The Nixons By Lori Smerilson Carson June 1, 2020 The Nixons During this time of complication and some depression, where politics weave into the complexity of this COVID-19 pandemic, The Nixons are paving a clear path with the same certainty and uplifting, energetic, outstanding music that they always had since the release of their Debut EP Six in 1992, to their First studio LP Halo released in 1994, to their alternate hit record Foma released in 1995 and the two more that followed (Scrapbook released 1998 and Latest Thing released in 2000). Their new EP Sonic Boom is being released May 22nd with songs that everyone can relate to and fans will truly be able to embrace. Catching up with Lead Singer/Guitarist Zac Maloy, he explained the meanings behind he and his bandmates (Guitarist Jesse Davis, Bassist Ricky Brooks and Drummer John Humphrey) new music, musical influences, past experiences and even revealed a new concert that they are doing live and livestreamed. Ohio Music Experience: So, you guys put the band together in 2018 which everyone was very happy to see. What prompted that? Zac Maloy: I appreciate it. Yeah you know, it’s just kind of one of those things that like, when we were touring, we toured so much. We’re one of those, roll up the sleeves and tour three hundred days of the year, some years, and so I think when it ended, we all were just happy to sort of just go our separate ways. Do our own thing. Then you know a certain amount of time goes by and actually, a friend of ours in Oklahoma City who owns a venue was really probably the final straw (he chuckled). You know, we’ve been asked to play shows before, but he just said, “look, I’m giving you my venue, we’re gonna do it up. We’re gonna do massive production,” and we all talked, sort of buried some hatchets and just decided to do it. Ohio Music Experience: Well we’re glad you did. Maloy: Thank you. Ohio Music Experience: You’re welcome. You have a new EP coming out May 22nd Sonic Boom. Maloy: Yeah. We’re excited about that. You know, you just took me back to that very first show in Oklahoma City and at the time, I kind of thought and I think the guys all thought, this will be fun, you know? We’ll play a couple shows and then get back to our lives, and we did to a certain point. John is the full-time drummer for Seether. I’m a songwriter in Nashville and I’ve stayed pretty busy doing that but, the other guys have stuff too. The thing is, when we played a few shows, a couple ideas came up. You know, Ricky sent me a guitar riff. I immediately came up with lyrics that we all liked. Melodies. So, it really just fell together in some ways by accident. Again, we didn’t say, ok, we’re going to reunite. We’re going to do a few shows and we’re going to release an album two years later. It all just kind of happened very organically, but I’m beyond excited. I can’t believe that in less than two weeks people are going to have a new collection of music from us. First in almost twenty years. Pretty cool. Ohio Music Experience: Absolutely! “Crutch” is on the new record and “Ghost of an Angel?” Maloy: So, the titles are “Crutch,” “Favorite Lies,” and “Ghost of an Angel” which will be the next single to officially be released, and then two other songs. One called “Heaven is a Heartbreak” and “Letters.” Yeah, that’s the five. Ohio Music Experience: Is there a theme with those or how did those songs come about? Maloy: I mean, lyrically, it’s funny that you ask. No one’s asked me that yet. There is kind of a theme and it’s kind of just sort of trying to navigate your way through what is a crazy world and damn. Even more so now, right? Ohio Music Experience: Right. Maloy: There’s the song I mentioned called “Letters” and it’s just sort of this whole idea of hey, hate. What are you trying to do to us? Dear lies, what’s the next one and then Dear hope, we kind of need you. You know? That literally is the theme of that song and that sort of does run throughout the EP if I’m just thinking about it. “Crutch” is very much about just seeing someone make mistakes. Maybe even yourself, but letting that happen and then at least helping them get back up. So again, no one asked me is there a theme, but I would say in general it is that. Just trying to get through this thing. Ohio Music Experience: I see you guys have been doing some live streaming. I saw the one for “Wire” which was awesome. Are you going to be doing more of that? Maloy: Yeah, I can actually tell you something that just officially got announced yesterday, but we’re going to start rolling out more information about it. Sort of our second home is Dallas and north Texas. We’re from Oklahoma, but we went down to Deep Ellum back in the nineties and sort of came up with some of those bands like the Toadies and Tripping Daisy, and so Dallas has been this other home to us. Well there’s a venue called Lava Cantina and we are actually playing a show on May 22nd. The date of the EP release, we’re playing a show onstage at Lava Cantina with social distancing, like crazy measures, for actual attendees. There’s very limited space, but they are selling what they call these yards, and they’re these 10 foot apart separated sections that people can actually attend the show live. I’m not going to be able to reach down and high five anyone at this one, but there will be people in attendance, but more importantly to people not in Dallas, obviously a tone of people, it Is going to be livestreamed. We’ve got like a several camera shoot. There’s an engineering booth on the premises that they sort of do a livestream special mix for. So, it’s kind of insane that a company that does a lot of big events, livestreaming events line Coachella for instance. They’re the ones doing the livestream. The actual recording and streaming. So, May 22nd, just go follow The Nixons on all social media. I’m going to basically be announcing this every day laying out the details because it’s kind of complicated. Everything that’s going into the show right down to a parking lot with a big screen that people can watch us from their cars if they’re not comfortable going into a venue. Right there on the premises. And so yeah, It’s kind of crazy. I would have never imagined saying what I just said to you in the last two minutes, but the cool part for me is, we had to cancel some shows right? Just like everybody. We had a potential tour at the end of the year that was going to be really cool. A couple of other nineties bands. That’s gone. We’re looking at things right now for 2021, but in the meantime again, Lava Cantina approached me and I was on the phone with them saying, wait, what? Are you sure? Can we do this? But Texas has opened up a little bit to a small percentage of the capacity for the venues, but then again, for me, the best part is that it’s going to be livestreamed. Ohio Music Experience: Are they doing things like requiring face masks? Is there going to be a shield between the stage and the audience? Maloy: Yea, yeah. All that. There’s separations between every one of the yards. We’re not allowed to go mingle with anybody. It’s really interesting. I won’t get into the weeds of it, but they sent me this document that was like, holy crap! This is like some government thing. It’s pages long of you know, you will arrive at this time. You’ll go directly, your sound, your crew will set up. They’ll wipe everything down, you’ll enter the stage, then immediately after the show you’ll go to your green room. Crews will unload you and within like thirty minutes we’re gonna be gone. So, yeah, they’re taking all the precautions. They’re testing people, taking temperatures when people walk in. Again, I’m just so excited to be playing a rock show in the middle of all this craziness and it’s gonna livestream. It’s gonna be a regular length set with all our songs and a few surprises. So, it’s cool. Ohio Music Experience: Yeah, that is very cool. Do you see this as becoming more of the norm for the next year? Are you hearing anything? Maloy: Well, first of all, I hope not. I hope that by next year we’ll able to figure out ways to get back out there and play shows. Regular shows I should say. But in the meantime, it’s funny that you ask that because right after we announced, I know a lot of bands. I’ve written with everyone from Shinedown, Halestorm to Carrie Underwood and my phone blew up the next day. Like, how are you doing this? Can you put me in contact with the venue? From like a bunch of just friends in the music business that are just dying to go play a show. So, to answer your question, yeah, I think this is actually going to be something that a lot of people turn to as a way of playing a show. So, limited audiences, separated safely, but more importantly livestreams. A lot of bands have already done it. We’re not the first, but I think you know, sort of could be something. Sort of a new wave. Ohio Music Experience: About your experiences working with various other artists. Writing music for the different genres. How was that for you? Did it enhance your writing? Was it something you had to adjust to or did you feel really comfortable working with Carrie Underwood and her country music, then working with Shinedown, a more metal band? Maloy: Yeah, I mean it’s interesting. I had a manager tell me once when I was moving to Nashville. You know, don’t try to go to Nashville and suddenly say, ok now I’m a country songwriter. Just write. Just write and try to write the best songs you can every day. So, in that sense, not a lot has changed, but the inside of that coin is that you do have to be mindful of it. There’s certain things that I can get away with for instance with this new EP that Keith Urban is not going to sing. You know, (he laughed) about some of the things that I sing about. So, it’s been great for me. To answer your question about whether it’s difficult. Not at all. It was just cool and fun, and it has definitely, probably helped my growth as a songwriter just because when you’re in the room with great writers for fifteen years like I’ve been lucky enough to be with. It’s got to rub off. I’d like to think it’s made me a better writer. Then just the experience of it all has been kind of amazing and cool. Ohio Music Experience: Well you’re a really talented writer. It’s very cool that you have written with such a variety of musicians. Who would you say are your influences musically? Maloy: Well, I mean country did influence me. I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and it did influence me. I didn’t do it professionally for the actual part of my life as an artist. Not even close. We were smashing guitars and lighting things on fire, rock and roll. Far from George Strait, but my grandpa was a country singer a long, long time ago, and then probably I would say the influences on me as in The Nixons, were all those great rock bands that put on great shows. You know, we had the opportunity actually to tour with Kiss and whatever you want to say about their music, whether you’re a fan or not. The shows that they put on are just, well you know. They’re just legendary, and to see and to go watch bands like Aerosmith with my family. That stuff is inspiring still to me. It takes me back to seeing Van Halen when I was a kid. Sneaking out to go see David Lee Roth doing what he did onstage. So, as far as influences that way, the Nixons always try to, and still try to put a lot of energy into the show. That’s a pretty big influence for us. All those great high energy rock bands from Van Halen to The Who. Ohio Music Experience: What inspired you to become a musician? Your grandfather? Having a musician in the family? Maloy: No. I’m sort of the classic, in college. Had a high School band that were probably pretty awful in hind sight, but then had a band in college, and it was just to earn a little extra money. Have some fun. At the University of Oklahoma, we played pretty much every frat and sorority party you could play and then started writing, right? Then you go, Oh, maybe this could be a thing? And slowly but surely, built a fan base in the mid-west and got a record deal, and here we are. Ohio Music Experience: It was you, Jesse and Ricky originally and then you picked up John? Maloy: That is correct. That’s where we were. Like I said, we played private events for money and then we’d go play for nothing in Dallas and in Fayetteville Arkansas, then Kansas City. Then we just kept on, sort of making that circle bigger. Ohio Music Experience: What were you majoring in college? I have to ask. Maloy: That’s funny. I actually majored in and have a degree in Political Science which I’ve never come close to using. I was headed to law school, I’ve told this story before, but basically the plan was to go to law school and I guess be a lawyer, but The Nixons signed a small record deal with an independent label that actually went bankrupt a year later, but that was enough to sort of be like, oh wait. These people dig us. They want to put something into us. Then we got another Indy deal and then that deal led to a major label deal. So yeah, I’m a political scientist in education. Ohio Music Experience: Is that how you guys came up with the name The Nixons? Maloy: See, you’re making great connections to that, that would be a great story getting back to studying political science, but no. The name of the band, we were called, Is That An Animal? It was the worst name ever. So, The Nixons was just Ok, we’ve got to ditch this crappy name. The Nixons was short, sweet and I always tell people it had an x in the middle so it looked cool on t-shirts and stickers. That’s about it. Ohio Music Experience: What would you advise up and coming artists? Maloy: Yeah and I do. I mean, I work with a lot of young bands, and it’s interesting to talk to young artists now because the overriding thing with the Nixons was always, let’s just go and record this and then let’s just go play shows. Period. Let’s just go. I’ll talk to bands now and they’re like, yeah, we’ve been writing for a year and a half and once we get added to fifteen radio stations, we’re gonna book a tour and go out on tour. I would just say, obviously no one can go play now, but when the world is back to normal, what I say to young rock bands is just go record. Go write, go record and go play. I think people overthink it a little bit sometimes. That’s the advice I do give to a lot of the young bands that I work with. Ohio Music Experience: What inspires you when you write? Maloy: Anything. Anything at all. I remember reading a story about a guy that had lost someone and was sort of just being haunted by her memory and eventually figured how to let go and that’s “Ghost of an Angel.” That song is very much a story. Then by contract “Favorite Lies” is just kind of a stream of consciousness winding through the world you know, and basically telling someone, I’ll tell you what you want to hear which can be a bit nonsensical sometimes, but again, that theme sort of runs through some of these songs. Ohio Music Experience: What would you say is the secret to your success and longevity in the music industry? Maloy: I think just kind of keeping your head down and doing the work. I’m still writing. It’s Zoom songwriting sessions, but you know, just right before this thing went down, I wrote with a band called Saul who’s had some success in the rock world, and then just went in and recorded a song that we wrote, and these past few weeks I’ve written with a couple other rock bands, and that’s just what I’ve always done. I wrote the song (“Atlas Falls”) with Shinedown quite a while ago and here it is in the top twenty on the rock charts now. So, that was The Nixons attitude like I alluded to. Just put your head down and go work. That’s just kind of what I’ve had to keep doing. Ohio Music Experience: Is there anything else you want fans to know about? Any new videos that will be coming out? Maloy: Absolutely. We’ll have content with all the songs. There’s a cool video for “Crutch.” A couple videos for “Crutch.” I’ll have one coming for “Ghost of an Angel” actually really soon. I just checked my email and saw that our video guy just sent me the second draft. So, when I hang up with you, I’m going to go check it out. That’ll be coming and then otherwise, that May 22nd show that’s livestreaming, please check that out and then go get the EP and let us know what you think. We’re excited to have new music out there. Share It!