Nick Waterhouse

A really cool guy doing his own thing ever since he introduced himself to us, that is in 2012 when the album "Time's All Gone" was released. He is just being himself and not yet another imitator of the past. Yes, it may sound corny but if your father is a genuine music lover and you start guitar lessons at the tender age of 8, such an outcome is only reasonable. Nick has grown up surrounded by the sounds of Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and other musicians of similar huge calibre.

Being immensely talented as he is, he could not realize that what he does is as intricate and strange as others perceive it. His music is after all is himself and his past experiences. In 2010, he spent all his money investing in his first 7inch record, "Some Place". He nearly lost everything when a dispute came about with the studio owner regarding music rights, but luckily, his sister and friends came to the rescue. Nowadays, Waterhouse is praised by musicians of his kind and audiences worldwide, with four records released so far, the latest one being the subject of the present piece, accompanied by an interesting interview he gave us. "Never Twice" released in 2016 has been, by far, his best work. It appears though, that his new self-titled album will become his primary one. Isolated in a music world of his own? Maybe so: it is after all what helped come this far. What Europe considers a post-modern 50's cocktail, is merely his temperament, a part of his character and something he knows how to really do well. 

When asked if he has realized the hype surrounding his music, he told us that he never felt truly ready for such a career and that, in its most part, the outcome has been unexpected. However, he has always been devoted to what he does and the result is once again, exquisite. In his new songs, one will hear pioneering sounds recorded in Electo-vox studios, LA, along with his co-producer Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, St. Paul and the Broken Bones). And if you're wondering why his new album is self-titled, he provides an answer as to how he would describe it: “Μy new LP is a summation of all the first three, I learned something different with each and now it's all part of the language of my writing and performing…”. Since 2012, Nick Waterhouse exists as an extract of his experiences and sound experiments! Nick will never confirm the expectation of listening to an old school record: on the contrary, his new work includes 11 new pure blues and surf/rock 'n roll sounds, that he has been processing for years and are now being delivered anew and refreshed, having added his soul.

The agony in his voice combined with the rhythmic saxophone and electric guitar notes, stand out early on in "Song for Winners" and you can feel an urge coming. There is no way one can stand still while listening to tracks like “Ι Feel An Urge Coming On”, “Wreck the Road”, “Man Leaves Town” or "El Viv", which helps us figure out why bands such as "The Ventures" had a huge impact without singing a single word.

It is pretty clear that Waterhouse, using instruments of the past and today's musicians tries to live in the present dressed in the clothes of the past.

He does not like to shop mainstream brands, instead, he prefers the neighbourhood store and he supports it frankly and naturally. He clearly states it in our interview: “I won't really ever be a mainstream act because I don't think I speak to anybody's thoughts that are consuming mainstream content…” Sometimes I think he is not interested in publicity, at all...

You can read our very interesting and pleasant interview with Nick below and don't miss his upcoming shows in Athens (30/3, Fuzz) and Thessaloniki (31/3, Fix Factory of Sound)!

Nick Waterhouse LP (out March 8 via Innovative Leisure Records/Distribution in Greece via Rockarolla Records)


The Basement: Hi Nick, so happy to have you here and interview you. Your fourth full-length has just arrived, a tour in progress and so many things running for you at the same time. Do you enjoy?
It's my pleasure to be around to answer! I enjoy when... everything is working in harmony and all of it's got the sparkle to it. Which doesn't happen all that often. It can be very stressful and I'm still an independent artist so there's not a whole lot of extra help. I feel really great having a new release out, I will say that.

The Basement: “Never Twice” was more rhythmic and adventurous than your previous two albums. How would you describe your new LP?
I think my new LP is a summation of all the first three, I learned something different with each and now it's all part of the language of my writing and performing, as well as how we'd execute it. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue !

The Basement: Tell us more about “Song For Winners”. What were the cultural and artistic influences that led to this one?
"Song For Winners" is motivated and to an extent, directed at people who have a lack of imagination. They often win in this world. I was born in the town that gave the world rickenbacker and fender electric guitars, magnatone amps, and JBL speakers. “Louie Louie” was written at a dance hall by the train tracks. Two Filipino teenagers and a visiting Angeleno R&B singer hatched it one night playing to a bunch of excited youth.

I guess it’s only natural that my version of Shelley’s Ozymandias or “Pirate Jenny” unfolds over a minor I IV stomp. The snare drum is a knock at the door of all the cowardice I bear witness to. It’s a refutation of things not worth believing. This isn’t a revenge song, though - it’s an affirmation. This is a song played and sung by someone who believes in something.

The Basement: You work hard and this is obvious for everyone being after your music all those years. But tell us, does talent remain half of the success?
I don't even know what success is ! I think people get spun out chasing things and all you should chase are you own ideas.

The Basement: Nick as a child. Your father used to listen to music a lot. How did you start playing music? When did you start your band?
He and my mother both played tons of music.. it was a lot of really rhythmic stuff, rooted in the blues I guess. I started playing trumpet because my parents gave me the choice but I would play in school band. I did that, learned a little, did some ensemble playing but no improv. and then I got the guitar I was hoping for.. Learning to play the guitar as an adolescent is a really significant thing to do because you're trying to understand yourself and your environment. Eventually I just figured out I liked playing R&B feel and all the records I was listening to, seemed to be fed by guitar playing and my guitar playing was fed by that.

photo by Bradley Dupray

The Basement: We know a story about you losing everything while you've been trying to put your first 45rpm. What happened finally? “Some Place” is pretty expensive on Discogs today...
What happened was... I put out a 45, I still get to talk to people about it. It got me the means to record my first album. I never made the money back directly, though! It just changed my life instead.

The Basement: Do Americans listen to your music? Europe loves this post-modern cocktail of the 1950s. What is really the mainstream in America nowadays? Tell us more about their cultural aesthetics.
Americans do, but it's the same all over the world. It's a small group of people and I appreciate them. I won't really ever be a mainstream act because I don't think I speak to anybody's thoughts that are consuming mainstream content... I make songs, I make records, I play... i don't really make content. All that stuff is so informed by the internet and the churn of the internet...

The Basement: Who is Richard Vivian? Tell us more about his affection in your music life.
Dick Vivian owns Rooky Ricardo's records. He's one of my best friends. I started working for him in 2004 when I was 18 years old and so much of my life has been informed by his knowledge and personality and just the general oeuvre there and at that time! I was part of an interesting scene of younger 45 collectors that sort of orbited around Rooky’s Records, Dick was selling affordable but rare and interesting girl groups and 60’s soul. Much more a salon than a collectables haven. He's incredibly funny, a great dancer, and his home is on the cover of "Never Twice".

The Basement: You produced Allah-Las’ first two albums and then came a collaboration with Mr Leon Bridges. Would you do ti again if you were asked to in the future?
Sure, but I don't think anything will ever be the same. Everybody's on their own trajectory.

The Basement: Every ambitious artist is chasing success. You're 33 years old and millions of people sing and dance on your rhythms. Were you ready for this tremendous change?
I was never really ready for it and it doesn't even seem real anyhow! I certainly have not seen those millions in person so it's all by reports that supposedly people are singing and dancing to my rhythms! In all seriousness, most of my career has been unexpected and I've been unprepared for a lot of it.

photo by Zach Lewis

The Basement: Which moments would you choose as the most difficult on the almost 7-year history of yours in discography so far? And, on the other hand, which moments would you pick as the most crucial and significant for your progress?
It's all been difficult. It's all been crucial. It's all been significant! I can't place more importance on one incident than the other.

The Basement: Do you like touring?
Sometimes. I treasure getting to see new communities and what small exposures I get to cultures through tour are deeply gratifying. Playing with great musicians and gaining all this experience.. it's like I was shanghaied one night and ended up a sailor. Once a sailor, always on the seas...

The Basement: In March you are visiting Greece for the third time in 5 years. Greece loves you and you know it. What are your memories of your previous visit? What are you up to this time?
Greece has always been a magical place for me, from the very beginning the energy and resonance among the people was so strong. I can't explain it but there's a certain philosophical alignment, I think. The climate is a lot like where I grew up. The philosophy is a lot like the parts of San Francisco I loved - this sort of independent bohemian militancy. Laid back, but with a strong spirit.. That's maybe the thing. I just love to stroll with my friends, meet new people, check out cafes and bars and playing feels natural, not stiff or formal like other places. It helps my name is easy to chant in greek!

The Basement: Name some favourite albums of yours for 2019. Any artist you think we should focus more on?
Yes, Ben Pirani made a wonderful album called "How Do I Talk To My Brother". I also wish Jon Batiste would release the album I made with him and most of my band - that's what I was up to the year before I began work on my own LP here.

The Basement: What are your long term plans?
To play as long as I may and make as many records I can. Besides that, just survival.

Thank you so very much Nick, it was a pleasure talking with you. We can't wait for your shows ! Good luck till then...
Thank you so much, I'll see you there !


Michael Apostolou

* Many thanks to George Dimitriadis, Elias Aslanoglou (Rockarolla Records) and Kiki Silkoglou for their great help in the making of this interview. 

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