Gregory Vaine Bio
Gregory Vaine was born Gregory John McIlvaine in Torrance California.
He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California. At the age of 16, he began
playing guitar seriously and by 17 he formed his first band with Steve
Coulter, Keith Brown, and Dan Kern. They were called several things, including
the P-Bombs and Black Voodoo. They evolved into The Hoods, who played
their high school lunchtime and many parties. Vaine describes himself
in this period as being "an angry young man," and his first songs reflect
this typical teen angst. Songs like "Mr. Postman", an anti-vietnam war
song about 15 years too late, and another entitled "Ronald Regan Voodoo
Doll" speaks for itself.
Vaine attended the University of California at Santa Barbara starting
in 1987, and eventually re-united with his original bandmates under the
moniker The Wonderfuls, a name they lifted from an interview with Husker
Du. The Wonderfuls were a three songwriter band, and Vaine was mainly
a guitarist, but he did contribute the instrumental "whatever" and the
Husker-ish love song, "Sometimes," with lyrics influenced by Hesse's Siddartha,
which he had just read. Though the Wonderfuls were only together for a
few months, though they played many cover-only reunion gigs for over three
Vaine was then involved with an Isla Vista "supergroup" called The Utopiates
with Keith Brown, bassist Scott Bell, and drummer Jamie Taylor. Bell and
Taylor played with the widely influential and important, seminal ahead
of their time group the Shawn White Band. The Utopiates were acid rock,
with much improvisation and instrument switching. A bootleg of one of
their performances contains a blistering cover of Black Flag's "Nervous
Breakdown" sung by Bell, "Jesus Christ Superstar" sung by Brown, and the
Vaine original, "Bodily Fluids."
Vaine went on to form a Glam-metal concept band called Mons Pubis with
Coulter on drums and Jeff Whalen on Bass and vocals. Vaine contributed
several soon to be classics including "Young Girls Smoking," "Viking Son,"
"Rock and Roll Sex," and "Swashbuckler," as well as co-writing "Backstage
Girls" with Whalen. Most of their songs were about sex and rock and roll.
With their after a year or so, Vaine went on to put together what he thought
would be a heavy blues cover band, but which turned into sort of an r&b
zappa circus, called Earl. Consisting of Vaine, Drummer Paul Stinson,
guitarist Ted Schram, Bassist Todd Kurtzman, and excellent singer Danny
Shirago, Earl was Vaine's most financially successful band, once earning
over $300 for playing a fraternity party. Like any good frat band, Earl
played mostly covers, and Vaine only stepped up to the mic occasionall
to handle vocals on Chuck Berry's "Carol." Vaine has been quoted as saying,
"I was proud of that band just 'cause we did three songs from the Rolling
Stones' first record."
After graduating from UCSB in late 1992 with a degree in Creative Studies
(Art), Vaine headed to Europe with a backpack to experience western art
masterpieces in person. He ended up in Prague, CZ, where a bunch of recent
UCSB graduates had started the famous english language newspaper, the
Prognosis. Vaine settled in Prague for the summer and joined a group of
these americans playing original pop songs with acoustical guitars for
tourists on the picaresque Charles Bridge. These included guitarist and
singer Matt Welch, Bass player Jeff Solomon, singer Os Tyler, and percussionist
Mike Lupro. They named themselves Whalen, after aforementioned musician
and songwriter Jeff Whalen, who's compositions figured prominently in
the groups repitoir. Vaine contributed just a few originals to this group,
including "Skateboard" and a song written about the experience of playing
for tourists called "Jugen Frau."
Vaine left the idyllic Prauge at the end of the summer, lured back by
his acceptance into the graduate art program at Otis Parsons in downtown
LA. He settled in Atwater Village, and focused on art for the next 2 and
1/2 years, with the exception of a short attempt to get a band together
with aforementioned Jeff Whalen.
Near the end of his time in LA, Vaine decided to focus on songwriting,
and he wrote the batch of songs that would make up the first Thee Mystakes
tape, "Wishful Thinking." Recruiting drummer Paul Stinson, who
was living in Santa Barbara, Vaine recorded all the other parts himself
in the basement of the Los Feliz house he was housesitting until it was
sold. Wishful Thinking gave the world such Vaine classics as "Purple Circle,"
"Goodbye Girl," "LA's Lonely," " Mangla Dam," and "Dear Kim."
When the house sold, Vaine moved to San Francisco seeking more musical
climates and less traffic in 1995. Soon he formed a band with Bassist
Jeff Solomon, guitarist Rich Mahan, and a drummer named Rick. Vaine contributed
some new originals including "Truth" and "Best Laid Plans."
When that band fizzled, Vaine decided to work on the next Thee Mystakes
release. He again got Paul Stinson on drums, and this time enlisted Jeff
Solomon to play bass. Titled "Just What the Doctor Ordered," this
tape received a wider release and introduced the public to such gems as
"April's Fool" and "Valencia Boulevard".
Soon after it's release, drummer Paul Stinson moved to San Francisco and
Thee Mystakes began a series of legendary local shows throughout 1996
and 1997. They released another demo containing new recordings of old
songs, as well as the new original "Play Guitar Now."
Thee Mystakes evolved into The Boldinis with blues drummer Elvis Johnson
replacing Stinson. After a few gigs, Vaine began writing in earnest what
he told his friends would be a new three act rock opera called The
Ballad of Bobby McStone. Indeed, a few months later he resurfaceed
with 23 new songs which he began recording, enlisting nearly everyone
he had ever been in a band with to help.
The Ballad of Bobby McStone was dully completed and hailed as the
masterpiece it is. Vaine gigged around San Francisco but was soon lured
down to Los Angeles by the thriving rock scene growing around his friend's
Vaine moved to Los Angeles and soon started a band called Order of Magnitude
with his old buddy from the Orange Ruffy days, Rich Mahan. They played
some shows around town and recorded several demos, but eventually broke
up. During this time Vaine kept writing songs and recording demos with
various drummers, but he couldn't find the right fit for a band.
In 2002, Vaine was inspired by the birth of his son and began writing
songs for what would become his next CD, The Many Sides of Gregory
Vaine. Using a new Taylor nylon string guitar, he began exploring
a softer side, including delicate finger picking and softly strummed chords.
There were also some new rockers, for which he recruited Steve Coulter
from the Mons Pvbis days to play the drums.
After many months of recording, the CD was ready. A mix of 4 rockers and
8 acoustic tunes, it is a very personal record which explores many emotions
with a mix of resoluteness and humer.
The Many Sides of Gregory Vaine was released in July 2004, and
Vaine is currently doing gigs to support it.