Interview – Nick Teehan

Nick Teehan @ The Cameron House, 04-12-11

On April 12th, I saw Nick Teehan play in the backroom of the Cameron House with his full band accompanying him. His elaborate brass-heavy band includes sousaphone, trumpet and flugelhorn, in addition to keys, guitar, and drums. His lazy baritone complements his rather playful style. I don’t think I stopped smiling for that entire set and, judging from the crowd’s reaction, it seemed as though the whole room felt the same way.

I had the chance to sit down with Nick very briefly after his set.

In attempting to describe his sound, Nick indicates that it’s quite hard to peg himself into a specific genre. “It’s changed a lot over the last two or three years. For a while, I called myself death poker, but that only applies to maybe two or three songs in the set. The other ones are introspective, melodramatic pop music. It’s a brass band too, so you could call it an electric-brass-pop-cabaret band. It depends on how many hyphens you can fit in one line.”

Nick has an interesting background, having studied jazz music. He’s only been writing songs with lyrics for the last 3 or 4 years, but he’s well-versed in composing instrumental jazz music, as that’s what he had been doing in college.

Nick’s also involved with a couple other bands, most notably Barbarella and Pure Finesse. Nick says that he owes a lot to the bands he’s been in, as he hadn’t been singing before coming to Toronto and joining other bands. He had been playing saxophone in a band and was asked if he’d be interested in singing backups and this eventually led Nick to start writing his own tunes. “It was kind of like a slow progression. Without that, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

With his jazz background, Nick makes it clear that his background influences him constantly. “Once you get hooked into that stuff, you don’t forget about it, so I try and kind of nod to it sometimes. I get influenced by a lot of different things, but the jazz always comes in because that’s what gave me the skills and that’s kind of how I understand, how I kind of interpret things.”

While Nick was conveying these thoughts, he paused to high five his parents on their way out, simply saying, “See ya, Dad! See ya, Mom!”

As for his influences, Nick says, “I really like a lot of songwriters like Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Patrick Watson… there’s a lot.”

When it comes to what Nick writes about, he’s honest and says, “I just write a lot. I get weird ideas. It’s kind of hard to explain where that comes from, but that stuff is going through my head all the time.”

Nick’s currently looking to record a follow-up album to his Sidewalk Friend EP. “I’m really learning how to record better now. All I’ve done so far is this EP and I’m hoping that with the next one that I think the breadth of the material helps lighten things up because some of the stuff is heavy and intense and a lot of it is kind of comical and wacky.”

As for as his playful style that is so much fun to witness live, Nick says, “I think it’ll just come across [in the recording]. I think the lyrics help a lot because they’re really bonkers, some of them.”

Recording of the album will take place in the summer and Nick says, “If the stars align it’ll come out late 2011, maybe early 2012, we’ll see.”

As far as a drunken story goes, Nick provided some insight into a song, saying, “‘Sidewalk Friend’ is about being drunk and trying to screw your best friend, pretty much. It’s about that time where you get drunk over and over again with the same people and you don’t meet anyone and you try to hook up with your friends and it’s a really stupid idea.”

As for any other stories, he’s put on the spot. “Touring, I went to England for 10 days a couple years ago and I just recall I think I had my shoes on the whole time, but what kind of story is that? I almost threw a Scottish guy out the window while I was there, but I can’t explain why. It just kinda happened.”

For his shot of choice, Nick’s quick to say it is Jameson Irish Whiskey.

It was a pleasure to speak with Nick and you can see him live soon. He will be playing on April 30th at 99 Sudbury as part of AIDS Benefit event. Be sure to catch him then and check out his Sidewalk Friend EP to tide you over until he gets that album out.


Categories: Interviews


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