Interview by Kara Wilbeck
Over here at the Portland Metronome, we are super excited for the Nth Power’s return to Portland at Mississippi Studios tonight, Friday, May 13! This weekend, we had the chance to chat with the band’s leader and drummer, Nikki Glaspie. Check out what she had to say!
PM: Being a supergroup of powerhouse musicians, it must be hard to coordinate schedules to tour or record! Do you often have to schedule around shows of other bands you play with, or is the Nth Power everyone’s top priority?
NG: The Nth Power is everyone’s top priority, but even still, it is hard to find time to write and record because we are working so much.
PM: Your bio mentions that the band was formed from a 3 a.m. jam at New Orleans Jazz Fest. Can you tell the story behind how this jam came about? What were you all doing there, and who else had you been playing with? What was the moment when you realized you had something special and wanted to continue playing together? How long did it take you all to get organized and meet up again as a band?
NG: Nick [Cassarino] and I are members of the Jennifer Hartswick band. The keyboard player Rob Marsher and the bass player Dezron Douglas couldn’t make it to jazz fest that year. Jen called me and asked me if I knew the bass player that could do the gig. Of course I did! I called Nate Edgar and said, “Do you want to come down here and play this gig?” He said yes. Then Jen asked me about Nigel [Hall]. She said, “Can he play the gig?” I said, “Yes, he can play the gig.” We did not have a chance to rehearse so at sound check we did a little jamming, and we all looked at each other and were like, this is a band. We started writing and recording immediately. And here we are.
PM: Tell me one of your wackiest/wildest/funniest stories from touring!
NG: On our tour last fall we were driving from North Carolina to Richmond, Va. Nick was driving and noticed the battery gauge falling quickly and said we were losing power fast. At the next exit there was an AutoZone. Courtney [Smith] went inside and borrowed a computer to find out that we needed a new alternator. He replaced the alternator right there in the parking lot. And we made it to the gig on time. That’s when we found out we had a resident mechanic. We call him Rodney.
PM: You’re playing at Mississippi Studios with one of our local bands, the Quick and Easy Boys. Are you familiar with their music? Have you had any experience playing with them before? Who are some of the other bands you pair with on bills?
NG: No, not familiar with their music at all, but look forward to meeting them! We sometimes pair with the New Mastersounds, and are currently on tour with Turkuaz. We have done tours with Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles and Orgone. We have also done shows with my former band Dumpstaphunk.
PM: You all come from a pretty diverse background musically. How have your previous experiences as musicians affected the sound of the Nth Power?NG: Our previous experiences culminate to make the sound of the Nth Power. We are all separately or together versed in funk, soul, gospel, reggae, rock, R&B, Jazz, Folk, Blues, Fusion, Afro-Cuban, Latin, West African and World Beat music. So we take all of this, ball it up, and that’s what makes the Nth Power.
PM: Founding member Nigel Hall recently left the band. How has the band’s dynamic changed since his departure? How has your new keyboardist filled such big shoes?
NG: Nigel left the band over a year ago, so I wouldn’t say it’s so recent. We’ve only been a full time band for almost two years. Courtney has played more shows than Nigel did at this point. Courtney J’Mell Smith is a godsend. He not only is an incredible multi-instrumentalist, but an amazing person. He has taken the position over beautifully. He has the voice of an angel and can play the keys like no other. You will soon find out.
PM: The Nth Power obviously has strong roots in New Orleans. What aspects of New Orleans’ culture and music have been influential to you?
NG: The spirits, ancestors and the supernatural mysticism of the city is a huge influence on us. We are very spiritual people and feel the city resonate on that frequency. The musical culture is like nowhere else in the world. It’s like the musicians are the heroes of the city. Its really awesome to be a part of.
PM: Who are some of your favorite musicians making music now? If you could recommend a musician or band that most people haven’t heard of, who would it be?
NG: I love Snarky Puppy and everything that they do. Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, Cleon Edwards & the HungryJaxx, Sputnick, Ghost Note, Animus Rexx and Jaw Gems. Check them all out. You will not be disappointed.
PM: What can your Portland fans expect from your show here? What can an Nth Power virgin expect from your show?
NG: They can expect for us to give it everything we have, because we give 150% every night. For the virgin that has never seen us before, prepare to be impregnated. You will leave with an Nth Power fetus growing in your spiritual belly.
PM: You released your debut full-length album, Abundance, in November. Describe the process of making this album. How long have you been working on this material? Did any of the songs get written on the spot at the studio? How does this release compare to your EP, Basis Minimum Skills Test?
NG: It took us 18 months to make the record. It was a labor of love. We all went through a lot, individually and as a group. We were in the middle of finishing the record when Nigel left, so the process became much more hectic than it already was. But with his departure, many amazing songs were born, and we finished the album the way it was supposed to be done. Some of the songs were worked out in the studio, some were already written, and some were written on the spot. It’s a much different representation of the band from Basic Minimum Skills Test. The first EP we were just trying to get material out, so it was turned around in about five months. There wasn’t a lot of time spent in the studio dialing in the sounds. We just had to put something out there for the fans to listen to, and I understood the importance of that and just put the music in people’s hands.
PM: Bonus Question! Which one of you is the most talented member of the band? (Just kidding… or am I?)
NG: Me. Obviously. Hahahaha! Honestly I can’t say. You just have to come find out for yourself.
Find out for yourself tonight, Friday, May 13 at Mississippi Studios. Doors at 8 p.m., show at 9. $15. Get tickets here.