Sunday 19 October 2014

8123 TOUR SPECIAL // Interview & Live Review with Support Act NICK SANTINO

Nick Santino; the name may ring a bell. The former A Rocket To The Moon front man is going it alone and with a debut solo album already under his belt he is making a name for himself in his own right. He has been on the road with The Maine on their 8123 World Tour which has now graced UK shores. 

We headed down to Camden Town’s Electric Ballroom to catch up with the main man himself to chat about making his own rules, working on the album with The Maine’s Pat Kirch and his former days as that MySpace dude…

Arizonas The Maine headlining in London and taking Nick out on the road with them

Welcome back to the UK; is it nice to be back?
Yeah, it feels good to be back, I love it over here and the beautiful weather [laughing]. It’s sunny one minute and rain the next.

How’ve the shows been going so far?
They’ve been great; it’s my first time here with The Maine so it’s been fun meeting and hanging out with their fans.

Do you enjoy that challenge of playing to people who may not have heard you before?
Yeah, that’s the best part. It’s very rewarding when you win them over; it’s a good feeling, a successful feeling.

Nick Santino's debut album
Pat from The Maine produced your debut solo album and you’ve been friends with the band for a long time; is it nice to be out on the road with mates?
We’ve been friends for years so It’s really cool. Pat’s a weirdo, everyone’s weird, in the best way possible. We spent so much time in the studio together doing that record that it’s amazing to be out on the road and hearing those song live.

Was it nice having a friend producing the record and made it easier to get the vision of the record across?
Yeah, there was no pressure; it didn’t hurt that we were doing the record with no label because we didn’t have anyone telling us what to do, we could make our own rules. And the fact that Pat is a drummer, not a songwriter actually helped as well. We meshed really well with me being a songwriter and him being about the structure of the sound; he wasn’t that producer that tries to re-write the whole song. He came at it from a different angle.

People will know you from A Rocket To The Moon, which I believe started as a solo project and then grew into a band. Is it nice now being a solo act; did you feel like now is the right time?
Now is the right time to be a solo artist; I’ll get a band to play with me but I won’t ever turn this into another band. I don’t miss the politics of being in a band and the arguments over where we should go to lunch [laughing]. I like being in control and being the only person that has to make the decisions.

Would you ever go back to being in a band further down the line?
Maybe, I think if it was an equal thing, where I was with four other dudes and we all decided to start a band, then yeah for sure I could do that. I’ve always been solo and then it’s formed into a band which is a bit different.

Do you feel less pressure because you’re solo and not with a label?
Yes and no; more pressure because I am having to do everything, but less because I have that freedom now. I don’t have to go into the record with a preconceived idea of what I want or need it to sound like. That’s the beauty of the music; all these songs started with an acoustic demo on my iPhone and we picked the best ones. We’d see these songs then take shape naturally; we didn’t go in forcing songs to sound like anything specific.

The Maine 8123 Tour

And in terms of performing on your own, do you feel more or less pressure now?
At first it was more because I never really knew what to say on stage, but now I embrace the honesty and intimacy of it. I think that’s what makes people like it, it wins them over, the realness of it; I’m just myself, I’m the most awkward, uncomfortable, weird person on stage [laughing]. But at least they’re getting the real me; that’s what helping me is my awkwardness, I’m a normal human, I’m less threatening.

And you’ve been on Warped Tour playing solo all summer; the last time you did it was with the band. Did all those shows set you in good stead for this tour?
Yeah, totally. Being on Warped Tour and touring with The Maine this year has been awesome. With them it’s like being with your big brothers.

A Rocket To The Moon started back in 2006; if you could go back and tell you younger self some advice, what would you say?
When Rocket really started cooking I was 19 and I would’ve told myself not to worry about how I was perceived. I think I walked around with a big head and ego, like, I’m going to hang around with these Z list actors [laughing] from Disney channel. I think I would’ve told myself to just be myself and to not worry about that stuff and the Hollywood thing. I was too focussed on that; I wanted to be the cool MySpace dude, but now I realise that stuff is so gimmicky and bullsh*t and people see right through it, so now I try and be as real as I can. I’m not embarrassed to say that, but I’m embarrassed I was like that, but then everyone was like that back then in the MySpace days [laughing]. The Maine were the same way; they came out wearing neon clothes and matching their clothes, wearing guy liner, but we don’t regret a single thing; they got us to where we are now.

So, finally, what’s next for you?
After this I’m going home for two weeks and then start a headline tour in the US and then home for Christmas. It would be nice to come back over here, maybe a headline tour next year or something.

Thanks Nick!

And here’s what happened when Nick Santino took to the stage…

Nick Santino may be better known as front-man of A Rocket To The Moon, however in London’s Electric Ballroom he is here going it alone. Just how he said he likes it, Nick, aimed with just an acoustic guitar makes the start to the evening an intimate affair, the huge ballroom seems cosy and at one with his music. He may be the only person on stage and his set may be only twenty five minutes, however he finds time to get personal with the crowd, chatting and giving them banter in-between tracks.

The Maine's front-man, John O'Callaghan

Maturer in sound, Nick’s smooth tones with hints of country music are just the perfect thing to get the crowd ready for the evening ahead. He may have made a name for himself in A Rocket To The Moon but he is breaking through on his own playing hits from his debut solo album ‘Big Skies’. ‘Can’t Say I Miss You’, much like the rest of the set is filled with infectious harmonies and forceful guitar rhythms. Nick seems to have a renewed sense of purpose and direction and his set fits perfectly as an opener to The Maine; it isn’t hard to see why he was selected for their world tour.

Nick has come a long way from his days in A Rocket To The Moon and judging by the crowd gathered here tonight in Camden it is onwards and upwards. Debut album number 1 was a resounding success and we can’t wait to hear what is next. 7/10

Photo credit: Nathen McVittie Photography