Published on October 21st, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann0
The Punch List with Micah Nichols
Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, Charleston-based guitarist, songwriter, and studio producer Micah Nichols (Luke Cunningham Band, Mr. Goodstache, Declare, Crowfield) takes a turn.
1. What is your favorite local hang and why?
“Gene’s Haufbrau in West Ashley. Who doesn’t love dripping siracha-honey wing sauce all over a game of Yahtzee between sips of your favorite local brew?”
2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…
“Your wife says, ‘Good job. you didn’t suck tonight.'”
3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?
“Sigur Rós at Madison Square Garden. Mind blown. Sigur Rós has been one of my favorite bands for a long time, and seeing them live for the first time at Madison Square Garden didn’t disappoint. They started the show behind a backlit canvas. We could only see their silhouettes until a massive sonic buildup ended in an explosion of light and the canvas dropping from trussing several stories high. This moment was supported by Jonsi’s pitch perfect belting and violin-bow guitar slaying.”
4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.
“It is constantly developing, morphing, and hopefully inspiring someone, somewhere.”
5. What’s your theme song?
“Sun Kil Moon’s ‘Duk Koo Kim.’ I can’t get over the moment they captured when recording this. It’s one of the vibiest tracks I’ve ever heard.”
6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?
“My 1958 Gibson J-50. I started the search for a late-’50s Gibson J-50 three years ago. I played between 25 and 30 J-50s from that time period in guitar stores all over the country. Finally, in Charleston of all places, I found her at a private dealer’s house. This dealer travels all over the country, buying and selling guitars at guitar shows, and he knew exactly what I was looking for. He called me up and said he had something I’d like. I played one chord on it and knew it was the one. The thing with guitars of this age is that they are impossible to replicate or find again. Each one ages uniquely and can’t be re-created.”
7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection?
“I get really obsessive about records and will listen to only one album for weeks at a time. Then I get sick of it and move on to the next one. Currently, I’m obsessing over the Strokes’ Comedown Machine. It’s such a rhythmically funky record.”
8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck?
“Anytime I’m around Jay Clifford [formerly of Jump, Little Children]. What a monster musician, writer, arranger, producer, and of course, vocalist. His work has been one of the major influences in my life. Funny enough, I spent years in Crowfield bassist with Jonny Gray of Jump before meeting Jay. I didn’t actually meet Jay until shortly after he arranged strings for our song ‘Black Hills’ off of our last record, The Diamond Sessions . I generally feel like I connect easily with people, and I’m rarely stumped or star-struck. This occasion was the opposite.”
9. What’s your poison?
“Bourbon. I’ve been enjoying a nice bottle of Stagg Jr. this week, but I’ve always got a bottle of Buffalo Trace or Johnny Drum at the house as well.”
10. In 10 years, I will be…
“Still married to the hottest woman on the planet — if she’ll keep me around — and still making records.”
Micah Nichols, a Lowcountry native, may be best known in the local scene as a tasteful lead guitarist and a top-notch sideman with such pop/rock acts as Crowfield and the Luke Cunningham Band (for whom he produced the recent album Heart Pressure), but he’s an expert recording studio engineer and music producer as well.
This year, Nichols has split his time between local projects and playing guitar with Nashville-based pop-country singer Amber Carrington and studio sessions in Charleston, Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York.
Nichols works part time at Seacoast Church as the band director for the Mt. Pleasant campus
Nichols initially formed the instrumental trio Mr. Goodstache as a funky blues-rock combo with drummer Ben Scott and bassist Christian Wood. “I was studying music at the College of Charleston, and we started out as the house band at both Club Habana and East Bay Meeting House,” Nichols says. “The whole idea with the project was to allow full improv-prompted creative expression. We generally come up with a simple idea — cover or original — of an instrumental piece we’re all feeling, and then we simply jam on it. We never rehearse or play the same thing twice. We just roll with it.”
Most recently, Nichols and Scott worked up another new pop/alt-rock project called Declare with singer/keyboardist James Galloway. Earlier this year, Declare worked up a set of original material and went into the studio with producer/engineer Neil Bradley Young (Needtobreathe, Third Day). They’ve completed work on their debut EP and will be releasing it in early 2014.
“Declare was born out of a reaction to the general lack of good music that lyrically expresses faith in God,” Nichols says. “There are absolutely some good Christian artists out there, but it seems they are few and far between.”
Nichols has two big Charleston shows on the calendar this week. He will perform with Mr. Goodstache at the West Ashley Home Team BBQ at 9 p.m. on Thurs. Oct. 24. Admission is free. Nichols will also pay with the Luke Cunningham Band at the Pour House on Sat. Oct. 26 with support from Tyler Boone and Ten Toes Up. Tickets are available for $12 at the doors and $10 in advance).
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