Nick Lowe :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

This year, Yep Roc's massive Nick Lowe reissue campaign went into overdrive. The label re-released 1982’s Nick the Knife, 1983’s The Abominable Showman, and 1984's Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit over the summer, and two more mid-period albums drop on October 20, 1988's Pinker and Prouder Than Previous and 1990's Party of One, effectively putting the entirety of Lowe's catalog back in print. To cap off a banner year, Lowe will perform this month at the label's 20th anniversary celebration, Yep Roc 20, backed by Los Straitjackets.

Back in July, Lowe was a guest on Aquarium Drunkard's Transmissions podcast. The topic was his '80s catalog -- which found Lowe embracing country, skiffle, and new wave pop -- but the producer, songwriter, and performer was quick to talk about lots more, including his marriage to Carlene Carter, the connections between punk and pub rock, his early influences, and the spirit behind hits like "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding."

That conversation, minimally edited for clarity, is presented below. Tune into to the Transmissions podcast. Subscribe on  iTunes  or via  RSS feed.

Transmissions Podcast :: Nick Lowe

Aquarium Drunkard: I guess we’ll start off by talking about how on July 14th, Yep Roc is releasing Nick the Knife and The Abominable Showman and then the rest of the year is going to see them release the entirety of your '80s discography. What has it been like revisiting these records, Nick the Knife through Party of One? How has that felt for you, revisiting this era?

Nick Lowe: Well, how can I put this? [laughs] I haven’t really revisited them much at all.

AD: [laughs] Yeah?

Nick Lowe: Yep Roc was kind enough to put them out again, but I wasn’t really consulted. That’s not a complaint. They just decided they would get them out there again which is really nice because they have gone out of print. I don’t know anybody who really listens obsessively to their own records, at least not after they’ve immediately been recorded. I mean, I listen to my records for two or three weeks after they’ve finished. I listen to them quite a lot then and then you put them away and that’s it. And hearing your old records, especially someone like me, when they didn’t play my stuff very often on the radio -- occasionally they will play an old one or even a new one -- and if you hadn’t heard [it] for a while, it’s a very strange experience. It was even when I had a big hit record like with “Cruel To Be Kind” and they played it all the time. I used to hear it all the time on the radio. It always [seemed] like there’s some mistake. Somehow it slipped through the wire and it doesn’t sound like anything else. All you can hear is, in my case, what’s wrong with it.

But the records I made from that era...the '80s..were tough to listen to really because I wasn’t in very good shape. I mean I know that it’s all in the ear of the beholder. I might go, “Oh man, I was definitely offbeat with that one” but what I’m hearing as offbeat, other people hear something really cool or a fantastic approach. What are you gonna do? You're gonna do your best at the time and that’s it.

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