An Interview With
NICK THURBURNYou're in a new band with Man Man?s Ryan Kattner and Modest Mouse's Joe Plummer. how was it working on this your bands debut album Out of Love?
Fun and easygoing. I had less to worry about so I could focus on my guitar parts and step back and let Ryan or Joe shine when need be.
You work with lots of different bands and project. How do you go about deciding when it?s time to start a new project or which band gets a song you write?
I don?t usually decide to start a new collaborative project. It generally happens rather naturally and spontaneously. It usually starts with a non-musical hang or a budding friendship, turns into a late night "what if?"" and is rounded out by some recording or writing sessions. I like to follow through.
You release a lot of great music. How often do you write a song and how often is it worthy of being on an album?
Songs sometimes aren't finished or they are let unfinished for upwards of three years before they reach maturation. Sometimes, they're stillborn and that's that. They might never make it past the first verse. I let them develop when they're ready, generally. Usually I'll have a pretty good sense of where it belongs but Islands always gets first dibs.
You released a project with Daddy Kev called Reefer. How was the song writing for this project different from others? Do you think a second album will ever be made?
That was a really fun one. It was like a vacation. Kev brought me and my girl out to Maui and we spent the days swimming with sea turtles and exploring the insane jungles of Hawaii and then at night I pretty much free form improvised over some skeletal beat structures and samples Kev had created.
It was definitely a different and unique vibe to be making music in. Who knows what the future holds for Reefer?
Kev is doing great things with his Low End Theory nights in Los Angeles and in New York. He's on the vanguard of a pretty fresh musical movement.
You've worked in the realm of hip hop in the past. Have you ever considered being on more hooks for rap songs, doing a rap album, or even producing beats for rappers?
I'm always available to jump on a hook. I was working on beats with former Islands collaborator Jamie, but that never reached fruition. I'm starting to do some of that on my own, and I'm gonna be working with Heema from Das Racist and Beans from Anti-Pop. I "sang" a hook on Fat Tony?s new joint and Bun B was in tow, so that was pretty exciting for me. We'll see how far I can get in the rap world. Not far, I'm guessing.
It's not a vagina. That was a joke/
If there was anyone, alive or dead, you could write a song or album, with or for, who would it be and why?
If it's someone I admire I'd probably want to collaborate versus "write for." I'm pretty indecisive and bad at these sorts of list things, so I'll just be very impulsive and say? Alive: Fever Ray, Neil Young, Kenneth Anger, Paul Simon, Brian Eno, Cody Chestnut, Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins, Beth Gibbons, Andre 3000, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, Ray Davies, Maddy Tabor & June Prior, The Zombies Passed: Kate McGarrigle, Harry Nilsson, Roy Orbison, Abner Jay, Hall & Oats
When it came time to make a music video for the Islands' song "No You Don't how did Michael Cera staring in it come about?
He's my pal and our mutual friend Derrick Beckles, who does TV carnage, was directing. We decided to make it a fun, friendly thing.
You released a solo album recently for free on your bandcamp called I Am An Attic. You announced this album over two years ago. Is it exciting to finally release it? What separates this solo album from an Islands record, and what made you decide to make these songs solo?
It was an impulsive decision to release it. It was just gathering dust and I have a weird aversion to things being made and never heard. Maybe it's like the zen thing of a tree falling in the forest and no one hearing it. Or how many babies can you fit in a tire?
The cover for Arm's Way is very elaborate compared to many of your album covers. What made you choose to have such a piece of art as a cover for that album? What's the significance of it being a vagina?
It's not a vagina. That was a joke/misunderstanding. It was an exploding torso. I commissioned the piece from a New York painter whose work I liked, Rebecca Bird. It references themes from the record
When did you write your first song and what was it about?
It was about my dog who had just died. I had just got my first beat up old acoustic guitar. I was maybe 15.
Michael Cera played bass for Mister Heavenly's first few shows but didn't play bass on the album. Have you considered working on an album with Michael?
Yes. He's an incredibly talented and musical individual and I?m trying to convince him to make a record of his own. He's got some really great stuff. I'd love to produce it with him.
Islands' fourth album A Sleep & A Forgetting is a dark, sad and slow album. It is by far Nick Thorburn's most personal album to date. The album sets you in a dark, hotel lounge band vibe as you get sucked in by Nick's daunting words. This is definitely an album everyone needs to hear. It's a beautiful mix of every slow Islands song since their debut album Return To Sea. The album's two singles "This Is Not A Song" and "Hallways" capture the two different vibes of the album. The album is a perfect mix of positive and negative memories of love. "Hallways" is an upbeat dueling piano track and "This Is Not A Song"" is a slow powerballad where Nick explains that he will never trully learn. This album has gotten Nick, who is known for his amazing guitar playing, to put down the guitar and write all the songs from a piano. A Sleep & A Forgetting is available in mp3 form, CD and vinyl.