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- Posted on Feb 28th 2011 4:50PM by Eric R. Danton
With a return trip to SXSW in the offing, frontman Nick Urata spoke with Spinner about how he met his bandmates (Tom Hagerman, Jeanie Schroder and Shawn King), his musical influences and his love of film.
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How did you meet the other band members?
Shawn was playing drums in drag for an all-girl punk band, actually, and I thought, I've got to meet this guy. And I was at this party/fashion show, and the models came out as Oompa Loompas, and the band was playing the Oompa Loompa song, and I noticed the band had a girl tuba player, and I thought, I've got to meet her. And Tom Hagerman, the violinist, I met him on his 21st birthday. He came to see my band and apparently threw up as soon as we were done, but still had the wherewithal to come introduce himself to me afterward.
What drew you to the style of music you play?
It took a lot to get there. I had this vague vision: I kind of wanted to record the music that I wasn't hearing at the time. Not to date the project, but it was before you could click your mouse and type on your keyboard and hear all this amazing music from around the world and listen to it through your f---ing headphones.
Where did you first hear that kind of music?
I got exposed to some accordion music and Italian crooners and stuff from the old country. As I got older, I was always pining away for the past, kind of a sentimental kind of thing. I think a lot of people are like that: they come to America and want to disassociate themselves from any other roots, and then the second generation is like, who am I?
What was your first instrument?
I started on trumpet. My grandfather actually had a band, and he was a horn player, and he sort of inspired me to pick up the trumpet. I started when I was 7 or 8. I played trumpet through high school and college and stuff, but in high school, when I started inevitably getting into girls, I figured the guitar could do a lot more damage in that area.
How important is musical training to the styles you play?
There's a balance to that. The training is immensely important, though, because every corner you cut comes back to haunt you later in life. So do as much as you can stomach, and then you kind of have to let it go and go your own route. It took me a long time to figure that out, but it takes everybody a long time. You need to learn the language in order to have something to say.
Where did the band name come from?
I got it from 'A Clockwork Orange.'
Are you a film buff?
I call myself that.
Who are some favorite filmmakers?
There's Kubrick of course. I'm pretty damn influenced by everything he's done. There was Sergio Leone -- that was a big part of my childhood. Scorsese, of course. Cassavetes. John Ford.
Where does music intersect with film for you?
I've always tried to have, in my own mind at least, a cinematic feel in my songs, like I'm making a little film without a camera.
Catch DeVotchKa's SXSW Sets on Wednesday, March 16 at Moody Theatre (310 W 2nd St.) 10:30PM, and Thursday, March 17 at Lustre Pearl (97 Rainey St.) 10PM.
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