Q: What effects/amps did you use to get the guitar sound on Tangled?

Kevin Woodruff writes, “I have been revisiting some of your albums, especially Tangled. The guitar sound on that album is epic. Do you remember what effects/amps you used to get that sound?”

Nick replies, “My particular favourite guitar sound was on ‘She’s Another Girl’. That was from the first recording session at Park Gate Studios in Battle, East Sussex. Julian Gordon-Hastings, Jim Kimberley and I spent a whole day getting the guitar, bass and drum sounds right and were beyond happy. We were going to use the sound for the whole of the album, but the next morning all the equipment was moved for another session. We tried, but never got the same sound and vibe back. So I ended up doing most of my guitars with Ian Shaw at Shaw Sound. I plugged into his trusty old beaten up 100 watt Marshall combo amp with a vintage Les Paul borrowed from my manager, Graham. It just worked a treat and there were no pedals used.”

Q: Do you go to the gym? How do you keep your youthful vigour?

Tim Burt asks, “In the video ‘Today’ you had your shirt off for one scene and it looked like you worked out. Do you go to the gym? How do you keep you youthful vigour?”

Nick replies, “Thank you, Tim. I was hitting the weights around the time of that video, although not so much now. Hardly touch them these days, in fact. I do Pilates, tai chi, light cycling and as much walking as I can. Walking in nature in sandals is blissful. I could also say the same about walking in the sunshine, but actually I like walking in shoes anywhere. I just love to walk. Walking is the spice of life.

The video where I really wanted to get my shirt off was Kite. I was in my physical prime at the time and a photographer took some photos of me swimming in the country house pool. A couple of weeks later she rang and said her flatmate wanted to have a word. And the next minute, I was talking to Kylie Minogue and she was telling me how great I looked in the pictures! I should have taken some tips from her on revealing oneself in one’s physical prime. I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, say no more. My Kite could have flown to some dizzy heights, at least higher than 44! Although I’m very proud of my tweed-suited no. 3 position in US college radio charts.”

Q: Do you like cooking and what’s your favourite dish to cook and to eat?

Kathy Jones asks, “Do you like cooking and what’s your favourite dish to cook and to eat?”

Nick replies, “I love cooking at home because maximum nourishment and an abundance of the sun’s energy are not high on the list of a restaurant’s priorities. I’m feeding my body and soul. The mind does like to go to cafes though. Actually, loves going to cafes. The body says, “No! Take me home!” and the mind replies, “You need to get out more. Socialise Nicholas. You never know who you might bump into.”

My favourite dish always involves quinoa. I lightly steam vegetables and mix them up in a wok with organic rapeseed oil, adding seeds, fresh herbs and chopped birds eye chilies. It’s all got to be organic and natural.

I see food as energy, which totally goes out the window the moment I step into Ottolenghi and see the cakes. Some of those cakes are deadly little Trojan horses that I can wipe off the face of the planet in one fell kestrel swoop. I love life – especially eating it.”

Q: Do you feel you possess more of the characteristics of Taurus or Gemini? Do you enjoy performing concerts/shows or would you rather be in the studio?

Melissa asks, “Nice to see your new and improved site. There have been some twitterings about your upcoming birthday. As you are on the cusp, do you feel you possess more of the characteristics of Taurus or Gemini? Not sure if I can ask two but my second question would be this: Do you enjoy performing concerts/shows or would you rather be in the studio? Hope you have a great birthday!”

Nick replies, “Thank you, Melissa. Well, this end of Taurus does feel more flexible than the other end going into Aries. There’s a lot to learn being born on the 20th of May – maintenance and finishing what’s on one’s plate being two biggies. Still, Jimmy Stewart seemed to manage it, didn’t he? So I tip my 20s trilby hat to him and all 20th of May people and birthday people. Learning is the spice if life! But I would say that, wouldn’t I, being so close to Gemini. The Birthday Book is always a fascinating reference if anybody wishes to dive into the world of traits. But I would say that again, wouldn’t I, being so close to Gemini. Apparently those born on my day love to know how things work and are known to be chatterboxes. I’ve overcome that one on stage, thankfully! Get on with the music, that’s what I say.

Second question is an easy one. Studio. Love it. Creating musical pictures is a thrill beyond words. Once they’re completed and you sit back with a cup of tea surrounded by the beautiful people who so lovingly helped you achieve your masterpiece is wonderful.

Then again, regurgitating creative works live can be sublime. Please excuse the metaphor. Ha! I really don’t see myself as a mother fox or people as fox cubs and my songs as nourishing food. Hold on a minute, I know I’m on holiday and have had a glass of local wine, but actually I do believe my songs are rather nourishing. Darn tasty!

When I listen to The Hunter’s Star by Shearwater, I’m an inspired fox cub. No, no! I’m a starving starling nestling begging for more nourishment.

On the aeroplane here, I listened to The Logical Song by Supertramp. The aeroplane turned into an eagle, soaring above the prairies of North America. This is how inspiring music is to me. And if I can capture even the tiniest essence of this, I can hopefully bring you the same feeling.

Music is the food of love. After my father died in front of me for the first time, he woke up and wrote those words to me as he couldn’t speak because he had emphysema. But that is exactly what he’d just experienced. And that is what we are underneath all the pain of living. We are music and we are the food of love.

Q: What’s your relationship with Paul Weller?

Paul Howden asks, “Hi, I’m fascinated by your relationship with Paul Weller. I think I read once that you did the sleeve design for “In the City” before HC100, then there was the Style Council skit in the “Love All Day” video with the cycling and then some references to Jam songs in your solo career and a rumour about your mutual involvement in Boogie Box High and The Groovetrain (also with Steve White). You also seem to share a lot of influences but he never seems very kind about any of his contemporaries…so how is it??”

Nick replies, “Hi Paul. Looks like you have something in common with him too. Ha! I was nearly called Paul, too. For real!

I didn’t actually do the sleeve design for In The City. I was a junior at the art company who put the sleeves together for Fiction Records. I delivered some In The City artwork to Chris Parry, the Head of Fiction, who thought I’d come in to play him my demo. Something clicked when I told him I was just there to deliver artwork. I thought, I could bring in our band’s demo, couldn’t I?

The reason for all the Paul Weller connections is simply because I am a Jam fan. I’ve met Paul quite a few times now and he’s even lovelier and funnier in person than in print.

I’ve enjoyed all Paul’s different styles throughout his career too. He’s truly a great artist.

Les Nemes and I had the pleasure of playing with Steve White at Nomis Studios for a couple of days sometime in the late 80s. He showed us some of his martial arts moves and we were really impressed. You wouldn’t want to mess with Steve. Just like you wouldn’t want to mess with Graham Jones in Haircut either. These men can take you down with one swift move!

I shared the same publisher as Bruce Foxton, too. We had many a lovely chat and let’s face it, Down In The Tube Station At Midnight is definitely alongside Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs as the greatest pop bass line of all time. It’s the first thing I play when I pick up a bass in a music shop.

I haven’t met Rick… yet! But I keep bumping into Mark Brzezicki when he visits his mum. Totally unmistakeable because he drives enormous American classic cars. We’re all connected in some way, really…

All the Pauls, Bruces, Ricks, Marks, etc…

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