Ok, Part two of my interview with musician Nick Zubeck, if you haven't read part one, scroll down to the bottom of the post and read it first.
Marshal and Darrin, you've been playing with for a while?
Yeah, Marshal... do you know Brian McMillan?
yeah, not personally... but,
yeah, he's an old friend of mine and we were in a band after the band with Sandro... and Brian is also from Brampton, I don't know, a lot of Brampton connections. We had a band called the Would Be Travellers Promenade with, you know Brian Kobayakawa?
yeah, he went to Humber a couple years a head of me
Oh yeah? well, he was playing bass, and at some point the band changed members and we ended up bringing Marshal and this other guy Sandro (another Sandro) on bass. And then the band just fell apart and whatever. We had our, band explosion. Brian and Marshal and Sandro made Brian's first record, and Marshal and I kept playing and Jamming. I started recording at home, I guess my second record; I thought I'd have drums and everything, and not just do everything myself. That was back in 2003 or 2002. I made that album hiding out and laying low, I don't know if you've heard it or have that one?
no, I've heard bits and pieces of your other albums, but not the whole thing
so, I made that just at home with Marshal, so we've been playing together in bands since about 2001. 7 years or something.
He's a really solid player, busy too, I guess he plays in a lot of bands.
Yeah. Darren, I actually went to Humber with. We were in the same year, I didn't finish there, but he did. he went on to do a masters some where.
Didn't he go off to Louisville?
Louisville, yeah yeah. but we had met at humber, and played a bit. I got him to play on my first year jury. Him and this guy Mark Premou. That was the only time we'd played together. Jacob was born, so I left Humber, I'd only done 2 years there. and then it was years and years, we hadn't stayed pals or anything. I ended up just coming in for, my friend Louis, who's this kind of crazy guy, had this band. He was playing at Clinton's, he asked me to Jam on a song, and Darren was there. He said, someone had given him this CD of mine and he liked it, and said would you give me songwriting lessons? I thought, I don't even know what that would entail! but we could jam or something, I'd love that. He's a real brainer, such an academic when it comes to music, he's very disciplined in his practicing and his dedication to it. and it's amazing. Cause, I'm a little lazy, lose my focus and motivation. It's nice to have that guy who's never faltering.
It's nice to have that influence around?
Do you find you write very much?
Yeah, it comes and goes. Right now I'm in a bit of a down turn. But it's always something I'm steadily working on. yeah. So, Darren and I, at that point we started playing a bit. we played a bunch of shows just the three of us, and Robbie started showing up, the tunings came into... we got the grant.
What was the grant through again?
Ontario Arts Council.
yeah, it's really great rhythm section you have. One of the best in the city.
Yeah, well with Marshal and Darren, we had to find the underlying pulse of the tunes, that was a big thing, and it was a big thing in their cohesion as a rhythm section over the few years we worked it all out. Now it's great, as a band the three of us, we are like a chameleon band, we do Barzin's thing
and the Book of Gnomes
yeah, they are three... not wildly different, but it's definitely taking on three different roles, and trying to do different things with different people. Which is really fun. I wish sometimes that I'd play with more people, I always admire those people like at the Tranzac, and the Rat-Drifting scene, they play with tons of different people and there are so many different formations and reformations of groups. But at the same time, I do like the idea of playing with the same people. I think you learn different things with different situations.
You mentioned the Tranzac scene, were there are a lot of great players, how do you fit in there? Do you get out there very much? Do you know those guys? I know Ryan Driver plays flute on your album, and Sandro knows all those guys..
yeah, I don't get out very much. Cause I have Jacob, and right now my girlfriend Kelly is Guelph, we're actually moving to Guelph in the summer. But she's already there, she's building a yoga studio. So I'm back in single dad mode right now. But even when she was here, it's hard to get out. I'd get out to play, but I don't often get out to see music. I'd really like to get out more. I don't feel like I'm part of a scene in particular, but I love the Tranzac, I love playing there, and the people who work there seem to like having me. Ryan ended up on the CD because of Sandro... he said, I think this song needs flute. But I know them, to see them, say hello. I don't play with them too much. I love what all of them do. I love Eric Cheneax's new album,
yeah it's fantastic... Ryan's album as well...
Yeah it's great
I haven't heard "This is Awesome" yet. I gotta pick that up, cause Daffyd Hughes is great as well. I had a really nice opportunity to play with him. Darren has this project, he wrote these tune with lyrics, three tunes with lyrics, and he wanted to get a grant for it, so he hired this band, and we went into Don Kerr's place and we recorded these three songs in one day. the band was him on bass, me, Daffyd on piano and synth, and Jean Marten on drums (he produced Ryan's record). He's a busy guy on the avant garde thing. He's good friends with Justin Haynes, who's also on the thing... Hopefully there's a future for this, cause it's a great band.
jacob is how old?
He's 9, he'll be 10 in June
How do you find Juggling a son with the music thing?
well... I don't have, like a full time job. so, I do find that, especially now that he's in full time school, I find that I have time to work well he's in school. Although I find the time is taken up with house work, etc. It's fine though. I often ask myself, how different would it have been if he never came along, would I have been busier, would I have been touring? but who knows? I have no idea. So I don't really have anything to compare it too.
yeah in March with Barzin. Hopefully we'll get to open some shows with my stuff. I tried to do that on the last tour, but it didn't work out. Darren and I did a little set in Spain, when we were there for the Tin festival. They flew us out there for like 3 days. It was crazy. I got mugged when I was there.
Oh, I think somebody told me about that.
what happened with that?
Well... I went out wandering where I shouldn't have and ended up in a bad situation.... but it could have been worse. That was in Spain, a little town called Castaleon, awesome festival, great lineup..... Amazing theatre we got to play in. It was like a miniature Massey hall. Super nice hotel. But we're going back. So far it looks really good. we're doing a few shows in France, Luxembourg City, which we did the last time. A few German dates. Which is nice, i think I'm gonna try to hook up one of our opening sets in Germany, cause my half brother lives there. we'll see. I think we're going back to Spain and Italy....
Barzin has a label behind him doesn't he?
Barzin has the greatest label. Which is one women. from the UK. It's this women Kim, super sweet British lady. Who is a biologist, by day, and runs this label called monotree at night. And she's a patroness of the arts. She funds her bands out of her own money. when she can. I don't know how it works in terms of the money. Barzin told us this story, she has a band called 60 Days of Static. Somehow she got them to open up for the Cure when they played a few years ago. They were with them the entire American tour. but in order for them to do it she had to take equity out of her home, a second mortgage or something. Thats a huge risk. But it's amazing. She was there when we played in Europe, and she loves the music. It's amazing to know there are people like that. I don't know how many more people there are like that.
Hopefully more. At least one more to hook you and me up.
When did you meet Barzin?
Barzin I met through Sandro. He played lap-steel with Barzin. I ended up subbing for Sandro. I played a few shows, and I sort of became Barzins lap steel player. I didn't hear from him for a bit, until he was going back to Europe, and he had no band. He asked me to play guitar, and asked if I knew any bass players or drummers, and I suggested Marshal and Darren, he said sure, as long as you don't mind sharing them.
He's a really great songwriter. He has a new album coming out in February?
I don't know the official release date, but I've heard it, it sounds really good.
You're on the album?
Yeah, I'm playing electric guitar on it. And I think we're all going to Europe. It's definitely very spacious sounding. It's way more Hi-fi... but not in an over produced way... all the instruments sound great.
I hear he's a bit of a perfectionist, is that a fair statement?
Big time. He's very... and the more I play with him, and the more I get to know him, the more I admire that side of him. A lot of times at the beginning, there would be some frustrations for myself, I'm not speaking for the rest of them, I'd feel frustrated cause I'd always feel like he wouldn't allow people to put their own stamp on it, or give enough freedom for people to explore with their own ideas, but the more I play with him, the more I realise that he has a vision, and a sounds that he wants. that more of a challenge for the people who are playing with him to execute that. It's a hard thing to articulate sometimes. I think he's a real craftsmen when it comes to his songs. It's very cool.
Where does Book of Gnomes fit in?
well, Ben, you know Ben Bowen?
Yeah, he went to Humber as well...
Yeah, he plays with Valery Gore, and Ronlay Teper
Yeah played on Valery's album and plays with my roommate Alexis Marsh... actually so have you... I forgot she did a show with the Gnomes
Right, so he started the Gnomes to be a... do to Pop covers, instrumentally. We tried that for a while.... then Darren started writing... he wrote a 5 part suite, and he charted it.... Marshal came in too.... we don't really rehearse at all, in the beginning we did, because we didn't know what we were doing, and Ben was already booking gigs.
Yes, he's very ambitious about booking gigs for sure. So, It started with that one suite, and every time we play it it's a different thing. For me it's fun to explore the improvisations, I think the stuff is cool. Darren wrote a couple suites, I wrote one. We started recording and applied for a grant... and got it. Now we don't really know what we're gonna do yet.
Is that the same grant, the Arts council one?
What's the process
There are two deadlines per year, one in June and one in December I think. Have you applied for a grant before?
no I haven't.
It's a pain in the ass. It's a lengthy application and you have to answer all these questions that are really hard to answer and vague. What I've heard is that once you get one... I think it weighs on the actually demo's you submit, and your artistic statement, and they ask for a budget. I mean, once you do it, I think it's easy to do again. You just fill in the blanks. In the end they want to see you make a record. It's great though. I think there is a lot more money in the Ontario arts council than there have been. And they're doing a lot more touring grants. It is like I said a pain in the ass, but it pays off. Think about how much time it'd take to make 8 grand selling CD's?
What's next performance wise for you?
well, yeah, we just got a show, I don't know if you're gonna play with Olenka, but we got a show for Valentines day.
Did we?! Well, then I'll be there.
Olenka and Barzin, and now I'm gonna be doing a set.
Wow, that'll be a great show. And you had Olenka on the album. how did you guys meet?
Through Barzin. He was playing drums with her for a little while
yeah, I remember that. Very briefly
Very Briefly. He asked her to come out and sing. We had... Barzin got this crazy gig playing at the Opera house opening up for this Persian band from San Fransisco called Kiosk. I'd been there before, but never played. I thought, it's huge. But it was sold out. With Iranian people just going nuts. and Olenka was singing with us. it was really weird. that was the first night I met her. So when I wanted a female voice, I asked her.
Perfect, so your next show is with us, as Nick Zubeck and with Barzin on the 14th. Thanks for doing this interview with me.