Jacki and I sat down with Nick Jaina a second time this week for an interview. Our first attempt was just plain bad, so we thought another would redeem ourselves as journalists. So, during lunch we sat ourselves down next to him (we didn't even ask him) and began asking questions to this first year counselor.
Rawk Tok Jamboree: What is your biggest inspiration?
Nick Jaina: I would say... Tom Waits and Paul Simon. Paul Simon for his songwriting abilities, his singing abilities, orchestrating abilities. Tom Waits for his ideas for using weird sounds and deconstructing conventions of modern pop music and his passion.
RTJ: What is your favorite part of touring?
NJ: You're in a van for eight hours and hoping you get to the venue on time. You get there and you're hoping that people show up and you can actually get there with the people at the venue remembering you are playing there. And you wait through other bands, and you get up there and you get to play your music...Most of touring is worrying and work.
RTJ: The bands that open for you don't remind you why you are doing what you're doing?
NJ: When you are going to a city for the first time, you're not put on the best bill. They are bands that are just starting out. People just throw bands at you that aren't the same. You have to work at it, it doesn't just magically happen.
RTJ: When you play shows here is Peter pretty good at getting you an opening band?
NJ: Well, Peter is a different kind of promoter. He actually cares. Peter only does shows he wants to do, he does it because he really wants to do it. You would hope there is a Peter in every town.
RTJ: What is the worst part of touring?
NJ: When you go through all of that and feel like its not worth it. You are hoping for any recognition that you are doing something worth while, when you don't get basic human things like that it get to be a drag. You start to wonder how worth it, it is. Every show is a day of your life, getting to that show, playing for it. Ultimately, that's how you feel, all day you're waiting, working towards this thing, if it doesn't go well because of things outside of your control, it's a bummer. But you have another show the next day, another chance.
RTJ: Where are some places you have been?
NJ: We've been all around the country, any city you can think of. New York, Chicago, New Orleans. There there are always the small college town, you aren't expecting them to be good but there is a cool scene and it turns to a place you always go back too.
RTJ: What's the worst concert you've ever played?
NJ: There was this one in Chicago, we got the gig a week or so before. Somebody wrote to me in MySpace "Hey, if you need a show in Chicago here's this." It was a normal bar, but they were trying this new thing with stand up comedians. The bands would play after the comedians, and the guys said that it was really cool, people would come out and stick around. We got there and no one was there, except the four comedians. They weren't remotely funny, they were vulgar, hostile, horrible comedians. And the emcee kept talking and talking and we knew no one was going to come. Our instruments where behind him and we went up and disassembled our instruments, not even saying a word. We just left, that was the worst show ever.
RTJ:Do you look back on it?
NJ: Oh, yeah. When you're living it, it sucks. Now it's funny. Like the time we were playing a show in Canada, and were turned back at the border. That was two days of our lives because we had to reroute our tour because some one didn't get our paperwork. But now it's like, Ha! We got thrown out of Canada!
RTJ: Who are you helping at Rock Camp?
NJ: ...the kids!
RTJ:What surprised you most about the rock camp?
NJ: How good the good kids are. There's allot of people here who could show me a few things! There's allot of good drummer and bass player, good singers.
RTJ:What is your favorite song to listen to before a show?
NJ: That's a good question. Ones that are sung with allot of passion and energy. To remind me to give everything, 100%. Sometimes you forget, "I wanna do this. I wanna go full tilt." It's good to have songs that remind you of that. There's this song by Tom waits, where he sounds like his vocal cords are bursting or bleeding.
RTJ:Peter alluded you had done some street preforming.
NJ: Yeah, it started on tours where we were going to cities we had never been before. How do you get people to know about the show? We don't have a big name, we aren't in the papers, we want people to be there? How do we get the word out? And we needed money for gas and all that. We all played acoustic instruments and it worked out well for our songs. We got really boisterous and it worked, allot of people paid attention. It was a a really cool way to publicise our own shows and not depend on other people. It's worked more often than it hasn't.
RTJ: Well, thank you for letting us interrupt your lunch hour.
NJ: Thank you...Janis Joplin. It's an honor, I thought you were dead!