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| 26 June 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves, a Philadelphia-based rock band led by artist / songwriter / producer Nick Perri, announced a pre-order today for the group’s anticipated debut album, SUN VIA. Along with the pre-order, the group released the LP’s first single, “Feeling Good.” Recorded and produced by Perri, SUN VIA is comprised of 10 original songs—a cohesive mix of rock-, alternative-, Americana-, and psychedelia-infused tracks. SUN VIA follows two-and-a-half years of momentum for Perri’s band, during which the group released various singles and music videos, delivered standout performances.” We were able to grab some phone time with Nick to discuss new music and more…

Toddstar: Nick – thank you so much for taking time out. I always enjoy talking to you.

Nick: Thank you for having me.

Toddstar: Well, there’s some exciting stuff going on in the world with Nick Perri and the Underground Thieves, and the last time we spoke, you guys were just putting The Capistrano EP out there. Now you’ve got a new collection of tracks, Sun Via, coming out in August. You guys have debuted a couple of songs – “Feeling Good” and “Excess” out there. I saw a cool acoustic version of “You” yesterday. What can you tell us about these songs that your fans may not grab the first or second time they listened through these ones?

Nick: Gosh, that’s a good question. I think it’s a pretty organic and natural progression from where we started and it is just… one thing I’ve been saying about this album is… I can’t really overstate enough how important this is to me, is looking back on it now that it’s done. It took two and a half years to make, but I will say for the first time in my entire career, 20 years of making music, this is the first album body of work I’m putting out with zero artistic compromises. It’s exactly what I wanted, start to finish, out the bottom, song for song, track for track, instrument for instrument, all the way across the board. It’s a while. It was a labor of love. Love, excuse me. I’m proud of it. I’m excited for people to hear it and put it in the universe. I wanted to do this for so long. You know my story, man. I’ve been in bands for pretty much my whole life and being in bands or any relationship, really, it’s all about compromise, and sometimes that compromise is healthy and it drives good things and it’s good. Sometimes that compromise is bad and going into this. Don’t get me wrong, the collaboration process between my band and I is a beautiful thing, but they know that I’m leading the ship and I have a vision for this thing and they’re totally on board with it and that’s what we’re doing. When I say no compromises, I mean no compromises on the outside. We made the record we wanted to make. If I wanted to put a one minute guitar solo over just a drum beat in the first lead song single, and take that to radio and have that open the album, that’s exactly what I did. No one told me I couldn’t do it. That’s what I’m talking about. So to have the ability to put forth something the exact way I’m hearing it in my head without making artistic compromises because of a team or a label or people who don’t get the vision. I’m done with that. So what people are getting is really an unfiltered musical statement from my brain and from the brains of my band members, who I love dearly. Musically it is just a culmination of everything we love about music. Whether that’s more straight ahead rock and roll, or it gets psychedelic and more far out and more deserty and harmonious, it’s all the things that we love about music rolled into one, the stuff that turns us on.

Toddstar: Oh, that’s important, especially in this day and age when rock and roll is so filled with sub genres and this and that. To find someone who just wants the organic rock and roll and to be able to put new music out is just amazing to see this day.

Nick: Oh, well, thank you. I’ve been asked about this a lot recently and I just don’t know as far as… music is such a subjective thing. It’s what makes it so great. Right? So everybody has stuff that they love and that does it for them. The state of rock and roll, I don’t even know what that means. I think that rock and roll is an attitude. It’s not a genre so much. I think it’s an attitude. I think there… I guess I just wish that more people were taking risks and doing something that was a little less safe because I think that’s where the excitement is. I think playing it safe is the death of rock and roll. I’m not talking about genre, I’m just talking about creatively being authentic to oneself and not beating down the path that’s been beaten down 5,000 times before. Trying something new, taking a risk, doing something exciting, doing something different. Yeah, that’s my piece.

Toddstar: And I think you’ve done that. Going from when I first got exposed to you back with Silvertide and then moving into The Underground Thieves. I have been able to see you on stage with Silvertide, but also on stage in St. Andrew’s in Detroit when you did some work with Dorothy. To watch you, you ebb and flow as needed in each show and you seem to do that with the music as well. Is it because you’re so integrated into the music you’re doing or is it just how you are as an artist that you just work as you need for each piece?

Nick: That’s another great question, man. You’re killing it today. Well, thank you for the kind words. I think it’s a little bit of both. Just ask my wife. It’s the sticking point in the joke, the family joke. It’s just like, if it doesn’t have a guitar on it, daddy doesn’t even notice that it exists. She’s always just making fun of me. My daughter’s making fun of me. I’m very obsessed. I’m obsessed with guitar. I’m obsessed with music, whether I want to be or not. It’s like I haven’t chosen it so much as it has chosen me, and I get very… I’m a type A personality, I get very into what I’m doing. As long as I feel like it fits in with, again, what is authentic to me, and I turn down gigs that would probably make people’s heads spin just because at the time I felt like it would be inauthentic of me to go do this, to put on this costume, as it were, whatever you want to call it. To put on this persona and go do this thing. I’m very conscious about what it is that I do and what’s real for me and what’s authentic to me. I can’t fake it. I’m too much of an open book to fake it. So when Dorothy asked me to come out and play, that was a very natural fit because it’s just part of what I feel like it’s already in my wheelhouse and the stuff that excites me. It was a very psychedelic rock and roll show, and I loved her vibe and I wanted to help a friend, and so I went out and did that while simultaneously recording this record. Those scores were right in the middle of the making of this record. So it was a little bit hard to a ping pong back and forth, but I made it happen. Obviously Silvertide was my band, and at that moment in time, that’s what was my entire life. Making that music and performing with my friend, my high school friends. So I guess to answer the question in short, if it feels right to me. If it feels right and it feels like something that… I guess it just comes back to being excited and passionate about it. The stuff that excites me is the stuff that I gravitate towards. If I was going to take any time off from this, it would have to be for something that I really, really felt passionate about. I don’t imagine that’s going to happen anytime soon, because we are really gearing up and I’m very excited to be full time doing my own thing. This is the first record after almost, like I said, 20 years. It’s coming out under my own name. It’s a big moment in time for me as an artist, as a guitarist, as a singer. So I’m very focused, almost tunnel visioned, on sharing this album and doing everything in my power to share it with people and spread the word about it and to put some good vibes… Ultimately, that’s what I’m after. I’m not trying to get rich and be famous. I don’t care about that stuff at all. I’m trying to just do what I can, use the talents that I have and the platform that I have to put something good into the universe, hopefully, and spread some good vibes, and that’s what feeling good is all about.

Toddstar: Well, you gave me a perfect segue because you mentioned that this is the first one that featured your name. Earlier I mentioned The Capistrano EP and that just went as The Underground Thieves. What was the real push for you to actually toss your name in front of The Underground Thieves this time?

Nick: That’s a great question, and the first time I’ve been asked it. Again, I think it was a natural progression. Behind the scenes you could say it’s always been Nick Perri and The Underground Thieves. Anybody who’s been a part of this project from day one to today will tell you that. It’s not an ego thing. It’s just this is my baby and everybody knows it. I started the band…

Toddstar: Not to cut you off, but to read the liner notes, it’s definitely Nick Perri’s band if you read the liner notes from The Capistrano EP. From writing and producing and writing and recording and the different playing of the instruments. You’re right. So sorry to cut you off, but I just want to make sure that people understand that if you actually buy plastic and read liner notes, you learn these cool things.

Nick: Yeah, and the liner notes for Sun Via are really intense and in depth because it took, like I said, two and a half years. We took seven different studios across the country and there are a lot of people involved, but no denying it. I’m the primary song writer, the primary singer and guitarist and I produced and recorded the entire record. I’m as involved as anybody could be in anything. It’s not, again, because of ego or control. It’s just I have a vision. I have an artistic vision for this, and I’ve always had it and I’m grateful that I have a circle of friends who I love dearly, who also really get that vision and want to be a part of that. And they’re like, “Yeah, this is awesome. I want to be a part of this. Don’t change anything, just keep doing what you’re doing.” That’s the kind of support that I’ve got. That’s not to say that they don’t challenge me. I don’t always have the best idea. This is a collaborative process. The reason why it says Nick Perri and The Underground Thieves and not Nick Perri is because I value their input and their ideas and The Underground Thieves is a very important part in the equation of how Sun Via came about. It just so happens at the end of the day if a decision needs to be made, a tough decision, I’m making it. Ultimately the creative direction is in my hands. So it’s not something I take lightly. I’m very serious about it. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I take what I do seriously. It’s just been a wonderful experience to step out and go, “Okay, I’m going to take responsibility for this. For good or bad, this is what is in…” the album and the songs are basically taking a peek inside my brain and my body and my soul. It’s like this really is me, everything on the inside manifesting on the outside. It’s a little scary because it’s very exposing, and when you go under your own name, there’s nowhere to hide. But the thing is I have nothing to hide. I’m just at a point in my life where I’m just like, “This is what I love. This is what I’m doing. If you like it, awesome. Come on board. If not, that’s cool too.”

Toddstar: Well, you mentioned it’s kind of scary taking the lead. Is that what you view the scariest part? Because you mentioned the joy of being able to put your name out there and putting this out there with no compromise. What’s been the scariest part of actually putting this together and throwing it out there for the world to digest?

Nick: Well, the scariest part is, I guess, that no one cares and it doesn’t connect whatsoever, and then the music doesn’t reach people. Then it’s like, “Well…” I would say what next, but again, you can’t go back from this and I’m aware of it. I’m not going back. So, if this doesn’t work and when I say work, again, this is such a subjective thing. I’m not trying to win anything. I want to just share music with as many people as possible and make people feel something, have some kind of an experience, and hopefully, at the same time, be able to make a living and provide for my family. That’s the goal. You know what I mean? That’s what is essential because I have to do that to make sure that I can survive and eat and then continue to make music. So to me, winning would be simply reaching people and being able to create the art that I love that’s in my heart, and simultaneously be able to at least just keep paying rent and buying food. If that could all happen, then that to me is winning and it’s happened so far and it’s happening now, which is awesome. I’m grateful for it every day. So if that can continue to happen, then that is winning for me. The scary thing is if that stops being able to happen. But I’m 20 years into this, I don’t have another job. There’s nothing else that I do. I wake up and I make music in some way, shape or form every day, all day. Those are the priorities in my life and I’m grateful to say that I’m still doing it. Many people who I came up with are not, and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to keep doing it and to keep making a living playing music. I guess my desire is that it just continues because this is literally just the start. This is the start of what I believe is the next 20 years. The next 30 years of my career is going to be in this format. Like I said, there’s no going back from it now, now that I’m using my name. There’s no turning around, which is scary and exciting.

Toddstar: Well, the thing about this, and you mentioned winning, but you’re already doing that. You guys put out posts about presales and autographed vinyl and things like that, and shit’s already selling out. You’re already connecting, you’re already winning. So from that aspect, let’s shift a little bit, because I’ve enjoyed some of your quarantine videos where you kind of broke out and done some of the stuff, but the version of “You” that you guys released within the last couple of days is just over the top. What kind of inspires you guys to get together and put that out there even though it’s not even really a “single” yet.

Nick: Well, thank you for those kind words. I do appreciate that. Like you said, I’m currently doing it and I’m grateful to be doing it. The response has been wonderful so far and I am grateful for everybody who’s pre-ordered and all that stuff. Whether people realize it or not, they are a part of the story. They are a part of this journey. We’re an independent band at the moment, so this is completely… every record, every T shirt, it’s a part of continuing our story and the ability to share music, which is so wonderful. So part of me, every day I wake up and I’m like, “Okay, well, how can I provide and share music today that’s going to be uplifting or inspiring to someone?” So I’m always trying to just think of little pieces of art that I can make and share, right? It could be as simple as three guys standing in the backyard singing acapella to a brand new song. It could be going out and filming in Joshua Tree a giant production music video. Both are exciting to me because it’s just they’re different expressions of art. But as for the song “You,” so that is going to be a song on the album. It’s track five, it closes side one of the vinyl. It’s, I think, a very beautiful and very special song. Michael and Anthony and I, we talked on the phone last week and we were talking about the promotion of this album and just doing some different things to get people aware, because I think that’s really the thing, is awareness, right? We live in this incredible age of technology where anybody can share something, and that’s wonderful, but because there’s so much happening out there, there is the challenge of just making people… You would think, Oh, 60,000 people follow you on his platform. 60,000 people will see every post. That’s obviously just not the way it works. So you’re always, at least I am, trying to come up with creative ways to put out a video, photos, something that will reach somebody and maybe it didn’t reach them on the last thing, but this might reach them. If this one doesn’t, maybe the next thing will. So I’m just trying to be creative and have fun. So I called the guys and said like, “Hey, do you want to come over and just do this acoustic sitting in the backyard? We’ll just do it in one take and just put it up. Give people a little taste.” So that’s something that was just organic and fun, and I’ve got a ton of stuff planned. I’m actually launching, and I don’t know when this will air, but I’m launching a video series, probably later this week, called Deconstructing Sun Via where I’m going to go track by track like the old classic albums format, where I’m going to go track by track. There’s going to be 10 episodes because it’s 10 songs on the album, and I’m going to sit down with the original session and pull up all the faders and whether it’s digital or I could get in front of a console, I don’t know yet. But either way, because I’ve recorded and produced the record, I have the sessions, so I can go in and solo all the instruments and share with people, “This is what this sounded like in isolation. This is what this sounded like in isolation. This is how I recorded this tone. This is how I recorded this drum part. This is how I recorded this thing.” I can really go in depth and give, hopefully, viewers a really in depth process piece of what went into making the record. S that’s going to launch this next week and, between now and August 14th when the album drops, I will be, once or twice a week, putting up these deconstructing videos as well.

Toddstar: Very cool. With the state of the world right now, it’s halted touring for everybody. Right now, the only thing you guys have is to be able to share on social media or those types of mediums. Then like you mentioned, t-shirts and vinyl and everything else, and that’s how you guys are making it right now. But in the back of your mind, are you already plotting that next step out on the road, bringing this to the fans?

Nick: You know it. I am. I have to be. This is what I do for a living. So there have been dozens and dozens and dozens of conversations as time ticks on about when and where and how it’s going to happen. But I’ve made a very… there’s no reason to talk about it publicly because it’s such a up in the air thing, but my booking agent knows, my management knows. Whenever it’s deemed okay to go into a club and play a show, I want to be on the front lines of that. I want to be on the front… I think there’s artists who… and understandably so everybody’s responding a little bit differently. I think that there’s artists who said like, “Nope, we don’t want to play any shows this year. We’re going to just call it off until next year and see what happens,” and good for them. Then there’s other artists. I know Sammy Hagar very early on said like, “Hey, the moment that shows can happen, I’m going to be one of the first artists out.” I would say that I’m in that camp. So the moment that it’s safe for the audience and people feel like it’s safe for the musicians to go out and engage and do that in public again, I’m going to be on the front line of that because I desperately miss, of course, that experience and the release of that. Because it goes hand in hand with the creation of it. You make it and then you want to share it and then you want the play it live. That being said, I’m obviously living through this moment with everybody else and I’m completely engaged in everything that’s happening around the world. I’m living through it in real time with everyone else. So my attention is there as well, and offering support where it is needed and where I can. Going back to the whole message of feeling good and why I wanted specifically now… that song is going out to radio this week. I hope within a couple of weeks it’s nationwide on every rock radio station in America. My goal with that is to simply just put good vibes, as cheesy, as cliché as that may sound, I just want to put good vibes and remind people that even though it is a very difficult time and a challenging time, it’s been a tough year for millions of people. Like I said, I’m living through that with everyone else. I’m experiencing it with everyone else, but that doesn’t mean we can’t, on a daily basis, take some time to be grateful for what we do have and to feel good. It’s okay to allow ourselves to feel good. It doesn’t have to be all day, every day in such a heavy time like this, but I do think it is important and it can be simultaneous. That you can be concerned and be engaged with what’s happening around the world, and also have moments where you can allow yourself to feel good. Go take a walk, go out with your child and take a walk or go on a bicycle ride or whatever it is. Allow yourself some sunshine on the face and hopefully to feel good. So that’s part of what’s very important to me right now, is just doing what I can, even if it’s some very small, minute part, but doing what I can to just put some good vibes out there, man.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, I know from a touring standpoint, we miss you in Detroit. We miss you even more on a small stage in Flint, Michigan that we both know and love very much. That said, what kind of venue do you see being – and I ask this only because you’ve done everything from probably the back yard parties starting off to arenas and everything in between – what kind of stage or venue do you see being not the most beneficial, but the most befitting the sound and the feel and the groove of The Underground Thieves?

Nick: That’s a great question. I’m going to give you a two part answer. Part one is the kind of venues that are my personal all-time favorite to play just from the perspective of being on the stage, the sound in the room and the vibe of the venue overall, I prefer theaters. They’re just my favorite. I would say like 3,000 to 5,000 seat theaters, like the old theaters, right? Isn’t there the State Theater? Was that in Detroit?

Toddstar: Used to be called the State, now it’s The Fillmore Detroit.

Nick: Okay. Fillmore Detroit. Rooms like that. They are my favorite rooms in the country, just for the vibe. That’s my personal selfish, favorite type of room to play. If I could just play beautiful theaters from now until the end of my life consistently across the country, across the world, I would be a happy guy. That being said, what I actually think… You said, what would befit the Thieves, and because I know what we’re working on, we’re very into production and psychedelic and we’ve got these giant light up cactuses, and now we’re trying to figure out how to control them with median lights and fog machines and backdrops and lasers. We’re actually very much into putting on a show and want to have this psychedelic experience. So I actually think, ultimately, if I have the good fortune of reaching people with this music and Feeling Good becomes an anthem this summer and can help us get some momentum, and ultimately in a few years from now, or however many years it takes, I actually see this show that we’re planning in our mind and what we know we’re capable of pulling off, I actually do think it’s an arena show. I would love to be in the position where I could sit around with a team of creative people and go like, “Okay, what are we going to do this summer to blow people’s minds?” I love the idea of that, of doing something big and grandiose. I’ve always been that kind of guy. I just can’t fake it or pretend that I’m not into it. I love shows and I love show business and the whole thing. I’m really into it. I grew up doing theater. I’m just into the whole thing. When I saw Roger Waters and just watching such a spectacle, along with the music. If the music wasn’t great, no one would care. So it’s like of course we’re talking about great music, but once that’s in place, then taking it and making this a larger than life thing. I think that that’s rad.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, listen Nick, I know you’ve got so much going on with promotion and as always, I appreciate you taking time out and you’ve always been very nice, very generous with your time, very generous with your spirit, and I appreciate it. We wish you well with the album and the promotion and we hope people get out there because if they’re out there on Amazon music, they can already get “Feeling Good” and “Excess” and they can start enjoying other tracks, follow you on the social. They get tidbits like You, and they get all the appropriate websites that go out and preorder this album.

Nick: Well, thank you. I appreciate the support. As always, it’s always good to talk to you. I thank you for the support. At this moment in time, it’s such an important part of the process and I’m grateful for it, so thank you for taking the time to help me and share via your own platforms what it is that I’m doing. I’m grateful and on behalf of all the band, we thank you.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, let’s make sure we touch base when you do get back out on the road. We’ll see how that’s going and hopefully plot enjoying some music together in Detroit soon.

Nick: Love it. Thank you, buddy. I appreciate it.





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.

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