The Vasco Era return for one-off Apollo Bay gig: “We aren’t releasing anything, it’s just coming back to play a gig”

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The Vasco Era return for one-off Apollo Bay gig: “We aren’t releasing anything, it’s just coming back to play a gig”

The Vasco Era at Kennedys Creek Music Festival 2017. Photo by Kirsty Renee
Words by Alex Callan

The Vasco Era vocalist Sid O’Neil on his first-ever solo album and the band's upcoming reunion show.

Thinking back to when I first saw The Vasco Era feels like somewhat of a trip. The group hit the stage for an afternoon set at Queenscliff Music Festival in 2010 and within seconds the crowd’s attention had been commandeered. Looking around you could see members of Revolver & Sun; The Rustys, Sambrose Automobile all sitting around (after many had finished playing their sets) lapping it up and truthfully, it felt like everyone was in awe. 

A decade on, the other bands in the crowd have gone onto flourishing careers, with members forming King Gizzard; The Murlocs or killing it as solo artists. Vasco on the other hand, disbanded and then seemingly dropped off, with the cause quite often being referred to as the lead vocalist Sid O’Neil’s drug-induced psychosis. 

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10 years later, Vasco finds themselves reforming for this week’s upcoming Summer Mild show (alongside The Murlocs), from the creators of WinterWild. Although as O’neil affirms, it is certainly not an indication that the group are back.

“It’ll be a lot of fun, but we aren’t releasing anything, it’s just coming back to play a gig,” he says. 

“It is something we have only really done sporadically since finishing up, but I like all the bands on the lineup and it’s in Apollo Bay so I thought it would be fun to do.”

The set however does mark somewhat of a return for O’Neill, who is gearing up to release his first-ever solo album next year. Although considering it has been over a decade since fans have heard a Sid O’Neil release, what should we be expecting?

“It’s like 50 minutes of music,” he laughs, “it all kind of joins together as one song and balances between melodies on both guitar and piano, and loud drum machines and screaming. I did all the songs and then Mikey Young from Eddy Current did the interludes between the songs to make it all flow together.

“It’s all about the same subject matter as well, which is about having a nervous breakdown from drugs.”

Expanding on the album’s subject matter he said, “It was a while ago now. I’ve had a lot of the words written down since then, so now I’ve been trying to piece it all together so it all fits.

“It’s a bit of poetic license because I feel all good now so I often find myself questioning if I should even release it, because it’s not exactly how I feel anymore. But I did all the work and it’s something I went through so it’s something that I figured I should put it out anyway.”

Talking about his breakdown and the difficulties of writing about it, he stated: “It’s a hard one to explain… Because it takes you so long to get back to being normal, it’s not a process that ends when you think it does. I imagine eventually I might feel emotional about it when I play it all live but at this point, I see this work and feel good that it’s not how I feel anymore.” 

“I find it’s hard to release stuff in the moment; sometimes you need to get through it first and write about it in hindsight for it to actually have the clarity to you.”

When noted that his newest material clearly strayed away from the blues-rock roots Vasco was known for, O’Neil laughed, stating “that was more so when I was 19/20, it would feel a bit weird if I was doing it now.

“I mean, when I was younger and Vasco started there were almost just two goals; to play good songs and to get your songs played on triple j. Even if you didn’t plan it, you’d be writing songs with song structures accommodating to those goals.

“I think when you’re little, you just want to be famous but when you get older you realize that there’s a lot more that you can do with your songs. It’s been a lot of fun figuring that out and fleshing all these new songs out.” 

Summer Mild featuring The Murlocs, The Vasco Era, Bananagun and more goes down at the Apollo Bay Distillery on Saturday, December 11 2021. Tickets can be purchased here