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.

AD: I know that you have talked about in the past [how] the ’80s weren’t your favorite records in…your catalog. This wasn’t the stuff you were, maybe, the proudest for varying degrees, right? It was a little bit of a tough stretch for you while making these?

Nick Lowe: It was a bit because I was still with a major label. When you’re on a major label and it comes time to make your next record, they crack the whip and you’ve to get on with it. And sometimes I just wasn’t in any shape to make a new record. As far as I was concerned, I’d have a couple of decent things and the rest of it was half-baked ideas and a couple of ideas for covers and things like that. It was tough to go in and record some of those records. There is some good stuff there too; Party Of One has some great stuff on there. I mean Party Of One was really when I started to come out of it. And in fact the one before that, the Pinker and Prouder record that I did, I was trying to get to something more like I’m doing now. It was sort of early days, but I wanted to get this real, kinda homemade, kinda skiffle, very, very basic home demo, clean kind of sound. It sounds easier than it actually is to achieve that and that was early days.

AD: Both of those records are two of my favorite from this era…One of the things that’s really interesting to me about really any songwriter, but especially a songwriter whose catalog is as rich and diverse as yours, is the way that songs seem to change over time. I’m thinking specifically about “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” which is a song you wrote fairly early on in your career, right? You were still with Brinsley Schwarz when you [first] did that, right?

Nick Lowe: Yes. It was. It was an early one. I always describe that song — because people ask me about it all the time because so many people have covered it — but I always think of that song as the first original idea I actually had.

AD: Sure.

Nick Lowe: When you start out writing, you rewrite other people’s and your hero’s catalog. You move from hero to hero rewriting their catalog.

AD: Yeah.

Nick Lowe: And then one day you’ll use a bit of your latest hero’s catalog, but you’ll put it together with [something from] your second and third hero’s catalog that you rewrote. You’ll mix it up. Before you know what’s happening, you’ve got your own style. Your own style is a mixture of everything that you’ve ever heard to put together in your own recipe and you don’t even know you’re doing it. When I hear my early songs, I can absolutely spot where I got this bit from and who I was listening to. But “Peace, Love, and Understanding”, when that came along, it was bit of a clunky title. “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Although it doesn’t, everyone’s used to it now. I remember being quite shocked about what a good idea it was. I couldn’t believe I actually had an idea of my own that I hadn’t stolen off somebody else.

AD: What’s interesting to me about that song is that if I think about it, and I’m sure that this is really one of the hallmarks of a great song, is that you can hear it and read it different ways. But I think about maybe you writing it early on in the more post-hippie context. You’re talking about peace, love, and understanding and there’s maybe a way to read that song early on that it is little bit sly or sarcastic even. That it’s maybe you poking a little bit of fun at some of those ideas.

Nick Lowe: Yeah.

AD: Like I said, at least that’s one way to read it. But when I listen to it now, I mean it feels so genuine and sincere. And I love that a song can have those multiple vibes. You know what I mean?

Nick Lowe: Without a doubt, yes. You’re absolutely right. The original idea was supposed to be, well, I could feel the times changing. A lot of people who’d embraced the hippie ideal…got fed up with it and saw through it. They were starting to change their minds and go back to I suppose you say “joining the real world” a little bit. I could see it all around. The idea of the song originally was an old hippie sort of watching all his old mates dropping away and [starting] to make fun of him a bit. He was saying well, “You can make fun of me all you like but…when it comes down to it, what is so funny about peace love and understanding?” That was supposed to be the sort of joke. I can remember at the time thinking this is actually a pretty good idea. And if I don’t mess this up, I mean it was quite a mature thought especially for the way I was back then; I didn’t have a mature bone in my body really at that time. On this particular [song], I did. I thought, “Well this is a really good idea. Don’t overdo this.” Keep it so you could go both ways like you just pointed out. Don’t override it and make it too clever clever. Let the title do the work and people make of it what they will.

When the Brinsleys recorded it, we did this rather sort of over the top, fairly pompous impression of it which was supposed to be funny in itself. I heard it the other day on the radio and it actually sounds like a pretty good record. At the time we, thought we were sort of overdoing it. Of course, when our group, Brinsley Schwarz, broke up, it should have just gone in the dustbin of history along with all the rest of our tunes, just like so many other bands at that time. A lot of pretty good songs disappeared when all these bands broke up. [But] Elvis Costello came along, because he used to come and see our group. He liked it and heard us doing it. He’s the one who fished it out of the bin and said, “I think I could do this.” I was producing him at the time. I didn’t tell him to do it or suggest it that he did it. Honest, I didn’t. He…suggested it and he’s the one who put the hurt on it really and put that thing in it that people react to. Now there’s so many different versions of it as you say.

When I do it, I do it quite downbeat and brought a melancholy, wistful sort of way. That song when I hear it now, when people do it, I almost feel like I’ve had nothing to do with it. That’s another peculiar feeling. When I hear people talking about it and I hear people recording it, it almost feels like I had nothing to do with it at all. It’s quite remarkable.

AD: That must be a strange feeling, but also a good feeling. As a songwriter you made something that you can hear as a listener. That’s a strange and probably uncommon situation for a songwriter.

Nick Lowe: I think it is. It seems sadly that the song is never gonna go out of style. It’s gonna be around for a while.

AD: Yeah, that’s a good point. It is a little bit of a sad one as well.

Nick Lowe: …I look forward to a time when people won’t have use for a song like that. My publisher, for instance, has a different opinion about it.

AD: One of the things that strikes me so much listening to these albums from ’82 to ’90 — the stuff that Yep Roc is reissuing this year — is that you have a lot of songs that, to me, feel similar. There’s a very funny way you can read them. You could definitely read songs like “Time Wounds All Heels”, wordplay aside, as a funny song. Or the song “Half A Boy And Half A Man.” There’s so many of these songs that you wrote where you’ve got this funny, [whimsical] quality to them but also a sort of poignancy…that seems interesting that these songs can live and take on lives of their own even outside of your own intent. It’s kind of a remarkable thing.

Nick Lowe: Yes. I’ve always been interested in that sort of contradiction when you can do a song that has a jaunty tune and is treated jauntily, but it has a serious message all the other way around. It has a jaunty lyric but it has something really desperate in the music. I’ve always rather kind of liked that. Funnily enough, before I was speaking with you, I was speaking to someone else and the subject was a song that changed your life. The one of thousands, but the one I choose was a song by Tennessee Ernie Ford called “Fatback Louisiana, USA.” I heard this when I was about seven when I had this great love for Tennessee Ernie Ford. One of the things I was saying to this chap was how much I loved the records that he did which had this fantastic jaunty beat. Very often, it had very serious words or the other way around- funny songs but had a real…serious backing. I think that’s where I got the idea from.

AD: Early on, when you were working with the Brinsleys, that was an idea in the back of your head? That you wanted your songs to be able to have that inherent adaptability?

Nick Lowe: …I had only just started writing songs back then, and I was still really learning how to do it. I was casting around. I tried this and I tried that. I always look back at the time with that group, the Brinsleys, as going to school. We were all just casting around for something to try. I finally enlightened on something that felt comfortable to me. I enjoyed to do it. More importantly, it was something I thought I could cary on doing whilst I got old. I figured out that after a while it gets unseemly. When you get bit older in this business if you’re still behaving and talking about stuff that you do when you were a kid… I started to want to explore ways of improving my songwriting, so that I could use the fact that I was getting older in the business which at that time had no use for people in their 40s, and I’m way older than that now. I wanted to use the fact that I was getting older actually as an advantage to assist me. That’s when I started trying to figure out what I was going to do and to take that on board.

AD: I want to focus in a little bit still on those early days. When I listen to the Brinsley records, I’m definitely hearing an emphasis on country-rock, what we would now maybe call Americana. The band seems like it was maybe a touchstone for you guys.

Nick Lowe: Yeah. Definitely.

AD: Where were you picking up on those sorts of things? Did you feel as if there was a vaguely American sensibility to the records you were making then in the early days?

Nick Lowe: Oh, definitely. We loved all kinds of American music, but we also liked what happened to American music after it got over the water and came to the UK. We liked a lot of other UK artists who liked American music as well. We didn’t really like actual UK music which I always think of as progressive rock. We had no use for that sort of stuff, Toytown stuff. We loved the Band and like all other kids we would read their interviews and if they mentioned another artist we’d go and investigate that artist. We didn’t know about somebody in particular, Lee Dorsey for instance, I remember them talking about Lee Dorsey. We knew Lee Dorsey from “Working in the Coal Mine” and “Ride Your Pony.” A lot of those R&B records from the ‘60s, by not just Lee Dorsey but a lot of other artists, were big hits in the UK…

I’d be in a mall when I was younger and that’s all we’d listen to is American R&B music. I knew a bit about Lee Dorsey but when the Band mentioned Lee Dorsey and Allen Toussaint, and all these great musicians from down there, [Alvin] Batiste and Earl Palmer, we all started putting stuff together and finding other artists from Lee Dorsey. You begin to spot a regional sound. All this American music began to sound fabulous. It was only later on where I could tell what regions- I could tell Motown is different from Stax and New Orleans was different from those two. You start to be able to put this stuff together. In a way, it’s probably easier if you were from the UK than if you actually came from Memphis or New Orleans, you can’t get the same sort of overview somehow. That’s why the Brits have this strange way with American music because we can pick and choose a little bit here and there and out comes some weird, wonky idea that sounds pretty cool.

AD: You’re looking at it as one big picture as opposed to the more pressing regional worlds that would exist for a guy in Memphis. A guy in Memphis has plenty going on in Memphis to focus on.

Nick Lowe: [laughs] Yeah.

AD: I have a real soft spot in my heart for those [Brinsley Schwarz] records, specifically. Reading about the group, you guys would [play] shows with Hawkwind, Lemmy’s pre-Motî¶rhead, psychedelic band. Is that correct?

Nick Lowe: Oh yeah. We used to play with them regularly. We were on that scene they were on, that London, kind of hippie scene. Notting Hill Gate was the nearest thing London had to Haight Ashbury or something like that. We used to do a lot of shows and free festivals even though we had short hair at that time [laughs]. Yeah, we played with them all the time. Also, they were on the same label as us, but I don’t know if that made a difference back then.

AD: Which label was that?

Nick Lowe: It was Liberty back then, but then they became United Artists.

AD: Was a crowd typically into the outer space, psychedelia that they were playing alongside the more rootsy, still hippie adjacent stuff you guys were doing? Did the crowd seem to view it all fairly favorably?

Nick Lowe: Oh yes. We used to do okay with them. [laughs] Yeah.

AD: I think about how interesting it must have been as what became known as pub rock …which is I guess something that you are in part responsible for…I know you didn’t name it yourself, but you certainly helped create a more unified sound that would eventually be called pub rock. It seemed like that was very much music that broke with that sort of progressive rock pomposity, the sort of big theatrical thing. You guys were doing stripped-down, R&B flavored stuff with some elements of country with certainly elements of skiffle and rock & roll. What was it like as that turned into punk rock for you? You, obviously, were an in-house producer for Stiff and worked on some fairly monumental punk records including the Damned. What did that feel like? Did they feel connected to you, this kind of emerging noisy, punk rock scene, to what you had been playing yourself?

Nick Lowe: Well, not the music. I didn’t have much use for punk rock music. I like garage rock. It was a stripped-down rock & roll which the Damned kind of were. That really thrashy, yap-y stuff, I had no use for. But the actual mischief around the punk rock scene, especially in London, was quite different from the New York thing, which was a lot more arty-farty. The London thing was a bit different. It was more mischievous and…was not designed to last long. Everything about it was temporary. In fact, I can’t believe we are still talking about it [laughs]. But that definitely did come out of the pub scene. The pub scene was a reaction against what we saw as these awful progressive rock groups and drippy singer-songwriters, all real idiotic pop stuff. We were sort of snobs. Quite a lot of stuff that I put down back then I think is pretty good now [laughs]. At the time, it was like “Oh no. We couldn’t possibly soil our hands with that.”

They were all eccentrics and outcasts, people who couldn’t get a break anywhere else. Although pub rock became a term of abuse, I’ve even used it myself to describe a certain kind of “guy music,” some sort of blues/boogie, what we call bullocks music. That’s what it turned into. But to start with, the pub scene was very sexy and fun, [there was] a lot of very good music. But in our case, we wanted to be used as an outline. We wanted to play everything. We’d play what was number one in the charts that week along with our own stuff or some really cool, obscure R&B thing we just dug up. Because we lived together, we had a big house that we used to live in which was convenient for us, we didn’t think it was a hippie commune or anything like that- it was just convenient. But because…we lived together, all of us listened to the same music.

We had a rehearsal room so if we started getting in to some George Jones thing, we could go and practice a whole lot of George Jones stuff, or James Brown or whoever it was we wanted to experiment with. With the pub scene, we’d go out and play whatever we had dug up that week, whatever was served up fresh. We might only do that stuff for one week and then go on to something else. That was our shtick, but there were lots of other people like Ian Dury, they’re not particularly well known in the United States, but they certainly are over there. Dire Straits were on that scene, Elvis Castello, Graham Parker, these people. They were really good.

AD: All of whom, like you, share that same omnivorous approach to songwriting. Lots of actual songs, written for those record guys who seem to be really interested in the idea of songcraft. The records you made with Elvis Castello early on, as well as your own — Jesus of Cool and stuff like that — it was definitely punky or new wave in presentation, but it seems like right away you were writing pretty defined singer-songwriter sort of songs. You seemed like you were dressing them up in a new wave sheen. Is that a fair way to describe what you were doing early on?

Nick Lowe: I think it was. We were quite ambitious. We were trying to be good; we weren’t great musicians, but we were trying to be good. We knew that part of the secret was to play simple…to play within your capabilities and play [simply] as much as you could. We were trying to be good. Whereas the punk thing, they were trying to be bad. Even if they were [laughs] reasonable musicians, they missed the point of it, I thought.

AD: I think the Sex Pistols actually wrote a lot of really great pop songs. They kept trying to ruin them but they couldn’t do it; the songs were actually too good for them to ruin them, in my opinion. I know you mentioned people like George Jones filtering in. These records from your ‘80s period, there’s a lot of discernible country and western influence. I wanted to ask you about writing songs with Carlene Carter, who was your wife at the time and who you wrote “My Heart Hurts” with, along with others. I know you worked on some of her records which were my favorites. I think her version of “Mr. Moon” is better than the Clover version, even though I like the Clover version quite a lot. What was it like working with her? How did you guys creatively team up as well as romantically?

Nick Lowe: [laughs] Let me see [through] the mists of time [laughs]. We adored each other and still do, by the way. Back then, we lived together and when we got together…we couldn’t help it; if there was a guitar around, we’d start fiddling around and come up with something. There was nothing very serious or organized about it. We just fell into it. We wrote a whole little rubbish as well and occasionally we got a good one. We made some good records. The first record Carlene made with Rockpile…backing her up was a really good record.

AD: Yeah. I love that one. Help explain to me the way that Rockpile worked. Because Rockpile only had the one record under the name Rockpile [Seconds of Pleasure] [but] essentially you guys were sort of like the Wrecking Crew or something. You were all on each other’s records. Rockpile was playing on your records; Dave Edmunds’ had Rockpile; Carlene Carter… How did it work that you guys didn’t release records under the name Rockpile but essentially were just everybody’s shared backing band?

Nick Lowe: It was sort of a classic thing from back then. We just weren’t allowed to…because Edmund was signed to another label from the one I was on. They couldn’t come to terms; the labels couldn’t work it out on who was going to put Rockpile out. In fact, we did tons of records as Rockpile. You’re quite right. We did three Dave Edmund’s records along with a couple of mine and lots of other stuff besides like you said. Then when we did the actual Rockpile record, somehow the fun had gone out of it. We formed it for fun and that was in a way the band’s downfall and the reason why to a certain degree why I’m sitting here talking to you now. We came to the United States and people just loved the group. From the moment we set foot in the US, we were a big success.

But the more that real success started appearing, the more we retreated from it. We were the opening act; we opened for everybody. We had more fun as the opening act. We’d leave these huge stadiums and these places we used to play before the big group had taken stage for three hours; we’d be off saying “goodbye.” We’d be back off to the Arapahoe motel lodge out by the airport with the third-division groupies. We had an absolutely fantastic time. As real success started looming, you know like, “Watch it boys, here it comes.” I think we all got completely freaked out because it meant we were going to actually have to do some work. What people liked about us was that we radiated the fact that we were having a ball. We didn’t know how to do it any other way. [Laughs] That was the reason for our success and our downfall as well.

AD: When “Cruel To Be Kind” became a major hit, a really big hit, did you still feel similarly unprepared for that?

Nick Lowe: I suppose so. Yeah. It was a lot of fun having a big hit like that. But then you start to think, “Alright, you need another one. Here you go. This is how it works. You’re on sort of a treadmill now.” I was kind of a lazy guy and you’ve got to really put the work in to do that and do a lot of schmoozing which I couldn’t do…work a room and that sort of thing. But I’m not very good at going under the cosh and having to work to a serious time table and all that kind of thing. I did it for a while but then I started to feel a bit foolish. I felt…a one-hit wonder [saying to myself] “What are you doing bothering with this thing…You’re not a pop star. You can’t do it. It’s very hard work.” I take my hat off to Elton John and Cher and Madonna and these people whose careers seem to roll through the decades. How the hell do they do it? I do not know. I can’t do it. I bailed out. I decided to make up my own way of doing things.

AD: When we talk about that own way of doing things, we’re getting back to what you’ve mentioned, the idea of crafting grown-up songs and songs about where you are now as a person. You said you felt like maybe that’s started towards the end of this period with Pinker and Prouder and Party of One. Is that about when you started to think to yourself that you maybe wanted to get a little bit out of the race of trying to craft another hit?

Nick Lowe: Yes. I think that’s probably quite right. I got myself into a bit of a mess with drinking and taking too many drugs. I was sort of burned out by the whole thing, so I came to a crossroads — well, in my case, I was lucky enough to have come to a crossroads — when I said “No more! You have to shape up now and figure out what you’re going to do.” I took about a couple of years probably when I went and licked my wounds and started to actually figuring out what I was going to do. On paper, I had done pretty well. I produced some good records; I had written some good songs; I had a big pop hit and counting in the UK and Europe but in the United States where it counts I had “Cruel To Be Kind,” which was a big record. On paper, I had done pretty well. If this were to be it and I would have to go back to the biscuit factory, I had a lot to be pleased with. I found myself at age late 30s or 40s — I can’t remember now — thinking that I had done alright but why is that I don’t really feel anything. I’ve just ticked a few boxes off.

I don’t actually feel like I’ve really done anything really good yet. That’s when I sat down and started thinking out a few things. Another big deal for me was getting this call from John Hiatt to come and do his record Bring The Family– that’s when I met Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner and all these other people. They were on the same trip I was — I had a more European attitude towards it — but they were on this same kind of vibe as me. They were pop people. Ry is a fantastic folk musician, but he has a real pop sensibility. I’m pleased to say we really hit it off and I learned a lot from him. And maybe he learned something from me; modesty forbids me to assume that. Anyway, that was a major thing that happened to me when I ran into those folks. It really crystalized the way I had been thinking about music and I was going to do.

AD: It feels like you absolutely pursued it from then on, from Party of One and then into The Impossible Bird. It’s really funny because I first fell in love with your early records with Jesus of Cool and with the Stiff stuff. As I suppose, it’s a pretty natural sounding thing as time as gone on. It’s really some of the stuff on the latest records that has moved me the most or that maybe I hear and I think to myself, “Yeah, I don’t think 20-year-old me would have got that one.”

Nick Lowe: That’s a shame [laughs].

AD: [laughs] Maybe the 20-year-old me would relate to the melodic elements of it. You go on to say some stuff on some of these new records that feels direct from the heart. It does feel more vulnerable and more open than the early stuff is. There’s still a lot of jokes and wordplay, but you don’t nearly feel as distant on these new records. You know what I mean? I feel like I’m really getting a sense of where you are and I can’t imagine that that’s by accident.

Nick Lowe: No, but I had to put some work in. My thinking was that even though- as I just said- I wanted to find a style that would suit me getting older, I also was very anxious to bring along a younger audience with me. I didn’t want to just [preach] to the converted. I thought that if I get this right — this old guy thing — that younger people who had ears to hear would dig it. The same way I used to dig much older artists. I thought they were talking to me even though they were much older than me. I thought if I could get this right, and get this balance right, I could bring some younger kids along. And it has proved to be like that, thank God. I have an audience that consists of people in some cases that have followed me since some of the days you’ve been asking me about in this interview. God bless them for sticking with it. Quite a lot of them have dropped away because they think nowadays I rock not, which I disagree with. I think I rock pretty hard. It’s just a quieter, saucier rock & roll music. A lot of younger kids –I’m pleased to say– make up quite a lot of my audience now and that cheers me up quite a bit. I can tell you.

AD: That’s the greatest hope- that it all translates to people. When we last spoke a few years ago, we talked about how you’d been on the road with Wilco. There’s a fair amount of younger people at those shows who all seemed to pick up on what you were doing. That has to feel nice as an artist, to feel understood and have people who can get into it.

Nick Lowe: It’s fantastic. Wilco was the best; [they] opened up the Midwest for me. We did a lot of shows through the midwest. They were pretty immune to Rockpile’s charm in the Midwest, so I never did really well until I did all these shows with Wilco. Now, I have a lot more followers from that part of the world. They are all nearly exclusively in the same age group. Young to me is late 20s, 30s.

AD: [laughs] Sure, sure. To wrap things up, I’ve enjoyed speaking with you; it’s a real honor. But I’m curious on Party of One, one of my favorite songs of yours is called “All Men Are Liars.” I’ve got to wonder if you ever end up feeling bad about cracking wise on Rick Astley who you clown on a little bit in that song. Did you ever grow to feel for Rick in any way?

Nick Lowe: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Yes. I mean, I wouldn’t have thought he’d care less. I’ve never met him. Everyone tells me he’s an extremely nice man. At the time, I rhymed Astley with “ghastly” about his records. He was on all the time the same time I wrote “All Men Are Liars.” But yes, yes I do regret it. [laughs]

AD: [laughs] Well, I think he’s doing okay. You probably don’t have anything too bad to worry about.

Nick Lowe: Doesn’t seem like there was any lasting damage.

AD: What’s funny is that that’s one of those songs where were you can play it — “Never Gonna Give You Up” is the song we’re talking about– in a minor key and it would have taken on some of those qualities you were talking about, where you could read it as a sad, lover’s lament version of “Never Gonna Give You Up” more than his [version].

Nick Lowe: You make a compelling point.

AD: [laughs] Well Nick, I really appreciate talking with you. These records are great and I’ve long loved your work; your songwriting, your production, the whole thing. It’s a real pleasure to sit down and talk with you.

Nick Lowe: It’s been very nice talking with you as well. Thanks very much. words/j woodbury


2 thoughts on “Nick Lowe :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

  1. I think we can all relate with this phrase they mention, “But the more that real success started appearing, the more we retreated from it….”
    So true. As a musician, you crave for it, dream for it, long for it and then when it shows up, you absolutely freaked out, coz you don’t know how to handle it…seeing the big crowds that turn up to see you as the main act, not the pre-act.

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