Talk It Out - Swinging into the New Year with Eddie Nichols of Royal Crown Revue - January 7, 2005
Eddie: It was fine. We worked in Telluride, Colorado.
Eddie: Froze our butts off. The guys worked really hard. Have you ever been up there?
Jodi: I have been to Vail and to Breckenridge, but not yet Telluride.
Eddie: When you’ve got to play at nine thousand feet, it’s really difficult, especially when you have not acclimated. What are you crying about? Did you hear that? Did you hear that?
Jodi: Who’s that in the background?
Eddie: I have chinchillas and one of them is crying.
Jodi: Oh my gosh.
Eddie: I don’t know what he’s crying about.
Jodi: What is life like to be you, Eddie? What’s your life like?
Eddie: What’s my life like? Oh it was chaotic, and now it’s a lot different. For years and years, I just tried to make the scene, went everywhere, partied super-hard, and traveled a lot. I tried to make things happen, and now it’s more like I gotta step back from that, it’s going too fast. You know? And, ah, now I have to look at concentrated efforts instead of going a#$%#$& all over the place.
Jodi: Totally. I totally relate to that. Target marketing, right?
Eddie: It’s also getting older.
Jodi: You’re never too old to play swing music!
Eddie: No, you’re never too old. I know, it takes a good one too. American Roots music is good to grow old with, you can always do it.
Jodi: You are today’s quintessential swing band. Why has that genre been such a huge part of your soul and how and why have you stayed true to the genre regardless of market trends?
Eddie: I’m going to sound like a big contradiction here, but I love old roots music, and all of it, mostly. We got monikered a swing band, because we were running around the country, and I remember the guy who really did it. His name was Mike Moss and he started a magazine in San Francisco called Swing Time. And that’s where the scene that was one of the biggest scenes besides Los Angeles was happening. Our band was mostly playing Rhythm and Blues, which is 40s and 50s R&B, you know, like Jazz, Jump Blues. Regardless, I love these roots music. I have a Doo-op group also. I stick with it, because I really enjoy the style, the lifestyle. If I had a time machine, I’d probably jump in it, and head back. I really love that era. I romanticize it, maybe a little too much. As far as market trends go, my band and a lot of the fellas I know, we’re pretty much kind of old school musicians, not just because we picked that style, but the way we work. We study, and we jam. We do sessions with other people. We go out and bust hump on the road, you know? Not in big busses anymore, just playing gigs, night to night.
Jodi: Yeah. That’s what you have to do, right?
Eddie: I don’t know if I really answered your question. The way music is nowadays, with the flavor-of-the-minute, it seems even faster than five years ago or six years ago, or seven years ago. It keeps going faster and faster. There’s not a lot of substance. There’s a lot of kids with good ideas out there, but there’s not a lot of substance to what they’re doing. You can really have almost no talent and play music or be famous or whatever.
Jodi: Like high-speed internet access.
Eddie: I’m not trying to criticize everyone’s hope, but a lot of this stuff is just bullshit.
Jodi: Is the whole business bullshit?
Jodi: Back to the 40s and 50s, what is it about the 40s that inspires you?
Eddie: Well, I’m fascinated with WWII, and I’m fascinated with the way America was. That was like our Camelot, when we speak of the 50s, and 60s – what a great time. The clothes – I just love the clothes. I have old cars. The clothes, the style, and the music. The music’s most important. The music was so widespread. All the different genres were damn good, from the Latin-influenced stuff, to the Black-influenced stuff, to the vocal groups, to the advent of White rock-n-roll. All that stuff is just the coolest to me.
Jodi: Totally. And what really inspires me about you, and why when I saw you at the Pandemic 40s holiday party in early December, what I got from just being in your presence, is that perhaps there is a similarity between the wartime politics of today and the wartime politics of the 40s. Is there a parallel there, and can you give me some sort of an insight as to what you think the parallel is?
Eddie: I would say the only parallel to that is a climate of fear. If we’re talking politics, our government is not the government we had forty years ago. It is not, in my opinion, fighting the righteous fight that was fought in WWII – by no means. So, I can say that with life going faster, and like I said, with the climate of fear, that also has something to do with people enjoying older, comfort music, comfort things, you know what I mean? Something they can associate with.
Eddie: Yeah, Retro.
Jodi: Soul food. Something familiar.
Eddie: Something that I wanted to touch upon, regarding the music, we really dislike being labeled a broadbrush like Retro – every song on my albums has been different. There are so many different styles in there. What I’m really looking to do on the next record is break that barrier we get stamped with over here. We have been more successful doing that out of the country, over in Spain. It reminds me of when we started here, in Australia we have kids with mohawks, we have Punk rockers, we have older folks, we have Ska kids, we have Rock-A-Billy kids. Their audiences are very diverse, you know, because they weren’t introduced as “this is an over-hyped scene”, they all feel comfortable coming to see it. And that’s kind of what I want to appeal to with everybody.
Jodi: Hmm. What is it about being over-hyped or being, you know you look at, like, Ashlee Simpson, what is it about being over-hyped that Americans or that the people aren’t really attracted to?
Eddie: Well, that may be a good point in some sense. I think that old adage is “they love to see you go up, I mean, they cheer you on the way up”, what is it? I can’t even remember what it is – they like to see you come down too. They applaud you on the way up and once you’re up there – ah-
Jodi: It’s like the Oprah saying, “You arrive in a limo, and you go home in a cab.”
Eddie: That is a good thing that a lot of Americans don’t like over-hype, but a lot of them still suck it down. The music industry to me is like soda pop the last couple years, you have Coke and Pepsi, and that’s it.
Eddie: It’s a big music industry. It’s a real shame, because there are so many cool bands of all styles that just don’t get their due.
Jodi: And what would it take for people to be heard?
Eddie: To be heard?
Jodi: Yeah, like what you’re saying. For those voices to rise?
Eddie: The record companies are not developing acts like they used to. We were on Warner Brothers for two, three years maybe four, I don’t remember how many years. We did two albums so it was more than that, but we came right at the end. They used to get an act, back in the good-old-days , whatever 70s, or 80s, 60s, 50s, and they developed them. They’d let them put out the first album, second album, third album, now they want something instantly and if you don’t follow up with it, they cancel your contract. It doesn’t give a chance for bands to develop into really good bands.
Jodi: There are no more life terms.
Eddie: Wham Bam. They want something right away. And I understand, it is a business, but it’s not as fair or supportive to the artists. It’s not the same it used to be or what we grew up expecting it to be.
Jodi: That’s an interesting point about expectation. It really is up to the band to carve out their own niche and make their own music regardless of who’s buying or selling or listening or what. It still comes back to the artist and having something to say and saying it to anybody, by any means possible. That’s one reason for Talk It Out, is just to get people like you actually reaching your fans and hoping to communicate a part of who you are as an extension of your music. So people can get to know you in a new light and really hear what you have to say, and also at the same time, they will be able to understand your lyrics better. So, you were touching on travel. I would love to hear about the most interesting places you’ve traveled to in the world and what drives you about being outside of America. I know the huge topic is the Tsunami. What do you think America’s role should be in aiding? Like Hiroshima in the 40s, I mean, one was the universe’s creation, and the other was the human creation, but kind of looking at the mass destruction of those two events, because they have been related to in the media at the level of destructive damage, what should our role be? What should Americans be thinking? Everyone has their own opinions of course, but what do you think about everything that’s happened? What are your thoughts as to what we should do as Americans to participate in the rebuilding of Asia? What should we do to lend a hand or help support? Should we be involved?
Eddie: That’s a good question. Our government just has to follow through with the money we pledge. While it looks small to the rest of the world, it is small probably what we’re donating. We just have to follow through with it, but our current government is more concerned with bombs, as far as I’m concerned. So, money is being diverted. I wish there was more to say in what our taxes are spent on, because we could help out a lot. We could help a lot of things in this world if we weren’t blowing the crap out of everybody. The only thing we can do right now is hope our government follows through with the pledges. And it’s our money.
Jodi: Definitely. I think the non-profit organizations, which are not governmental organizations, the ones that you can donate to, hopefully, I think they are all doing their best to provide aid and stuff.
Eddie: Oh yeah, they are! There are problems right here. I give money to a place locally that help takes care of things.
Jodi: Do you have any concerns with, because I’ve heard this when I listen to people, that we have so many problems here in the United States that we are not addressing, that we should be, in addition, of course, to helping the rest of the world? Are there issues in America that we are overlooking, and if so, what are they? What do we need to really focus on? What do you think we should do internally to help ourselves? Because I think it’s so important when our own house is in order, then we have so much more to offer the rest of the world. Do you think America is dysfunctional at the core? And if so, how? And what can we do to repair the damage internally?
Eddie: Yes, it’s dysfunctional at the core! I’m a pretty left-wing guy, but our basic morality is all over the place. There’s a lot to this question. What would help is at the top, with our government, we have agendas, this rhetoric that we spew out to the rest of the world and mostly to Americans, “We’re the greatest, we’re going to help, I’m for you”. It’s all bullshit. Most of these cats up in Washington – self-interest big businessmen. That’s why most of the world doesn’t trust us because we say one thing and we sure as hell are doing another. They have their secret organizations and their corporate interests figuring out how to take advantage, when we say, “Oh we’re here to help out the regular guy.” So, from the top down has got to change. We have to have interest in this country. We have to have interest in our environment, in having people work, in having people work together. We have the resources, it’s really stupid. You paid your taxes last year, didn’t you, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before. How come California is billions in debt? Remember the electricity thing? We paid all our bills.
Jodi: I think that was a Republican scam. It came from Texas to unplug California. It happened right after the election of 2000, when Gore lost the election. It was a power move to silence the huge liberal state of California and get a Republican in office. It was a big scam!
Eddie: That’s one of our biggest dysfunctionality problems that we’re talking about. It’s lies and the accepted lies that everybody knows, but everybody just turns the other cheek. Everybody knows that Jessica, or Ashlee Simpson, whatever her name is, was lip syncing and everybody goes, “Oh, she’s okay anyway.” It’s that kind of mentality. All the way up and down the line. That’s a big problem in the United States.
Jodi: Very interesting. So what is the purpose of the Tsunami and the new year coming? Is there a higher purpose in terms of what you’re doing, in what your goals are for this year?
Eddie: It’s for people’s enjoyment. Enjoyment is good, good stuff. You know? Making music, and making people happy is a great thing. It’s a nice career. If you can make a living at it, which I do. I ain’t rich, but I really enjoy my life.
Jodi: That’s a beautiful thing. I really do agree with you that the purpose of this year is to make other people happy, to share happiness, to spread happiness from the core to everyone that we know. And your music does that, and you do that, and you’ve done that. And keep doing it. Thank you for what you do. It’s a real blessing being an artist. I’m an artist also, and I know it’s a real blessing to be an artist. I am just really honored to be able to share your message and carry this conversation to your fans, and to new fans out there, and to my fans, and to our fans, and to really create positive energy in the world for 2005. I have a good feeling it’s going to be a really good year.
Eddie: I do too. I hope so, just got to keep positive.
Jodi: Yeah. Bringing people together.
Eddie: All right then.
Jodi: Thank you, Eddie.
Eddie: Thank you for your time.