NICK ROBINSON (LOVE CREAM) INTERVIEW:
June 16, 2014
Websites: www.lovecreamband.com – www.facebook.com/LoveCreamBand
Interviewer: Mark Horvath
A recent statistic was released that showed a mere 6% of American teens currently listen to ‘rock’. With rock ‘n’ roll on life support in North America, and nowhere near as popular as it was in the rest of the planet, one must ponder what four young musicians must do to get any attention in this current musical climate we live in. Australia’s Love Cream have chosen this difficult path and I had a chance to chat with lead guitarist Nick Robinson about what it takes to succeed today. He shares how he got his band up off the ground, got noticed, and are making a dent with their brand of straight-ahead classic influenced rock. If you haven’t heard their stuff then what the heck are you waiting for?
Sleaze Roxx: How do the guys in Love Cream all know each other?
Nick Robinson: We’re all friends from high school. Mick Gallo (drummer) and I bonded in home economics class over a love of KISS and other rock music, while I knew Vinnie Dynamo (vocals) and Phil Parker (bass) from way back in primary (elementary) school.
Sleaze Roxx: Was it hard to find like-minded musicians who were interested in creating this type of rock?
Nick Robinson: At first. I went through a number of bands during high school — one called On The Flop the other called National Pornographic… a bit of a recurring theme in the band name department. I guess that shows where my head’s at!
Love Cream started as a bit of fun — just me, Gallo, and Phil messing about until we wrote our first song “Smokin’ Bitch”, which appears on the album. Then I invited Vinnie to join, after I heard from a friend that he did an amazing rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the car, ala Wayne’s World. We all share a core love of ’70s and ’80s rock, plus we have our own tastes — so in that respect we were quite lucky!
Sleaze Roxx: How has a classical guitar education assisted you as a rock musician?
Nick Robinson: In the beginning it was a hindrance, given that you play classical fingerstyle. I found it difficult to start playing with a pick once I moved to electric guitar. After a few months though, I’d wondered how I’d ever lived without a pick! I’d been playing classical for two years, and by the time I started playing electric my fretting hand was really strong and nimble, due to the larger size of the acoustic guitar neck.
My love of rock was what made me excel as a player over my peers, learning just about every AC/DC and Led Zeppelin riff by the time I was twelve. Of course I was exposed early on to classical music, which you hear the strong influence of in the music of Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen and Richie Blackmore. I still recommend strongly playing a lot of acoustic/classical guitar, as you can really focus on your technique and getting the most out of your sound, rather than hiding sloppy playing behind amplifier distortion.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me about the rock band competition you won. What was that all about and how did that help elevate Love Cream?
Nick Robinson: It was actually a solo vocalist and band competition called “Adelaide’s Next superstar”. We entered at the last minute, as we weren’t really sure it’d be for us. We played in some of Adelaide’s most prestigious venues, and as winners, played to crowds of up to 2000 people, which helped our stage craft and exposure. Previously we played at the Adelaide “Big Day Out” festival, alongside bands like Kasabian and Soundgarden, so we’re no strangers to big audiences. We won a $20,000 recording and video package as a result of the completion, which went on to fund some of the recording of ‘First Taste’, and increase our reputation around town. We’re still feeling the benefits of the prize, which in this costly industry is a blessing.
Sleaze Roxx: How would you describe Love Cream’s sound?
Nick Robinson: I actually think you put it best; “Fun, melodic hard rock”. I’m a big fan of hard rock, particularly the guys with massive hooks like Def Leppard, KISS and Aerosmith. I also love bands that take the piss a bit and have tongue-in-cheek lyrics, like The Darkness and Steel Panther, so I guess I’d like to think we sound like a blend of all those bands — though that’s up to you to decide!
Sleaze Roxx: What styles of music and bands are your influences? And how did you come across them?
Nick Robinson: Beside the ones just mentioned, I have deep roots in ’70s rock bands like Led Zeppelin, and I wouldn’t be an Aussie if I didn’t love AC/DC! Most of these bands I discovered from a friend when I was about ten, which instantly converted me from the gross early 2000’s Top 40 shit to a rock nut. From there I went more into metal, listening to Iron Maiden, Metallica and Children Of Bodom, as well as glam such as Van Halen and Motley Crue, which has all contributed to my songwriting and playing style. These days, with the internet, it’s easy to find new music, however I feel like I’ve just about heard it all so I’ve gotta write more songs for my own enjoyment (laughs)!
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the interest level in rock these days over in Australia?
Nick Robinson: In the mainstream, very low. However there is a thriving underground movement and it’s been about ten years since the last rock revival, when we had bands like Jet, Wolfmother and Airbourne springing up all over the place. I’m hopeful with bands like Massive making waves internationally that it sparks a return to focus on Aussie rock, because it’s all pretentious bearded hipsters and EDM-MDMA fiends over here — but that doesn’t seem to be unique to Australia. To quote philosopher and social commentator Michael Starr, “Where is Def Leppard, where is Motley Crue?”
Sleaze Roxx: Now that you have released your first album, ‘First Taste’, is there a plan to shop it around to any labels or do you prefer to stay independent?
Nick Robinson: It’s hard to say. There’s great instability in the music industry at the moment, and the power of major labels is crumbling rapidly. Half of me thinks it’s better to stay independent and the other thinks it’d be easier to sign with a label while they still have money to inject. I feel if you want to make it in the mainstream, you’ve either got to work your ass off non-stop as an indie band or give away your royalties, publishing, etc to a major in exchange for the promotion they can offer.
Currently we’re seeking representation in the form of a manager to help us with the workload. As we saw with our friends De La Cruz, doing the business side on your own is extremely demanding and can take away from what it’s really about — rocking out for the fans, having a good time and making bitchin’ music!
Sleaze Roxx: Did you learn any helpful hints from the breakup of De La Cruz?
Nick Robinson: I think the main thing we learned was in this digital age, you’ve got to do a lot yourself and simply releasing good music won’t cut the mustard. With that said, De La Cruz were absolutely pumping the content — EP, album, music videos — enough to get signed to the same fucking label as Whitesnake! But as I said, their two main pitfalls were not getting to America (due to the ridiculous visa requirements) and letting the business side take its toll on the creative side. If De La Cruz had a great manager and toured America, they’d be rocking festival stages the world over — simple as that. And I don’t think it’s too late for them either…
Sleaze Roxx: De La Cruz guitarist Casey Jones helped produce your first album, what was it like working with him and what did he bring to the recordings?
Nick Robinson: He was an absolute wanker (laughs). No! Casey was great, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy — totally professional and an extremely talented producer, given he’s self-taught. We recorded in his home studio, up in tropical Queensland, so it was sweaty as fuck! We’d get to the studio about 9 each morning and leave around 3. There was a pub across the road so we could nip off for a pint, which was handy. I remember actually being in awe of him when we first met, because we were all huge fans of De La Cruz, and it was this weird sort of celebrity thing where you’ve seen him online (I watched his guitar demo videos from years ago, before De La Cruz existed) and then meeting him in person was kinda strange. As always, tensions would rise in the studio (especially when you’re wired on energy drinks, courtesy of De La Cruz’s Monster sponsorship) and he was really good at keeping the ball rolling, keeping everyone happy, and above all we respected his opinion as a songwriter as well as a producer. I think the recordings speak for themselves!
Sleaze Roxx: Being an independent band, how happy are you with the sales ‘First Taste’?
Nick Robinson: I could always be happier, but given we haven’t really put money behind promoting it, it’s doing well. We’re still hoping the release of the music video will raise awareness, but so far the majority of sales have been a result of people reading reviews, and I kid you not, mostly from Sleaze Roxx! These are the people we want our music to reach, people who truly love the genre and support up and coming bands. So I’m happy about that!
Sleaze Roxx: Have you already started working on material for a follow-up album?
Nick Robinson: I’d started work on the second album well before recording a note of the first one! We’re writing songs all the time, sometimes you’ve got them coming out of your ears, sometimes you don’t write anything new for a month. At the moment, we’re performing about five songs that I want on the next album live, and they’re all getting great receptions. We’ve got a song called “Show Me Round The Block”, about the a young man’s experience with a woman his senior where I use a talk box (effect used on “Living On A Prayer”, “Kickstart My Heart” et al), because there hasn’t been a good “talk box song” in a while (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: In Europe we’re still seeing rock bands being signed to big labels like Universal, but that’s quite rare in North America. Do you know what the record label climate is like in Australia locally, and is there any foreign interest?
Nick Robinson: Down here, there’s a big interest in “Skip-hop”, which is an unpleasant derivative of rap but spoken in a broad Australian accent. However, what really shits me to tears is the fact the music industry has developed a penchant for vapid indie rock/pop piss-water shit. I turn on contemporary radio and find myself on the verge of being physically ill listening to some of the lackluster rubbish that is being traded off as “rock”. That is what we as a band strive for, to reinvigorate the mainstream rock scene and show people that powerful rock can still be catchy and relevant — the type of music that gets your heart racing and fist pumping like the bands of the ’70s and ’80s.
Sleaze Roxx: Many people are saying the model of releasing full-length albums is dead in the internet age. What are your thoughts on this, and if you agree does that change how a new band such as Love Cream plots their future?
Nick Robinson: Yes and no. I’m in love with this idea of bands that have these perfect sets of albums that just evolve as they go along, like Led Zeppelin or High N Dry through to Adrenalize. Ideally I’d like to have this accomplished body of work, at least a solid trilogy of albums that each play their part, but like you said, the album is dying — CDs, MP3s and now streaming are killing it. These days people want more content and they want it now — for free. So what they’re saying is release EPs or singles instead, and milk the fuck out of them. Love Cream is all about bringing classic concepts to the modern day, but if you don’t keep up with trends you’ll be left behind. So yes, there’s a lot we have to consider in our next moves if we, and others, truly want to make rock relevant again.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you plan on filming any videos to support and promote your album?
Nick Robinson: Funny you should ask, we’ve been flat out preparing for this over the past few months, and I’m proud to say we just filmed our first music video for the single “Spend The Night Together”. We are aiming to establish our attitude towards current trends, as I expressed previously, and try and open the eyes of people who don’t really know better than what’s being pumped out on the radio, just like what happened when I was ten. It’ll be a fun sort of cheesy piss-take, but we want everyone to know we’re dead serious about rocking out and bringing back rock. There will be an uprising… you’ve just got to know where to look! The video should be out by the end of June.
Sleaze Roxx: Are there any plans to tour or play outside of Australia?
Nick Robinson: 100 percent! Logistically, it doesn’t make sense to throw cash at touring a nation where the population is few and far between, compared to say North America and certainly Europe. The reaction to the music video will dictate which of those two we focus on, but there is a fair bit of government support in the form of grants for artists like us hoping to spread Australian music. All the greatest festivals and bands we love come from American and the UK, so they’re high on our list. However, nothing international is likely to happen until next year, but that’s what we’re saying… 2015, the year of the ‘Cream.