The talented Nick Waterhouse of Costa Mesa, California was like a lot of kids growing up in Orange County. He surfed, picked up a guitar in middle school, headed into the garage and learned to rock ‘n’ roll. But Nick was more into Ray Charles than Adolescents. In fact, the sound he’d go on to create could easily find its home on a 1950s jukebox, playing to a dancehall full of swingin’ teens. Nick moved to San Francisco after high school, has toured Europe various times and makes Japanese fans weak at the knees. Scratch that, Nick is not like many kids from Orange County. He still surfs, though. —Beau Flemister
SURFING: When did you first start making music?
Nick Waterhouse: I was about 13 or 14 years old. We played with bands like Cold War Kids, The Flying Saucers, The Japanese Motors. But back when I was a teenager in Orange County, it really wasn’t that cool to be interested in different types of music. The scene then was kind of agro and it felt like everything had to be connected to punk rock. Listening to “Love Is Strange,” by Mickey and Sylvia was a little too light in the loafers for Orange County. [laughs] I think we had a lot more in common with how British invasion bands felt, the ones that had just found the blues or something.
Who are your musical influences?
Mostly American music: Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Mose Allison, The Animals, The Rolling Stones, Booker T. and the MG’s. Van Morrison’s kinda like my Bob Dylan. I also just really love music made for 45s, how bands would put all their feeling into two and a half minutes.
Any crazy stories from the road?
I have an eight-piece band, so it’s like the A-Team or summer camp on the road. [laughs] In Japan, I was doing autograph signings and the girls were, like, shaking and crying; the response there was pretty emotional. Like a mini Beatlemania or something. And on our first tour to Europe we had 13 shows in 14 days, none of us having driven in Europe before and we spoke no other languages. It was crazy. But I feel like the same things eventually happen to every band on tour: Someone gets in a fight, or someone gets lost, or you’re driving down the road in the French countryside for hours and the road suddenly dead-ends. Bordeaux was cool though; we played on a tanker boat, beneath the deck in the bow, essentially below sea level. That was something different.