Interview with Keith Nickel/Bass Player1.)Why did you pick your band name? How did you form? Why did you decide to play the genre or genres you do?
Keith: The band was named after the Black Sabbath song. Orchid was Theo's brainchild. He contacted Mark originally they had played in some other bands together in the past. They found me playing in a local bar with a blues band I was sitting in with from time to time for fun. Carter was getting a tattoo at Spider Murphy's, (Theo's shop in San Rafael, California). I believe the artist working on Carter mentioned the band to him when he found out he was a drummer. Once the four of us played it was pretty clear this would be the band. We started recording and playing shows right away.
2.)Orchid released three genius albums...
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together and what will await us for the next release?
Keith: I think mostly we have just evolved as a group. We came together all pretty well established players. It's been about growing as a team. Finding the synergy. Making the whole greater then the individual parts. It's so easy to get lost to your own ego with music. It's been a blessing to be with a group where everyone understands how to let go and find something special that none of us expected exactly. I think the future of our sound has a long way to develop and grow and I'm excited to see the transformations we hopefully will make as that happens. Right now the writing process has been a little more loose and we've been experimenting with more variations before locking in ideas. I think we will stay pretty consistent with our style but maybe a little more dangerous. ;)
3.)What't can you tell me about your last album "Mouths of Madness"?
Keith: Well, I can tell you it was a labor of love for sure.
We put a lot of ourselves into that record. It was a long drawn out process of self reflection and discovery. Much blood, sweat and tears.
4.)What's your favourite album of Orchid and explain why?
Keith: That's a really hard question. It's like asking a parent who their favorite child is.
In someways Capricorn will certainly always hold a special place since it was our first full length album together.
The memories of recording and touring for that album will not be long forgotten.
5.)Which song of yours do you like playing live the most?
Keith: One of my favorite songs to play live we rarely do. Down Into The Earth.
There is something about the way we groove together in that one that really kicks for me.
The dynamic and the swing are just right. It's not the most open jamming song, but it feels really great.
6.)What do you think of the European audience? Is there a difference to e.g. the American one?
Keith: So far the European audience seems way more excepting of us.
I guess the scene in the US is growing but Europeans seem to never have lost it.
We see young and old and everything in between at our shows and it's really great.
Even grand parents bringing grand children to the show! I've never experienced that cross over before with a band.
Hopefully we will get a chance to tour in US and get a better feel for the audience but in San Francisco it's pretty tough to get a crowd out for what we do.
7.)Tell us three things that you should not be missing on tour.
Keith: 1. Shower 2. Food. 3. Sleep
8.)What inspires you while songwriting?
What would you say is the hardest part about it? How do you and the band write songs?
Keith: Inspiration for a song can really come from just about anywhere. It's about capturing a moment,
or a feeling, telling a story, commenting on life, love, loss, beauty, hope, fear, desire, disillusion, conspiracy,
death, growthÉ The hardest part of song writing to me is finishing. Committing to being done with it.
As artists we are always striving to make it better. This can make for difficulty in completing ideas.
With Orchid the song writing process has been evolving over time.
But for the most part Theo takes the lead and the rest of us do our best to provide inspiring riffs,
and jams for him to draw from. We pretty much do all final arrangements together trying every possibility the four of us can think of.
It's tedious at times but the pay off seems worth it most of the time. Occasionally a gem like Eastern Woman just sort of appears.
9.)How long do you play the bass and what kind of equipment do you use? What sound makes you horny?
Keith: I've been playing music since I was about 7 years old. I started with the recorder and violin in 4th grade.
Moved to the bass at 10 years. I also like to play other acoustic stringed instruments such as the mandolin, banjo, ukulele.
Music with great feeling makes me horny! It can be classical or jazz, blues or rock as long as there is a sense of connection and feeling.
The sounds can be clean or dirty or heavy, or sweet, but what's done with them to communicate a sense of passion.
I use a 1970's SVT Ampeg with 8x10" speakers live for the most part. In the studio it's always an experiment for each song.
One of my favorite sounds for bass in the studio is through a black face Fender Champ amp.
10.)Do you think that online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about?
Keith: Of course. We would still be playing in our local bar in front of 20 friends if it weren't for the internet.
11.)Which bands/records/songs do you like the most in the current stoner/sludge/doom scene?
Keith: I'm like the late great Duke Ellington when it comes to music classification. It's all music man.
I'm not sure I follow any particular scene. But a few current bands that have been in my playlist a lot lately are Graveyard,
Witchcraft, The Blues Pills, Troubled Horse (Wait those are all Swedish bands! hahahaha).
12.)If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?
Keith: hmmmm green women with six tits!? I don't know Maybe the surfing diplomat to earth.
I'd travel around earth to all the great surf destinations, surf, take pictures and write reports for the aliens!
13.)What moment or concert do you think was the highlight of your rock career until now?
Keith: Man, there have been so many now with Orchid. But, although it wasn't the best night for us as far as audience,
for me playing with Thin Lizzy was pretty special. I was torn at first about doing the gig. It seemed silly to fly all the Way to Germany for one show to me.
And the though of Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott was hard for me to swallow. But man, they were so amazing! One of the bet concerts I've seen, and I've seen a lot of great ones. The whole band was great but Brian Downey and Scott Gorham were just mind blowing.
Another couple stand out shows were Roadburn and Rock Hard festivals. Just amazing audiences and great production.
14.)What would you advise young bands out there? Any tips for making good retro hard rock music?
Keith: Just play from your heart and feel it! You have to connect to the music. Be yourself. Never give up your dreams.
Big thanks for your time Keith and the nice interview...see you on the road!!!