until you release a record. We already had maybe eleven or twelve songs out before doing it, we wanted to stay away from putting too much old stuff on because we wanted the album to be a thing on its own."

Just two older tracks made the cut, 'Retrospect' and 'Tigerblood'. "'Retrospect' was the song that really kicked things off for us, so there was no way we could leave that off. And 'Tigerblood' just fitted the album really well, but we re-recorded literally every single layer on them."

"We're still trying to be The Strokes, essentially"
Prentice Robertson

With an ability to capture their live sound effectively on record, every effort was put into transferring the live experience - even down to building in the same ebbs and flows as their live shows. A lifetime seemingly spent on the road supporting bands like The Wombats, The Kooks and Circa Waves, as well as tirelessly touring in their own right, have perfected the approach. There's nothing like a support slot to help craft a setlist of pure bangers after all.

"You're just aware of how short a space of time half an hour is, so it all becomes a kind of science to grab someone's attention," he laughs, but it is a mentality that has helped to keep 'Everything Changes In The End' relentlessly full of peaks and Moments, all leading up to the stratospheric 'November', a track that soars to new heights and hints at a rockier future.

"That started off originally on a piano, no drum machine behind it or anything. But then we were like, 'we're not Coldplay, we cannot have a piano on this record'. I suppose some of the recent stuff sits in a rocky world sound-wise, but you know, we're still trying to be The Strokes essentially," he laughs.

With everything still up in the air, any talk of future plans comes with huge caveats and unanswerable questions. For now, another support slot with Circa Waves and an extensive headline tour of their own remain on the table for Autumn, health and safety dependent obviously. There's an understandable hint of sadness to Prentice as he talks about where everything has left him personally.

"It's really weird, you put in all this graft for years. And you eventually get to the point where, this is your year, you're gonna play main stages, you're gonna release an album, and then something completely out of your control just takes over."

Instantly though, he returns to a position of optimism, those messages from his album shining through again. "I guess it's just cool that there are bands putting out new music during this period, because any kind of hardship that society goes through, music and art always come to the front to make things better. I'm still really happy we're putting the record out, I'm glad that people will hear it. Hopefully, it will be some sort of relief to our fans."

That advice to his friend, that you just need to hold on, has never sounded truer. Everything will change. 

Taken from the July issue of Dork. Vistas' debut album 'Everything Changes In The End' is out now.

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