Nick Thorburn has been through a lot with Islands: regular lineup changes; massive critical and popular acclaim; the disappointment of an ambitious yet poorly received sophomore outing; and return to form with a near-perfect pop gem in last year's Vapours. It's been a wild ride.
Just before the Canadian band began its summer tour, Chatter caught up with Thorburn, who sings and plays guitar and keyboards (sometimes under the name Nick Diamonds), to discuss stage names, his depressive nature and the future of Islands.
Chatter: So what moniker are you going by these days?
With Steel Phantoms, 8 p.m. Monday, July 5, at Mango's, 403 Westheimer, 713-522-8903 or www.pegstar.net.
Nick Thorburn: I have a horrible inability to make decisions. I'm still not sure what to call myself. My birth name, my government name, is Nick Thorburn, but let's say [if] I'm feeling a little extroverted, or I want to hide behind a moniker, then I can go with Nick Diamonds. I like to think I could be both.
C: How longstanding is that alias, and how'd you come up with it?
NT: It's about ten years old. When I was starting the Unicorns with Alden, we were trying to just construct an aesthetic. I really felt like we needed stage names. So I christened him Alden Ginger, and I gave myself the Diamonds moniker, I guess. It was actually Neil Diamonds, originally, and that was actually a reference to Neil Young but, obviously, a play on Neil Diamond.
C: How about drummer Jaime Tambeur?
NT: We were living in Quebec at the time, and tambeur is French for drums, and J'aime is "I love," and it also looks like Jaime...and he's a drummer, so it's appropriate.
C: He's been back with Islands for about a year, right?
NT: It's been over a year, but he's not with Islands anymore.
C: Oh, so am I behind the times?
NT: Well, you're not, actually. You're officially ahead of the times, now. It's not public knowledge, like I didn't send out a bulletin or anything. We were just doing a sort of a quick "thing"; it wasn't a permanent reinstatement.
C: The album arc of the band so far seems to have started out with a quirky pop vibe, then moved more heavy and serious, then about-faced. Are you going to finish that series and return to a heavier approach the next time out?
NT: If it's gonna be heavy, the next record is going to be emotionally heavy, not sonically heavy. The batch of songs I have for the next Islands record is all very depressing, slow, quiet, sad songs. It's definitely not going to be uplifting or quirky. It's going to be a heartbreak record or whatever.
C: What do you think of Houston?
NT: I never spend enough time in Houston, but I like the music scene there. I like the rap scene, you know, the Screw music and stuff that came from Houston. Maybe someone can show us around afterwards or something.
Historic Produce Row recording complex SugarHill Studios, subject of Dr. Roger Wood and co-owner/chief engineer Andy Bradley's recent book House of Hits, was burglarized over the weekend of June 19-20. The thieves removed the building's metal siding and entered through the studio's tape vault, out of sight of the security cameras, but did not steal any of SugarHill's vast archive of master tapes and session recordings, co-owner Dan Workman said. However, they did take some cash and several musical instruments, only one of which Workman said belonged to a band currently recording at the studio. He asked that anyone with information about the break-in call SugarHill at 713-926-4431.
Sound Exchange, 1836 Richmond, 713-666-5555
1. Watain, Lawless Darkness
2. Grails, Black Tar Prophecies vols. 1, 2, 3 (LP)
3. Friedhof, Friedhof (LP)
4. Abscess, Dawn of Humanity
5. Enforcer, Diamonds
6. Range Rats, Range Rats (LP)
7. Master, The Human Machine
8. Exodus, Exhibit B: The Human Condition
9. Various Artists, Psych Funk 101 (LP)
10. Various Artists, Ethnic Minority Music
of Northwest Xinjiang, China
Blues In Hi-Fi
KTRU (91.7 FM), Wednesdays 7-9 p.m.
Selections from Clint Broussard's June 23 playlist
1. Nina Simone, "Turn Me On"
2. Eddie Taylor, "Big Town Playboy"
3. Stick McGhee, "Tall Pretty Woman"
4. Jimmy "T-99" Nelson, "Great Big Hunk of Man"
5. Otis Rush, "I Can't Stop"
6. Lillian Offitt, "Miss You So"
7. Little Junior Parker, "Stranded"
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8. Solomon Burke, "Stepchild"
9. Son House, "Death Letter"
10. Johnny "Guitar" Watson, "Falling In Love"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)