On The Line with Nim Vind

Nim Vind brings together the best of horror punk and rock n’ roll with his unique and charming spin. Recent proof of that is his album, Saturday Night Séance Songs, which just came out last month. And only the best and the brightest (or perhaps darkest in Nim’s case!) are worthy of playing shows with the great Gary Numan. Yup, that happened last month too! So with everything that’s going on in the life of this creative cat, I caught up with him to chat about a multitude of entertaining topics both in and out of music. On top of his own music, we discussed the importance of album covers, B movies, Danzig, Calabrese and more.

Alex Obert: Who did you grow up listening to?

Nim Vind: I grew up in a small town in Canada where it was really hard to get anything. Most of the music you found out about growing up was really from your friends. And I had no friends. (laughs) There was one tiny crappy music store that had nothing. I’d go downtown and honestly look at what people had on their shirts walking by me. It was stuff that attracted me then and still attracts me now. The imagery grabbed me. You’d walk down the street and see someone in a Misfits shirt and you go, “Hmm…what’s that?” And I think that still happens for kids now. You’ll see so many Misfits shirts around and you’ll ask a kid, “What’s your favorite Misfits song?” And they’ll say, “I don’t even know who the Misfits are.” At first you’ll think it’s a travesty, but then you realize that when you were young, you did the same thing too. That really is a statement about a band’s art. Or any art really. You walk down the street and someone asks where got your`shirt. Next thing you know, they’re wearing it. And that’s how people find out about bands such as the Misfits and Danzig and all that shit. I still like Metallica, my manager is Jonny Z and he put out the first Metallica album. I love all that old stuff. I love that old taped sound. I try to get that on my records, but we’re in such a digital world now. It’s a real struggle trying to get a taped sound out of a digital medium. But that’s what attracted me, I like stuff that sounds really mean. Those tape records sounds like a knife fight. I remember the first time I heard all of those metal bands. Take Master of Puppets for example, “Wow! You can actually do that?” I also got into more contemporary records as time went on, but that’s how I started.

Alex Obert: You mentioned the imagery of a band being appealing, so what are some of your favorite album covers?

Nim Vind: I’ve gotta say one of my favorite ones was a later Danzig album, the Circle of Snakes cover. I like the covers where they’ll go get an artist. I’ve always liked that Appetite for Destruction cover with that giant cross. My brother has that on his arm. And I can’t forget about that Ride the Lightning cover. That was an era where art was very important. I don’t think the art is as important to people as it used to be. It used to be really important, deadly important. I still view it as deadly important, but I don’t know if a lot of groups do. They’ll just think, “Yeah, that’s okay.” I’ll spend a lot of time really thinking about it. Marilyn Manson has great covers, I found his inspiring. More than I found his music. (laughs) I loved all those Judas Priest album covers.

Alex Obert: I feel as though album covers were more important during that time period because everything was coming out on vinyl and a larger canvas was provided for the art.

Nim Vind: That’s right. Also, there was only one way of getting music to people. Whether it was vinyl or CD or cassette, it wasn’t like it is now. The person got it in their hand and the first thing that they did after they bought it was unwrap it and look at it. That doesn’t really happen anymore because myself included, most people are buying stuff digitally now. It comes up on their phone as a small JPEG image. With the current climate of stuff being ripped off of sites like Pirate Bay, who knows if it’s even the right album cover? It could be a bad upload where the image is a poor representation. I think all of that sends a message to someone where it’s like, “It’s just album art, it doesn’t really matter.” People can upload their own album art to the songs. You couldn’t do that at one point, you had to live with what you got. What you got was important and it was the face to the music. You’d hear the songs and get an image in your head of which album it is. Now it doesn’t seem relevant anymore. People are on the go in their own lives, the music is like a soundtrack of them running down the street with headphones on to go somewhere or do something. They could be playing games on the phone and the music will be in the background. Although one thing I will say is that I love the fact that vinyl’s coming back. It’s bringing back the whole idea that it’s an album and you really have to think about the songs on it. An artist will have to think about what their art will will look like on that canvas. You don’t want people to get it and have this shoddy, crappy bitmap picture on there that just sucks. (laughs) The vinyl craze is making a big comeback and it’s forcing all these groups to really consider the art. And I also think when a person buys it, if they didn’t consider the art important before, they suddenly do now. They could think it’s great or they could think it sucks.

Alex Obert: Who would you say are your vocal influences?

Nim Vind: I think David Bowie is a huge influence. The thing I love about him is that he’s been through so many eras. He was able to not just reinvent his sound, but I think he reinvented his voice throughout his career. If you listen all different eras of David Bowie, his voice was a signature and distinct sound that changed. Same with Danzig, he’s one of the biggest DIY guys around. Even when he was on a major label, I think most people considered him as a do it yourself guy. He had a sound with Misfits, then he had a different vocal sound in Danzig, then he had a different vocal sound again after the Rick Rubin records. I like guys who can keep changing with the times and can keep their sound current and fresh as their body changes and their voice evolves. Same thing with The Damned, I think Dave Vanian still sounds great to this day. I’m also a big fan of Jim Morrison. It’s not just important to be a good singer, it’s important to be a distinct singer. I think that’s more important. You have to hit your notes well, it’s obviously good to be on pitch, but I think you have to have a distinct sound most of all. That’s how I aspire to be. I was a terrible singer when I started, there were days where I wondered if I’d ever get any better. (laughs) It’s always a challenge for me at every show. Some days it’s great, some days it’s terrible. Some days I love it, some days I can’t stand it. Probably every singer feels that way. You have to have a distinct voice and wrestle with it as though you’re fighting with a snake. (laughs)

Alex Obert: Did you go through band auditions for the singer position and tank?

Nim Vind: There was one band I really wanted to be in right out of high school. They were really great and the guitar player was so great, just amazing. The drummer actually ended up becoming the first Mr. Underhill drummer. That was the one band I ever tried out to be a singer for and I didn’t get the gig. If you wanna play, you’ve gotta be the singer, you’ve gotta write all the songs, you have to get the band together and make it happen. And you have to create a draw for it too, create an audience. That’s how it’s been from day one, never looked back. Being an outcast, a loner, some people would describe it a lot rougher than that, being that person and being by myself taught me efficiency. I had to make my own sound. I didn’t really have the access to people that I could bounce stuff off of. But never looking back was the best thing I did. If I had people telling me while growing up, “Don’t do it that way, do it this way!”, it maybe would have just sounded like everybody else.

Alex Obert: So what you have to do is go back to your hometown and tell everybody that you recently played with Gary Numan.

Nim Vind: (laughs) They’ll ask, “Who the heck is Gary Numan?” I have a song with Todd Rundgren, he’s an American legend in the American songbook. He plays in Ringo Starr’s band! And I could tell people now back in Vancouver now that I did a song with him and they go, “Who the heck is Todd Rundgren?” It’d be the same thing with Gary Numan. I’d tell them and they’d have no idea who he is. The only thing I think Vancouver people might know was if I were to tell them that I was playing with someone like Taylor Swift. Then suddenly they would know. People in Vancouver are there to go to school and I think a subculture here is nonexistent. I think that Urban Outfitters dresses the entire city and they do a pretty hideous job of that. A funny note though, I got told about this tour with Gary Numan twelve days before it started. It turned my world upside down.

Alex Obert: I understand you are a fan of the great Calabrese. I’d love to get your thoughts on them.

Nim Vind: They sent me their very first demo and said they wanted to make a band just like mine. I love Calabrese, they’re a great band and I hope they do phenomenal. We’ve been trying to set up a tour together forever, but we’re always going in different directions. So yeah, they sent me their very first demo and they said were gonna play In The Night on it and for whatever reason, it didn’t end up on it. We got a letter from them that they’re a three brother band, like we had at the time, and they were probably going through all the same stuff we were. It’s where you’re going out with this great act with bands that are totally awesome, but then you start take it out in the world and you meet this gigantic ocean of business people saying you can’t try to sell that and that nobody’s gonna buy that. That’s what everyone said. In 2007, I was in Europe and people were telling me that I had to check out this band called Volbeat because they sound just like me and nobody else. They told me that we should tour together. My friend put me on the Sundown Festival and Volbeat was playing the next day. I was told to meet them and check them out.

I came back in 2009 with the Stillness Illness record and I suggested a tour with Volbeat because it’d be a cool tour. And I was told that they’ve become the biggest band in Europe and they’re touring the states with Metallica. When my friend had wanted to put them out, his partner at the time said that no one wants to listen to that kind of music. I was just in LA for the last six months getting this record together and I saw a ton of rock shows, none of them sold out. Not even close. And we’re talkin’ pretty lousy fucking ticket sales for some big names. But when I went to see Volbeat at The Grove in Anaheim, it was sold right out for them. It was sold for them. When they came on stage, the audience sang every song. So who’s to say you can’t sell this stuff? You leave it to the suits, you’ll have the crappiest, shittiest, lamest product you could listen to. You’ll have the most generic thing they can come up with because it’s easy to sell. That’s why it’s everywhere! Go to the grocery store if you want to see what I’m talking about. (laughs) They want to sell a hamburger to everybody until the end of time, but we all have eclectic tastes as the world gets bigger and better. I think it gets bigger and better all the time. There’s room for way more than that, but they don’t know how to sell it. So to answer your question with Calabrese, I think they’re great and I’m a big fan. I hope they can break through that whole lame generic roadblock that I’m trying to break through.

Alex Obert: With your music concerned, how did you work it out for Astronomicon to be so catchy?

Nim Vind: I wrote that song a long time ago, it’s one of my oldest songs. That’s the sound that’s contemporary now. The club tone always sound so great, we need to have some of that in guitar music. I wanted to be able to go back and forth in it. I’ve always loved the idea of having a synth under a guitar, it just made the guitar sound extra evil. That’s really what I was trying to do, get a space-age kind of rock and roll sound. I’ve been after that forever. Usually when I put out a record, it’s because somebody says, “Look, you’re gonna die before this thing comes out. You’ve gotta put this out! You don’t want to be working on the same record for an eternity.” So the way it became so catchy was because I spent a lot of time on it. What I’ll do with a song like that is I’ll write the music and then I’ll just keep it playing a lot in my vicinity. If something really jams into my brain more than once and I think of it a few times, it really tells me that it’s meant to be on the record. There’s some sort of kinetic energy telling you what’s supposed to be on a track. That song was written in maybe ten to fifteen minutes. I did a fun demo of it with a friend, took it home and listened to it for about a week and that chorus just kept sticking in my head with the exact lyrics. I didn’t sit down and rewrite it. Then I had to look at it afterwards and think about what the song meant.

Alex Obert: What did you think of the fan made video for Master Spider?

Nim Vind: I loved it. I love Akira, it’s one of my favorite movies. That right there just tells you that the fans know exactly what they want, they’re way more in tune than I think people give them credit for. Why would we underestimate the audience? The audience is not stupid at all. They want great music. They want great videos. They want great art. They want you to blow them away, that’s what they expect from you. That’s why as an artist, you’ve gotta spend tons of time on it. That’s how you get a song like Astronomicon. I try my best to do that. You’ve got to spend that time and really work for those mixes. You want somebody to have a really musical listening experience. But now, these streaming sites are pretty much destroying the business. I absolutely, positively one thousand percent loathe them. I hate them. I’m talking about sites like Spotify, they’re awful. They don’t pay the artist. My other band, Mr. Underhill, got 237,000 streams and we got paid nine hundred and sixty bucks. In radio days, we would’ve made money for that. It’s a great idea and I’m not dissing the concept. The concept is great and technology is totally awesome. I’m not saying we should go back to the good ol’ days where we all lived in caves playing a wooden string, I don’t think that at all. But having one guy making four hundred million dollars while everyone else starves is a travesty, especially when he’s using all of our songs to do it. The old guys don’t care because they made their money and it’s now making their paycheck even bigger. Anyone can find their stuff. For bands trying to make their name, especially bands in their beginning, it’s very difficult.

I made my own label for the first time ever. I’m working with Jonny Zazula, he knows the ropes. There are perspectives on both sides. It’s been a really big learning experience for me. Me and my brothers did a record label before, but I’m really doing it this time. It’s been crazy and the distribution has been interesting. (laughs) I’ve been working 24/7 on everything, but it’s been a blast. It’s something that I think is the future of music, artists spending their own money for something like this. That’s what I was saying about the streaming, it’s great and it’s cool that people can find out about you, but the artists need to be paid more. People say that music is pretty much free now, no it isn’t, it’s not free to make those records at all. I don’t know who’s telling people that it’s free, but it’s not. If it was free, those kids would not be making those sites. The guy who owns Spotify, he made 400 million dollars off of it. The artists combined probably didn’t even make that! I think that there needs to be a much more even scale for the whole thing. Every artist wants to make a great record with great art and give you the vinyl version that looks spectacular. The Internet’s really done a lot of good stuff for us all so we can talk. That’s why I don’t hate the concept of the streaming site, I think it’s fuckin’ great. Everything from iTunes to Google Play is a great idea that took off and it helps to get an album. In the past, people had to spend sixty bucks on an album from an independent band to get it to your house. People have told me that they’ve seen my album in Toronto for forty dollars. Now it’s just ten bucks to get it and I think that’s great.

But yes, I love that video. They did a great job. Fans know what they want to see and that’s proof of it. That’s the exact visual representation of that song. You see those fan videos where they are paying attention, that kid totally gets what I’m doing. I watch it and I realize I don’t need to make a video because his is the perfect video. That kid just went and did it and then he put in all that riot footage, that footage is from those big hockey riots in Vancouver! It’s the perfect statement of the world right now where you have a world just fighting for its fate. It’s time to be smarter than ever. Jim Morrison was singing about that way back too in Five to One. We have more power than people think.

Alex Obert: What are some of your favorites in TV and film?

Nim Vind: I know it’s gonna be cliché, but I love any zombie movie. I watch The Walking Dead and there will be episodes where I go, “What the heck am I watching this for?” (laughs) It’s like a soap opera with zombies sometimes. The old seasons used to be way better. But yeah, I’m a sucker for zombies. I also love the idea of how so many horror movies were built with so little budget. It really increases the creativity. I love the Spaghetti Westerns. Imagine if those Spaghetti Westerns had CGI, it wouldn’t work. Those Sergio Leone movies are so great because he was working with what he had. From music to movies, I love everything with its own atmosphere. That’s what Tarantino has tried to do his whole career getting that Spaghetti Western/Grindhouse low-budget kind of feeling. But I always try to tell people, “It’s not the low budget you’re trying to copy, you want to match the creativity of somebody working with a limited budget that’s forced to use their imagination. They work around their limitations.” That’s why Star Wars from George Lucas was great when he first did it and why his next one sucked. He had no limitations, he wasn’t forced to use his imagination. And that is when you get characters like Jar Jar Binks. Or take Axl Rose, one of my heroes. Appetite for Destruction was a totally awesome album to me. But then you give the guy fifteen, sixteen million dollars and he makes Chinese Democracy. Then everyone says they hate it. Well maybe it’s because he had too much money and too much time. To be honest though, I like that album. When you’re forced to use your creativity, whoever you are, people’s brains are a powerful thing. When you’re forced to use your creativity, you do the best stuff. But when you have unlimited resources, it’s just too easy to flounder and get stuck on stupid shit. (laughs)

Alex Obert: We talked about album covers earlier, what are some of your favorite B-Movie posters?

Nim Vind: Good question! (laughs) All the old zombie movies are totally awesome. Ed Wood’s movie posters were fucking great and he had to have great movie posters because how else was he going to promote? That’s a great example, those Ed Wood movies. What great movies! There were scenes where something was supposed to be happening for a minute and the background would just change. He’d continue to film the scene elsewhere because he probably couldn’t go back to the same location. Ed Wood had shoestring budgets with people working for free and paying people with cash out of his pocket. I love that. And those movies are still talked about. It should say something that a lot of money will be spent to go make a movie with Johnny Depp as Ed Wood.

Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, do you have any plugs that you’d like to plugs that you’d like to drop for readers?

Nim Vind: My favorite thing on Facebook is the groups. And I have my own horror punk group that you can join, it’s the biggest one on there. Somebody from Sweden gave it to me when there were just about a thousand members. I didn’t do anything with it for about two years because I didn’t really understand how to work it. I finally paid attention one day and there were about six thousand people on it. What I love about it is that’s a great way for everybody to meet and check out new bands. And everything we just talked about like “You seen this movie poster?” It’s all being posted every day. But I’m not necessarily trying to just be grouped into horror punk. I’m on a whole lot of different things and my album certainly branches far away from horror punk. I also have a Facebook page. I have a website, but websites feel redundant now. They don’t really allow you to interact with people. But the website does have my tour dates and the latest news.

Alex Obert: Sounds very cool! I’d love to thank you so much for your time and a great interview.

Nim Vind: Thanks a lot, man! I appreciate it.

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