Words by: Bredan O’Mahony
Photos by: Olga Kuzmenko
Live Review: Nick Oliveri- Death Acoustic with support from New Valley Wolves and Alex Harvey
Venue: Button Factory, Dublin
Date: Saturday 13th of April 2019
Having brought the Death Acoustic show to Ireland previously, including a now near mythical gig in the Thomas House bar to a mere 80 people a few years ago, I knew that the chance to see Nick Oliveri put on a show with just an acoustic guitar and his screaming vocals was one not to be missed. From the early Kyuss records, to the first three Queens of the Stone Age albums and on to Mondo Generator, Oliveri has made consistent quality his mainstay. Taking tracks from those bands and paring them back to the bare bones of acoustic is a brave move but one that ultimately pays off in spades.
Providing the first musical output of the evening is Alex Harvey, a man normally found on stage beside his band mates in Thumper or Dublin Punk Rockers Panik Attaks, but flying solo tonight with just an acoustic guitar. After the greeting of family and friends in the audience Harvey breaks into a set full of originals with more than a nod towards Jeff Buckley. Songs such as ‘Hole’, ‘Give A Little’ and ‘Concrete’ show great promise and he is one to definitely keep an eye out for.
The great aspect of a mainly acoustic show is that the changeovers between acts are fast, so in no time at all we are graced by New Valley Wolves, a two-piece from Dublin with a guitarist/singer and drummer. Tonight’s set is the exception as it’s fully electric, drummer Baz Joyce actually explained after the show that they were originally playing acoustic but Nick changed it to electric because that’s how they need to be heard. Weaving between songs from their 2015 album ‘Refusal Is Our Weapon’ and 2018’s E.P ‘Gospel’ the duo’s mix of Clutch style blues-rock grabs the attention and never let’s go from opener ‘Shake Your Bones’ to the closing ‘Fire In The Blood’, so much so that Nick Oliveri himself migrates from the merch stand to the front of the stage for a better look. It is more than just a request, a compliment rather, that they have been asked to join Nick later in his set on each night of the tour so far in Ireland with the possibility of further shows in Europe also mooted.
So, to the main event and the arrival of Death Acoustic. The set is opened by the absolute cracker that is ‘Green Machine’ from Kyuss which, remarkably, still packs a punch on acoustic and is immediately followed by Roky Erickson’s ‘Bloody Hammer’. The next hour gives us dedications to his ex-wife in ‘I’m Gonna Leave You’ and ’Another Love Song’, a friend who overdosed in ‘Autopilot’ and one of the originators of acoustic punk, GG Allin, in ‘Outlaw Scumfuc’. We are also treated to a new track from his forthcoming work with Sons of Alpha Centauri ‘If I Left You Alone’ while ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ gives everyone in the audience a chance to rest Nick’s vocal chords. This show works not because Nick Oliveri can shred on a guitar, rather the opposite, he provides a set full of raw, aggressive emotions, hammering away at the guitar, venting and releasing everything from within until a mesmerising vocal only rendition of ‘Six-Shooter’ from Songs for the Deaf. Left momentarily breathless, he invites New Valley Wolves up on stage to drag the last ounce of energy from himself for ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire’ bringing to a close a short but incredible set.
Interview with Nick Oliveri after the Death Acoustic Show:
MGM: Hey Nick, thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat.
NO: Oh no problem at all man.
MGM: So, you are on the Death Acoustic tour. How has it been so far in Ireland?
NO: Well I’m actually getting to play in places that I’ve never played before in Ireland which is great you know. I’ve played in Dublin, I played Limerick and Cork. To be able to play all these other places has been more than great man.
MGM: The last time you were here was in the Voodoo Lounge and the time before that was the Thomas House to 80 people and it was just the one show, kind of secret, very few people knew about it whereas this time you are playing 6 shows here.
NO: He did it (pointing to the tour organiser Julian). Julian did it.
MGM: You’re going down to Wexford as well which is a new one.
NO: Yeah, he told me and I asked “Where’s Wexford?” and he says ah man it’s an hour away it’s good. It’s going to be great and I am super excited to see more of the country man.
MGM: I have to ask actually; the last time you were here you had a pedal stolen?
NO: Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s right man. But no, I got it back, I couldn’t believe it I was like “somebody stole my pedal?”. It has a D.I box and I was going to bring it out on this tour, it has an E.Q signal, like a little amp in a sense and you can send how you want your guitar to sound like to the front of house. I left it at the front of the stage and I guess somebody took it and the tour manager I had, this girl Jenny, she goes “somebody took your pedal” and I was really like “that’s a bummer”. You know it happens, I shouldn’t have left it at the front of the stage but I wouldn’t have thought that in Dublin but they had the guy on camera doing it and so Jenny got it back. It took like half way through the tour to get but she got it back man and the guys in the club man, they were stand up guys too, helping us out. It tripped me out and I try to forget about stuff like that, it’s just a pedal at the end of the day. I would have given it to him if he wanted it that bad you know; I would have asked him “you really need it dude?” I can probably get another one, maybe, but here man no need to steal it.
MGM: Guitar picks, drum sticks, setlists you know, people take those things.
NO: Yeah man, like if somebody needs something, I will probably give it to them you know. I had this bass player come over one time and she was playing my bass, a Fender Telecaster, and she was like “I love this bass man, can I have it?” and she kind of threw me off and I was like “eh, eh yeah” (laughing) and she took it man, she took my bass. It was weird but it’s hard, you know, somebody asking.
MGM: Well, it’s good you got the pedal back man. We’re good people you know.
NO: Yeah dude.
MGM: Looking at your support tonight you had Alex Harvey and New Valley Wolves. How did they get on the show with you for this tour?
NO: This guy here Julian he built the tour and it’s been so great for me and so much fun. The bands kick ass man and dude New Valley Wolves man, I’ve never seen a drummer hit as hard except maybe Dave Grohl man. I saw them the first night in Cork acoustic and I said the next night you gotta’ play electric and maybe we can play a song together. I like bands to play electric and they said they would rather play electric because they’re more comfortable.
MGM: The backing to Millionaire tonight, the last track, was unbelievable and for them to get to play with you is great.
NO: It’s super cool for me as well man, they’re great musicians.
MGM: So, you’ve got the No Hits At All selections Volumes 1 to 5. How is it for you going back into those songs and listening to the stuff you’ve recorded before and getting to release it.
NO: Well some of it is demo quality and some of it is production quality, it’s basically bands that asked me would I sing on a record, it was that simple. It wasn’t a money thing, just getting to play with bands that I like you know. Some were released, some weren’t till now. It’s been cool to have a home on Heavy Psych Sounds and to put out specialty stuff because I’m a collector of vinyl. They’re going to put out the new Mondo stuff and maybe look at Volume 6. The new Mondo stuff I’m really excited about and I am doing the stuff with Sons of Alpha Centauri as well. I haven’t been this excited about the new stuff for some time man especially with Mondo. I really want people to hear it and I’m bringing the guys over for a Mondo run after this tour, we’re doing Desertfest and stuff you know.
MGM: Right, you’re going to do London and Berlin and in Berlin you’re doing your own acoustic, a Mondo set and also Wino are playing so you’re getting to play alongside Scott Weinrich so is there any chance of a Royale Daemons get together?
NO: Oh man Scotty, man I love Scott Weinrich man. I’d love to do the Daemons stuff dude. That was his idea to do Royale Daemons and spell it the way it is because he said “it’s 13 letters if we spell it like this.” (laughing) He’s been a great friend of mine for a long time, I love Wino so much man, I sometimes come home and he’s at my house just staying over because my house mate is an old friend of his from way back and you look into one of the rooms and just go “you moved in didn’t you” but man it’s great. We do the same things we did the first time I met him, just go party. I don’t want to say there’s a better guitar player but he’s pretty hard to beat when he wants to do lead man. At the bridge he’s an insane player man and I don’t think a lot of people know that. He’s a great Doom Metal singer man but his guitar playing is pretty rad too man.
MGM: I know his stuff from The Obsessed and Saint Vitus but as a lead guitarist, he is where it’s at?
NO: There’s one song they get him to play guitar on in Saint Vitus and Chandler is great, he’s one of the best but I don’t think he wants Wino playing guitar man. If I was a guitar player and saw Wino coming in, I wouldn’t let him have it man. I’d tell him to go sing. I’d love to do the Daemons again, him and Joey Castillo. Joey lives just two blocks from me man.
MGM: That’s another thing Joey Castillo has been in nearly every band you’ve been in man.
NO: I got him into BL’AST man because I knew he was a BL’AST fan man.
MGM: He was in Bloodclot as well!
NO: Oh man he got me into Bloodclot man. You know John Joseph from Cro-Mags they are one of my favourite all-time crossover bands from when I was a kid. I mean the video ‘We Gotta Know’, long haired kid, you know it was a dream to play with them and Todd passing, we all miss Todd Youth, it’s a sad thing but we are putting together a new guitar player and trying to do a tour of Europe in September so trying out new guitar players and trying to make that happen, while writing for, hopefully, a new E.P.
MGM: That is great news on the possibility of going forward with it because that album ‘Up In Arms’ was immense man.
NO: Oh yeah, I heard the demos and I was like “I want in dude, I have got to get on this”. Actually, maybe Joey actually hits harder than anyone I know. I dunno’ maybe.
MGM: You definitely keep busy man because Brant Bjork, or possibly the other way around, brought you in to Circus of Power?
NO: Oh, I brought Brant in to Circus man. Brant got me into their music initially, played them for me when we were doing Kyuss in ’89 or ’90 and he told me to check them out and then I met Al at my house one day and he asked me to come down and be in one of their videos and I said “yeah man I’ll rock out to some Circus of Power, throw some air-guitar in there dude” and I loved every minute of it but he was asking if we knew a drummer and I was “yeah dude I know the drummer for you”. I said I could probably get you Brant and so Al says get him to call me. So, I told Brant and he was “No way” and he was super psyched because he always loved Circus man. I want to see my friends do what they want to do and create stuff. I’m not the matchmaker normally, I would be if I could be and in this case it worked. Brant is the first drummer I ever played with in my whole life dude so when I get to jam with him, it’s the most comfortable thing in the world.
It’s similar to when I see, like your t-shirt man C.O.C, man I love that band and their records and I’ve got the original Eye For An Eye on Toxic Shock man, Mike Dean playing on that bass man and Eric Eycke, another who sadly passed recently, but that’s an awesome album man.
MGM: Well coincidentally today is Record Store Day. Did you get a chance to pick anything up?
NO: Nah not today, I was driving in to town today man. Driving over here is hard man, I went up to Christchurch thinking that’s where I had to park and then I’m driving and it says no turn here or no turn there and I was fuck this is really hard so I end up way far away and come hobbling out of the parking spot and I stop a little old lady and ask how do I get to the Button Factory and she says oh it’s miles away (laughing) so I think right I’ll grab a taxi and I ask the driver where’s the Button Factory and he’s like “it’s just up the road, I ain’t gonna drive you there dude, just ask some people when you get to the lights”. I’m like “thank you for the tip”. I met this music teacher Jonathan and, even after a 12-hour shift, he was nice enough to walk me down here. He just tells me “I got you man”, he was a cool guy.
MGM: Well look you got here and played an amazing set. I want to say thanks for today and best of luck with the Mondo Generator tour as well. Also, I see you’re going out on tour with the Svetlana’s in Australia soon so you got to bring them here on tour too.
NO: Oh yeah man. We’ve been in my house for months at a time writing music and stuff and they are awesome dude.
MGM: Well next time you’re over bring them too. Thanks again for your time Nick.
NO: Oh no problem at all man. Thanks for coming to the show.