While Nick Kizirnis played guitar and sang in his bands the Obvious in the 1980s and Cage in the 1990s, most fans know him from the instrumental acts the Mulchmen and the Nicky Kay Orchestra. After a long break, he returns with “The Distance” (Atom Records), being released at Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton on Saturday, Feb. 1.
The material was recorded with Patrick Himes at Reel Love Recording Company in Dayton. Kizirnis was backed by Himes (bass, keyboards), Tod Weidner (guitar), Joe Tritschler (guitar) and Mark Patterson (drums). Rather than handle lead vocals himself, he recruited Kate Wakefield (vocals, cello) of Cincinnati-based Lung.
Kizirnis recently answered some questions about “The Distance,” his first collection of vocal songs since the mid-2000s.
Q: What made this the right time for a vocal record?
A: After I put out the Nicky Kay Orchestra record, I thought that was it. I didn’t know how I’d get the wherewithal to do another one. I don’t know if lethargy was kicking in, but getting this whole thing started was like turning a ship. I decided I wanted to write some songs because I hadn’t really done it in a while. I’d been writing instrumentals for years, which I really enjoyed, but I wanted to challenge myself.
Q: How did you approach it?
A: I decided to approach it as a songwriting craft. Nobody had to hear it, I just wanted to hold myself accountable. I did it secretly for a while and, then, eventually, I had a bunch of songs that were coming together but some were really rough and they were all stuck. I couldn’t move on them anymore.
Q: How did you get unstuck?
A: I’ve always written for my voice and it’s a limited instrument, so I started thinking about what would happen if somebody else sang them. When I stopped writing for my voice, the songs suddenly started flowing. I still didn’t know where they were going to go, or if they would be sung by a male or female, I just knew I didn’t have to write for me anymore. I figured I’d just see where it went.
Q: You’ve always worked in a band format. How did you like this method?
A: It was a really incredible collaborative experience that was totally different than anything I’ve ever done before. I played quite a bit of guitar on it but there are some parts where I don’t play. Everybody was bringing such great ideas that it seemed like a real team effort. It was a really cool experience. I’m so glad I did it.
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