THE SWEET ESCAPE INTERVIEW
OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW.
Nick Corbin has been working with a passion over the years delivering some of the finest soul music out there, first as singer and songwriter with the band New Street Adventure and now as a solo artist. His debut album 'Sweet Escape' has been released. We've been playing it and it is incredible!
To give you a taster of the album check out the video below for 'Long Long Gone' and 'Gotta get back to you' on the home page which are off the album. Cris Davies gets to grips with Nick in this exclusive interview for Suit Yourself where Nick talks about his influences, his amazing musical journey, New Street Adventure, future gigs, and what it's like to be the most talked-about artist in current times......
Sit back, play the tracks, read the interview, and order the album, you won't be disappointing - 10/10.
Hi Nick, can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, what it was like growing up in your area, and your early musical influences.
I grew up in Uckfield, a small town in East Sussex. Not the most lively place but not a bad area either. We mostly ventured into Brighton or London at the weekends for a little more excitement!
My Dad pretty much just played soul music, occasionally reggae and jazz, so Aretha, Curtis, Womack etc were ingrained in me from a pretty young age! I rebelled against this as all teenagers do but eventually found my way back!
What inspired you as a young man to become a songwriter, your dad collected rare soul, would this have been an influence as your voice and style sits perfectly with the genre.
I was friends with a lot of musicians at school and used to sing occasionally. I started writing songs with a friend who played guitar and then eventually I learned to play when I was 18/19. The songwriting just came as a natural progression to learning other people’s songs I suppose.
I got into all the indie stuff around 2006 and remember reading an interview with Arctic Monkeys in the NME, where Alex Turner said Curtis Mayfield was a big influence of theirs.
That was the trigger for me getting seriously into soul and funk; I’d spend hours with my Dad recording his vinyl on to CDs so I think my education in the genre was pretty quick and fairly comprehensive.
How did you get your first break and how did it make you feel?
It’s hard to put a finger on what my first break was, to be honest! Noel McKoy offering to produce an E.P for me was pretty huge because it opened so many doors in terms of introducing me to other musicians and getting some kudos on the soul scene.
I met Eddie Piller on the tube on the way home from Noel’s studio one day and that was the start of a long association with Acid Jazz.
I guess a break is anyone offering to help you out in order to further your career and that will always inspire confidence!
You are one of the founding members of New Street adventure, can you tell us how this all came about.
On my first day at Birmingham University in 2006 I met Chris, a drummer and Robin, a bass player. We joked about forming a band but we actually became really good friends and eventually had our first practice in January 2007, where we spent 2 hours learning a song I’d written and trying to think of a band name.
We ended up calling ourselves New Street Adventure because we always took the train to New Street Station for our nights out. The name just stuck really and when I eventually moved to London in 2010 I kept the name, despite the other lads choosing other career paths.
How did the creative process work within the band?
Mostly I’d write songs on acoustic guitar and either play them to everyone at practices or I’d send dodgy recordings to the other band members, with influence tracks so they’d know which drum beats to play etc.
When Billy Farr joined as lead guitarist in 2011, he taught me loads of new chord progressions and a few co-writes came from those: “The Crunch”, “Can’t We Just Be Friends?” and then we actually sat down and wrote the whole of “One & The Same” Together.
I also co-wrote a few songs with Ashley, our bass player - he came up with the basslines/chord progressions that became “Lucky Lady”, “She’s An Attraction” and “Why Should We Do Anything?”.
You went on to release various singles, Eps and two fantastic albums, can you tell us a bit about this time in your life and what it felt like to be a recorded artist.
It was always really exciting to release new music. The first proper EP we recorded was “Just The Kind Of People” in 2011 and those sessions introduced us to some brilliant musicians on the London soul/jazz scene. Lots of those guys ended up playing with us live and then on our first album, “No Hard Feelings”.
I felt a bit out of my depth at first but having that calibre of musicians willing to play on songs I’d written gave me a lot of confidence and once we had some material out there it made it easier to recruit better musicians to join the band.
What were the gigs like at this point?, could you tell us about some of the Highlights.
In 2011 we had a real mixed bag. We launched our E.P at the 100 club, which was brilliant but then we realised to make a name for ourselves we had to play as much as possible and a lot of the time it meant doing gigs for little or no money - not easy when there are 7 or 8 of you.
One highlight was playing at The Tap in Sandown on the Isle of Wight. Everything that could have gone wrong did: there were no microphones at the venue so we started about 2 hours late and then we had two power-cuts during our set. Finally, a guy in the audience stacked it into our trumpet player’s music stand and his sheets went flying everywhere.
Despite all of this, the crowd were unbelievable. I’d just written a song called “Hangin’ On/Hangin’Up” and we played it three times that night because people loved it so much. We had a cracking night out afterwards as well.
We went on to record our second E.P, “Say It Like You Mean It” and 2012 became the year of the 100 Club gigs - we hired it out every two months and put on the “New Street Soul Club”, where we’d headline with a couple of other bands supporting, with a few DJs thrown in for good measure. The shows became really popular and the community we built around the band was, I think, what convinced Acid Jazz to sign us.
Ultimately the New Street adventure project came to an end, when did this happen and what caused it.
Over the years the hardest thing to cope with was turnover of personnel. It always felt like just as we’d settled on a line-up I was happy with, somebody would leave the band due to other commitments and we’d lose all the momentum we’d built up.
We had nearly thirty different band members over the years including six drummers and about 10 keyboard players. You can have people fill in for a gig here and there but it never felt quite the same.
Eventually I just got very tired of organising everything myself. I stopped enjoying rehearsals and gigs because I was worried about everything else going on.
At the end of 2017 we co-headlined a tour with The Milk, which was an amazing experience but I felt it was the right time to call it a day. Our second album hadn’t had the impact we’d been hoping for and I didn’t feel the ambition of the other members matched mine any more.
When we played our farewell gig in January 2018 I think everyone in the band was a bit overwhelmed, not only by the size of the crowd but also by the emotions on display in the room.
It made us realise that we’d meant something to a lot of people and it put what we’d achieved into context. I’m really happy we got a chance to end it that way.
As one door closes another opens and in steps Nick Corbin the solo artist, have you found this new career line more refreshing?, what’s the difference between writing for a band to writing solo material?
I suppose I have found it refreshing because I really had lost my motivation for playing live.
I initially wanted to take a break from performing but I was offered a few gigs and found the knack for writing songs again.
The musicians in my new band are brilliant; so professional and hassle-free, which I guess is a big reason why it’s been a refreshing experience.
In terms of writing it’s no different, although there have been a few songs I haven’t played with the full band as I’ve felt they’ve worked best for my acoustic shows.
Your new album ‘Sweet Escape’ is being released in June with the excellent track ‘Long Long Gone’ released now as a single, can you tell us about the new album and what we can expect from it.
First and foremost I feel it’s a great collection of songs. It’s a cliche but I do believe there’s something for everyone on the record!
The flow of the album works really well too, with the mood constantly fluctuating and keeping the listener gripped.
The production is superb: big, bold and always sonically interesting. I can’t wait for people to hear it!
You have also announced a UK tour, two of the dates, Bristol and Brighton will be with Suit Yourself. We know you have supported the likes of Corduroy and Mother earth but this time your flying solo, are you as excited about it as we and all your fans are?
Of course! There haven’t been many opportunities for people to see me with a full band since the break-up of NSA so it’s a great chance to show what we can do.
It will also be great to speak to everyone and hear their thoughts on the new album!
We know that you are happily married to Sophie Heath (DJ’s Noble and Heath), Sophie loves her soul music, as do you, I bet your house is full of fantastic music…
I’m lucky to have met someone with a similar passion for great soul music and Sophie has certainly taken control of the record-buying in the house. She’s great at discovering old music whereas I prefer looking for newer stuff so we balance each other out!
Can you tell us a couple of unforgettable moments since you have started your incredible journey.
I’ll give you a top 5 (in no particular order):
Holding the vinyl copy of my new album - two years’ hard work finally realised.
Opening for Mavis Staples on two nights at Union Chapel and having a drink with her afterwards.
The after-party following New Street’s gig with The Milk in Leamington Spa in 2017 - one of the most hilarious nights of my life.
The final New Street Adventure gig
Being interviewed by Craig Charles on 6Music
You do know that the Modernist world have taken a massive shine to your work, was this something you were expecting or worked for?
I didn’t expect it at all! As I mentioned earlier, when I started the band I was into a lot of indie stuff and as I got more and more into soul music and those influences started showing in my songs, I believed I was doing something really different.
Then we released our first proper E.P in 2011 and suddenly a load of people were hailing us as the next Style Council, who I’d never heard of at that point!
I know that will probably shock people but it’s the truth. I’m a fan now of course but it’s still 60’s and 70’s soul that really does it for me.
What the last few years has taught me is that I’m incredibly fortunate to have a group of people my music appeals to; I speak to so many great, up-and-coming artists who just don’t know who to target their music at.
It really does help to have an idea, even though I didn’t when I started - that’s why I say I’m lucky!
If you could record with any other artist dead or alive who would it be?
It would have to be Bobby Womack for me - he’s my musical hero!
Are you writing more material for a second album?
I have just started writing again and I would love to make another album - watch this space!
Where can our readers find out more about your music/ tour dates etc
At my website: www.nickcorbin.co.uk
Lastly, if you met a younger version of yourself what one piece of advice would you give?
Work hard, be nice to people and never expect anything from anyone!
NICK'S FACEBOOK PAGE CAN BE FOUND HERE - PLEASE CHECK LATEST NEWS FOR GIG DETAILS.