Rising experimental Jazz talent Nick Campbell Destroys has collaborated with musicians Jacob Mann and Christian Euman for a unique live album. Combining their artistic prowess and influence of nostalgic and timeless sounds, Live For The Highest Bidder is a musical masterpiece, complete with almost 30 minutes of innovative and transformative Jazz.
The live album was recorded in one take and only one lucky fan experienced the show with one ticket being sold on ebay. Filmed and recorded on January 8th, 2022 at a local Los Angeles recording studio, Live For The Highest Bidder shows a special musical chemistry between the three prolific musicians. In an exclusive interview with Earmilk, Nick Campbell Destroys discusses the unique musical concept, the three member's sonic fusion and more.
Hi Nick, happy to chat with you. What inspired the unique idea for Live For The Highest Bidder?
Likewise! We started working on this album/film towards the end of the pandemic. Jacob and I got together one day to write some music in my backyard for fun. We have been in tons of bands together over the years and both have similar senses of humor. We were just trying to make each other laugh and we were joking about how funny it would be to create a ridiculous spectacle in the studio to film some live music and only have one person in the audience. We ended up coming up with the whole concept for the album and film that afternoon. The one thing musically that we were really certain of from the get go is that we wanted everything to be through-composed and be totally live with no overdubs. It’s really uncommon to hear music (even professional live recordings) where the performances are not edited and there aren’t any overdubs. It was really important to us that we presented what we captured that day unadulterated without changing or fixing things after the fact. I think that’s part of what makes it unique.
One lucky person was able to score the ticket on ebay. Why did you choose to sell only one ticket and was this person who bought it a well known fan of yours?
There are a lot of bands in the Jazz world that do live concert videos where the audience reacting in amazement to how good the musicians are is a big part of the aesthetic of the finished product. We kind of just fell in love with the idea of how awkward and uncomfortable it would be to recreate that with only one person watching. I think the film sort of feels like a lost episode of the Eric Andre Show or Nathan for You. Ethan (our audience member) was definitely familiar with our work prior to filming and he could not have been a more perfect participant. He totally understood the humor of what we were going for. We didn’t rehearse anything beforehand and what you see in the video is basically what happened in the session.
What was it like to record and perform with Jacob Mann and Christian Euman? What did each musician bring to the table?
Jacob and Christian are some of my favorite people to play with in the world. They are both fantastic improvisers and are masters at creating an immediately identifiable aesthetic with their playing. We’ve been playing together for so long that we’ve reached a point where we have total freedom as a trio and can go to all these crazy, unexpected places we never would think of on our own. To me the ability to explore ideas in the moment with other musicians with perfect clarity is the special thing about improvised music you can’t replicate any other way. When you’re in a band like that it almost feels like a superpower to have that level of communication with other people.
I hear the influence of early Nintendo on the recording. What is your favorite nostalgic Nintendo game and why?
Super Nintendo music has always been a really big inspiration for me, especially when I was younger. It’s amazing to hear how sophisticated some of that music is considering the technical limitations of the hardware those composers were writing for. I think for a lot of people in my generation that music is some of the first music they form an emotional connection to and it’s not surprising that 8-bit aesthetics are really popular right now in all genres of music. I really love all of Koji Kondo’s work in the Mario and Zelda games. I also love the music in Earthbound and the Final Fantasy games. There’s so much good music in video game history that it’s kind of hard to narrow it down to one game, but the score for Ocarina of Time will always have a very special place in my heart.
You blend traditional Jazz as well as modern elements in your music. Can you tell us about some of your musical inspirations?
Totally, my influences are kind of all over the map haha. On the Jazz side I’m a huge fan of all the 60’s Blue Note and Impulse stuff. I also play and listen to a lot of soul and funk music. What’s probably less apparent from these recordings is that my first love was rock music and I’m really into bands like Nine Inch Nails, Refused and Radiohead and songwriters like Jeff Buckley. I’ve been really into the new boygenius record and the album Red Hail by Tigran Hamasyan lately. Those two albums could not be more different from each other but they’re both awesome.
How does Live For The Highest Bidder musically differ from your previous releases?
My first album “Art,” which came out last December, features a lot of different singers and was more focused on traditional song structures. The basis of those recordings was still live performance, but there are a lot of overdubs and more modern production elements. On this project we really wanted to make this as live as possible. We arranged the music so we could play the songs directly into one another without stopping, just like you’d hear in an actual live show. The first four songs were recorded in a single take and we split the audio into their own tracks after the session. This is also true of the middle three songs and the last two songs. It was really fun recording this way but it was also really difficult. When you’re recording multiple songs in a row on a single take and you mess something up in the last song, you have to do the entire thing over again. Like I said earlier, we didn’t want to edit anything so we didn’t record to a click track and we couldn’t use audio or video from the first song in a take if we didn’t like how the last one turned out. It was definitely worth doing it this way though because it makes the recordings feel like fully preserved moments in time and that’s not something you hear a lot in modern albums.
Any plans on touring with Jacob Mann and Christian Euman in the near future?
We all tour with lots of different bands and are hardly ever in the same place at the same time haha. I’d love to travel with this band though, so hopefully our schedules align and we can do some shows together with this music.
What's next for Nick Campbell Destroys?
I just got home from being on tour in the States and Europe with the band Scary Pockets on and off for the last four months. I have more shows with them in October and November and until then I’m going to be working on writing new music. It might be a little ambitious since I just put out two albums in six months, but I really want to start recording a third album sometime next year. I have some new ideas that I’m really excited about.
Connect with Nick Campbell Destroys: INSTAGRAM