Kurt Vile won't pretend he isn't laid back, but it's easy to see why.
Kurt Vile won't pretend he isn't laid back, but it's easy to see why. After an early life working blue collar jobs, holding a guitar in front of thousands of people is a cakewalk. "I had a wacky job driving a forklift for an air freight company that was the worst," he remembers. But when he wasn't transporting cargo, he was writing songs—one of which would become "Freeway," a bucolic, free-spirited anthem off his Constant Hitmaker album.
"I was writing lots of sort of acoustic folk songs pretty quickly then," he says. "I was kind of really into the Bob Dylan thing back then, always playing my acoustic. It came out really fast and I was like, 'I must've stolen this from somewhere because it sounds really classic,' but if it sounds familiar that's ultimately a good thing.
"Freeway," then, was the turning point to take Vile from forklifts to festivals. "We used to play that song live with loud guitar and it had a good response, so we recorded it and it came out ultimately super poppy and that's when people started taking me a little more seriously as somebody with potential," he says. "Basically, it was tons of labels were asking me to put out my record and then I ultimately signed to Matador."
No matter how many venues he sells out, Vile's self-image isn't too far removed from those factory days. "We'll play somewhere like London playing to 2,000 people easy, and every time you play with more people you think 'You're a rock star' and it makes you laugh. I guess I am but I'm also, you know, not," he says with a laugh. He's hit the freeway he was thinking about while riding that forklift, full speed ahead.