All Access: Nick Waterhouse—Stage and Studio

Feb 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Photos and Text By Steve Jennings


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photo of Nick Waterhouse

At Bimbo’s 365, Nick Watherhouse played his 2007 Gibson Custom shop ’63 Block Inlay 335, rewired by Dave Neely of Hollywood, Calif., with vintage wiring harness from RS Guitarworks and Throbak low-wind Humbucker pickups.

“The Gibson SG I play onstage was my first ‘real guitar,’” says Nick Waterhouse, he of the Golden Age sound and sensibility. “My dad picked it out and my parents gave it to me as an adolescent. I didn’t play it much through the years, as I bought a Rickenbacker 330 after my first summer job, thinking the SG was too much of a modern rock, heavy metal cliché, but a few years ago I started thinking of it not only as something personally significant, but also an oddball like myself. So I sort of took the wood and had it rebuilt electronically and hardware-wise—Kluson Waffleback tuners, bone nut, old-style smaller wire frets, fabric covered wire and paper in oil caps, a staple pickup from Seymour Duncan’s custom shop; it sort of turned into a black beauty ’55 Les Paul in the guts, but with a vintage Humbucker on the bridge. I cut most of the record with it. It just feels like ‘my guitar.’”


Nick Waterhouse 2012 Tour Gallery

Waterhouse recorded his album, Times All Gone, at Mike McHugh’s Distillery in Costa Mesa, Calif. Mix caught Waterhouse and his band—Jack Payne (bass), Jeff Luger (drums), Kyle Stephens (keyboard), Tim Hill (piano), Jon Lammers (baritone sax), George Schafer (tenor sax), Erin Harris and Brit Manor (backing vocals)—at a packed house on New Year’s Eve at the famed Bimbo’s 365 nightclub in San Francisco.

photo of Erin Harris, Brit Manor

From left: Pianist Tim Hill, background vocalists Erin Harris and Brit Manor, and Nick Waterhouse.

“The board at the Distillery is a 16-channel Flickinger console, which has been famously linked to Muscle Shoals,” Waterhouse says. “[The studio] has a very large hexagon-shaped live room. The entirety of the record was tracked in this room, almost entirely live. Drums, bass, organ, piano, guitar, saxes and female vocals were all recorded at the same time on every tune.

“To me, it was very much the directness of the technique versus trying to replicate a ‘period’ sound,” he continues. “I was simply trying to make a record that sounded good to my ears, and Michael [McHugh] really helped prop me up when I wasn’t getting what I wanted. He would recommend microphones, such as RCA, Electro-Voice and Sony, but he urged me to use my ears.

“I recorded a lot of the album using a 1965 Magnatone M-10 amp, but that does not travel well and is rather quiet. I also used an Ampeg Reverberocket from ‘63 that I had acquired halfway through the record. On the road I use a Silverface Fender Twin amp—pretty universal and I know what I’m getting out of it.”

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