Friday, June 26, 2009

Nick Howard: Moving On Up

A love of New York City and American culture, a passionate drive to pursue music, and a poorly recorded demo was all British singer-songwriter Nick Howard had when he firmly planted his feet on New York concrete five years ago. “I remember taking [the demo] to the Living Room and giving it to the guy behind the bar who said ‘Yeah absolutely,’ and as I walked out and turned away I saw him throw it in the bin,” Nick recalls, subtly noting the irony. The gifted crooner, whose boyish charm and clever humor captures audiences nation-wide, has come a long way in a short time, building a growing empire of success on a foundation of persistence, belief, and hard work.

Raised in Brighton, England singing in school choirs and church, Nick Howard decided to pick up the guitar after seeing Michael J. Fox in the movie “Back To The Future.” Only two formal lessons were needed to fire his musical spirit- the rest was self-taught, continuing to play throughout his teenage years. A trip to New York City in 2000 to visit his sister solidified where Howard belonged, claiming, “I’d never experienced anything like it.” Establishing a musical presence in NYC during a college internship, the computer science major got a “real” job post-graduation and has been writing and playing in the States ever since.

In 2005 Nick recorded the six-track EP “Contradicted,” an album he describes as “raw, confused, and focused on finding oneself in the big city.” The EP received instant recognition, with Clear Channel featuring it on the “Discover New Music Campaign” and a few songs getting television placement. Howard continued to promote the EP for a year and half while writing and working on the follow up, 2008’s “Something To Talk About,” produced by Jamie Siegel. From that album the song “The Pressure” was picked up before it was even mastered through a licensing agreement, and placed on the hit show “The Hills.” “It was the most painstaking ten minutes of my life, and then it came in and it was so cool,” Nick describes the experience the first time hearing the song on national TV, laughing, “It was the beginning of the end of Nick Howard.”

Now preparing to release “Bridging the Gap,” the new EP produced by Robert “Void” Caprio and recorded at Stratosphere Studios, Nick plotted a live, acoustic album done in “old school” band fashion. Howard called in band members Ryan Vaughn, Oscar Bautista and Nicholas D'Amato (with guest appearances by Rachel Platten), plugging away for twelve straight hours one weekend, tracking and mixing the whole project. The EP release coincides with Nick’s debut performance at the world-renowned Summerfest in Milwaukee this July, a career highlight Howard has been diligently pursuing. “The hope was they would put me on one of the smaller stages, and this year they put me opening for Gavin DeGraw,” Nick’s smile widens, “So I didn’t mind waiting three years for that gig!”

No stranger to the New York stage, Nick has seen an uprising of both venues and artists since playing his first gig at The “C” Note, a club now closed. Regularly serenading The Bitter End, CBGB’s, The Living Room, and Rockwood Music Hall, Howard worked the hierarchical climb, most recently playing Highline Ballroom and booking an upcoming show at Bowery Ballroom. “I think when I first moved here the scene was in a bit of a lull. Some of the older venues were really struggling and some of the new ones hadn’t come around yet. Now there’s a great balance of the staples like Mercury Lounge, and Rockwood, which I think is going to go down as a historic music venue,” Nick confides. With a never-ending list of incredible music happening every single night, it’s no wondering every NYC artist claims Rockwood is their favorite spot to play.

Calling New York City a “music mecca,” Nick offers an honest take on the unparalleled success and drawbacks of the scene. “The venues are great. The band and artists are amazing, every element of every type of music is awesome,” Howard professes. “The thing that’s difficult here is most people who come to shows are not the kind of fans you would get fifty miles out of the city. There’s a motive behind things- you find yourself playing for a lot of other artists/ bands, record executives, and industry people, which isn’t really a good representation of the average music fan.”

Often shows become auditions; the booker, the audience, even the player(s) are all under inspection, and sometimes the performance suffers on account of the artist’s consumption with everything that goes into it- finding musicians, paying musicians, running around, getting off work for sound checks, etc. “You get onstage and realize ‘Wow, we’re really under-rehearsed. Or you get onstage and forget your lyrics, “ laughs Nick, who currently works a full-time job on top of actively pursuing his music career.

Regardless, this highly motivated, performance savvy musician maintains a beautiful harmony of fortifying his career and enjoying the simple things in life like family, friendship, sports, and nonsense trivia. “I’m a complete and utter nerd. But I’m a cool nerd because I love sports,” Nick divulges with a grin, listing the Yankees, Giants, and Knicks as his favorite American teams. A truly honest, sincere, and humble artist, Nick also participated in Martin Rivas and Craig Meyer’s “Backscratch Sessions” debut, an experience he called “nerve-wracking and grounding,” but overall incredibly positive and motivational for the music community.

Humility will take the young and extremely gifted Nick Howard far, as he plunges forward into the next stage of an inspirational journey. With soft, heartfelt lyrics telling the universal coming-of-age tale, melodic, catchy sounds, and a gift for recognizing and writing a good “song,” Nick is a charming, praiseworthy example of just living the “American” dream.

For more tour dates and music please visit,, or find Nick at

Get tickets NOW for Nick’s show at the Bowery Ballroom, Monday, June 29 at 8:00pm!

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