Nick and the Babes
255 N. Front St.
Sat., 1/29, 8pm
Also playing: Jim Avett and Mike
Blair and the Stonewalls
There’s something to be said about a song that can transcend the chaos, which sometimes interrupts our lives, into a state of calm reflection. I’m not saying that Nick and the Babes should be a rainy-day soundtrack. No, this band has a sound that evokes sheer creativity.
I can vouch for it: My incessant writer’s block dissipated into the gentle melody of “Morning Light” (currently available on iTunes) last week while preparing our interview. The song, evoking a Band of Horses-meets-Lucero feel, makes it clear that Nick and the Babes understand Americana rhythms.
Made up of singer/songwriter Nick Bailey, his twin brother Graham (percussion), Dail Reed (bass) and Rob Wank (keys), the North Carolina musicians have already received acclaim on the Web series, “The District,” as well as on Animal Planet, other cable channels and independent films. They have solidified themselves on the regional music scene to no avail. Their tongue-in-cheek lyrics—”I really wanna punch you in the face,” (“Punch You In the Face”)—paired with driving rhythms and hypnotic cadences not only grabs a listener’s attention but endears them to a more sprightly level of being.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Nick Bailey was kind enough to discuss the band’s backbone and current score to life in preparation for their upcoming show at the Soapbox.
encore (e): How did Nick and the Babes come to be?
Nick Bailey (NB): Nick and the Babes stemmed from a bunch of tunes I was working on while moonlighting as a piano-bar musician in 2003. I had all of these original tunes burning a hole in my pocket, and felt I had to get out and express these songs. I’d been in many bands before but never the front man—which was scary for me at first. My twin brother, Graham was gracious enough to help me out on drums when I had the idea brewing, and I grabbed a good friend, also named Nick, to carry the bass. We went out as a three-piece and started playing house parties, eventually moving up to venues. I later grabbed a pedal steel player, keyboard player and replaced the bass player. All current members are NC natives [who have played in] many other regional bands.
e: What were the steps to make Nick and the Babes a realized dream?
NB: Finding dedicated musicians and networking has been the biggest part of where we are right now. Once we started landing some decent venues in supporting slots, it became much easier to spread the name. Our shows of late have been with lots of Ramseur recording artists (Jim Avett, Paleface), which have helped to promote the group. We’ve also paired up with other great artists like Holy Ghost Tent Revival and Dangermuffin. All very gracious and supportive bands of what we’re doing.
e: Your music has been featured in programs such as Newsweek.com’s Web series “The District,” TLC, A&E, and NAT GEO. What is it like to produce/compose music for a television series compared to just hanging out in the studio or writing something to be showcased live?
NB: Writing music for cable networks is a completely different animal from the music showcased live; both are rewarding in completely different ways. It’s a surreal experience to flip channels and catch one of my songs on a reality show. To date I’ve written for over 10 cable network programs. They want specific types of music (specific tone, time, mood) where as the music at a NATB show is all up to the band. The band music is more enjoyable in the sense that there are no restrictions to what we can do.
e: Do you find that Nick and the Babes have a loyal fan following?
NB: We see the same faces at many shows and that means the world to us. We do like the smaller intimate settings where you can look everyone in the eye. It’s those intimate settings [that] help us connect with the audience, but it’s also nice to do larger venues where you can play to a bigger crowd and have some fun.
The last time we played at the Soapbox I threw out free official Nick and the Babe’s cell phones. Of course, none of them had batteries or worked.
e: It seems as though there is no one way to categorize the type of music that Nick and the Babes play. Does it fit into a specific genre?
NB: The easiest and broadest category I end up putting us into would be Americana, although there are elements of jam and indie-rock hammered in. Right now I’m listening to Ryan Adams, Band of Horses, Avett Brothers and Josh Rouse. I like these artists, but I don’t specifically try to write like them.
Over the years I swayed from many different genres of music. The collective have all helped to shape the sound that we present. I often joke that my main influences are ex-girlfriends, red drink, headbands and cowboy boots.
e: I read on your website (www.nickandthebabes.com) that you guys “pull together honest songwriting, solid guitars and a love of headbands to create a sound all [your] own.” Are the headbands a fashion statement, a lucky charm, or just merely serving the function of keeping the hair and sweat out of your eyes?
NB: Ha! The headbands started as just a functional thing. It kept my golden locks from moving around too much. I had a NATB headband made, which I occasionally wear, but I generally rock an orange sweat-covered elastic one given to me by Graham’s fiancée. I hadn’t planned on it being a staple, but it certainly has.
e: When it comes to having a band that involves brothers, do you ever get any Oasis (or Gallagher brother) moments? Or is it pretty much a twin thing?
NB: Graham and I have a great relationship so the love/hate Oasis dynamic has never really come into play—except for one time when he was late to a show because “he was busy looking for his Sweet Tarts.” Haha. We’ve been playing together since we were 13 so we have a great musical connection.