Kevin Nichols: Prince of Prunge

by Keenan Ketzner

“I like to give it my all,” Kevin Nichols half-seriously proclaimed over the phone. “My inspiration is heavy emotions. I used to keep a journal, but the more I’ve done music it’s kind of become my new journal… You can say your piece and make instruments that just ebb and flow, and somehow can get across your emotion without even saying words. You can communicate in a deeper sense.”

It’s artists like Kevin Nichols and his brand of rip-roaring, hyper-tuneful punk that make me grateful for the time that we’re alive to experience music. With the birth of the internet and easy distribution of music, people are able to hear all types of music and recontextualize it through our ever-diversifying perspectives. Almost anyone can get access to recording equipment and explore their musical side, but it takes a decided dedication to make a career out of it.

“Music was always something I danced around. I loved it as a kid. My grandma got me a little keyboard and I plunked around on it, and I played saxophone in 3rd grade. Then around 12 or 13 I picked up guitar and I just started to learn songs I wanted to play, and after awhile I started using those chords I learned to make my own songs… I had this cute middle school relationship things where it was like, “Hey I made this today,” and she was like ‘yay…’”

Didn’t say that it had to be made for humble reasons, but Kevin’s music started to turn from a thing he shared with close friends, to something he started sharing online. It’s a story as old as time: it all starts with a SoundCloud page- and the rest is history. And a bit of clever social engineering.

“I was living in Laguna Beach at the time, and there was this vintage clothes and art store that had a big garage where they would have big shows every weekend. So, I started going there all the time and I was a little twerp who was there all the time… And I started helping bands load in and out for awhile, and that’s when I actually picked up smoking because I realized I could hang out with the bands during smoke breaks and kind weave my way into the inner circle, so to speak.”

This is not to discredit the potency of Kevin’s music, which by itself is an exciting blend of prominent rock genres from the past few decades that he dubs “prunge.” You can get a sense of this on his most recent EPs Long Lungs and Getting Hard, both of which hit with the force of an atom bomb.

“My idea of ‘prunge’ is basically a combination of pop and grunge. Like, Nirvana’s Nevermind is in my mind a pop-grunge album, where as Bleach and In Utero are grunge… I wanted to get more of an element of power pop in there too, with heavy, heavy riffs in there and whatnot… On [Getting Hard] I had a grabbag of songs to choose from, and I thought this was a good taste of what we were doing, and they were a digestible, quick listen. And you could walk away knowing “did you love it, did you hate it?’ and then – there you go – I didn’t use up too much of your time.”

Another aspect of what makes the Kevin Nichols experience so great is his partner-in-crime, Sam Thorton. Sam has his own project, Shelf (which Kevin also collaborates on and is worth checking out in it’s own right), but he is also an integral element of Kevin Nichols band as he does video editing, plays bass, provides vocals, and serves best buds honors.

“He’s as much of the band as I am. I can get up there with my acoustic guitar by myself, but at the end of the day we’re bouncing ideas off each other, and I really value his input… No one sounds like him…”

Right now Kevin is working on his first full-length album since 2017’s I Don’t Wanna Die but I Wanna Die, where he’s going to take the approach of focused songwriting he gained with the release of his EPs and apply to this record. It should be coming out sometime in 2020, and there’s a pretty good chance it will get a vinyl release, which is awesome!

Check out Kevin’s music and his equally entertaining videos online, and catch his band live at The Shakedown on Aug. 11. Follow his social media for updates.