With the follow-up to their cracking 2017 debut – the equally scuzzy and soul-caressing A Quality Of Mercy – ready to go, RVG are gearing up for their biggest year to date in 2019. And kicking it all off for the Melbourne indie-rock luminaries is a gloriously ginormous theatre tour supporting genre staple Kurt Vile, as well as a choice spot on the lineup for the inagural Farmer & The Owl festival, which is set to drop Wollongong's jaws en masse next month. Before all of that goes down, we caught up with frontwoman Romy Vager to vibe on festivals, gear, the highlights of the year that was and the things we should start getting hyped for in the year ahead.
Do you like to get amongst the vibe at festivals and catch many other artists’ sets, or are you more of a backstage dweller, chilling out ’til your own set time?
I usually hide away during shows because I get nervous, but I’ve made it a resolution to see more bands on tour this year so I’m gonna try to catch as much as I can... Unless it’s really hot.
Who are you excited to catch at The Farmer And The Owl?
Beach House and Snail Mail! I also haven’t seen Stella [Donnelly] or Party Dozen play for ages, so that’ll be great. And The Aints! We love Ed Kuepper – he’s a national treasure.
What would you say is the key to having the best time possible at a music festival?
My favourite festivals are always coincidentally the ones that don’t have heaps of creeps or jerks at them. It sucks when it’s only fun for a few.
You’ve also got this tour coming up in April with Kurt Vile – what are you keen to get up to on this run? Does a tour like this one offer any unique opportunities for you?
Yeah, totally. We get to play to some large rooms full of people who might like us. Plus, we get to play lots of places for the first time. I’m from Adelaide and we haven't played a show there before, so that will be nice.
We’re coming up on 18 months since the release of A Quality Of Mercy – do you feel like this album is still the best representation of what RVG is as a band in 2019, or have you grown significantly as a band since?
Personally, I don’t think it’s a super accurate representation of where we are now. We started recording that album about six months after forming, and now we’ve been playing for three years. My vocals don’t sound like me anymore. I heard a song come on in a bar recently and I thought it was a cover! It’s weird in those ways, but we’re still super proud of it. It’s our first child.
What have been some of your highlights from the past year-and-a-half with A Quality Of Mercy out in the wild?
Oh God, I don’t even know where to begin. Playing in BBC Studio 4 was definitely a big deal, and all of the overseas touring. We opened for Pete Doherty in this French 17th century fort overlooking the mediterranean sea and the full moon – that was a big vibe. We also played the Meredith festival about a year ago to all our friends, which was also incredible.
How is the new record coming along?
It’s done! You’ll hear some of it very soon.
Where are you excited to take your signature sound and style on it?
We’ve got a lot more songs with sharper edges than the last record. There’s still a similar sheen to it, but it’s different. If you’ve seen us live in the last year, you can probably suss it out.
One thing that I think really stands out about A Quality Of Mercy is the innate DIY nature of it, from it being written and recorded at The Bank in Melbourne to the raw, distinctly human passion that seeps into every track. Are you taking a similar approach to the creative process for LP2, or switching things up there?
We did the opposite! We actually went into a studio with a producer this time. I think we’ve been very mindful to make something that captures the tenderness of the first record, but doesn’t sound like a clone. It’s still got that live and verby feel to it though.
Do you have a go-to guitar at the moment?
I just use my black Danelectro that my friends got me for my birthday. It’s got magical friendship powers to it, I swear! It’s very special.
And what about your live rig? Is your setup in the studio the same as it is onstage?
I still only use the Boss ME-80 pedal that I’ve had since we started playing. Gus [Angus Belle, bass] has a newish bass pedal that he can plug into any amp to make it sound good, which we used a bit on the new record. Reuben [Bloxham, guitar] usually plugs straight into the amp but we found a couple of fuzz pedals in the studio that we both used on some of the songs. I want to try and replicate that more live, but I haven’t found the right fuzz yet.
Anything else you wanna say to the readers of Australian Guitar?
I’ve been trying to learn how to play the solo to "My Sharona" but it’s really hard. I don’t think my Dano has enough frets... Is that a thing?
Catch the full details for RVG's 2019 tour dates below!
Saturday March 2nd - Farmer & The Owl, Wollongong NSW
Friday March 15th - Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Melbourne VIC
Monday April 15th - Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW (with Kurt Vile)
Tuesday April 16th - UniBar, Wollongong NSW (with Kurt Vile)
Wednesday April 17th - ANU, Canberra ACT (with Kurt Vile)
Monday April 22nd - Forum Theatre, Melbourne VIC (with Kurt Vile)
Saturday April 27th - The Gov, Adelaide SA (with Kurt Vile)
Sunday April 28th - Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA (with Kurt Vile)