Breakfast With Lucky Vol 1.1 Nick Gaitan THE UMBRELLA MAN
I decided to start a new series of interviews with local artist, writers, and musicians so that everyone could get to know them on a little bit more of a personal level. I am calling it BREAKFAST WITH LUCKY because I am inviting my guest to eat breakfast with me at Kahn's Deli In The Village while I ask them a few questions. My first interview is with a local favorite that has played with and influenced many of the best in town. It is always a pleasure to hang out with Nick Gaitan, he's always polite and funny. So I hope you all enjoy having breakfast with us.
Frank’s Veggie Omelet $6.99
Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Onions, Broccoli, Tomatoes served with Hash Browns & Toast
Two Eggs with Choice of Meat $6.29
Fried, Scrambled or Poached with Hash Browns, & your
choice of Bacon, Ham or Sausage & Toast
LUCKY: Nick Gaitan from THE UMBRELLAMAN here with us for our first Breakfast With Lucky. I guess we could start with some basics… like …are you from Houston originally?
NICK: Born and raised in South East Houston, Texas…down by Hobby Airport.
LUCKY: Yea I know that area.
NICK: Over by Milby High School. That’s where I went to school.
LUCKY: So when did you start playing music? What was your first instrument.
NICK: My first instrument was just an electric guitar I borrowed from a friend’s sister…actually before that it was an acoustic guitar we inherited from my grandfather. He gave us one of his guitars a long time ago. I was about fourteen and I started picking’ up on some chords. Lucky enough, my friends were walking home from school, when we were in Jr. High, and they found a chord book on the street across from where I was living. They knew I was learning guitar so one of the kids brought it over and told my mom “give this to nick ‘cause I know he’s learning guitar”… and that’s what kicked it all off.
LUCKY: So you just started learning your basic chords and then started writing songs?
NICK: Yea, or I would go to Sam Goody…remember those music stores? They had a few scale books and what I would, do since I didn’t have any cash and was a broke a**, I would see something like a Red Hot Chili Peppers book and I would flip through it and learn the first few bars of a song and just try to memorize it and run home. That’s how I learned my early stuff…Like BLACK SABBATH and THE DOORS were always fundamentals when I first started learning.
LUCKY: Yea I remember doing that kind of thing when I first started too. I would try to remember the tabs and then get home and play it and think…That doesn’t sound right!
NICK: Haha …yea because you were out of tune. When you first get started and you don’t know anything about being in tune, and you pop strings all the time because you tighten them too much, and you think they are going to be too expensive, but they are not. All you wanna do is sit on your porch and learn the riff for NIRVANA’s Come As You Are.
LUCKY: Yea it’s a classic story. That was a lot of peoples first riff.
NICK: That and War Pigs by BLACK SABBATH. Like when you first learn a power chord.
LUCKY: Nowadays The first riff seems to Seven Nation Army.
NICK: Yea it’s true but there is a lot of good stuff out there to learn from now that has gone back to roots, fundamentals, little melodies, and everything.
LUCKY: So were bands like Nirvana your first influence with music?
NICK: No not really. I would say my earliest influence was hanging out with my dad and my brother. Yea my dad would drive around Southeast Houston paying bills and running errands and I’d be hanging out with him in his truck. He’d be jamming what was your oldies station back in the day. It was awesome!!
LUCKY : They played real oldies.
NICK : They even went back to the Forties sometimes. Now you have the BEE GEES on your oldies station. Anyhow I would say Motown and rock and roll I would say the most. He was a Vietnam vet so he was at that age, a lot of sixties influenced music, you know, and R&B like all the time. I got a lot of country from my mom, and a lot of AC/DC, IRON MAIDEN, and BLACK Sabbath from my brother …THE DOORS …it was all of that. I just happened to have a well rounded influence.
LUCKY : that is one of the things that I like about your music I hear a lot of different influences and yet it sounds totally Texas. It sounds like you have some Tejano influence it sounds country, and folk, blues, and for sure rock and roll.
NICK : The thing about The Umbrella Man is that you have a… Oh here comes our break fast.
DEREK : he’s waiting on his sunny side up eggs, you have your forks…lemme get your butter and jelly and I’ll be right back.
NICK : So yea ….it goes all the way back. Looking back now …thinking about it all…at fourteen I was getting my first stand up bass financed and then I was on the road by nineteen. I’m thirty now … but when I look at that, it’s a short span of time to go from starting to traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast . I went on tour with LOS SKARNALES. I played with LOS SKARNALES from august of 99 to about October... Halloween time in 2006. Right after Katrina. Then we saw all the brass bands come to Texas. I refer to Umbrella Man a lot of times that people notice the range of influence. They notice all the input. That’s not just me. Allot of it is the way the songs are written and I have different songs for different things, but I think The Umbrella Man is a post Katrina Houston band. We were from right here , we didn’t come from somewhere else. As the city changed around us we adapted our sound. There is so much influence here. It’s been a matter of who I’ve met it’s been a matter of the mix.
LUCKY : I know that you have had a lot of the local talent play with you.
NICK : Yea I have, there’s a good bunch of us who have been in and out of Umbrella Man. Of course I have always been on the band, it’s my band. Whenever we started we were a SKARNALES based band. Beans Wheeler on the drums, myself on bass, Robert Rodriguez on accordion…
LUCKY : The Famous Director?!
NICK : yea yea yea haha! (makes bullet ricochet sounds and fires finger pistols) yea and Quinton Terantino on the harmonica…no it was Robert Rodriguez from The Pistoleros on accordion.
LUCKY : You play with Los Pistoleros too don’t you?
NICK : Yea sometimes. I sit in now with them on guitar funny enough. I use to do bass for them but a guy named Jack Schultz is playing bass for them now. In fact Jack Schultz is the bass player for Sean Reefer.
LUCKY : Yea he’s really good, he’s awesome.
NICK : We were a SKARNALES based band, and I didn’t have a guitar player for a long time but Geoffrey Muller from THE SIDESHOW TRAMPS would come and play guitar.
LUCKY : That was actually how I first heard you, he invited me to the Big Top to hear you guys play.
NICK : Yea, those were Thursdays. Mike Whitebread was playing with us at one point on Thursdays, He was on Craig Kinsey’s album. He is an awesome guitar player. The Reverend would come and sit in sometimes, and of course Hilary Sloan. She’s on the first track on our CD and her solo just blazes through the thing. Adam Birchfield … Kelly Doyle you know him. It was just a bunch of people that would come together and we would play blues standards,and if Geoffrey was there we would do some Bluegrass. I've learned a lot from the people I have played with and I just happened to have been lucky enough to play with some of the best.
LUCKY : I really do think that Houston has some of the best talent out there.
NICK : And not just in our generation. When I think of Houston I think about the richness of the history we've had the best of a lot of worlds, we all come from everywhere, and there’s un underlying vibe, there’s a Houston Thing. You get it when you’re from here.
LUCKY : So you have a show on Friday?
NICK : Yea we have a show Friday February 12th it’s gonna be THE UMBRELLA MAN opening up, and our guest from California is gonna be LOS FABULOCOS. Aw man they are bad a**, the accordion player and the drummer…Jesse Quevas and Mike Molina came from the group called THE BLAZERS, that use to tour Texas all the time. They are from L.A. they have this great sound mixed between brown eyed soul, swamp pop, blues, little this a little that, they do some Tex Mex .they are a great band, and these guys have been playing for a while with both THE BLAZERS and LOS FABULOCOS. When we were with LOS SKARNALES before I had UMBRELLA MAN, Mike Molina the drummer made a barbecue for us in L.A. I have some footage of that on my YOU TUBE channel. This show is going to be THE UMBRELLA MAN and LOS FABULOCOS. It will be for lovers of blues, rock and roll, Tejano , congjunto, swamp pop, Cajun, this is like a roots music deal and it is this Friday @ The Continental Club.
LUCKY : So you wanna let me know about your CD?
NICK : The CD has been doing really well locally. It’s on line so it’s worldwide. You can catch it on i Tunes, and other digital download places, you can catch on line if you go to my glob, there’s widget where you get to my digital station where you can get it from me on line. Also my Facebook will link up so that you can find my song I Found My Weakness In You. That song , at the best of, was voted number one son about Houston. We’re looking forward to The Houston Press Awards. The CD has been getting some local love. It’s been said that our CD is like a local map and each song is like a thumb tack in the map and I thought that was really cool. People talk about the rhythms and the music and the lyrics, people say they like the mood how goes up and down. So I’m enjoying the fact that people are hearing what I had in my head but now I have it on a disc.
LUCKY : Having a final product must be nice. Especially one you are happy with. So who was your engineer ?
NICK : OK Nick Gaitan and THE UMBRELLA MAN the CD was recorded in a one room studio down in China Town down at Fransisco Studio. Swear to God it was so funny. The engineer and co producer was Kevin “Bunny” Rogers who plays with SKELETON D*** check his band out. You might wanna talk to him. Those guys are talented man. People are hearing the CD and one thing I’m hearing is…what people are saying is that it sounds like the real thing. What they are saying that it sounds like a full production level which doesn’t always come across in some local recordings …like when you put it in your car you get the BOOM! It’s gonna be full it’s gonna get you. You know. I love that …cuz I concentrated on that. Bunny Rogers also recorded LOS SKARNALES last album Pachuco Boogie Sound System that I’m on. He recorded RYAN SCROGGINS’ self titled, and he recorded UMBRELLA MAN’S first CD. I’m really proud of the work he’s done. He mixed the dub that is on the album called Pierce Elevated. You can hear the bump bump of the Pierce Elevated on that …as if you were driving on it, next time you’re on it you will think about it.
LUCKY : So how did you like the breakfast here at Kahn’s Deli?
NICK: It was great! I had the Veggie Omelette and it kicked much a**, and the hash browns were good, and the wheat toast is always a must for me. Had a great time.
LUCKY: Well Thanks for coming out. I look forward to seeing your show with THE FABULOCOS at the Contenental Club on Friday.