MUSICAL CHAMELEON…NICK OLIVERI

oliFirst off, I’m gonna be that guy and gush on how honored I was to interview Nick Oliveri.  He’s been jamming and singing to me since I was nine years old, especially with Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and Mondo Generator.  Being an artist can be a thankless job, but it must be pretty cool to know that you’ve influenced generations of kids like myself.  In anticipation for the show tonight, I’m releasing our chat.  The interview was taken in the middle of the night after a long day for the hard rocker, but luckily Oliveri is a super chill and down to earth guy, and he did his best answer my questions.  Enjoy.

How and when did The Uncontrollable begin?  Cuz I know you were doing some acoustic shit with Blag Dahlia from the Dwarves recently.

The Uncontrollable began as a name I used to draw on my peachie folders in sixth grade (hahaha) that I would someday turn into a band, but I didn’t. Eventually, we started using it for an acoustic tour I did with Blag Dhalia in England and it was a name for the both of us playing at the same time, like a lil duo-band.

nakie
What’s the name of your new album?  I was told that you recorded the entire thing solo–from drums, bass, guitar, to the vocals.  Did you find this experience more frustrating than liberating, or was there a combination of the two?
The name of the new album, “Leave me Alone”.  I called it that cause I did the record basically by myself with all the instruments, but I had some guest guitar solos, so yeah, that’s pretty much why. Yeah it was frustrating and also very satisfying to finish. I had a lot of things happen while making the record that set me back, like rolling my car-which made for some good lyrics for one the the tunes I didn’t have lyrics for at the time.
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This question always intrigues me in a confusing way, kinda like the old “Chicken before the egg” quandary.  Do you start a song in your head with lyrics, a hook/riff or chorus, bass line, or drum line?  What’s your method on this one, especially when recording an entire album from start to finish by yourself?
It’s always different, but mainly I start with a riff, then build on it from there. With this last record I did a lot of stuff with drums then transposed it to record and transposed it to guitar (what I was humming in my head) and reversed it and demoed it a bunch of times before I went into the studio. I’m not the slickest drummer in the world but I practiced my ass off. I did record it myself but had Harper and Trevor helping me, they were behind the controls, recording me. I did some of the stuff at home on my Protools in the little apartment I had but yeah, it was the chicken before the egg, man (laughs).
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Speaking of range, I’ve always admired your ability to go from the soothing sounds of songs like “Auto Pilot” and “Another Love Song”, to pissed and charged songs like “Tension Head” and “Six Shooter”.  Is this adjustment easy for you?  Are there times when going from a mellow jam to something pissed a difficult exercise and vice versa?

Right on thanks. It’s easy for me to transition from going softer vocals to harder vocals, but going hard vocals to soft vocals is not as easy I guess. I’m not very good at singing but I can scream my ass off though. So yah, that’s a tough one for me. I guess I just do the best I can do, sometimes it’s off (laughs)

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It seems like you’ve had worn a hundred hats, from Kyuss, to Queens, Mondo Generator, The Dwarves, B’Last and now The Uncontrollable.  You’re a bit of a musical chameleon.  Does this flexibility give you a sense of freedom?  It must be cool to be constantly collaborating with so many great artists.

Yes and no. Yah it’s good to play in bands that you like, its great– I’ve been very fortunate on that. But I’ve been home for a bit, haven’t been working or touring for some time, a few months now. So I’m getting ready to get back going and start back up with this new tour. I guess theres some sense of freedom to that and it’s a lot of fun to collaborate with some of my favorite musicians. Fortunately I’ve been able to play with a lot of really cool bands. So yah there’s a sense of freedom but at the same time theres a lot of free time-you’d think that there’d be every minute would be taken up, but everybody’s got their lives as they get older, lives that they’re tending to.  You know when you live at mom’s house you have that all for one, one for all band thing going when you’re a kid, and lots of my friends are parents now, like Mark (Lewis from Doors to Knowhere). It makes things a little more difficult to go down and jam on a nightly basis, plus I’ve got my band in the Desert and now I’m in LA.

Oliveri and BL'AST

Oliveri and BL’AST

 On the topic of BL’AST…how did you hook up with those guys?  Cliffords a great friend of mine, and growing up surfing and skating in Santa Cruz, that band is engrained in my musical DNA. 

I’d known Clifford for a long time and he’s come to see some of the first Queens shows that were in Santa Cruz, and I’m sure he was at some of the Kyuss stuff too.  Anyways, he was at the Catalyst and we (Mondo Generator) played on a tour with Wino and The Saviors and it was the last night of our tour. He asked me and my drummer Hoss if we would do this BL’AST thing they were doing, the remix of Blood. They were at Dave Grohls place and he was remixing it. He asked if I would do it and I said, “yeah sure, I’d love to do it” and same with Hoss, he was down with it too. So we did that for awhile and it was great, had a lot of fun. Now we have Joey Castillo and it’s even better, you know. I mean, nothing against Hoss, Hoss is a great drummer, but I think Joey comes from that hardcore school of drumming and he really just fit the bill better—he plays his ass off and I think he understands the music more, he understands BL’AST more. That’s pretty much all it comes down to. Hoss grew up up with some Skynard, which is great, but Joey was in some really hard core bands so it makes sense to him—he’s seen blast in the old days and Hoss was like, “BL’AST Who?” So that was the difference.

Nick's down with the Murderers.  Oh yeah, Gi Gi too

Nick’s down with the Murderers. Oh yeah, Gi Gi too

What do you think about the current crop of bands in Santa Cruz?  Obviously you are fans of Doors to Nowhere and B’Last, but what do you think about other cats like The Highway Murderers?

Of course I’m fans of Doors to Nowhere and BL’AST. Yeah, the Highway Murderers. Those guys are great. They are a fantastic band. I played with them last time I played at the Catalyst and it was rad, totally, totally rad. Those are the bands I like from Santa Cruz, but I’m sure that there are some others that will come to mind after this interview (laughs).

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What are some of your best and worst experiences in Santa Cruz?
Everything’s been good there, for the most part. Anytime we’ve had a bad time, good people such as the Lewis’s household, they always took care of us up there. Having the BL’AST guys from up there has been good, places to stay and shit like that, so that’s cool. I don’t know about any seriously bad experiences up there. So far so good.
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.Everyone is super psyched about your show on March 27th…what is it about Doors to Nowhere and You Know Who that inspired you to tour with those guys?

What inspired me to go on tour with You Know Who, is that they kick ass. It’s also Mike Pygmie’s band who also plays in The Uncontrollable and Mondo Generator as well, and he’s a fucking ripping guitar player, and he writes some cool stuff. Doors to Nowhere, they’re my friends and they kick major ass, just a group of great guys. That’s why I was inspired to do it- my friend Mark (Lewis of Doors to Nowhere) called me up and said, “Hey, you wanna do this tour, and these shows?” I was like, “I dunno if I can” cause I had some overlapping stuff going on with the Dwarves, but that fell through till April so it just so happened I had the time off and the time to rock with the Uncontrollable and my friends. So Mark set it up. It’s his fault that we are going to have a good time. So I’m really looking forward to seeing all those guys. Sorry my interview is so jumbled…I’m pretty thrashed.  Thanks, see you at the show!

Stoner rock show

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