Kurt Vile on new single ‘Like Exploding Stones’ and new album ‘watch my moves’
The Philly singer-songwriter talks to NME about his shimmering new single, psychedelic roller rinks and his new album featuring Cate Le Bon, The Sun Ra Arkestra and more
Kurt Vile has shared psychedelic visuals for his new single ‘Like Exploding Stones’, as well as announcing details of his next studio album ‘(watch my moves)’. Check it out below along with our interview with Vile.
Released on April 15, ‘watch my moves’ will be Vile’s first album since signing to the legendary jazz label Verve Records in 2021. The record was made over a long stretch of time between his newly-constructed home studio OKV Central in his native Philadelphia, and sessions in Los Angeles with long time collaborator Rob Schnapf.
“My albums always progress from one to the next just by me getting older physically and spiritually,” Vile told NME of the 15 track LP. “I think my last record [2018’s ‘Bottle It In’] was pretty epic, and on this one I’ve had even more time to make it. I’ve got the energy of a new label, and I don’t feel as much in a rush. I recorded more than enough songs and then just put all the best ones on this album, so it’s perfect.”
The newfound time and space – as well as the stresses of lockdown – heavily inspired Vile’s writing. “In the early times [of the pandemic], honestly I was relieved in a selfish way,” he said. “I was exhausted, so I was thinking ahead to disappearing into my own studio world. But then obviously there were all kinds of uncertainties. Losing people like [former collaborator] John Prine, that was just a nightmare.”
Vile continued: “I was stressed by the weight of the world, but pretty much all of my songs take a certain turn where there’s stress and darkness and then I pull into the light. There’s stress coming down on my brain and then you just notice some beautiful tree, or you turn your head to the light. Life is a struggle, but you’ve just got to try and turn your head to the light, man.”
The accompanying video for the drifting and hypnotic ‘Like Exploding Stones’ finds Vile wandering the city’s industrial district before being magically transported to a psychedelic roller-skating rink. “I think it’s very Philadelphia,” he said. “Where else can you get such a freaky cast of people?”
Director Sean Dunne took inspiration for the first half of the video for Bruce Springsteen‘s iconic 1993 single ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’. “Then all of a sudden I basically tap into a portal and the raw Philly disco psychedelic roller rink scene,” said Vile. “I don’t know, what it is, but the Philly thing is just unique, so I tapped into it and I’m going to do it again with the next video.”
He first met Dunne when the filmmaker and his team were working on documentary footage of Vile and his band The Violators. “They’ve become good friends of mine, they were very funny, psychedelic people, and it’s fun to tap into that world. I feel like people haven’t done that enough lately.”
In keeping Verve Records’ jazz legacy, the new video also features an appearance from the legendary saxophonist James Stewart of the Philadelphia-based cosmic jazz collective The Sun Ra Arkestra, who delivers a sublime solo at the roller skating rink. Vile said he was first inspired to contact Stewart after being “mesmerised” by him at a pre-pandemic gig.
“I knew that ‘Like Exploding Stones’ needed something in the middle, so I went out on a limb,” said Vile. “I couldn’t believe it when he showed up. He was into roller skating as well, and he invited some of his friends to roller skate in the video.”
Cate Le Bon also appears on the album, on one of around five tracks that she and Vile recorded in the Autumn of 2019. “If I didn’t have some solid songs in my pocket I guess I would have been more stressed out during lockdown, but because I knew I had some solid things to fall back on I knew I could take my time and make this record,” Vile said.
Further collaborators on the album include Chastity Belt, Warpaint‘s Stella Mozgawa, as well as Hot Chip and Harry Styles collaborator Sarah Jones. “I’m into collaborating,” Vile added. “By the time it was 2021, I was able to get out to LA again, I immediately wanted to get out to LA and reconnect with certain friends.”
‘(watch my moves)’ will be released on April 15. Check out the full tracklist below.
1. Goin on a Plane Today
2. Flyin (like a fast train)
3. Palace of OKV in Reverse
4. Like Exploding Stones
5. Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)
6. Hey Like a Child
7. Jesus on a Wire
8. Fo Sho
9. Cool Water
10. Chazzy Don’t Mind
11. (shiny things)
12. Say the Word
13. Wages of Sin
14. kurt runner
15. Stuffed Leopard
Vile is also set to embark on an extensive tour across the US and Europe later this year, with tickets on sale from 10am this Friday (February 18). His British and Irish dates are as follows:
Friday 26 – London, All Points East Festival
Saturday 27 – Bath, Forum
Sunday 28 – Leeds, Stylus
Monday 29 – Glasgow, QMU
Tuesday 30 – Belfast, Limelight
Wednesday 31 – Dublin, Vicar Street
Friday 02 – Birmingham, Mosely Folk & Arts Festival
Saturday 03 – Manchester, Manchester Psych Fest
Sunday 04 – Dorset, End Of The Road Festival