Kurt Samuel Vile is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is best known both for his solo work and as the former lead guitarist of rock band The War on Drugs. Both in the studio and during live performances, Vile is accompanied by his backing band, The Violators, which currently includes Jesse Trbovich (bass, guitar, saxophone), Rob Laakso (guitar, bass) and Kyle Spence (drums).
Influenced by Pavement, Neil Young, Tom Petty, and John Fahey, Vile began his musical career creating lo-fi home recordings with frequent collaborator Adam Granduciel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Focusing on his solo career, Vile released two albums, Constant Hitmaker (2008) and God Is Saying This to You… (2009), compiling various home recordings dating back to 2003. Vile signed to Matador Records in 2009 and released his third album, Childish Prodigy, that same year. The album was his first recorded in a studio and with the full participation of The Violators.
Ten years ago, singer and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Vile was making recordings using a digital 8-track recorder in his bedroom. Now, he’s headlining a national tour and performing at the Music Farm on Sunday.
Vile’s music gets lumped into the blanket genre of indie rock, but he really has more in common with Neil Young or Bob Dylan than your modern-day indie rocker. Fingerpicking acoustic guitar, a vocal style drifting between catchy melodies and talk-singing, insightful stream-of-conscious lyrics laced with dry humor, existentialism, and personal anecdotes.
The indie rock descriptor probably arose from his early recordings, the ones he made at home on that digital 8-track. Released in 2008, Vile’s debut album “Constant Hitmaker” was sort of a best-of collection of those home recordings, produced between 2003 and 2007. The album is drenched in reverb. Ambient drones and psychedelic textures abound. “My machinery was limited,” says Vile, “so I just had to add weird effects; otherwise it would sound kind of clean and digital.”
In the world of high fidelity, Vile has flourished. “Smoke Ring” garnered widespread critical acclaim, as has every album since. His most recent release, 2015’s “b’lieve I’m goin down…,” is his most accessible to date and his biggest commercial success, even charting his first number-one hit on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart with the song, “Pretty Pimpin.”