Guitarz Forever Interview
Guitarist Nick Robinson Interview:
Scott > Hi Nick, How are you doing these days?
Nick > Not bad, just enjoying the sunny Australian summer!
Scott > What is the name of your band and do you guys tour?
Nick > We're called Love Cream. We've been gigging actively within our hometown of Adelaide since late 2011, but since the release of our album we have set up our first interstate shows.
Scott > How did Love Cream come together?
Nick > This is something heavily shrouded in myth, but the cold hard truth is we originated in high school during a home economics cooking class. One of us said "we should form a band", to which we all agreed. Then and there, whilst making some pasta carbonara, we named ourselves "Love Cream"
Scott > What’s the genesis for the Newest Release "First Taste"?
Nick > Well Scott, "First Taste" started out as a self-funded 5-track E.P. We then won a $20,000 recording and video prize through the "Adelaide's Next Superstar" competition and decided to make it in to a full album. The name works on several levels; it's your first taste of Love Cream and er... yeah I guess it only works on one level.
Scott > Describe the music...
Nick > Fun, melodic, hard rock, inspired by the greats of the 70s and 80s.
Scott > How do you come up with your songs?
Nick > We'll come up with a song title and think "how would I like a song with that title to sound?" and try my best to make that song happen. Otherwise I'll have some riffs and some words and the others contribute the missing pieces and BAM! Song done.
Scott > What are your personal highlights on the new album?
Nick > Hard to say; each song is your baby, so you can't pick favourites. Being a guitarist first and foremost there are a few choice solos, "Back Door Lover" and the ballad "Sweet May" being a few personal favourites. The solo for the opening "Open For Business" was completely improvised in the studio, unlike the rest of the album, and turned out to be one of the finer moments in my opinion. But overall I'm a fan of the hooks in each of the songs, the album is a veritable tackle box.
Scott > Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?
Nick > I started on classical at age 11, but decided I wanted to play AC/DC instead of whatever we were learning, so once I learned to read tabs I went on the internet and taught myself as much as I could. I've had a few rock guitar teachers too, who introduced me to different styles and players.
Scott > Did You develop your style by ear or by messing around on the neck playing what sounded cool to you?
Nick > I'm still not sure if I have a style haha. I guess I've been reasonably linear in my approach to guitar, I noodle for sure but most of my playing I've developed from listening to different players. If I had a choice of melody over technique, then I'd choose melody all the way, however I try and find some middle ground. Players like Slash and Neal Schon have that perfect blend of technique and taste.
Scott > I was wondering if you ever hear music in your dreams and turn them into songs?
Nick > I do, or more so right before going to sleep. I don't want to wake everyone up in the house, so I don't write them down or figure them out. Come morning the idea is gone. I've gotta stop doing that...
Scott > How often when you start an idea for song, does it actually get finished?
Nick > Depends how strong the idea is and how much time I have. There are songs that I figure out 95% in one sitting and then add little bits later. Other times I'll have ideas floating around that are just one riff or verse and don't make it into a song until years later, when I find a perfect part that matches it. I started writing when I was 12, so there's a lot of odds and ends floating around!
Scott > So Nick, tell me a little bit of what you’ve learned about human nature during this new production.
Nick > I've learned that I'm a borderline O.C.D. control freak that can never be pleased haha! If it were up to me I'd still be mixing songs now to get them just so. It's a common story, tensions get high in the studio, especially with 5 different opinions. Because it's a creative process, feelings get hurt when ideas are rejected. But at the end of the day you have to acknowledge that you all want the same outcome, that you want your music and your band to be the best it can be. Don't play the blame game when something isn't working, which is easier said than done!
Scott > How did you first get into the music business?
Nick > We're still trying to get our way in now! It's a long process, and being from a relatively isolated town, it's hard to get your name out. The Internet is great though. If what you're asking is why did we start taking it seriously, then it's probably because we had a great dynamic on our very first day as a band. We're all passionate and as soon as we started writing good, catchy songs, then we wanted to turn it in to a career.
Scott > Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
Nick > Probably KISS, they put on one of the best shows around, play some great catchy party rock and know how to squeeze every last penny.
Scott > How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?
Nick > Well, I was really good when I was about 15 and in to metal, then I got in to songwriting and my playing suffered, cos I stopped trying to be the fastest kid on the block and started just writing music that I enjoyed. This goes back to the melody over technique thing. While I say it's important to have ability under your belt, and aspirations as a player, taste and timing win out. And playing with the band all the time has really improved my sense of rhythm and groove.
Scott > What were your favorite rock bands a teenager?
Nick > I went through phases of just obsessing over one particular band. I started off fangirling over Led Zeppelin, because they got me in to rock, and everyday for about 3 years I would listen to Stairway to Heaven, often more than once. I even inquired about getting one of those black Jimmy Page dragon outfits tailored haha. Then, like most guitar-crazy kids, I went through a MASSIVE Iron Maiden and Metallica phase, followed by a Motley Crue phase and strangely enough, an Oasis phase. I guess those last two bands really changed my perspective on songwriting, in terms of hooks and riffs.
Scott > What are you listening to these days?
Nick > I feel I've listened to all my favourite rock bands so much that I've worn them out. I've lately gotten into decidedly "un-rock" rock bands, such as Steely Dan and... U2, mostly due to having heard every Zeppelin and Aerosmith song a zillion times. Even worse still, I've started listening to Top 40 radio a little bit. My justification is that I'm analysing the competition, and from a songwriting perspective, a good hook is a good hook, so it pays to listen out for all different genres of music. Don't hate me...
Scott > Do you endorse any Instruments or Gear?
Nick > No, I wish haha!
Scott > What brand of guitars do you play and why?
Nick > Not really intentional, but live I use a Gibson Explorer and a Gibson Les Paul. They're pretty fool proof when it comes to tone, and when you find a good Gibson, they're REALLY good. On the album, however, I used a Fender Telecaster a fair bit. Absolutely gorgeous tones and extremely versatile, people use Teles in just about every genre of music.
Scott > Are there any special pick-ups that you prefer?
Nick > I like them a little hotter so I can get those harmonics to just pop out, but so far all my guitars have stock pick-ups. I wouldn't mind getting a nice coil tap on my humbuckers so I can get some cleaner sounds.
Scott > What type of effects do you use?
Nick > Live I try and keep it simple, but to replicate what's on the album I use a Vox Wah, MXR Custom Badass, Boss Octaver, Mooer Phase 90 clone, Boss Digital Dimension (Chorus) and an 80s DOD FX40b Eq, which has like 18db gain so it get's FAT tones. I also have a new MXR Talk Box, for a song called "Show Me Round The Block", which isn't on the album.
Scott > If you could share the stage with a famous guitar player, who would that be?
Nick > Tough call. They'd all show me up haha! I don't know, maybe Jimmy Page or Slash, one of those guys you could just groove away with. Maybe even Bruce Springsteen, cos he's such a top bloke.
Scott > Do You have a dream car?
Nick > Something tacky, like a Pontiac Trans Am, or ostentatious, like a Lamborghini. If I'm rich enough I'll buy them all haha.
Scott > I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart?
Nick > Right now I don't really have much time to think about other things! Gotta work to pay the band bills, and when I'm not working I'm writing, rehearsing or doing business stuff!
Scott > Lastly, please give our readers one last parting shot across the bow... What is Nick Robinson going to be doing in 5 years?
Nick > Mid-way through recording our over-produced third album after a decadent second world tour and my first stint in rehab. I've also had 6 Grammy nominations, yet zero wins, undeservedly. Gatorade have dropped me from their sponsorship roster after a scandal involving several nuns and a roast quail surfaced.
Scott > I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.
Nick > It was my pleasure Scott, keep rocking!