Liner Notes with Nick Mitchell Maiato

Nick Mitchell Maiato plays guitar, sings and writes songs in One Eleven Heavy, which as most of you know by now, is one of the best bands currently jamming these days.

As I hope you’ve seen here, Maiato recently dropped his first solo record, Pino Carrasco, and it’s a total party. The LP bubbles over with fried boogies, stoned Americana rock and acid-fueled country. What more could you ask for?

Was Ist Das? Records released the album on vinyl, and it will be reaching stores on November 13th. Bandcamp orders of the record are already shipping now, so be sure to get it ASAP. Click here to buy yours now.

You can hear traces of everything from Grateful Dead to Help Yourself and Matt Valentine in Maiato’s songs, so he of course was a prime choice for Liner Notes. Check out his answers to our questions below:

RCU: What was the last song that you listened to?

NMM: Banana & The Bunch’s version of Peter Golden’s beautiful 1963 socialist protest song, “The Rights of Man,” which is the final song on the Mid-Mountain Ranch LP on the Raccoon Records label, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers run by The Youngbloods between 1969 and 1972. Banana & The Bunch was essentially The Youngbloods fronted by pianist Lowell ‘Banana’ Levinger after the band broke up and Jesse Colin Young went off to do his own thing. 

It’s a beautifully idiosyncratic record mostly because it doesn’t have that consistent warm Jesse Colin Young croon running the whole way through it and has more in common with some of the weirder, more underground rural rock records on the Raccoon label, like Michael Hurley’s third album, Hi Fi Snock Uptown, which was essentially a Banana & The Bunch record with Michael Hurley fronting it, or Youngbloods’ late drummer Joe Bauer’s beautiful improv record Moonset, which is a personal fave. 

Nowadays, Banana is playing piano for Little Stevie (from The E-Street Band), but he did release a solo EP a couple of years back covering the old Youngbloods tunes. I wish he’d do more of the weird folk stuff while he’s still kicking about; he’s quite amazing.

RCU: What was the last album you felt obsessed with?

NMM: Well, as my last answer suggests, I got a little bit obsessed with all the albums on the Raccoon label in recent years, especially Moonset, which is another Youngbloods record without Jesse Colin Young, but this time all completely improvised. Alongside Bauer, Banana and late-period Youngbloods bassist Michael Kane, there are a couple of appearances from this guy Steve Swallow who’s an incredible jazz bassist who played with Paul Bley, Stan Getz, Chick Corea and many others, and some harmonica playing from Youngbloods’ manager Richard ‘Earthquake’ Anderson. So, yeah, you get the sense it was a real turn-up-and-jam-it kind of a session.

The titles are all typically random improv titles, like “Explosion” and “Old Shoe” and “Pelicans”, too, which is great, and the last track on side A is an ambient recording of the frogs outside the rural recording studio, which just ramps up the whole vibe of the record, which is already so warm, like you’re right there in the room with them.

Bauer was an incredible drummer, quite uncelebrated in any circles. The only people I know who care about the whole Raccoon scene are (former WFMU DJ) Jeff Conklin, (Woodstock 50th anniversary mastering engineer) Andy Zax, (Black Swans singer-songwriter) Jerry DeCicca and a couple of others. He sadly died in 1982 at the ridiculously young age of 40 of a brain tumor. None of those Youngbloods cats were party animals, according to Banana who I interviewed recently – they were all family men who’d head right home to their rural Marin County lives right after the shows and not stay out partying with the Grateful Dead, as Banana put it – so, yeah, quite a tragedy for him to go so young. 

RCU: Which artist do you most want to listen to on a Friday night?

NMM: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, probably. Like Ragged Glory period. Crank it and open a couple of weird Spanish takes on IPAs and boogie on the balcony to “Fuckin’ Up,” like we’re not living in some weird shut-in world. “Mansion on the Hill” is the dream, right? We’re living in an apartment here in a fairly dumpy part of Valencia at the moment, while we try to find a house that’s cheap but has a little space for me to set up a studio and it’s in the mountains where we’re looking, so the lyric, ‘There’s a mansion on the hill / psychedelic music fills the air…’ takes me to that special Friday night dream zone. Not that Friday night’s any different to any other night, here, being that I’m at home all the time, ha ha.

RCU: Which artist do you most want to listen to on a Sunday morning?

NMM: Without doubt, Ted Lucas’ one and only solo LP, which was an eponymous private press job from 1975 (the year I vibrated into being, incidentally). He apparently studied with Ravi Shankar, though I don’t know what he studied, exactly: the art of chilling way out, maybe, or something like that, ha ha. The record it most reminds me of, I guess, would be Skip Spence’s Oar album, as it has those same, deep, stoned, woozy vocals, but I like the Ted record even more. I think he doubled up every vocal track on the record, thinking about it, though there are definitely some harmonies on there, as well. The double-tracking gives the whole thing this dreamy, tubular quality though, which is just so, so mellow.

The tune “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned” will glue you to the sofa for the whole Sunday if you let it influence you too much. After that, you have to spend the whole day listening to records, so then it’s Guy Clark’s Texas Cookin’, Wooden Wand’s Clipper Ship, the eponymous Nashville West LP, Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger and Stan Hubbs’ Crystal album. Both the Ted Lucas and Crystal albums, by the way, were records I was turned onto by my dear friend Jackson Wingate of Burnt Hills/Flipped Out Records who lives his whole blessed life like it’s Sunday morning, more power to him.

RCU: What record do you wish more people knew about?

NMM: All of those mentioned so far could definitely use a bump in terms of their place in the rock canon. Of all of them, the Ted Lucas album is probably the one that gets the critics all hot and breathy (and the Wooden Wand album, too – that is a record that was quite rightfully celebrated by folks who count), but the rest have been relatively woefully ignored. 

I’d love to give you a contemporary record (I think MV&EE’s Green Blues is one of the greatest albums ever, for instance, and would have been a big record, if the internet hadn’t killed underground rock as a means to a living) but, honestly, I’m gonna have to go with the 1976 album Galeta Galàctica by Jaume Sisa, a Catalan singer from Barcelona, because that’s the one record I’ve been shoving down people’s throats for the past year.

I saw it in a used record store in Gandia, Valencia and I eyeballed it before putting it back in the rack. My wife pulled it right back out and said, “I’ll be having that.” She already knew him and gave me a kind of, ‘I win, you lose,’ look as she took it away. She was right, it’s incredible. Like a kind of goofy Fairport Convention or John Wesley Harding sung in Catalan. I have no idea what he’s singing about, but I do know that it’s probably fairly la-la, being that Sisa (he’s known by his last name on that record) is your classic ‘70s weirdo in the vein of Sun Ra and defined himself as, ‘galàctic,’ by nature. He’s still around and doing stuff today. I tweeted him a couple of times, like, “let’s jam, man!” Nothing doing, so far.

RCU: What’s your favorite album to drive to?

NMM: Relatively Clean Rivers’ eponymous record from 1976. The song “Easy Ride” was made for driving. About a year before we left Britain, we were living in this northern English town called Huddersfield and it was a real soul sucker for various reasons. Anyway, we would drive across the M62 every day to Manchester – where I’d lived for the previous 20 years – just to be in a more sympathetic environment and our car was a little Volkswagen Polo that had an electrical fault and would sometimes just cut out at 70mph on the motorway.

We’d be blasting “Journey Through The Valley Of O” and the engine would just cut out and we’d trundle to a standstill with cars screeching to a halt behind us in the rain and fog, ha ha. What a weird experience. You know what, though… it didn’t impact on the music in a negative way at all. Driving music is driving music and Relatively Clean Rivers always gives me that feeling of freedom of motion, like everything is just fine, even when you’re in a ditch, calling your breakdown insurer to come tow you home.

RCU: If you could pull a Groundhog Day and relive one concert that you’ve previously attended over and over again, what would it be?

NMM: You know what… I wouldn’t re-live a single one of the many great shows I’ve seen as the memories are too perfect. The repetition would dull their impact, I think, and that would be a drag. 

I have this glistening memory of seeing Black Crowes play in Bradford, England on the Southern Harmony & Musical Companion tour. I have never felt such excitement as I felt at that show. Jake Morris, The Jicks drummer, who played on the last One Eleven Heavy tour (and, I hope, will be playing with us when we re-convene), was telling me he had the exact same experience on the same tour, but in Rochester, NY – another rough northern town, ha!

I actually did watch a show on YouTube from something like two or three nights before the Bradford gig and it brought the memories flooding back. I remember going to the gig dressed like Chris Robinson in burgundy velvet bellbottoms and a paisley shirt with bangles all up my arms and, probably for the first time, really losing my mind at a show. I’d seen a lot by that point, too, but that was the first time I was just riddled with goosebumps for 90 minutes solid. 

RCU: Which artist, living or dead, do you wish you could have a conversation with at a bar over drinks?

NMM: Oh, one of the ones that is down-to-earth and didn’t get too carried away by their own success, I guess. Johnny Cash or someone like that. The kind of person who’d remain charming until long past closing time and would force you to drink whisky and listen to records and smoke their chillum until you were way more blitzed than them, but would then just keep telling you stories that cracked you up until you eventually passed out in the chair. I bet Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell would run you down that same road, too. Just fun and uninhibited and innocently riotous and with all the deep cuts on vinyl, like, ‘…and have you heard this one?’

RCU: What’s the music doc/concert film that you’ve probably seen the most?

NMM: Gimme Shelter. Macabre, right? I had it on VHS. It had been banned in the UK for years and years and then they finally gave it a commercial release in the 90s and I was all over it like white on rice. I was obsessed with that Mick Taylor period of the Stones in my late teens and early 20s and still am, really. The rest of the band all seem like fairly insufferable people to varying degrees, now I’m a bit older, but you can’t base your judgments too closely on that, can you, or we’d be stuck for anything to like. Anyway, I was obsessed with the demonic romance of the Hell’s Angels and the bad acid and the crazy naked people who’d taken it all too far and the horrible racist woman asking an African-American kid for a contribution to the ‘Panther Defense Fund,’ and, of course, the stabbing. Ugh… It just seemed like such an unhinged, nasty and vacuous moment, sapped of all the joy that had led up to it and highly reflective of the sick corporate force that the Stones had become right there and then. But then it was also all the more exciting for all of that sickness – you know, as a piece of film. Of course, I chose to ignore its position in the culture as the symbolic death of the hippie dream, because that’s all what you make of it, isn’t it? What do you have left, if you don’t have the dream?

RCU: If we blasted a follow up to the Voyager 2 gold record into space, and you could choose just one song to put on it, what would it be?

NMM: Damn… tough one. Are you asking me if I have a favorite song? I don’t think I can honestly say I love one song more than any other. It changes up constantly, and I’d be continually asking the NASA people if we could recall the satellite and change up the jam. Push comes to shove, it would be a Hunter-Garcia song, I imagine. “Row Jimmy,” “Mission in the Rain,” or “They Love Each Other.” Or maybe “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison. Something that would break the aliens’ hearts.

Big thanks again to Nick Mitchell Maiato for taking the time to tackle Liner Notes. Here’s hoping that we’ll all be seeing One Eleven Heavy in person someday soon (with Jaume Sisa beaming in from space).You can follow Maiato on Instagram @nickmitchellmaiato or on Twitter @Mitchellmaiato.

Again, you can click here to order Maiato’s new solo album, Pino Carrasco, right now.

-KH


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