On episode six in season two of Adult Swim favorite “Futurama,” a large purple ciliate
named Miss Vega 4 wins the Miss Universe pageant. But this is not why the up-and-coming U.K. rock act Vega4 decided to name their band exactly that.
“Vega is a star, four is a number,” said guitarist and lyricist Johnny McDaid with a shrug.
“There isn’t much to it besides that … the “Futurama” thing was entirely coincidental.”
McDaid doesn’t have any qualms about being associated with popular TV shows, though.
Recently, “Life is Beautiful,” one of the most poignant and epic songs on Vega4’s latest album, “You and Others,” appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy” and nearly stole the scene from Dr. McDreamy and cast. Since then, it has become a hit on the radio and online, played more than 100,000 times by Vega4’s Myspace fans.
Opening for California-based piano rock band Augustana March 25 at the Theatre of the Living Arts, they played “Life is Beautiful” as their last song. As they performed, McDaid jumped offstage and ran through the crowd as he sang, then climbed atop one of the stage’s towering speakers, thrusting his arms into the air, flashing peace signs at the audience. Every camera in the room angled for a shot, and quite a few teenage girls clutched their hearts and swooned.
Earlier that night, won over by McDaid’s charm, Irish accent and good looks – not to mention astounding musical ability – someone called out, “Will you have sex with me after the show?” He politely turned her down, saying, “If I had sex with you, I’d write songs about you and ruin your life. I can’t do it.”
The band, which formed in London, boasts two Irishmen, Fox and McDaid, a Canadian
drummer, Bryan McLellan, and a guitarist from New Zealand, Bruce Gainsford. This is their second time touring in the United States, but they’re looking forward to spending more time here in the future.
“America seems to be ‘getting it’ quicker, being turned on to our music, enjoying it,” McDaid said. When asked to explain the band’s music, though, McDaid had a hard time.
“Music is difficult to verbalize. If someone wants to know what our music sounds like, I’d tell them to go online and have a listen. I think that’s why music exists – you have to hear it, it can’t really be explained,” he said.
“It’s very good,” Fox added, smirking. “That’s how I’d describe it.”The two also feel that naming influences can sometimes be pointless. “We make music,” McDaid said. “You’re influenced by everything you hear.”
Fox, meanwhile, relayed the following anecdote.
“I once saw an interview with Brandon
Flowers from The Killers and he said that one of his biggest influences was Oasis. They sound nothing like Oasis. Now, if someone read somewhere, ‘These are The Killers, and they’re influenced by Oasis,’ and that person didn’t like Oasis, they wouldn’t even bother checking them out. Someone else would have to come in and say, ‘No, no, they’re nothing like Oasis.'”
McDaid nodded. “It’s true.” He also shared later that one of his favorite musicians is Tom Waits. “I’m very influenced by him,” he said. “But I sound nothing like him. He’s a great guitarist, though, and a great lyricist.”
McDaid said he has also been listening to a lot lately of the indie band Great Lake Swimmers, and Fox, who just recently bought his first iPod, has been listening to a hard-to-find Dennis Wilson solo album. To keep himself entertained on the road, McDaid also turns to reading. Currently, he’s working on “Travels with Charlie” by John Steinbeck.
“Gavin has a book on the bus, too, but he hasn’t finished coloring it in yet,” McDaid joked, while Fox rolled his eyes.
Their energy at the TLA wasn’t a fluke – if there’s one thing Vega4 loves, it’s playing live. “When it’s good, it’s really, really good,” McDaid said. “And when it’s bad, it’s horrid. It’s like sex in that way. It’s instant. It’s not static, like a record. It changes with the room.”
“Hopefully, millions of people hear our music and we become a mainstream success,”
Fox said. “It’s not considered ‘cool’ to want that, but we don’t really give a sh-t what people think of us.”
Anna Hyclak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.