Four lifelong friends from Northern California grow up obsessed with the sounds of AC/DC, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, The Bee Gees and Michael Jackson. Living within a block of each other since kindergarten, they began playing anywhere and everywhere with a stage by the age of 16, taking over supper clubs, parties, and backyard barbecues. After their single “Make It Real” cracked 2 million Spotify streams, they made a collective decision to forego college and trade their small Sacramento suburb for Hollywood, forming Vista Kicks in late 2015. Living together in a cramped one-bedroom apartment, the quartet—Derek Thomas, Sam Plecker, Trevor Sutton, and Nolan Le Vine—quietly ignited a buzz throughout L.A. and beyond with two full U.S. national tours under their belts and recording with Tommy Lee behind the board.
Back in L.A., they’d sell out local shows and host intimate (and raging) booze-soaked “Vista Kick Backs” in the studio where they resided for four months. Within a year, the band’s independent 2016 Chasing Waves EP and additional singles generated over 5 million cumulative Spotify streams and 3.2 million YouTube views. However, everything set the stage for the release of their 2017 full-length, Booty Shakers Ball—self-produced by the musicians themselves and engineered by their guitar player and vocalist Sam Plecker.
Best described as a smoked-out collaboration between James Brown and Jimmy Page, it bridges eras.
“This is ‘Booty Shaking Rock and Roll’,” says Trevor. “We’re so far behind that we’re ahead; I don’t think there’s anything else like us out there. Every song is different and eclectic.”
“We’re old soul millennials,” exclaims Trevor. “We’re young and wound up like everybody else our age, but our roots go deeper. We’ve found an audience that’s just like us. It’s rock music that you can shake your booty to and party.”
That’s exactly what the first single and album opener “Gotta Get Away” offers. Hinging on bluesy and ballsy riffing as well as a simmering, soulful groove, the track opens up the world of Vista Kicks, treading a fine line between rock and funk.
“Lyrically, it’s about how ambition can get in the way of love,” reveals Derek. “It happens at any age. Art gets in the way of contentment and ambition—or vice versa. It’s a conflict.”
Elsewhere on the record, “Fight The War” turns into a rallying cry for anyone chasing a dream soundtracked by bold guitars and brash vocals.
“It was about our struggles in the business,” sighs Sam. “A couple of years ago, we were doing a lot of songwriting sessions. We’d go into these sessions, and we’d be told these songs aren’t good enough. We had fans saying just the opposite. We didn’t have respect from the industry; however, the people did respect us. We sided with our fans.
“We put in our 10,000 hours since we were 16- and 17-years-old, that’s what makes our live show our strongest asset. It’s also where we have the most fun.” - Sam
In the end, they will be heard in a big way as they invite everyone to the Booty Shakers Ball.
“I hope people know these songs are there for them,” Nolan leaves off. “Hopefully, the music is useful. We’ve benefitted so much from the music of others. We want to give something back with what we do.”
“We don’t make an effort to be cool; we put all our efforts into being honest,” concludes Derek. “When you hear us, we just want you to be yourself and enjoy the moment and the ride.”
Guitar & Voice
"...Chasing Waves has all the warmth, the fun, and the strife of a young band reeling from the unadulterated struggles of being twenty-somethings just trying to get by in a fucked-up twenty-first century world.." - Mitch Mosk, Atwood Magazine
Their debut EP Chasing Waves (2016) made Apple Music's Featured New Artists page and lived on the homepage of iTunes for four consecutive weeks. They've toured the US with Swim Deep, and now they're touring the West Coast and Southwest this spring with Save Ferris. Vista Kicks' music is a fast blend of good ol' Rock N' Roll, Funk, and Pop. Their shows are electric, they make impossible not to dance and have a great time.
(Buzz Bands La, OnesToWatch.com)
OTW: How did the name Booty Shakers Ball come about?
Vista Kicks: The songs we wrote for this album we’re all so different, it took us a while to embrace that diversity, but when we finally did, we needed a name that could embody all the music. We all love to dance, and we’d been calling our music “Booty Shakin’ Rock N’ Roll” since 2016. “Ball” just made the whole album seem like a party. We liked that. A place in your mind that the music takes you when you let go of all worry and stress and just listen; the place it takes you when you dance, that’s the Booty Shakers Ball.
OTW: If you guys had to describe the sound on Booty Shakers Ball without using any genre terms, how would you describe it?
Vista Kicks: Peace, love & fuzz. It’s a jambalaya, there’s something in there for everyone, and it’s served at a party.
OTW: Sonically or otherwise, were there any major inspirations behind Booty Shakers Ball?
Vista Kicks: We get inspiration from everything and everywhere. We self-produce at our studio in Highland Park; we have a garden full of flowers and vegetables, hundreds of records, books on books on books and a steinway piano from the 1800s. When we’re not playing music we are listening, and or studying the greats; it’s hard not to find inspiration with so much access to good stuff these days.
OTW: Can I just say love the album art? It’s very reminiscent of old school Beatles album art, as well as other album art from the ‘60s. Less of a question but just had to point that out.
Vista Kicks: You can absolutely point that out, we’re huge Beatles fans. Long story short, it’s a wonderful shot of us standing in our garden. It’s hard to tell, but we are actually looking into a mirror and the photo is our reflection in the mirror, not a direct shot of us. Just behind us is our beloved “danger ball” an art piece of broken glass glued to a sphere; it’s like a disco ball, except it’ll cut you if you get too close.
OTW: If each of you had to choose one song on the album for fans to start with, which one would you chose and why?
Nolan: The first song I always show people is “Gotta Get Away.” It seems to always strike people a certain way, everyone has a strong opinion of the song and I like to watch people’s reactions when they first hear it. I secretly watch their face, that’s the only way you’ll know how they really feel about the song.
Derek: “Giuliana” is a great place to start, it’s got such a vibe, we spent a long time on its composition and the breakdown in the bridge kicks ass.
Trevor: “Work For Me,” because it’s a feel good jam with a message we all can get behind.
Sam: “Moving Forward,” it’s an uplifting, turn your frown upside-down, sort of feel. Its put you in good place if you need it, and a better place if you don’t.
OTW: What’s the ideal environment/setting for one to be in while getting lost in the Booty Shakers Ball?
Vista Kicks: Ideally you can be anywhere and the album will take you somewhere else. What’s great about this record is that you can be driving, sitting down under a tree, working in bed, or having sex at work and the record will take you where you want to go.
OTW: You’ll be touring the album this fall and winter. Are there any songs off the album you’re particularly excited to play or try out live?
Vista Kicks: “Fight The War,” is going to be interesting live. Lyrically, it touches the most sensitive of places and with such a big chorus, it’ll be great to have our fans singing along with us. There’s also a song called “Monkey Business” featuring our friend Lauren Ruth Ward. We plan on having her join us on stage for The Booty Shakers Ball (at The Echo in Los Angeles, October 7th). Its a very sexy song, it’s polarizing and tends to make people either super uncomfortable or really happy.