banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

A Dirty Dozen with SALIM NOURALLAH – January 2020

| 4 January 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “When asked to sum up his 25-year career in music, singer/songwriter/producer Salim Nourallah says, “I feel like the Texas version of Nick Lowe, except I haven’t entered my silver-haired crooner phase yet.” When he was a kid, Nourallah looked up to Lowe, mainly because he was the best example teenage Salim could find of a musician who led a double life of sorts, making his own records while also producing other artists. It’s still a relatively uncommon phenomenon.” We get Salim to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo Credit: Casey Pinckard

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The song, “Born With A Broken Heart,” has a lot of scene changes and words. I wrote it when my mother was fighting Alzheimer’s. Toward the end of her life, I had a lot of pent up anger about how she was treated in the 1970s. So there are a lot of words in this song that someone might miss on the first or second go-round. It’s really a tribute to her and an acknowledgment of how wonderful, creative women like her have been disrespected by men. As far as hidden nuggets, after I sing “played our first gig in a strip mall parking lot,” I mutter off-mic “Chelmont Center.” That was the name of the strip mall our dad owned in El Paso where my brother and I did, in fact, play our first gig. There’s also another off-mic mention of Danny’s Music Box. That was my favorite record store as a kid. Both of these things might be hard to decipher in the mix unless you’re paying very close attention or have canine-sharp hearing.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I don’t know that I can pinpoint an exact moment, but one major moment was when I asked my mom if everyone “heard music” in their heads. I was about 15. My mom helped me realize that the music I was hearing was my own, and I should learn how to play an instrument in order to get it out of my head and into a more tangible form. That’s how songwriting started for me. Once I got going with that, there was no doubt about what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with it ever since.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I cajoled my grandmother into buying me The Beatles’ White Album in a Kmart when I was 9. That started an avalanche of inspiration and informed everything I came to love about music. Later on the Clash, Elvis Costello, and lots of punk/new wave music followed.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

The Beatles, The Kinks, The Clash, The Church, and Neil Finn.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Joseph Mount from Metronomy, because I love his production aesthetic and he has a great way with a hook.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?   What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Robyn Hitchcock coined a phrase “a son of The Beatles” that I think is perfectly fitting. I’m another son of The Beatles, so I’d describe my music as some sort of mutation of theirs – circa 1968.   A few music writers have inadvertently called me Americana or Alt-Country because of my production work for the Old 97‘s. My music has nothing to do with either one of those genres.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

This isn’t really applicable to me unless I’m hanging out with Alex Dezen and Billy Harvey. We have a group called NHD. Our first record, And the Devil Went Up to Portland, came out a couple years ago. Alex would definitely be the one in the kitchen. Billy would handle the drinks, and I’d be the DJ. We’d all be too busy with that stuff to bust out acoustic guitars.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I’ve never been starstruck. A demonstration of this quality is I once gave Justin Currie from Del Amitri the equivalent of a mixtape. The look on his face when I handed over this CD compilation was priceless. I think he thought I might’ve been hitting on him or something. I wanted to say, “Hey man, I don’t wanna date you – just thought you’d enjoy these tunes!” His blogging about music had hipped me to a couple of my favorite bands – Metronomy and The Drones. The CD was my “thank you.” I hope someone fished it out of a trash bin and enjoyed it later!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I can do whatever I want whenever I want. Total freedom to pursue whatever crazy idea comes round the bend next.  My other dream job would be the other job I already have. Producing music for other artists.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask?  Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Always wanted to ask: “Salim, in your infinite wisdom… what is the meaning of life?” and what is the answer? Hell if I know!!! And tired of answering would be: “So… how would you describe your music?”

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I think I’d go back to 1995 and change the name of the band I was in at the time with my brother, Faris. We were called The Moon Festival, which worked perfectly well when we had long hair and played moody guitar rock like The Mission UK. By the time ‘95 rolled around though, I was in the grips of an obsession with The Kinks. We cut our hair and dramatically changed our music, but I insisted that we keep the band name. The Moon Festival was a terrible moniker for a band doing 60’s inspired mod, pop.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Without a second’s hesitation, The Beatles’ White Album. I would’ve loved to analyze the recording techniques. What microphones did they use on certain instruments? How did they get all those great guitar sounds (especially the fuzz guitar tones)? I think it still stands as my pick for the coolest sounding recording of all time. There’s so many variations in the song approaches, but they all hang together cohesively due to the production and recording technique. It’s remarkable. In one way or another, I’ve ultimately been chasing this aesthetic my entire career as a musician.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad