Please explain what just happened.
I awoke to the feeling that the dream I’d just been having was still going, and then I ate breakfast.
What is your earliest memory?
Lying in my crib, staring at a complex pattern on brightly colored wallpaper. I remember feeling irritated -– whether it was the wallpaper or because I wanted to get up and move around, I don’t know.
If you weren’t a musician, what other profession would you choose?
It would have to be writing in some capacity; it’s the only thing outside of music that I could picture myself doing.
Describe a typical work day.
If on tour: leave hotel in morning, get in van, get to venue, sound-check, go to hotel, return to venue & play show, insomnia, work on computer, repeat, with the occasional Southern barbecue or antique mall thrown in. At home, e-mails and phone calls punctuated by loafing around and/or playing with the cat. Transcendental Meditation twice a day either way.
Is there a time you wish you’d lied?
I have a hard time lying. If it came more easily I’d use it frequently as a means of ending conversations I don’t want to be in.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?
“Keep doing what you’re doing and follow your gut.” I’d be reluctant to say much more than that for fear of altering the future, but my thirteen-year-old self couldn’t dream of anything better than the way things have turned out for me, what with releasing albums, touring and so on.
If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?
I always find album questions hard since much of my favorite music is pre-sixties, when the album became the standard format. Some sort of Roy Orbison collection most likely. Probably not Joy Division — I tried that once and I’m pretty sure it made things worse.
What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?
Twitter, and I don’t think there’s anything else that qualifies at this point, I spend less time on the computer than I used to. I was checking out Icanhascheezburger for awhile.
From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?
For the past few years certainly, it’s been old hillbilly, country and bluegrass music from the 1930s-60s. I’d reached a point in recent years where I felt jaded towards music, everything seemed stale. While I’d listened to some of the greats in this field for many years, diving deeper into roots music to the exclusion of all else proved to be creatively and even spiritually invigorating. It would be difficult to find music that’s more pure or more real.
Name three books that have impacted your life.
The Road To Los Angeles, by John Fante. Victoria, by Knut Hamsun. Spring Snow, by Yukio Mishima. I must also mention the works of Edgar Allan Poe, no specific collection. He’s kind of like the record album thing.
If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?
I don’t know if I’ve lived it yet, I’ll get back to you.
How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?
I can’t remember how the game works exactly, but his cousin was in my class at a Waldorf school I briefly attended in sixth grade.
What makes you feel most guilty?
Probably when I eat something bad for the voice on tour (which is for me unfortunately almost anything). I’m pretty good about that, but once in awhile some regional delicacy will be too much for my willpower, such as the aforementioned barbecue.
How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?
With great care. Like everyone, I’m inspired by various things but I think that the trick is to make sure you put enough of yourself into everything you do. That way something created with the aid of an influence becomes a hybrid flower new to existence instead of a plastic imitation.
Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind your new self-titled solo album Nick 13.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for at least a decade, to step outside of my main band Tiger Army and make an album completely inspired by country/Americana music. After a tour stop in Nashville in 2008, the need to do so became more urgent and it became a priority to pursue it the next year. The whole process was much longer than I expected, but being drawn in so deeply had a lot of benefits as well in terms of learning, writing. The journey was and is worth it.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
I’m a believer in following one’s dreams and the idea that it’s better to try and fail than not to try at all. There will always be someone to tell you that you can’t accomplish something, but not always someone to tell you that you can, so rely on yourself for that.
List your favorite in the following categories: Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor.
Rodney Dangerfield, Louvin Brothers, John Fante, early-to-mid period Robert DeNiro.
If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?
I’d like to do an album of early-60s styled pop vocal ballads with full strings, recorded at Capitol, à la Sinatra. The material would be mostly original, somewhere between Orbison & ol’ Blue Eyes. That’s one project I’ve always wanted to do that I couldn’t afford on my own.
What do you want to know?
What would you like your last words to be?
For me, the way one has lived life will sum things up at the end more than words ever could. “I did it my way”? “To thine own self be true”? All the best lines have already been said.
Please explain what will happen.
Tonight, or perhaps before, I’ll go back to sleep and I’ll see where my dreams take me. Then I’ll awake again, and do the same.