Previously unpublished Interview with Nick 13
Conducted at Nissan Pavillion, Bristow, VA, August 4, 2004 on the Warped Tour
Interview by Megan Lahman, Saintangelsin@aol.com for Weird Living Fanzine (with help from her friend Andy)
Transcribed and concert photo by EVB
ML: What's this new project I hear about a new record label? I've heard some rumours about this with 12 Step rebels, are you allowed to tell us anything
Many thanks to Megan Lahman for allowing us to post this!
NICK 13: Thatís a record label that Geoff our bass player is doing, its called Dead Body Wreckerds and basically its like a psychobilly label, a couple of the bands that are going to be on it are a band caled 12 Step Rebels from New Mexico who we've toured with, and a band called Graveyard Shift from Seattle.
ML: I've heard many good things about 12 Step Rebels so I'm looking forward to that release
NICK 13: Yeah, they are a great band
ANDY: When did you start playing guitar?
NICK 13: I guess when I was about 13
ANDY: When did you start getting into the rockabilly sound or did you want to be in a punk band?
NICK 13: well for me that was kind of a gradual thing because I got into punk at a pretty young age, I was 11, and basically by the time I was 14-15 I was listening to 50s rock and roll and rockabilly as well , not the Quakes yet but stuff like Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and something that kinda struck me about early punk, 70s and some early 80s punk was that basically it seemed like almost a modern version of 50's rock and roll, you see that in bands like The Cramps, X, The Damned, The Clash, The Misfits, Ramones and that was the stuff that I was into so basically my interest in psychobilly and rockabilly and fifties rock and roll kinda grew out of my interest in punk and I think I got my first Gretsch in '92, I was about 17-18.
ANDY: Those things are expensive
NICK 13: They weren't as expensive back the for the old ones - it was a Gretsch Anniversary,
ML: Speaking of the writing, I've noticed some people say that the new CD isn't that hard, but I say its wonderful - you sound more rockabilly, itís a progression in style
NICK 13: I think in some ways the new album does touch earlier stuff like the first album but in general we don't want to make the same album twice because its boring as an artist, its boring for the listener, any time a band makes a record that's in the exact same vein as the album they just previously made it doesn't have the same impact but basically the new album is a little bit slower, I don't get it when people say that its slow because other than maybe Rose of the Devil's Garden there aren't any slow songs on it and if I'd heard the record and I'd never heard Tiger Army I wouldn't think like "this is a mellow record". I think it's hard hitting, I think its aggressive.
ML: it's more true to rockabilly I think.
NICK 13: You could say that, I mean the thing is there's different kinds of power and there are different kinds of impact and with the last record fast, really fast music has a certain kind of impact, but if you slow it down a bit it gets heavier and it can hit harder and that's kinda what we're going for with this record.
ML: When I first listened to it, it kinda reminded me of when Morrissey was - you're gonna love this since you're a Morrissey fan Ö
NICK 13: laughs
ML: it kinda reminded me of when Morrissey was trying to do the whole rockabilly thing and it also reminded me a little bit of Chris Isaak
ANDY: Are you doing an EP or just a straight album
NICK 13: Yeah we did the Ghost Tigers EP which was more of an advance thing for the album and it does have the cover thatís not on the other stuff but at this point I kinda just started picking up the guitar again in the last month or so as far as writing new stuff with the record just having come out I'm definitely not ready to think about going into the studio just yet.
ML: Thatís understandable. With the new album did you find many challenges with writing?
NICK 13: One of the challenges for me was the lyrics. I think any person or any writer has certain themes, certain motifs that are near and dear to you, but after you do your first record, you do your second record you've explored a lot of those themes and by the time you hit your third record you want to feel like you're coming up with something new or putting a twistÖ if you are covering similar ground to what you've covered before you want to do it with a twist or a new perspective that kinda makes it fresh in a way.
ML: you guys don't talk about much spooky stuff on the new CD, thatís kinda refreshing, you talk about ghosts but its not as much horropunk, well maybe I haven't listened to it closely
NICK 13: Well I think that has to do with we're definitely influenced by horror, especially psychological horror, and the atmosphere of early horror but the thing is I'm not into quote unquote "horrorpunk" because a lot of that stuff I think is really cartoonish.
ML: Yeah it gets old fast
NICK 13: I think a subtle approach can be a lot darker and a lot more disturbing and have more atmosphere than just singing about blood and guts and monsters. I mean, monsters are cool, don't get me wrong, I like monsters but there are a lot of bands that just get stuck in that retread and I think it looses itsÖ
ML: I find myself listening to this a lot driving at nightÖ think you made it a lot more human, is that what you were trying to aim for
NICK 13: You know there's not a lot of conscious thought that's put into an approach before I do a record, you know some bands there's a very conscious change in direction and that's not the case with Tiger Army, I mean really the music, the songs, it just kinda reflects where I'm at and in some ways I learn about what the differences are from other people from hearing their comments because I'm so close to it that it all feels close to me, it all feels natural to me but when I step back and listen to what somebody else thinks about it - I might not always agree but there are things that other people point out to me where Iím like "oh yeah, that is a change, that is a difference".
ANDY: You seem to talk more about depression than on the first album
NICK 13: I think its probably fair to say the lyrics have gotten more personal in some ways, you know there's always been a mix between stuff that is deeply personal, stuff that is basically fantasy, or stuff thatís story telling and sometimes you get all three of those in the same song, its not either/or.
ML: What time do you find yourself writing?
NICK 13: in the middle of the night is definitely good, those nights when you can't sleep and a lot of times for me creating something is the result of being really restless and having a restless feeling, whether thatís insomnia, whether thatís whatever, its like sitting there just isn't good enough, you have to be doing something for me sometimes that takes the form of creating something, but really, its kinda just whether it hits me. I do play guitar at home, I do pick up the guitar, I don't know if you call it practice, its really more for my own enjoyment but I never sit down and say "I'm gonna work on a song", I kinda wait until the feeling hits me and then I just grab the guitar, grab the tape recorder.
ANDY: Do you ever get writer's block?
NICK 13: I have had periods of writers block, but the thing I've learned is you just can't force it and you have to wait until you are feeling inspired and sooner or later it will come. Some times three songs will be written in a week and then sometimes nothing will be written. People still get into Tiger Army and check out all the records and like all the records is that they're not put out just to be on a schedule, they're supposed to be pieces of art basically and they are writte
Nick 13: they are done when they're done. Any time something is forced you can hear it and it doesn't feel right.
ML: How was the Punks Vs. Psychos Tour - did it go pretty well?
NICK 13: Yeah it was cool, we did about 30 shows in the US.
ANDY: Man you guys are always touring..
NICK 13: I think it would be cool if they played us on the radio more or our video was played on TV more but the fact of the matter is that it isn't so the way we have to reach people is by touring and playing live.
Itís a double edged sword because I'm not saying I wouldn't like to sell more records than we do because I certainly would but when you come out of nowhere and people are aware of you basically only through the media, a lot of times they are kinda here today gone tomorrow- you'll be playing a huge place because you have a song on the radio but then a year or two years later the same bands might be playing a smaller place than we might play - we've kinda done things the hard way which is to build it up person by person, show by show, but the benefit of that for us is that our fans are real fans, they really know about the band and its cool - I think there's a level of loyalty in our fans thatís much higher than maybe bands that have many more fans but its cool because the people who are into Tiger Army a lot of times really enjoy Tiger Army and thatÖ
ML: my friend travels all over the place to see you, I think you know who I mean.
NICK 13: And that's awesome, that kind of dedication from people is what lets us do what we do.
ML: Speaking of the touring lineup, I noticed there's a new face in the band - Is Fred OK?
NICK 13: I think Fred, his overall health is pretty good in terms of day to day living, but in terms of the physical demands that come from playing the music we play and touring and that, his body's not up to it right now. Fred was and still is like a brother to us and everybody tried as hard as they could to make it work after what happened but ultimately we had to realize that it wasn't working and figure something out so its really a miracle that he's alive and well in general at all and as far as that extra whatever percent of whatever it is that would allow him to drum the way he did before it would be nice if that was there but its not right now.
ML: Its only been like a year and a half
NICK 13: Not even that
ML: One final question - since the new Morrissey CD came out, I've been dying to find out what are your thoughts on it and the new Cure album?
NICK 13: I havenít heard the new Cure album. I'm gonna pick that up but I went on tour shortly after that came out. The new Morrissey album I think is great, I was waiting for it for a long time
ML: I saw the little want ads looking for tickets to see him in LA and I was like "I Wish I could help"
ANDY: did you get those tickets?
NICK 13: yeah, as it turns out I was able to see a couple of shows and it was cool
ML: Did you get to meet the Moz?
NICK 13: No, I don't really want to meet Moz, the thing is like growing up I was a fan of a lot of bands and a lot of times when you meet people its kinda a disappopintment and there's a lot of people I've gotten to know where I wish I didn't get to know them and it would be a lot cooler to take the music for what it is and Morrissey is one of the only things that I'm still a fan of the way I was a fan of things like when I was a teenager and I'm sure he's a cool guy but I'd rather leave it at that.
ML: Thank you very much Nick for talking to us again, its been awesome, I love the CD.
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