The thing you notice foremost about Nick Waterhouse in an interview is how carefully he chooses his words. He’s direct, and there are very few tangental stories with the possibility of confusing you. When we spoke in late May, Waterhouse spoke slowly, clearly and thoughtfully about his music and his image, including misconceptions some people may have about him. Most of our chat ended up in my article to preview summer music festival Phono del Sol. It’s because of the lack of tangents that I was able to squeeze so much of the chat into the main story… very unusual from most of my interviews. The rest is right here, starting with his thoughts on San Francisco, which I can best summarize, in my professional opinion, as “meh.”
How is your life similar and different since you moved back to Los Angeles from San Francisco?
I’ve continued doing all the things I’ve always done, just in different ways, I guess. I keep buying and listening to records and playing my instrument and reading books and drinking coffee. I don’t get to go out as much, but that’s all right. I miss being able to go on a walk. I miss some of the night life. A lot of the people I knew from that scene have moved away anyway. It’s hard to live in that town. (Musicians) don’t develop apps. We’re not needed.
“Holly” (his second full-length LP, released earlier this year) was written after you finished the tour for the first record and took a week-long trip to SF. Did that influence the record at all?
I did it to clear my head. It’s very hard to walk Los Angeles the way that I walk in San Francisco. There were a lot of things going on when I was writing the record.
What elements have to be present on a Nick Waterhouse record?
It’s got to think, and it’s got to have feeling.
How do you pull from the past, but still make it modern?
I don’t think about it too much. I think that’s the best strategy. I believe in developing tools and then stopping thinking about it so it becomes an unconscious thing. If you look at other walks of life, whether it’s military training, emergency workers, artists, authors, painters, educational assistants – it’s about hammering something into your subconscious and then being able to leave it alone.
Tell me about your part in an upcoming Terrence Malick film. (The untitled film stars a bevy of famous actors, has been filing since 2012 and according to IMDB, is currently scheduled for a 2015 release).
I shot some scenes around Austin, Tex., with some Hollywood actors. … It’s about musicians, apparently. Rooney Mara is in it and Val Kilmer and Michael Fassbender. … It was very surreal. Oh, and John Doe, from the band X. I don’t know, Terrence Malick might just edit me out and put a bird there for 20 minutes.