It's a sunny afternoon, the bills have been paid and Nic Armstrong is enjoying his first pint of the day. In fact it's his first pint in over a week. Since he finished touring with the Bees a week ago he's crashed back to the daily drudge of real life and is hanging on to the fact that he's out on the road with David Viner in a few days time. You might not be able to tell so from listening to the breezy rock n roll of his debut album "The Greatest White Liar", but scratch the surface and Armstrong is a man plagued with the recurring dark spells. Designer Magazine caught up with Armstrong to talk about the tours, the next album and the darkness.
Q: You're in a pub in Nottingham I believe.
A: Yeah, i'm just having a pint. I'm taking it easy. I've been off the drink for a week, which is a travesty. We've just finished the little tour with the Bees about a week and a half ago and you sort of go into this downer. On the road you go in this little bubble and it's so fun and everything and then you come back home and its back to reality. You've got to keep your mind going.
Q: The tour with David Viner promises rock n roll debauchery, collaborations
and Doo Wop covers apparently. In the US everyone collaborates with everyone,
yet in the UK everything's segregated
A: There's too much structure going on. People need to get together. There needs to be more scenes's going on. I feel like sometimes I have to move down to London as seen as everyone knows each other and hangs out. It's not really going on down Nottingham. Bands are getting attention in Nottingham, but I always feel like an outsider. But there are two bands here that I really like - Earth The Californian Love Dream and a band called The Co.
Q: This tour must feel totally different from the usual support slots
you've done with Dogs Die In Hot Cars and the Raveonnettes?
A: ...and Razorlight and the Jeevas - its a bit of a mix. All I want to do is keep busy, keep plugging away and stay on road and recording. Surfing the lows cos my mind starts tripping out a bit. I haven't done a massive amount of tour like say the Raveonettes who have been constantly touring for about 2 years, but even just doing it for a few weeks you're enjoying it and you come back to the rotten kitchen and rotten sofa and you just want to pick it your guitar and punch it through.
Q: The fact that you've toured with so many different bands
stylistically kinda shows that you are separate from any scene, you don't fit
in with any particular bands.
A: I don't go along with fashion. I just had the lucky opportunity to do this, but i'm always an outsider and I always will be. If I just keep making music hopefully people will start to dig it yer know...and maybe that will create a scene
Q: I guess coming from Newcastle and moving down to Nottingham, two
cities that don't really have as great a musical history as say Manchester or
London. I guess that makes it different because coming from those places
there's no expectations to life up to, it's just your own expectations you have
to live up to.
A: Freddy & The Dreamers - I'm sick of people saying that. The annoying thing is I want to play more of Newcastle and I'd quite like to be based up there, but its a shame that city doesn't have stuff going on big style. When you go to Liverpool you've got all those bands like the Zutons, The Bandits and The Coral and they all hang out.
Q: When people mention Nic Armstrong they always mention the same list
of influences - Dylan, the Beatles, Chuck Berry. What's the influence people
would least expect of Nic Armstrong?
A: One of my favourite albums at the minute, it's nothing to the Johnny Cash thing, is NIN's "The Downward Spiral". That's just a great album that me and my girlfriend are digging at the moment. There are so many different musical influences I've got. I've explored this big tree and I’ve fallen on the rawness of 50s rock n roll which just hits your heart. Before I got deal I wasn't checking out anything that was going on, but there's some great bands out there that surprises me because i'm a bit stubborn.
Q: Do you find that it's easier not to listen to anything contemporary
when you're writing in case it rubs off on you?
A: It would be nice to get into the Beatles and Beach Boys thing of trying to out do each other. It would be nice to get that with a few contemporary bands and make a scene through making music and competing with each other to get the best record out. But I don't feel an affinity with anyone. I'm an outsider at heart.
Q: You're writing for the next album. With the first album it was your
first experience of a proper studio and you hadn't been out on the road living
with the songs. How the past few months experience going to affect the album?
A: The next album is going to be darker. I really want to twist people’s minds. This album is like a foundation to get people into it then take it down a step with the next one. If I was given the chance I would probably come out with something completely extreme. I need someone to keep a check on it. Being a painter i've got these stupid conceptual ideas in my head about what should be first and you a stepping stone to the next thing. You make everyone comfortable as they're walking through the door and as they sit down at the table you serve them up something else and for dessert it's something else.
Q: I've read a few interviews you've done previously and darkness is a
recurring theme in every single interview. Do things play on you mind a lot and
end up coming out in the songs?
A: I think so. I keep saying I have a dark mind and have my moments. I've had some dark times at university and I know I can make people empathize with the lonely moments. If you scratch the surface of each song there's psychological coding underneath. You've got to make your own mind up about the songs. I read a review of the album that said "this album is for NME readers, single mothers with one kid and old grandads"...I was like yeah a bit odd, but I like the single mother element.
"The Greatest White Liar" is out now on One Little Indian
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