Today’s Feature – June 19-20: Nick Howard

June 22, 2008 at 10:48 am (Today's Feature)


In just about every PensEyeView interview, we ask our guest, “What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?” A tough question on the fly no doubt, but Howard gave my favorite answer to date (likely due to my partial obsession with He-Man): “That as a five year old I was kicked out of ballet class for running around in circles screaming ‘HE-MAN, HE-MAN!'” That’s when I knew I was going to like Nick Howard. The fact is music is quality stuff helps too.

Coming from across the pond, this UK native is the best kind of artist Ð one that truly trusts his own material. Moving to New York City in 2004, with no family or connections, Howard took to the streets without a dime to his name on a mission to establish himself. And he’s done just that. Opening for Jack Johnson in the summer of 2005 at the famous Gorge Amphitheater in Washington, Howard then caught the attention of Jamie Siegel (Joss Stone, Lauren Hill, Dashboard, Santana) and the two subsequently produced his first full-length album “Something to Talk About.” The record has some “heavy content with more light-hearted, pop-infused melodies” and is what Howard sees as a coming of age record. He says “I made it on my terms and on my time. The content is varied and talks about things throughout my life as well as things I’ve noted in other peoples lives along the way.”

If you have the chance, get to a live Nick Howard show. It may not be too trippy for you (since you personally probably don’t know Nick) but Howard literally takes on another persona on stage. He definitely supplies the entertainment Ð fully engaging both the audience and himself. Once you see it live, there’s no chance you’ll pass up buying the new album. Learn a whole lot more in the XXQ’s.

XXQ’s: Nick Howard

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how you first jumped into music? From the start, was it a good fit?

Nick Howard (NH): Music’s been a part of my life for such a long time that I don’t think I ever ‘jumped’ into it so to speak. I can’t really imagine a life without music; it’s an integral part of mine.

PEV: What kind of music where you listening to while growing up in the U.K?

NH: Everything under the sun! My parents are a product of the 60’s and heavily into The Beatles, so my earliest years were influenced largely by that. Outside of the parental influence, I personally developed an interest in Motown and particularly Michael Jackson. I would listen to Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad on repeat while working out the dance moves in front of my mirror with my older sister. As a teenager, I was swamped by the 90’s Brit-Pop revolution by bands like Oasis and Blur. As I trundled through college I sought to learn as much as I could about other kinds of music so I did the atypical college/university routine of buying every quintessential Jazz and Hip-Hop album I could find.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

NH: I’ve always known that it would be, but made sure that I gave myself enough support educationally to make the journey easier. I envy people who can just quit their jobs, rent a van and go on tour, but life has never been that way for me. I was raised on the premise that if you want something, you have to work for it.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process. What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?

NH: More than often, a song is influenced by the environment you’re in at that moment. That might be physical or emotional, but the point is you need to be in one or the other in order to write a song. Even if I sit down and think, ‘Hey, I’m going to write a song about heartbreak today’ I need to work on imagining a prior point in life where I’ve gone through that emotion, so that it translates into song.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Nick Howard performance?

NH: You’ll hear most musicians say that, on stage, they are transformed into another being altogether and its no different for me. If I didn’t fully engage myself into what I was singing about then I’d feel I’d be cheating the audience. I’m a perfectionist who gives as much as I can on stage. You’ll hopefully notice that at a live show. I really enjoy a crowd that gets into the material with me.

PEV: Tell us about your first performance as a solo artist. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

NH: It was so long ago that I can hardly remember. I played through school, either in bands, school orchestras or in the choir, so I was used to performing, just usually with the aid of about 20 other people. One of my first solo performances was at 17 at a local talent show where I played my own material to an audience of strangers for the first time . I essentially sat there frozen solid just trying to get through it. Afterwards I remember my Mum saying, ‘It wouldn’t hurt to open your eyes and look at the audience.’ She was on the money, from that point on I made an effort to really engage the crowd at my shows and still do today.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, “Something To Talk About?”

NH: My first record was an EP recorded in the outskirts of Brooklyn and with a limited budget. Its a raw window into my life at that time. Still really struggling to work out what I was trying to do and writing songs that reflected that. My new album is almost a coming of age record. I made it on my terms and in my time. The content is varied and talks about things throughout my life as well as things I’ve noted in other peoples along the way. I feel it’s well rounded, and offers a fresh look into a number of different subjects.

PEV: How is “Something To Talk About” different from your past projects?

NH: See above.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Nick Howard?

NH: That as a five year old I was kicked out of Ballet class for running around in circles screaming ‘HE-MAN, HE-MAN!’

PEV: What one word best describes Nick Howard?

NH: My girlfriend’s answer: ‘hot.’ My answer: ‘mess.’

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

NH: I don’t understand when people complain about touring. If you can make a living doing what you love then you are one of a lucky few. A friend of mine says that if music is your misery, then you’re doing something wrong. Playing live to people every night is the most rewarding part of what we as musicians do, if it isn’t, then why are we doing it in the first place?

PEV: In all your travels, in which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

NH: Playing in LA for the first time was kinda cool, and playing at The Gorge in Washington was beautiful. London is a city full of musical history and is an awesome place to play, playing a hometown show in Brighton is rewarding, but above all, playing in New York is the most magical and energy filled experience any musician can have.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Some still don’t think I have had any yet!

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing and writing music?

NH: My days are filled up by working in order to support my music, so my life is pretty full. That said, I’m a keen sports enthusiast and follow teams on both sides of the Atlantic. I can always find time to check on a score.

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration?

NH: Real life: Paul McCartney. Fake life: Marty McFly.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for?

NH: I’ve heard Nick Howard is great.

PEV: What is your take on today’s US mainstream music scene versus that of the UK?

NH: Good question. I think the UK has a little more edge right now. Over the past 5 years, we have constantly seen new genres coming out of the UK where as in the US, things haven’t been as gutsy as they have in the past. It might be because the record industry is being cautious right now. I’m sure it won’t last long.

PEV: Ten years down the road, where will Nick Howard be?

NH: I will always be making music. Hopefully it will be on a platform where other people can listen to it. If it isn’t, then I’ll still be making it anyway.

PEV: So, what is next for Nick Howard?

NH: A break from typing and a cup of tea…

For more information on Nick Howard, check out www.NickHowardMusic.com

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