Nick Campbell’s prolific career has allowed him to work with some great musicians but he’s also made some great music on his own. We got a chance to sit down with him to talk about what he’s done, what he’s doing and what the future holds!
SM: How long have you been making music? How did you get into it?
NC: I’ve been playing drums for 26 years and have been performing and recording in bands for about 22 years. As far as how I “got into it”, music kind of got in me. I have early memories of wanting to play drums. I had no family that were musicians and at that age, no friends that played instruments. Still, I had this interest so it must’ve been from God. My grandfather bought me a small, junior drum set and I beat it down in short order. It wasn’t until I was 13 (after many years of asking) that I convinced my father to buy me a “real” 5pc. drum set to learn on; itdidn’t even have cymbals for the first 6 months I played! However, I played everyday, added cymbals and more drums and started learning songs that I liked. I’ve played and practiced almost daily ever since.
SM: Who are your favorite musicians you’ve worked with? What about them made it a memorable experience?
NC: Although I’ve worked with quite a few musicians playing fill-in gigs, sessions and short-lived groups, I’m going to have to go with people I performed and recorded with for many years. Chris Hill and Leah Kirby from “Jam Pain Society” and Bo Boyd, Dave Pitts and Jon Boisvert from “Scotch Gravy” (formerly “Sexual Harris”).
Working with Chris and Leah in “JPS” was memorable because they are, to this day, the only people I’ve worked with who are like me in that they are completely dedicated to original music and would hit the road in a second if given the chance. They are also highly skilled at their talents and hone them relentlessly. Being able to be in a “band” with them for over 14 years was an awesome learning experience. IT was also a lot of hard work but was possible because they are great people. Artistically it just wasn’t the “right” fit and I had to close that artistic door about two years ago to find another.
Working with Bo, Dave and Jon in “Scotch Gravy” was memorable because we all had an ethereal and elusive natural musical connection. I have never had it like that with any other group of artists. We performed (rarely) and recorded (off and on) for about 12 years in the spare time we had. Being able to be in a band with them for that length of time was possible because the music was so good to me and like Chris and Leah, Bo, Dave and Jon are awesome people. Unfortunately, I had to leave this band recently because we developed very strong disagreements on how to do almost everything, except create music! I’m going to miss snatching drum parts from the ether with Bo’s riffs for sure.
SM: Who are your biggest inspirations? Who would you compare your sound to?
NC: The people who inspired me the most are Gary Robinson and Paul Riddle. Gary is a symphonic percussionist in the “Greenville Symphony Orchestra” and taught me for two years at the “Fine Arts Center” in Greenville, SC. Paul is the founding drummer for “The Marshall Tucker Band” and I studied privately with him in Spartanburg,SC for about a year after high school. Those guys taught me more in three years than I could have ever discovered on my own in a lifetime.
I would say my sound (if I even have one) is a mish-mash of Neil Peart (“Rush”), Phil Rudd (“AC/DC”), Carter Beauford (“Dave Matthews Band”), Steve Jordan (everybody, most recently John Mayer), Danny Carey (“Tool”), Mike D. (“The Beastie Boys”), Stewart Copeland (“The Police”), Matt Cameron (“Soundgarden”) and JoJo Mayer (“Nerve”). You know, if the MUSIC calls for a very dense rhythmic part I will create that but if the MUSIC calls for a very sparse groove I will lay that down, and I ain’t afraid to mix digital percussion into the acoustic kit either!
SM: If you could play with any band, past or present, who would it be and why?
NC: Really it would be most any band that creates a new style because in that environment you can be truly creative. Ones that come to mind for me are “Led Zepplin”, “AC/DC”, “Dave Matthews”, “Primus”, “Run DMC”, “Rush”, “Pink Floyd”, “Nirvana”, ect. You know, bands that generate tons of “copycat” groups because their sound is so moving.
SM: What are you doing now with your music? How do you stay active in the local scene? How would you like to grow?
NC: Right now I’m just recording ideas in my home studio and woodshedding, although I am looking for a band to join. I want to find a group of artists who create something very unique and where I can contribute to that fresh, new sound. It would be great to be able to get into something already established on some level.
Honestly, in the last couple of years I haven’t been too active in the local scene. It was a real life changer to quit “JPS” and the job I held for almost 10 years (at Sam Ash and previously Mars Music). I am planning to get out to more local shows in the near future to hear what’s going on.
[I would like to grow] Financially! But by pursuing original art it’s difficult.
SM: What are your plans for 2012? What are you looking forward to in the coming year and beyond, in terms of your music career?
NC: So far, my plans are to do my job (drum teching for Michael Cartellone of “Lynyrd Skynyrd”/”Damn Yankees”) to the best of my abilities, try to land a gig in a professional, established, original music band and possibly make a move to Nashville, TN…in order to pursue that elusive band.
Beyond a year, well, let’s hope it’s creating art with a group of dedicated artists, professionally.