Taken from Total Guitar - October 1998
Nick Harper - 'Smithereens'
Nick was last featured in TG way back in issue 11. Now he's back with a new album, a UK tour and a set of .015 gauge strings. JOE BENNETT braves the bends to talk to him.
Nick Harper has been busy. In the past two years he has recorded a new album, done two national tours and managed to cram in 18 months on the road with Squeeze. Mainman Glenn Tilbrook was so impressed by Nick's songs that he offered to produce his album.
"It was great having Glenn produce; it was a chance for me to put my ego to bed and listen to someone else. For example, on track 'Smithereens' he got me playing a really raucous lead guitar through a Fender Twin with a band, and then we ended up with this big kind of indie sound."
For anyone unfamiliar with Nick's previous albums, this is strange talk. Not only does he play predominantly fingerstyle, but he also drops his guitar tunings down, often as low as a perfect fifth. "I drop the whole guitar down to A. It comes from being on the road with my dad (legendary singer-songwriter Roy Harper)û as the years went on his voice got lower and lower and we just kept dropping the tunings. I actually tune lower than he does now - I just got to love the sound."
The other unusual thing about his technique is the tuning pegs - he uses locking banjo pegs on each string to create everything from simple bends to complex melodic runs with open harmonics.
Nick is just coming to the end of a 30-date acoustic UK tour to see how his new material is received; "I love gigging and meeting people, so I'm prepared for it. I want to keep doing this for as long as I can, I don't want to be a flash in the pan - so, as long as the songs don't dry up and I don't get arthritis, I'll be around for a while yet."