Interview by Scott Preston
The shores of New Jersey are littered, quite literally, with small towns whose better days are far in the past. They're towns that have been written about, and sung over; towns that have been mythologized and idealized; and they are the towns that 28-year-old musician Nicole Atkins --a native of Neptune City, located a stones throw from fabled Asbury Park--was born and raised in.
They can be places steeped in their own history, buried under the sense of their own pasts. Places of hey-days and what-once-was. And it's that sense of something lost, and of what perhaps should have been, and what might be, that permeates Atkins's debut, Neptune City.
"Neptune City is just this old place," Nicole says. "There was this glory time, way back when, that I never experienced, but that you cannot escape if you live there. Everyone talks about. They almost yearn for it, but I never experienced it. So maybe this album is my attempt to build something new on top of all that." (from nicoleatkins.com)
Cincy Groove: When did you first pick up the guitar?
Nicole Atkins: Around when I was 13. I found my uncle's guitar in my parents attic. I didn't really think about playing guitar before that. I still have it, its a Yamaha childrens learner guitar. The neck on the guitar was really, really wide, so it was hard to play.
Cincy Groove: What were the first songs you learned to play on the guitar?
Nicole Atkins: There were a couple. Harvest Moon from Neil Young, Uncle Johns Band from The Grateful Dead, and Where Did you Sleep Last Night. They are all about 3 chords.
Cincy Groove: How did you hook up with Columbia Records?
Nicole Atkins: I made a demo called "Parties Over", and put a band together and played out for about a year and started to get pretty popular here in New York. A lot of industry people started coming out and they were one of them.
Cincy Groove: What was it like the first time you talked to Rick Rubin?
Nicole Atkins: Well, I was a little pissed off that my record's release date was getting pushed back. I probably wasn't the nicest the person in the world. It turns out he is a really nice guy and what he did with the record was the right thing to do. He was very comfortable to talk to.
Read the full interview here