Nick Waterhouse recently joined us for a session in the OPB studios and performed songs from his third album, Never Twice. On that record, the San Francisco-based bandleader continues his exploration of early rock n roll, jazz, and rythm and blues sounds. The result is an impeccably produced collection of songs buoyed by melodic hooks, lively horn sections, and an impressive list of vocal contributions.
"This is what it sounds like when I want to go dancing," Waterhouse said of his sound in our interview.
If that's the case, we suspect that Nick's dance parties are incredible. Lucky for us, with Never Twice, everyone gets an invitation.
Waterhouse spoke with with OPB contributor and KMHD host Scotty Magee (AKA DJ Cooky Parker):
On his sound and the mischaracterization of him in the media as a “retro R&B and soul” musician:
Nick Waterhouse: “If a writer who specializes in what I consider the monoculture of modern “independent music” is writing, they won’t know the difference between a Ted Taylor record and a Wilson Pickett record. It’s a thing that instantly creates a stylistic wall that prevents them from getting to know me at all. So, I sort of see my career as a war of attrition where I have to create a world that will engage people long enough to let them know that this isn’t some sort of put-on or fashion trend. I’m not a soul musician. I guess I play r&b, but I play r&b the way The Kingsmen played r&b. I even think I play r&b the way somebody like Joe Jackson or Elvis Costello thought they were playing r&b. All of these types of people who have a vocabulary that eventually will help them transcend whatever it is that their influences are.”
On working with Leon Bridges, particularly on the track “Katchi”:
Nick Waterhouse: “That take is us top to bottom improvising all three verses, just freestyling off of each other… This [song] is what I’m about. This is what it sounds like when I want to go dancing. This is the sax solo I want. This is the type of combo that’s going to be playing. Leon and I wrote quite a few tunes and a lot them came out of this really organic [process where we were] hanging around making up stuff in the car or sitting around. There was no formality to it. There was no business to it. It was just the vibe. And that’s a big part of what I’m really interested in both as an artist and a producer is that vibe.”
On recording with Portland musician Ural Thomas, whose 2016 release he co-produced, and the decision to record it live:
Nick Waterhouse: “The band plays off Ural and he plays off of them [when it’s live]. If you’re listening to outtakes from classic records that were cut in New York City, or Memphis, or LA, or wherever, you always hear false start one, false start two and you realize, everyone was playing all at once and there was no room separation. The singer was giving you the song and that was the whole crux of the music [back then]. And Ural is that man. He’s the man who gives you the song while you’re doing it. He’s completely present in this almost transcendental way. It was just electrifying.”