Full disclosure - I have known Nick Byrd for the better part of six years now, which also happens to stand for the entirety of his tenure in Nashville. He was an interesting guy from the moment I met him, albeit relatively reticent and reserved, but obviously not for lack of interest. It seems as though Nick is constantly observing, learning, and pontificating on a variety of different topics at any given moment, no matter the time or place.
After two months of seemingly non-stop touring as bass player extraordinaire for his band The Lonely Biscuits, I finally got a chance to meet up with Nick and catch up for what felt like the first time in a long time. To say it was good would be an understatement, especially considering some of the massively tangential runs we get on throughout our conversation. So read on to learn more about one of Nashville's most thoughtful musicians, Nick Byrd.
Now/Its: Nashville met with Nick Byrd at Portland Brew East, in Nashville, TN.
N/I - How have you been?
Nick - Pretty good. Just trying to wrap my head around a lot of things.
N/I - What things?
Nick - I don’t know. I’ve just been meeting a lot of new people and figuring out what I’m doing, but its all positive stuff, but just navigating it.
N/I - What type of “stuff?”
Nick - Well there’s this band called The RagCoats that I’ve been working with. I released an EP with them - they’re just friends of mine, but they’re really, really motivated to get something off the ground. So I hooked them up with an engineering friend of mine that has a studio. This is basically the first time someone’s asked me to come in and produce something - so its really cool, but I’m trying to mentally organize and grow. So I did some research and trying to dive into what their influences are, and really get into the headspace. That’s next month, so I’m really excited about it.
N/I - Well who are some of their influences?
Nick - Very, very, very early Rolling Stones - which I don’t know if you knew, but their first two albums are cover albums.
N/I - Oh, are they really?
Nick - Yeah, and its pretty raw stuff. Its really cool. I think its cool to dive into that and kind of see what they’re seeing, a little bit. That way, I can go ahead and make the right calls and not put too much of my own influences into it. So that’s cool. I recently - a couple days ago - I was at Fuzz Fest and I saw Sakari and Sheila from Mocha, and I did some stuff with them a while ago, which never really came to fruition, because they were both still in school, both music majors, so they were pretty busy, and I was still busy with my band, but I was able to talk to them for a little bit. They had a member leave, they recently graduated, and they’re also really motivated to push for something, to rebrand themselves, record new music, and go for it. So that’s really inspiring for me, because I’m not doing a whole lot [right now]...
N/I - Right. Its more collaborative that way. You don’t necessarily have to do all the heavy lifting.
Nick - Exactly. I’m actually meeting with them later today, just to see where they’re at, so I’m excited about that too.
N/I - So is this another potential producer type role?
Nick - Yeah, or it could just be - you know - I don’t want to be too hands on with that - especially if they already know what they want - I’d rather just fill in the gaps. I feel like a lot of times, people just don’t know the steps to take, or what to do at a particular point and time that might be beneficial. Its like, instead of knowing the options, they’re just lost. So yeah, those are two things - the Mocha thing came up a couple days ago - but the RagCoats thing is something we’ve been talking about for at least a month. I mean, we even scouted out a couple studios. They’re kind of relying on me to come through, which is a healthy pressure I’ve never felt before. I’m just really excited to dive in and kind of change my headspace a little bit.
N/I - I guess I never realized - granted, I haven’t seen you for longer than maybe a day in a while - but I didn’t realize you were making that much of a push toward production and doing a lot of that. It makes sense - you’ve always been doing it for as long as I’ve known you.
Nick - I’ve always tried to, but this is the first time where its semi-professional, I’d say. Its more than a “Hey, come over, let’s hang out,” type of thing, its more of seeing someone’s vision and helping them realize it further. Honestly [Nick’s bandmate] Sam’s [Gidley] been spurring me to do this.
N/I - Well I was going to ask - I talked to D. Swick last week - and it seems like Sam’s been making what seems to be a concerted effort to lock some stuff down with different people, or at least cover certain channels to establish a base here, there, or wherever. So knowing that you have more than just a nominal capability to produce, I figured at some point or another it propel you to do it yourself, and it seems like it finally is.
Nick - Its kind of like a growing, learning experience - that’s how I see it, ultimately. Its like “Yeah, I did this thing with this band,” and either we all did something, or learned something, or we’re closer now, or we tried something new in the studio. Sam - I’d say the major difference between me and Sam is that Sam is really disciplined when it comes to that kind of stuff, and I’m not. That’s something I’ve learned from him in being consistent. Exploring ideas and not just taking it into the wild…
N/I - Being able to operate with a specific intention.
Nick - Focusing in on a specific energy in a few hours and knock something out, all the while not going too crazy with it, and still making it accessible. Obviously, Sam did that with October Tooth and most recently with D. Swick stuff.
N/I - Well I’m glad to hear its coming along substantially and serendipitously.
Nick - I was actually talking to someone last night about how things just seem to come in waves. Last week, I wasn’t even in town, but Sunday four people hit me up just saying “Hey, you want to hang out this week?” Like Joseph [Barrios] wanted to talk about some stuff, Sakari, Sheila, meeting with The RagCoats tomorrow - because I’m actually playing keys with them, which is cool because I know how to play, but I’ve never had to play in what I would call an “ensemble” if you want to put it that way. I’ve never had to really focus my energy on this one thing and say “I’m going to learn this and try and be really good at it.” Again, its their thing, and I don’t want to add too much to their sound, because they’ve already got it figured out. I just want to fill in the gaps, and just enhance it.
N/I - Right. You’re not demanding you become a substantial, integral, cornerstone member, but at the same time your involvement is just as important.
Nick - Sure. So I’ve had to learn how to play an organ. Going on that tour with The Weeks was really good, because Taylor Craft - who’s a bass player, like myself - had to learn how to play organ for The Weeks. And I was like “Dang, I can see him getting better every night.” He was killing it, and he said he didn’t even know how to play - which I wasn’t sure whether or not he was over exaggerating or not - but for the most part, I think he really hadn’t played much organ before that. It was a two-month long tour and he just jumped right in. So I figure I can do that too, or at least I can give it a try, especially after watching him just rip it up every single night. I was just really inspired to come back to Nashville and step into that role.
N/I - Just hit the ground running. Speaking of the tour, how long have you been off the road now? Like a month or so?
Nick - Today is, I think…
N/I - Longer, shorter than a couple weeks?
Nick - We got back on May 27th, so yeah, like a month?
N/I - Right, effectively a month and a half. So have you found yourself occupying your time well? Or do you feel aimless? After a two-month tour run, I could imagine anything immediately after that could feel rather vacuous - in the sense of too much space, too much time...
Nick - Yeah, because on tour, you’re on a schedule. You have to do certain things every day. Okay, so yeah - to answer that - the first week or so, I was weirded out. It was like “This is weird. We’re back in town, I don’t know what to do,” but the thing was there were things to do. There was business stuff, follow-up on the tour. But personally, I’ve just always had this thing where I have a ton of ideas bouncing around my head - projects - whether its cleaning up the garage or listening to this record that I’ve had for like five years and I’ve never even put it on. I think about those things while I’m doing other things. Its like “When I have free time, I’m going to listen to that record in my room and dive into it and see who played on it,” and that would inevitably send me to YouTube and start looking at excerpts of concerts and documentaries, and then that just turns into a whole day of stuff. Or I’ll go to a coffee shop. I’ve actually ended up going to the library a lot. I like that environment - just sitting there watching, learning, reading Wikipedia articles, and then translating all of that into walking downstairs into my basement and writing something. Or going out with friends and talking to them about it, feeling like I’m telling them something they don’t know, which is a cool feeling. Especially when people are interested in it.
N/I - Absolutely.
Nick - I just finished reading this book on Jaco Pastorious - he’s a famous bass player - and he had a really tragic end, but to this day, he’s regarded as the best. I’ve known about him since I started playing bass eleven or twelve years ago, but that was the first time I really understood his story. There are so many interviews in the book that are like “Yeah, Jaco” - because he was very mentally embattled his entire life - it was like “Yeah, you could hear him trying to get all of that stuff out through his fingers on the bass.” So going back and listening with that mentality really changes it.
N/I - Oh yeah, I’m sure.
Nick - It just forces you to take it in a different way. So I’ve really just been listening to him all the time. But then off of that, I’ve been listening to a lot of old Motown - which sounds cliche - but there’s a lot of old Motown that I’ve never heard before. There’s an artist called Roy Ayers - who I didn’t really know about, I might have hear his name before....
N/I - The first time I had heard of Roy Ayers was sometime around 2007 or 2008 when he had a skit cameo on the end of a Talib Kweli/Kanye West song called “In the Mood,” and he’s literally just at the end of the song saying “That’s a good song. That’s a real good song. That’s a great song.” That was it. So then after that, I always thought he was a comedian....
Nick - Because it kind of pulls you away?
N/I - Yeah, it basically just pulled me out of the song. The lo and behold, this guy is a legend of Motown.
Nick - Right. He is the most - I need to make sure I get this right - he is “famous for being sampled by rappers more than any other artist.”
N/I - There you go. I mean, it makes sense - the first time I heard him was in a Talib Kweli song - though I’m not sure if it was a sample or just live.
Nick - Man, I feel like its one thing to say “I like Roy Ayers” because it makes you look good, but I’ve actually been able to dive into his discography, and I’ve found some songs that messed me up. The bass line is just like, “Okay, I need to turn this off right now and go write something, maybe like half as good as this.”
N/I - Something like an homage. In the sense that you’re not trying to rip it off.
Nick - Right. On that note, I have been trying to learn the bass notes, and how to play them, because that’s something I haven’t done in a long time. That’s something I did when I first started playing music, but that’s something I haven’t done in years - learning songs that I didn’t necessarily have to play live. Off of that, me and Grady [Wenrich] are playing with Okey Dokey for a couple of shows that whoever usually plays with them. So Johnny [Fisher] asked me and Grady to play. So I was running through some of those songs last night, and those bass lines are awesome. The overall vibe of the music - I’ve listened to it quite a bit, and I really respect Johnny [points to Sol Cat shirt] - he’s a great friend. I’m really excited, because they’re not my songs that I’m learning, and they’re not simple. I want to do due diligence toward to the songs and spend some time diving in and learning all the parts, locking in and not just claiming to know the songs. I’ve even made some charts and stuff, which I wouldn’t normally do when I can just go off ear alone. Its a nice little challenge.
N/I - Yeah. Its just a nice little exercise in repositioning yourself mentally, skill-wise, and maybe even some spiritual aspect as well.
N/I - You know what’s funny? Joe Rogan’s podcast - I was about to say I used to hate him, but I really didn’t, obviously, because I’ve never known the guy, dislike might even be a little bit too strong in that description. But there was something at first listen…
Nick - That you didn’t care for.
N/I - That I didn’t care for. It was very grating, and I think it was honestly just in his voice…
Nick - I can see that.
N/I - Because he just speaks right into the mic in a really breath-y manner sometimes, and that was also around the time when I really made a concerted effort to listen to podcasts, at least relatively interesting podcasts with interesting people. So I didn’t necessarily understand the general format of podcasts, and I didn’t know that the first fifteen minutes of each episode is typically designated for the host to talk about boilerplate stuff and simply set the scene. It was an audio equivalent of a lede, so at first I was just like “God, this sucks.” Then it clicked for me. And after I got over that and started listening, there have been some phenomenal interviews - there was one that I listened to recently that he did with Bret Weinstein, who’s a professor at Evergreen College in Washington, I believe. They have this very interesting sort of issue happening on Evergreen’s campus, as far as PC Culture is concerned. Its very, very confusing as far as marginalized groups - I don’t want to say trying to - but they’re at an impasse of who gets more leeway in a situation. Does that make sense?
Nick - Wow. Really? That’s weird.
N/I - Yeah. Its one of those things that I feel like neither side would be willing to…
Nick - Would be like “Yeah, give it to us!”
N/I - Exactly. At the core of the PC thing, its fighting for your right to defend and justify whatever it is you’re fighting for, but its become something that boils down to equality. Its almost as if there’s no innate equality in the sense of if you believe humans evolved from apes, there’s the survival of the fittest theory, but its a world with cars and guns and all that. But if we were living without that as animals, the bigger animal is probably going to supersede the smaller one, but at Evergreen College its a scenario of which one faction wants one thing and the other wants their own version, and both sides understand its not fair for either. It’d be one thing if it was a group of white dudes…
Nick - And they’re like “We want the football field today!”
N/I - Right! Its like we want to share the library - an asset - sharing something that integral. Anyway, that was a very tangential explanation, but listening to Bret Weinstein talk about his unique situation was fascinating. Apparently, he was one of the biggest supporters of the equality movement on campus and was forced to draw a line in the sand at a certain point, stating that the groups weren’t fighting against an oppressive majority group, but rather an equally justified and deserving group. Anyway, that’s a tangential explanation of an interesting Joe Rogan podcast I’ve listened to recently. All that to be said, Joe Rogan is very interesting to me, because you have that end of the spectrum and on the other you have him talking to people like Sturgill Simpson. That episode shifted my whole perspective on everything. I liked his music, but listening to him and Joe Rogan go back and forth on everything for three hours - that’s the thing, they’re so long they have to be in depth about everything - but in the end, I accept that I like the guy’s podcast. Anyway, who were some of the interviews you’ve listened to?
Nick - Okay, so - [I] started listening to it on tour. My friend Kurt had been championing [the podcast] for a while, and I was like “That’s great for you, I’ll listen to it at some point,” but I wasn’t really making an effort. So then we were on tour, and we had this long drive, so Sam [Gidley] put it on one day. I think one of the first ones we listened to was Leah Remini…
N/I - Right off the coattails of all that Scientology stuff, right?
N/I - I listened to that one, too. That one… I’d be interested to see what your take on it was, because I interpreted it as, “Okay, so he’s definitely crazy, but he heightens the crazy on his little show.” Its almost the opposite of why someone listens to Solange Knowles over Miley Cyrus, because where Solange is better than Miley, Alex Jones is just crazy and not good, but his show is better from purely an entertainment standpoint than someone like Sean Hannity or Van Jones.
Nick - Absolutely.
N/I - But everything is totally ridiculous.
Nick - Oh yeah. Here’s my take on it - I recognize that he has some sort of agenda, whether its good or bad, let’s take that out for a moment, because in this case its not relevant; but everything that he’s saying - and again, I’m not validating or supporting any of it - but what I took away was that if even half of the stuff that he’s saying is true… Like if I was in his position and had all of this supposed information - and he says he can’t really disclose most of it because he’d get killed - I would probably sound crazy too.
N/I - Totally. I don’t care who you are, you would almost certainly sound insane.
Nick - I would be very frustrated and anyone I talked to, I would probably try to get them on my side and be like “Open your eyes!” Granted, [the episode] did get crazy with the interdimensional stuff. But I’ve always been - not necessarily Devil’s Advocate - but very cynical, and I’m always entertaining those sorts of thoughts. So in those three hours - and probably an hour or so after - I could think about it and process what he was saying, and not necessarily take any of it as truth, but it might be something that I’ve experienced and can see it through his perspective and digest it in order to see if any of it actually turns out to be true.
N/I - Well, I personally think his main agenda is entertainment - or at least being able to maintain attention - so sometimes…
Nick - Can I stop you? Because I don’t know if you noticed, but that was a pretty cool play on words. At first I thought you said “maintain a tension.”
N/I - Well, I guess it could really be either or.
Nick - Both seem to work.
N/I - Sure. In that sense, it makes me view him in the same way I might view a comedian. A comedian starts out strong and then finds their sweet spot in order to fill out forty-five to sixty minutes in a set. So somewhere in there, there’s going to be a lull, which means they have to do some crowd work, or something really bombastic just to get everyone’s attention back. Because people will naturally perk up when that happens, so with [Alex Jones], I tend to think that he has an agenda outside of entertainment, which is getting these conspiracies on people’s radar so someone like you might spend an hour or so after listening to the interview thinking about the ridiculous stuff he presents.
Nick - I would like to say that that is the exact reason why I like the podcast. [Rogan] is willing to have anyone on there, and he’s very level headed. Unless he has some sort of conspiracy of his own - and I’ve thought about that too…
N/I - I tend to think he has a propensity to jump on a conspiracy theory when there’s a moving supporter of said conspiracy theory. Part of that is just being a good host - you want to keep people talking about it, so rather than telling them its ridiculous, he keeps them talking.
Nick - Yeah. You want them to keep talking for thirty minutes. I really like how he’s willing to have anyone on there, and its a really good meeting ground for anyone that’ll come in whether they’re experts in their field or not and talk. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from it. I feel like Joe is very knowledgable… Again, this could be a thing, but he has a fact checker.
N/I - Right. His producer doubles as his fact checker and sound engineer.
Nick - Yeah. And [Rogan]’s willing to admit when he’s wrong, and he’ll say “What do you mean by that,” because people necessarily won’t know what terms someone’s using. He’ll tell them to stop wherever and break something down. I appreciate all that stuff, because as an outsider, I understand what’s going on and can still form my own opinions about it and not be influenced one way or another. I haven’t walked away from one and then had a strong stance on something, besides this one I listened to a couple days ago on chiropractic stuff. Have you listened to that one?
N/I - I have not listened to that one.
Nick - Its weird, because you don’t have to be a doctor to do this medical procedure type job. So he brings in this “expert” who has written a book about it, and even Joe was like “I didn’t know this stuff. I’ve been going to the chiropractor for three years and I thought all of these things and you’re enlightening me now.”
N/I - Right. So was it an expert on chiropractic practices or someone speaking against it?
Nick - [Looks up Yvette d’Entremont] “is a public speaker, science blogger, and former analytical chemist. She has a background in forensics and toxicology.” But she did some case study or something on [chiropractors] and was pretty knowledgeable. She was referencing a ton of articles and actual scientists. She was talking about the guy who essentially made all of that stuff up, and she looked at his initial claims and was like “This sounds weird.” He claimed to have restored someone’s hearing through readjusting their spine. There are no nerves in the spine connected to hearing. It just doesn’t sound right.
N/I - Its funny - there’s only so much suspension of disbelief of which you can maintain - even with stuff like that. As far as medicine is concerned, its all foreign to me outside of knowing Vitamin C and Vitamin D are important to have, but otherwise I don’t know how to go about rectifying a blood disease. So if a chiropractor is like “We could reset your spine and that could help!” I’d probably say that’s a no go for me. Because the disease would be in my blood, not my spine.
Nick - Did you know over half of those offices don’t even have an x-ray machine?
N/I - It doesn’t surprise me. I watched one documentary - the name escapes me - but an chiropractor had some sort of special bed that you lay down on and it begins to shoot air up against your body, and that’s supposed to register where one’s “high pressure” areas would be. Like where you store most of your anxiety or what have you. I’m sure it feels good, and there’s something to be said for enlisting a chiropractor if one shoulder is higher than another.
Nick - Yeah, they can reset it.
N/I - Exactly. Reset everything.
Nick - Yeah. I don’t have a problem with that, and I don’t think [Rogan and d’Entremont] did either. It was only when they reached these ridiculous claims…
N/I - Like holistic stuff.
Nick - Exactly. I think because [d’Entremont] was presenting evidence that [chiropractors curing deafness] is not a real thing, she got a lot of angry emails from people who were chiropractors. Its just like, well….
N/I - Yeah. Its always funny to me when someone like a chiropractor would listen to a Joe Rogan podcast episode and become so moved to the point of which they had to let this person know “Okay, listen, you’ve got a lot of nerve for stepping into the world of chiropractors and saying it doesn’t cure cancer.”
Nick - But then its like “Well, present some actual evidence that it does, and I’ll leave you alone. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.”
N/I - Absolutely.
Nick - Its like… Some of those claims are absurd.
N/I - Right. You could probably apply that to anything, though. I really like yoga, but there are some aspects that people seem to overstate with that.
Nick - That’s true.
N/I - I’m sure you could apply it all sorts of things. Its like when people find out someone is over one hundred years old, they ask them what their secret is, and they say something like “Well, I get up and smoke a pack of cigarettes every single day and I eat an orange,” and people are like “Welp, that must be the secret!”
Nick - Yeah, or eat a pack of bacon every day.
N/I - That’s exactly it - it always ends up being something people always like, but there’s a dissenting opinion that suggests it might not be the best thing for one’s health. Its as if there’s some group that goes out trying to find a person that’s one hundred years or older, feed them bacon for two months and if they don’t die, have them say they eat bacon every day.
Nick - [Laughs] That awesome. Its like “Thank you for your service.”
N/I - Right. So you’ve been listening to a lot of Joe Rogan…
Nick - Yeah. I listen in my free time - it gets my brain going. I can just turn it off and do something else. There’s one [episode] that I’m listening to for a second time - its this guy named William McCaskill - he’s a professor in London or something. He talks about a lot of different things. One thing is effective altruism, where he gives some of his salary away for the “greater good.” So there’s this group of people that do that and its just something that they do. They were talking about other dimensions, too, and infinity, and it was just mind boggling. I need to listen to it another time after this second time in order to fully understand what they’re talking about because its so abstract to me.
N/I - Well yeah, inter-dimensional theory is pretty tough to pinpoint.
Nick - Right. They touched on that - because I think it was Elon Musk that was talking about living in a simulation. So they touched on that for a little bit. The more they talked about it - I don’t necessarily consider it to be “true” or anything - but it really got me thinking. The possibilities are decent.
N/I - Oh yeah. Its interesting, there is a relatively large group of people that seem to prescribe to that notion that we are in a simulation, but I think The Matrix took a bunch of the wind out of their sails, because any time a movie happens, it seems like any subsequent thought turns into “we get it, you’re a fan.”
Nick - But they were talking about alternate realities as well. It was like “What if there’s another reality within our consciousness that we haven’t tapped into yet?” Because no one really knows what the consciousness is. Its kind of like this very abstract thing - its like, what if you could tap into other realities that way?” So I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and this will be a funny example, but playing a game like Grand Theft Auto 5 - its a very, very, very realistic game. Its essentially another reality. After playing that game for more than thirty minutes. Its the same thing as playing - but in a different way - as playing with the goggles and virtual reality stuff. I’ve done that before, too. After ten, fifteen minutes, it takes you from looking at a two-dimensional screen to being in it. Have you played that PS4 thing?
N/I - I’ve never done the PS4 thing, but I did a Samsung thing at the National Whale Museum in Iceland. So it was basically just floating and look around and you see different whales. But that alone was enough - I had headphones and goggles on - there was a suspension of disbelief that did end up feeling kind of like I was in the ocean.
Nick - Yeah. The interesting part is - and again, I’m being cynical, because I feel like that’s good to explore - but if we can create that in this time and age, it kind of lends itself to the theory that we are [in a simulation]. Think of video games ten years ago, think about twenty years ago - we’re light years ahead now. We can literally place ourselves into other realities. The things we can create with our technology, it kind of becomes “Well, what’s it going to be in ten more years?” The pace just keeps picking up more and more. The initial kinks and barriers have been broken down a little bit. I mean, I took a video game class in high school for college credit. I didn’t really put as much effort into it as I might now, but I was creating a world on my computer.
N/I - Well it all starts with world-building, and then you place our objectives within those parameters you’ve created. Its very interesting.
Nick - So that’s that.
N/I - Well hey, VR and AR - augmented reality - those are the two most interesting outlets for entertainment, at least as someone who has an interest in ubiquitous entertainment. I tend to think while virtual reality seems to be the first one everyone is really placing their bets on, I don’t necessarily it’ll be the first to catch on, or at least on a grand scale, solely because there’s something innately escapist about virtual reality. It is escapist, and that’s what’s driving it. Whereas augmented reality - Pokemon Go is already an example of that. You throw the ball at a chair outside, the naked eye may not see anything, but through your device, you see a Pidgey…
Nick - Its right in front of me and now its on my phone.
N/I - Exactly. So wearable technology seems like another avenue for AR, where you have a watch that sends a projection of a text message or a clock from your wrist. I just feel like that’s a little more tenable in an immediate sense.
Nick - Yeah, I would agree with that. That’s a really good point.
N/I - Well, I’d be really interested in seeing where the two wind up intersecting, if ever.
Nick - Think about something like Google Glass.
N/I - Right, even though it looks ridiculous, its less transportive.
Nick - Its coming into your world, instead of you into it. It literally augments your reality. That’s very interesting. Its almost haunting.
N/I - It really is. Greater minds can sit there and pontificate about it, whereas for you and me, it becomes daunting at a certain point. After what we’ve recognized - VR video gaming, or Pokemon Go - from there it truly is “Where do we go from here?” You’d almost have to assume the first place it really catches on is some form of military technology.
Nick - Like for training.
N/I - And then that can quickly alter how it rolls out into the general population. Like you said - its daunting.
Nick - Just the possibility itself is kind of like the concept of infinity. They were talking about there are already these worlds online and there’s nothing there - you just wander around, and its boring, because there’s nothing there. Its just simply another world.
N/I - Its heady stuff.
Nick - It really is. Its kind of a great time to be alive. “What a time to be alive” as our good friend Drake would say.
N/I - Oh yes indeed. Good old Aubrey Graham - a true visionary of our time.
Nick - Did you know that his uncle is Larry Graham from Graham Central Station?
N/I - I thought you were about to say his uncle was Lindsey Graham, the senator.
Nick - Not quite. Graham Central Station. Larry Graham is a famous bass player, and I just happened upon that one day. I think I was reading up on Graham Central Station and it said “Larry Graham is the uncle of the popular rapper, Drake.”
N/I - “Popular rapper.”
Nick - Something along those lines. I was like “Huh!”
N/I - It sounds like a lot of your time is applied toward some really valuable things.
Nick - I love researching different musicians. I just love it. Its fulfilling for me, because I feel like I’m furthering myself and I feel like I have more tucked into my belt. Overall, I just feel more knowledgeable in my field. You can ask Grady [Wenrich], Sam [Gidley], Joseph [Barrios], Robbie [Jackson], anyone that really knows me - anytime I’m bored, I’m on my phone researching equipment, venues, everything. I recently read a lot about Woodstock, about the guy that designed the PA, and how it was one of the biggest PA’s of the day, and they didn’t have a problem with it the entire Woodstock weekend. It was a massive PA. This one guy engineered the whole thing, and it stood the test.
N/I - That’s wild.
Nick - It really is. Especially when you think of the fact that people died at that festival.
N/I - How many people was it?
Nick - It wasn’t a crazy number, but it was enough to…
N/I - I figure its probably enough that if it were to happen today, it might shut down the festival forever.
Nick - Absolutely. I want to take a shot in the dark and say something like sixteen, but I don’t think that’s true. I’ll just look it up - Oh! Only two people died - one person of an overdose, and the other was sleeping in a sleeping bag under a tractor. I assume he got run over.
N/I - That seems like it would be a rough way to go. But even still, with only two people dying at Woodstock, that just seems to make it that much more impressive.
Nick - Yeah, and it was half a million people at Woodstock. But even still, those two people dying is pretty tragic…. Equally as tragic…. Or at least, also tragic - going back to Jaco - he used to play with Joni Mitchell. At that point in his career, his name carried a lot of weight - he used to play multiple solos in her set and all that. Its just phenomenal, but at the end of his career, he’s playing in Japan to twenty thousand people, just there to see him play with Joni Mitchell, and he kind of became the star of the show. Some people had a problem with that, but you couldn’t deny he was amazing. So at the end of his career, he had kind of gotten blacklisted by a bunch of people, just because he was so eccentric, and a drunk. There was this one particular night that he tried to sneak into a club and wound up getting kicked out - its really sad because leading up to that point, people kept saying he was going to mess with the wrong person, and as it would turn out, this particular night, he did. The bouncer was a black belt in some form of martial arts, and next thing you know, Jaco is in the hospital in a coma. No one witnessed it - the actual altercation - and he died a week later. That’s how he died - killed by a bouncer outside of a club that he couldn’t get a gig at. He died at age thirty four - two wives and two kids.
N/I - That’s tragic.
Nick - Yeah. Its this dichotomy of all these extraordinary things, but also, the dude just couldn’t get it together - but it wasn’t his fault, because he was bipolar. But he’s still inspiring for me, outside of that stuff, because in the studio, he would play all the instruments and cut records with Herbie Hancock and people like that. He’d take twenty minutes, go into the studio, mix whatever it was to perfection and walk out. It was incredible. He had this explosive creativity. I have a feeling a lot of creative people are like that, though - you just can’t nail them down. Its almost necessary. In a weird way, I feel endlessly influenced by Jaco, because there are so many little things you can take and learn from, both good and bad. I feel that way about life in general, too. I can take one little action or interaction with someone and sit and ponder on it, eventually coming up with different branches off of that. Its really cool to be able to get that from other people.