Stomping Nick & His Blues Grenade
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Stomping Nick & His Blues Grenade

Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand | SELF

Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand | SELF
Band Blues Punk




"Interview with John Wisniewski"

An interview with bluesman Stomping Nick Jackman, who hails from ChristChurch New Zealand, and plays his own unique style of Punk Blues as a one-man band. Here Nick speaks about his influences, the blues and playing as a one-man band.

How long have you been playing music and interested in music?
NJ > I first started playing some bongo drums when I was six. I would take them to school and pretend I was some kind of cool bohemian. Then I would go home and obsessively practice along to an album of African music my parents had. So I guess you could say I've been interested in music all my life. When I was a kid I also did the piano lesson and school choir thing. I learnt guitar and harmonica as a teenager and started to embark on the musician's lifestyle. I learnt how to play a drum kit in 2003 when I was much older – that's when the one-man-band thing started, after I put all the instruments together. I hadn't been a solo performer before that.

Could you name some of your influences in the blues and other forms of music?
NJ > My biggest influence is a local musician who died in 2004, Ken Nichol. He played guitar and mandolin and we worked together from 1995-2002, mostly around the small towns and backblocks of the Canterbury countryside. Often we played as a duo or we would team up with a fiddler or banjo player, or sometimes a drummer. Ken had a philosophy of taking the music to the people and trying to uplift audiences whenever he played, and I have tried to stay true to this code. A lot of the attitude in my music, as well as some of the rhythms and repertoire, comes from the period I worked with Ken. He was a rambling party man and a lot of folk miss him.
Most of the blues I listen to is older stuff, although I really dig people doing their take on a punk blues sound. I like a lot of Sun and Chess label stuff, and similar music from that era. I also like to listen to the older blues – field recordings, jug bands and other pre-WW2 artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy. Other blues artists I love include John Lee Hooker, Hound Dog Taylor, Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, early Stones in particular and 1960s British blues in general. Some of the blues harp players who have had an influence include Little Walter, both Sonny Boy Williamsons, Sonny Terry, Noah Lewis, Jazz Gillum, Papa Lightfoot, Sugar Blue, Charlie Musselwhite, and John Popper.
The one-man-bands Joe Hill Louis and Doctor Ross are big influences – my act is based on these two artists. There are also a lot of other one-man-bands I dig like Hasil Adkins, Scott Biram, Bob Log III, plus plenty more from around the world I have discovered on various social network sites.
Old country music is also a big influence. I have studied and played a lot of American oldtime and bluegrass harmonica so this crosses into my music, such as my version of the Orange Blossom Special. I also like a lot of that 1940s/50s honky tonk, although there is not so much harmonica in that, apart from Wayne Rainey – he's quite a strong influence. I am also quite well-versed in traditional Irish and Scottish music, which I think is the real roots music over here in New Zealand, at least with Pakeha. I don't think this has crossed over much into the Blues Grenade sound but what has is the Irish concept of “the craic”. This is an atmosphere of fun, levity, dancing etc. I try to get the craic going whenever I play. This is what music is all about for me – trying to help people forget about the bad things in their life, even for just a few songs.
On the rock side of things there is so much that I like. My favourite band is the Gun Club. I am influenced by a lot of that primitive stuff like The Stooges, The Cramps, White Stripes, Gories, Soldad Brothers, The Coachwhips, but there is so much more I like, both underground and pop.

Why do you choose to play all of the music as a one-man-band?
NJ > I love the primit - Damned By Light

"Review in Blues Matters #63 Nov. 2011"

I can imagine getting tired of listening to this but probably not until I've listened a couple of hundred times.  This is one of those albums that Ronsons it - does what it says on the cover.  His band are formed formed of such performers as 'Mouth' on harmonica, 'Left Hand' plays a mean lead guitar while 'Right Hand' is equally accomplished on the rhythm guitar, 'Right Foot' will win friends on bass drum and its partner 'Left Foot' does a bang up job on Snare and Hi-Hat.  I can't spell it out any more clearly - this is a one man band that plays Blues with a punk heart and completely irreverent tone, I love it.  7 of the 10 tracks here are self-penned with titles like 'One Man Band Fury' or 'Baby I'm Your Dog' but when he plays a classic like 'Orange Blossom Special' he takes it by the scruff of the neck, shakes off all the niceties and delivers a blast of ferocious harmonica and speed king drumming - Lonnie Donegan should hear this in heaven and smile.  He certainly understands Blues and he plays it pretty damn well but I get the feeling his heroes might just be Chuck Berry and George Thorogood and 'Apple Wine' has the storytelling style of both but he can be pretty angry and snotty with just vocal, harmonica and right foot on 'I'm Not The One'.  'Word Gets Around' boogies like a bad-ass and 'Sewer Man' is downright dirty.  He closes with a surprisingly tuneful version of Robert Johnson's 'Preach The Blues'.  This is so much the way that Blues should be played - solo and with huge heart and total integrity.  It doesn't hurt that he plays pretty well too.  Andy Snipper - Blues Matters

"Interview with James Carlson"

New Zealand native Nick Jackman, who also goes by the moniker Stomping Nick for his one-man punk blues project, entered the scene in the not too distant past like a sonic tempest furiously moving through the present musical landscape. With his well-timed percussion, which consists of a standard kick drum, snare rig and hi-hat, it only further increases the explosive quality of his sound. But it is all of the elements of his sound together that make it what it is–-the dirty, fuzz-driven guitar, the frantic wailing of his harmonica, and the punk snarl and bite of his vocal delivery.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Jackman self-released his debut album under his full moniker Stomping Nick and His Blues Grenade, titled Punk Blues One Man Band. Ten songs in all, Nick split them up between covers and originals, though not evenly, as the album has a bit more cover material. Be that as it may, he gives them all a “blues grenade” touch, laying ‘em down his own way, thus creating memorable renditions of songs like “Orange Blossom Special” and “Black Betty.” Punk Blues One Man Band would have been better, decidedly, had Jackman included more Stomping Nick originals. Otherwise, it’s a damn good debut, with a signature sound that is tight, energetic, marked by solid grooves, and as big and loud as a few pipe bombs strapped to a petrol can.

Recently I had both the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Stomping Nick. What follows is the content from that interview in its entirety.

To begin, as is usually case in these interviews, I like to open in an introductory fashion, so as to provide the readers with a better understanding of the artist. In other words, who is Stomping Nick, not just as a musician and singer/songwriter but also as an individual, as a human being of this mad world in which we live?

My name is Nick Jackman. I was born and raised in the small port community of Lyttelton in Christchurch, New Zealand. Lyttelton has become gentrified in recent years and is quite a vibrant place with lots of artists and musicians who have moved there, but when I grew up it was a rougher, working class town. I currently live over the hill in Christchurch city. There are a lot of active fault lines around this area which have only come to life in the last year or so. A significant earthquake killed about two hundred people earlier this year and much of the city is destroyed, buckled and bent with many areas now abandoned. The earthquakes have fucked with people's heads but I'm feeling ok about things now, and I'm living in an ok part of the city. The shaking has died down lately after more than 7,000 aftershocks, although we all appreciate that another big one could happen at any time. Live and love while you can because you could be taken out at any time.

Music has been the only constant thing in my life. It has got to the point where I feel more comfortable on the stages I play than off them. When I'm on stage doing my thing, presiding over an audience drinking, laughing, dancing and living in the moment, I can think of nothing better to do with my life, and I probably will do nothing better with my life.

I can spend a lot of time on my own and I appreciate my own company, which helps if you are a one-man band. I can usually entertain myself so often I don't bother going out to be entertained by others. I tend to drift around networks of friends and acquaintances, regularly going underground for periods of time when few people see me. I was married to a woman who was very kind to me. However, we drifted apart and got divorced, which ironically helped to preserve a good relationship. I'm now with another woman who is also very kind to me.

I am particularly interested in history and politics, so I generally try to keep a weather eye open to our troubled times. I don't hold a lot of hope for humankind to develop the political ability to control the problems it is creating. I believe a lot of ideas and institutions are creating more problems than they solve. Don't get me started...

As a one-man band enthusiast with an undying fascination for the scene in general, I am always interested in why an artist chooses, rather than joining or putting together a full band lineup, to go it alone and do the one-man band thing. Why did you?

I started doing the one-man band thing in 2003, but it was as a side project to other bands I was playing in. In 2009 I made the decision that this was what I was going to concentrate my energy and resources on. I think I chose to go this way because my one-man band act is a more self-contained unit whereby I only have to rely on myself, and I thought it was more special than anything I had done before. It's also such a buzz making this big sound all on my own.

I have tried to get a band like the Blues Grenade together with other people in the past but found it hard to find people who could understand the primitive blues aesthetic and also had a good work ethic, communication skills, respect, tenacity, etc. When I got to the point where I could do it all myself I was very pleased. I also see so many bands struggle financially because the money they make doesn't support the number of people making the music, so I think small units are often where it's at if you want to make a profit margin.

What instruments do you employ in order to compose and perform your Stomping Nick and His Blues Grenade songs?

I was mainly playing a Rickenbacker 340 through a Fender Deluxe Reverb with distortion and overdrive pedals but my guitar sound has changed. Currently I'm playing an Eastwood P-90 Special and a Godin Radiator. I also have an acoustic Maton six string. My guitar amp is now a Fender Blues Junior. I play harmonicas through a Strnad pickup into an old Masco amp. For drums, I play mostly kick and snare with occasional hi-hat and tambourine. Sometimes I might use just a stompbox if I'm doing a stripped-down gig somewhere.

Your sound, as a blues and rock'n'roll hybrid, no doubt has a number of influences on both sides. In fact, it seems as if you have somewhat of an affinity for North Mississippi hill country blues, as well as for primitive rock'n'roll and dirty street punk. What inspired you to twist traditional music out of shape by creating your own take on blues punk?

I listen a lot to Sun and Chess recordings, and similar stuff from that era, as well as pre-WW2 blues and field recordings. Old-time folk, bluegrass, skiffle and 1940s/50s honky tonk also make their way into the sound. Blues people who have had a big influence on me include John Lee Hooker, Doctor Ross, Hound Dog Taylor, Sonny Terry, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, both Sonny Boy Williamsons, and Joe Hill Louis, but the list could go on and on. I know what you mean about the North Mississippi hill country sound but I haven't listened to a great deal of it, and I suppose I arrived at the same destination via some other route, or I've absorbed it through secondary sources. As you guessed, I also listen to a lot of rock from different eras, both pop and underground. Out of all the hundreds of rock bands I like, The Gun Club would have had the biggest influence on me. Jeffrey Lee Pierce is the prophet.

I've always liked raw, distorted sounds, and I guess it has always seemed natural to mix blues with dirty rock & roll because blues is the root of it all. When I was putting the band together I had in mind something that sounded kind of like a Chicago blues band but totally not like that at all. I like the way those British bands from the 1960s took the blues and made it something else and I wanted to do my own take on that energy and attitude.

Punk Blues One Man Band, your latest release under your Stomping Nick and His Blues Grenade moniker, is a solid album with fair balance between original material and cover songs. Is it your one-man band debut, or have there been other releases earlier in your omb endeavor?

While I've played many gigs and spent hours honing my craft, this is my first one-man-band release. It has been very well received and I'll have more out soon.

Though you are not the first singer/songwriter I've interviewed from New Zealand, you are the first one-man band. That really says something, since I have come across a lot of one-man bands, and since I have interviewed nearly two-dozen of them from all over the world. What's the music scene like in New Zealand, not just with one-man bands but independent and underground bands and singer/songwriters in general?

I don't know of a lot of one-man-bands here. Delaney Davidson would likely be the most well known to your readers. Also, there are a few others connected with the Stink Magnetic scene: Tape Man, Boss Christ and Bad Evil. There are one or two other one-man bands I have met or played with, but Boss Christ is the only other one-man band I know playing dirty tunes to the traditional kick drum and hi-hat accompaniment. Sometimes people come up to me at shows and say they feel inspired to try a one-man band act too. Maybe something is brewing right now in little old New Zealand.

Music communities in New Zealand tend to be quite close-knit, supportive and a bit incestuous (figuratively speaking). There are a lot of talented artists here working in and between all kinds of genres and I am amazed at the amount of talented songwriting that goes on. It is disappointing that there is not a big population locally to support the many musicians so they often have to try their luck overseas.

What have been some of your most memorable touring/gig moments to date?

I generally have good memories from all my gigs. I'm lucky not to have had a crap one yet. I suppose lately I have been thinking of the shows I performed in some great local venues that the earthquakes have destroyed. It's weird having fond memories of places that suddenly cease to exist. My favourite venue was a small basement bar in my hometown of Lyttelton, called El Santo. It felt like a second home to me, owned by a great guy who has a real affinity for primitive blues, trashy rock & roll, one-man-bands etc.

When I'm touring I just love being on my own on the road - I feel very relaxed and centered. I enjoy the ride, the headspace and places along the way. Sometimes I just recall traveling to or from a gig in another town and it gives me a good feeling, so the journey can be as memorable as the show itself.

Is there anything of note coming up for Stomping Nick? Tours? Special performances? Writing new material? Recording projects? Etc?

I kind of withdrew from the world and wrote a bunch of songs after the February earthquake, so that period is now starting to bear fruit as the songs get arranged, performed and recorded. I have a set recorded from a recent gig, which is almost ready for release, probably as an album sometime soon. I've also just spent a couple of weeks in the studio recording a bunch of tunes, and I am thinking about how I want to release these.

I've been getting interest from enthusiasts in Europe and the UK, so I would like to tour over there, and the USA has always appealed to me as a tour destination. However, I need to plan everything more. It also makes sense to start playing in Australia seeing it is close to New Zealand. I'm always keen to hear from promoters, etc, who might be interested in working with me, so please feel free to get in touch.

Lastly, if there's anything I failed to cover, or if there's anything you would like to discuss or express, please feel free to do so now. The floor is all yours, Nick.

I'd just like to say I'm enjoying your One-Man Band Series. It can be an overlooked genre, so I'm genuinely impressed to see a committed music journalist picking up on a potentially under-rated scene - nice work. - No Depression

"Album Review by Mat Radbourne"

The blues...hold onto your cowboy hats. The rule book may just have been rewritten. This is foot-tapping, hard-stomping, backside-kicking unsurpassed hard-hitting, raw energy 'blues' from, of all places, New Zealand!

Crickey this is really good stuff. Stomping Nick by name and by nature, and best of all he does it all by himself like some crazy roadside showman in down town Harlem. I saw the one man band that is Newton Faulkner recently and was mightily impressed. However Mr Stomping Nick has taken the word solo to another level.

So we have a collection of self-penned tracks and a touch of Huddie Ledbetter and the man himself Robert Johnson. The Stomper plays all the instruments pretty much at the same time, recorded live this album is incredible.

The pulsating sound of electric guitar, snare, high-hat, bass, drum and harmonica as well as some hard hitting vocals is quite breath taking. You've got Hendrix and Jack 'White Stripes' White in the sound and as well as some very old school blues - ' Black Betty' what a song!

It's all stuff about broken relationships, drinking, dubious women, drinking, trains, stitching people up, drinking and other day to day blues related subjects. Is it reality or just the blues?

If you want something a bit different and something very good, get on to this 'Punk Blues One Man Band'. Impressive.
Mat Radbourne -

"Review by Stewart Lee"

Seasick Steve narrowly pipped the less marketable Jawbone to the lone position for punk-blues one-man bands in the casual consumer's collection. There's no house room for more hollerin' lonesome hobos, yet, like HG Wells's foolhardy Martians, still they come - Reverend Deadeye, Lewis Floyd Henry and now, from the unlikely blues cradle of Christchurch, New Zealand, Stomping Nick and His Blues Grenade. His guitar is a buzz-garage blur, his harmonica-playing is beautiful and bellicose, his drumming is breathless and barrelling, and his Orange Blossom Special is a breakneck bulldozer blast - Stewart Lee. - The Sunday Times

"Album Review, NZ Musician Feb/March 2011"

By Tim Gruar
Christchurch-based Stompin’ Nick Jackman is a true one man band playing bass drum, snare, wailing harmonica and some bad ass Southern snake oiled guitar distortion – all simultaneously! It’s a tradition that kicks back to the vaudeville era. Yet Jackman’s stock and trade is dirty swamp rock ’n’ blues and in true Mainland style it’s a DIY affair. Save for a Huddie Leadbetter number (Black Betty) and Robert Johnson’s Preach the Blues everything here is self-penned and performed without the aid of loops, re-mixes, over dubs or other trickery. That in itself is remarkable but what really separates this one from banal novelty is the pure soul and guts of the performances. Opener One Man Band Fury lays down the manifesto in a wailing serpentine of guitars and cymbals. This is followed by the grinding Feral Mama and, later, Apple Wine revives the terrific poltergeist of Muddy Waters. Remember the snippet of a street musician from U2’s Rattle and Hum doing Freedom For My People? Well, this is like that. On acid! As the flyer rightly says ‘… it’s hard to believe it’s only one man grinding out this raw trash-boogie’. - NZ Musician

"Transcript from Nick Bollinger's review of Stomping Nick on Radio New Zealand (The Sampler, 7th December 2010)"

"The blues have been called the ultimate primitive music, and the claim is backed up with almost a hundred years of variations on the uncomplicated yet endlessly versatile musical form. And those blues haven't exhausted their primitive potential yet, as this local bluesman has discovered.

The name of this Cantabrian is Nick Jackman, but he's known as “Stomping Nick”, for reasons that should already be becoming evident. “Blues Grenade” is obstensibly the name of his band, but that's really just Jackman. Everything you hear, from the guitar and voice to the drums and that particularly penetrating harmonica are played by this musician, and simultaneously. If his hands and lungs couldn't be any busier nor could his feet, with which he marshals those hi-hat cymbals and the solid kick drum from which he gets his stage name.

A punk blues one-man-band – that's Stomping Nick's own description, and while the attitude with which he delivers his self-penned blues like Sewerman has a certain in-your-face punkishness, the model for this kind of self-contained blues minstrelsy goes right back to the days of medicine shows and Beale Street buskers...

...The bulk of the songs are Jackman's own, and while you could say they are generic, they are also extremely convincing, from the subject matter – feral mamas, apple wine and the like – to the conviction with which Stomping Nick sings, plays and stomps.

As I say, the blues won't go away, and New Zealand has had its share of aspiring practitioners, but Stomping Nick really does stand out. There's nothing worse than a polite blues, and Jackman's are suitable rude and raw – no effete displays of technique, the cardinal sin often committed in the name of the blues. And yet, rawness doesn't equate with monotony – quite an achievement when you're in a band of one. Perhaps because beneath this music's raw exterior there's no shortage of finesse. Jackman is especially skillful on his harmonica, but his playing throughout this enjoyable album combines just the right measures of abandon and accomplishment." - Radio New Zealand


Punk Blues One Man Band (The Stomptec Corporation 2010)




Stomping Nick Jackman has created his own version of the one-man blues band, a tradition that dates back to the shadowy beginnings of the blues itself. Raw, primitive and dirty are words often used to describe Stomping Nick's music as he travels the common ground between punk, country and the classic Chicago and Memphis boogie of the 1950s. Taking as his inspiration the blues legends and one-man-bands of yesteryear, as well as a large dose of primitive rock & roll and garage band fury, Jackman unleashes a powder keg of distorted guitar, wailing harmonica and pounding drums. It's all played the oldschool way: live and unaided with nothing but his hands, feet and mouth. At no time does he resort to backing tracks, loop pedals, or any of those other fancy tricks.

Harmonica is Stomping Nick's weapon of choice and he wields it like a blues ninja. A number of influences shape his harmonica style. As well as harp masters like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Terry, other influences as diverse as Jimi Hendrix and Appalachian fiddle music can be heard when he gets his jaw swinging. Underpinning the harmonica, Jackman's feet and hands provide a solid rumble of drums and growling guitar to get the people in the groove, while he sings, amongst other things, songs of trains, loose parties, wild women, mythical alcoholic beverages, crimes executed badly, and bastards he has met.

Stomping Nick is an experienced, battle-hardened performer, having played hundreds of shows in diverse places including bars, festivals, house parties, country halls, flatdeck trucks, beer tents, sheds, shacks and street corners. Over the years he has worked as a drummer, a guitar picker, a bassman, a harmonica player, a banjo plucker, a washboard scrubber, a tambourine jangler and a spoon rattler. Somewhere along the line he learned how to ditch the band and do it all himself.

"This is so much the way that blues should be played - solo and with huge heart and total integrity." - Blues Matters

"..the blues won't go away, and New Zealand has had its share of aspiring practitioners, but Stomping Nick really does stand out. There's nothing worse than a polite blues, and Jackman's are suitable rude and raw - no effete displays of technique, the cardinal sin often committed in the name of the blues. And yet, rawness doesn't equate with monotony - quite an achievement when you're in a band of one. Perhaps because beneath this music's raw exterior there's no shortage of finesse." - Nick Bollinger, Radio New Zealand

"..a signature sound that is tight, energetic, marked by solid grooves, and as big and loud as a few pipe bombs strapped to a petrol can." - James Carlson, No Depression

“..pounding rhythms, searing blasts of harmonica, and a gutsy roar that reach back decades beyond the last fad.”
— Leicester Bangs