Interview: Nickel Eye

posted January 14, 2009

by Corinne
Photo by Justin Jay

Nickel Eye

How are you?

I'm fine, thanks.

Do you feel any hesitation or anxiety stepping out solo from The Strokes?

This is a very different sound from the stuff we normally do. My only hesitation and anxiety would come from people expecting it to sound like another Strokes album and not being able to get passed that difference.

"The Time of the Assassins" is based on a road trip you took when you were 19. What inspired you about the trip?

A lot came about from a sort of culture shock in my own country. I didn't realize how disconnected one country could be from coast to coast (as was made apparent in the last three presidential elections). As a teenager, I had read "On The Road" and in my naive mind, I was expecting an experience more akin to that sort of story. It was a sort of estranged disillusionment. "The Time Of The Assassins" is about killing your old set of beliefs - and in a way your old self - and moving on. A bit like "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig.

Have you been holding on to the music since that road trip or was it written retrospectively?

Many of the words were written back then. But I only started putting them to music when I realized that our time off with the Strokes was going to last longer than I had expected.

Did you approach recording "The Time of the Assassins" differently than if it had been a Strokes album?

There are pros and cons to both situations. The cons were that I didn't have four friends and talented musicians to tell me when a part worked or not. The pros were I could do whatever I wanted and explore types of music that wouldn't necessarily find a place on a Strokes album.

Who are some underrated bands that you think deserve more attention?

There is a band in London I met while doing demos there called The Brian Jacket Letdown. They sound somewhere between Syd Barrett and Harry Nilsson.

What have you been listening to recently?

At night I go on YouTube journeys and visit every aspect of my musical curiosities. Recently, it's been Modest Mouse and MGMT. But I also like to look up old favorites like Cyndi Lauper and rare and strange recordings by Tom Waits.

If you could have written any song what song do you wish you had written and why?

I just saw the making of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. The way that Brian May describes each part and how they came about, and the different techniques they used to record it made me quite bewildered as to how it all came together as a whole.

Anything you would like to add?

No, thanks. Have a nice day.