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Nick Cody

Nick Cody and the Heartache – Covering These Tracks Vol II: An Americana Tribute to the Art of Song Interpretation

Nick Cody and the Heartache’s latest album, “Covering These Tracks Vol II,” is a masterful reinterpretation of eight beloved singles through an Americana folk rock lens. This Leeds-based artist, along with his band has created a collection that resonates with warmth and soul.

The album features a diverse range of covers, including Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” Nick Cave’s “Nobody’s Baby Now,” and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Name Droppin’.” Each track is meticulously reworked, maintaining the original’s spirit while infusing it with a unique folk-rock essence. The result is a cohesive collection that showcases the band’s ability to blend different musical styles seamlessly.

What sets this album apart is the way Nick Cody and his band have deconstructed these classics, stripping them down to their core before rebuilding them with his band’s distinctive sound. The quivering violin strings, the acoustic guitar’s steady timbres, and the spells of vocal alchemy, especially Towse’s crystalline harmonies, create an enchanting experience.

“Covering These Tracks Vol II” is more than a cover album, it is a tribute to the art of song interpretation. This album is a testament to their musical prowess and a gift to fans of Americana folk. It’s a journey through familiar melodies, reborn and revitalised, proving that great music can always find new life in the hands of talented artists.

Stream Covering These Tracks Vol II on SoundCloud from April 19th.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Harmonising Gems: Nick Cody’s Journey Through ‘Covering These Tracks Vol II’

Nick Cody

This week, A&R Factory had the privilege of sitting down with Nick Cody, a maestro in the art of musical reinvention. We explored the intricate layers of his latest masterpiece, ‘Covering These Tracks Vol II‘. This album is a mosaic of musical exploration, blending classic hits with lesser-known treasures. Cody’s approach to this project was akin to a musical alchemist, transforming and transcending genres with a simple yet profound setup: a guitar, a violin, and the harmonious interplay of two distinct voices. As we delved deeper, Cody revealed the nuances of his creative process, the challenges of embodying other artists’ universes, and the exhilarating journey of bringing this ambitious project to life, both in the studio and on the stage.

Nick Cody, thanks for sitting down with us to discuss your latest release. Could you share the creative spark behind the conception of your second ‘Covering These Tracks’ album? 

Originally the plan was to create an EP with my Californian friends Towse and Corwin Zekley with Harry Orme from the UK. This EP idea became a mini album ‘Covering these tracks volume I” and we had so many ideas and magical moments, I decided to do a second album.

My rule of thumb was that we would only have two instruments, guitar, and violin and two vocals from Towse and myself. Covering these tracks volume II is even more ambitious than the first album.

As well as recording classics like Joni Mitchell’s “Case of you” and Nick Cave’s “Nobody’s baby now” I also chose some hidden gems like “Gold” from Peter Blegvad and “Name Hoppin” from Ray Wylie Hubbard, two fantastic songs that deserve to be heard. So, the creative spark was finding well known and hidden gems that have great melodies and sharp lyrics, transporting the listener to a new space of magic and fascination.

How does it differ from your previous projects? 

This project is more ambitious in that when you step into another artist’s universe when recording and that’s a very different experience than simply listening to their songs. A good example is one of the verses on Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” . This is where on the second line Bruce adds a huge number of words that all need to fit with the melody.

The first part – “Now I been looking for a job, but it’s hard to find” is simple enough, BUT the next line is –

Down here, it’s just winners and losers and “Don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line”.

This requires the singer to really focus in articulating every word and delivering it all in the same bar.

Bruce is mostly about telling stories and the lyrics are invaluable in every song with no waste. I first came across him with the brilliant Born to Run album and have been listening ever since.

With Joni Mitchell it’s a very different style, but also with killer lyrics including the following first verse of “Case of you

“Just before our love got lost you said,

“I am as constant as a northern star,”

And I said, “Constantly in the darkness,

Where’s that at?

If you want me, I’ll be in the bar.”

This project is about travelling to and inhabiting other artist’s universes in creating new versions of their songs. This is both equally fascinating and challenging. I’m really pleased with the final results and can’t wat to play these tracks live.

How did the collaboration with Towse, Corwin Zekley, and Harry Orme shape the sound and direction of this album? What unique elements did each artist bring to the table?

On this album, Harry Orme plays all the guitar parts. Harry is a truly gifted player and quite brilliant at 100% nailing the sound. If he were a chef, he’d have three Michelin stars, without doubt. Once I have the guitar parts, I’ll lay down my vocals. The mix then goes to Towse, and I will say “Do what you think works best, I trust your musical instincts”.

This is our third album, and this has always been my approach. Towse always knocks it out of the park and Carl Rosamond (my producer) and I love to receive those parts. It’s like Xmas day opening a great present when those files land.

Once we do the mix with towse, the file then goes to Corwin who has a unique sound unlike anyone else. Corwin and Towse are like creatures from another dimension and the result is to my ears pure magic. I played Jon Gomm a couple of the new tracks “Gold” and “Crashing and Burning” by Fred Eaglesmith and his response told me we really had something with this collaboration.

With the live showcase in Leeds on the horizon, how are you feeling about bringing this album to life on stage? What can your fans expect from this performance?

Leeds April 26th will be a special album launch with sets by Harry, Towse and Corwin as well as all of us playing together with other members of the expanded Heartache ensemble that include David Bowie Jnr on bass, Rich Ferdi on percussion, Jon Burr on Harmonica. I’ll also be doing a set with my Caravan of Dreams ensemble that includes the brilliant vocalist “Agi” who I have been working with for many years.

This new album is more challenging, so we are rehearsing hard to deliver the very best performance. At times there will be up to eight of us on stage, so that’s a lot of moving parts! We’ll be playing many of these tracks for the very first time, so are rehearsing hard in the forthcoming weeks.

How does the dynamic of your fluid band line-up influence your creative process and the final output? 

My producer Carl calls this way of working “The Steely Dan model” where I surround myself with a tapestry of great musicians who can be brought in as and when needed on several projects. This fluid band line-up allows for a huge number of sonic possibilities and of course, I’m often working on a number of projects simultaneously.

Really excellent musicians are of course always busy and not sitting at home waiting for calls. I have a 12 – 18-month timeline for projects and I often choose songs and write with specific musicians in mind. With the Covering these tracks albums, I deliberately chose to work with three other musicians from the core group and the results have been so good, we’ve kept going with releasing a second album as well as more material “in the vault” for future release.

Rich Ferdi and Dave Bowie Jnr are my live ensemble choices for bass and percussion and of course, I’ve been working with these guys for years, so the dynamic works well. On the April 26 launch at times all eight of us will be playing live, so it’s going to be one of those “I was there!” nights I’m always on the lookout for exceptional talent to add to the growing ensemble and recently joined a choir as a side project where I’ve already spotted some gifted artists…

With performances planned from Leeds to Osaka, how do you approach adapting your music to resonate with such diverse audiences?

I’m choosing to only play very specific live dates these days and after the album launch, the Osaka date will be with my good friend Brian Cullen. Brian is an excellent mandolin and guitar player as well as a great vocalist. My experience is that most audiences love something that is performed really well and engages them both musically and lyrically. This is universally true regardless of whether I’m in New York, or at The Lagoa Guitar Festival in Portugal.

The Lagoa Guitar Festival main stage in Portugal was only my third-ever live performance back in 2016, a baptism of fire, equally (at the time) terrifying and inspiring! Since then, I have had a lot more experience and doing support for artists like Jon Gomm and Martin Simpson has really helped me develop my skills when playing live. 

How has working with Carl Rosamond influenced the production of your music? Can you share any insights into this creative partnership?

Carl Rosamond is like my “George Martin”, the hub of the sonic wheel in all my projects. We’ve worked together now for many years, and I’ve always had a policy of sitting in with him throughout the whole mixing and mastering process. He’s massively in demand, so I block book studio time for projects, and we’ve always got something on the go. We also work in a very relaxed manner and since COVID I’m doing all my vocal parts in my own studio with the excellent Austrian Audio mics. The Covering These Tracks project is the most stripped-down work I have done to date, with two instruments and two vocals, but it’s a huge sound. The press feedback increasingly highlights just how great the production is and of course that helps massively with radio plays.

We have our recording ritual where we start at 10 am on a weekday. We have all the raw tracks ready to be mixed and I turn up with vegetarian sushi made that day by my wife Sue, for the session. We then go to work and the rule of thumb is that we’ll work straight through until 6 pm to mix a track. I estimate we’ve worked on around 80 – 90 tracks to date and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

Is there an element of your music that you feel is best captured in a live setting?

The live setting is unlike any other experience. I spend a lot of time designing a set to make sure like a movie, there’s a beginning, middle and conclusion. I really like to stretch out and improvise with some songs and am reminded of the many years when I saw The Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre in New York. They would invite special guests and have great sections of improvisation in songs that are sonically pure magic.

I’m interested in creating the same dynamic and when you have access to artists of the calibre of Corwin, Towse, Laurent Zeller from France, Michael Ross from Nashville, and Jon Burr, live performances can be pure magic. Some of my original tracks like “Slow News Day” and “Perfect Place” are great for showcasing fantastic improvisational passages and letting these great artists really go for it!

Looking beyond the release of ‘Covering These Tracks’, do you have any future projects or directions you are particularly excited about exploring?

For the first time involved in a choir project and have become absolutely fascinated by the experience. It’s a totally different way of working, essentially ‘an orchestra of 60 voices”.

I’m pondering a cover single release using a choir for 2025. This is extremely ambitious, but I can already hear how this would work on one of the tracks I already have “in the vault”.

The plan is for a third “Covering These Tracks” album, but this will be with an expanded ensemble and there’s no rush to complete this, I’m taking my time. As well as all this I’m finalising the second electric Nick Cody & The Heartache album, “This is Love and Heartache”.

One thing is certain, there’s a lot more music in the pipeline and we’ll as always be pushing the boundaries of what we are creating.

Stream Covering These Tracks Vol II from April 19th on Bandcamp.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Nick Cody rearranged a loveless world through the folk strings in his cover of Nick Cave’s Nobody’s Baby Now

If you thought Nick Cave’s rendition of Nobody’s Baby Now from his 1994 album, Let Love In, hit hard, brace yourself for the evocative impact when delving into the bitter-sweet folk reimagining by Nick Cody featuring Towse, Harry Orme, Corwin Zekley.

Atop the Bob Dylan-esque instrumentals, the harmonised to-the-nines vocal arrangement pulls at the heartstrings with devastating precision. Though the lyrics have always been tragic in their forlorn romanticism when depicting a woman living a loveless life, Cody innovatively found a way, through the beguile within orchestral folk crescendos, to impart even more empathy for the female protagonist.

It takes an exceptionally talented artist to find more room for resonance within an already hauntingly captivating single. Clearly, Nick Cody can consider himself amongst the few sonic visionaries with the ability to breathe new painfully provocative life into already stunning scores – even though his humbleness, evidenced in this reworking, would never allow such an ego to show in his work.

Nobody’s Baby Now will debut on Valentine’s Day; stream the single on SoundCloud and wait for the LP, which is scheduled to drop on April 26.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Rumours have it the sandman entered Nick Cody’s cover of ‘Dreams’

UK singer-songwriter Nick Cody serenaded the iconic single, Dreams, by Fleetwood Mac in his latest release, featuring Towse, Corwin Zekley, and Harry Orme.

The single may only comprise accordant timbres from a resonator guitar, violin strings and dualistic harmonies, but under Cody’s tender duress, the cover became infinitely more than the sum of all parts as Rumours was melodically resurrected as a more intimate serenade.

After releasing five albums under different guises and in other ensembles, Cody has turned his talents to producing a forthcoming mini cover album featuring seminal singles from across the decades, with a little help from revered international artists. If the other fixtures on the mini album carry an ounce of the soul-stirringly sweet beguile of Dreams, Nick Cody will be the orchestrator of one of the most seminal albums of 2023.

Dreams will officially drop on the 25th of August; hear it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Waiting in the line: Code E1 might have missed the warning signs on Nothing here sounds good

Nothing here sounds good by Nick Cody Music

Skillfully taken off the upcoming (May 12th, 2023) debut album Year of the Bat Cat, Code E1 gazes at the stars to find something that actually means something in a rather unpleasant world on Nothing here sounds good.

Code E1 is a Nick Cody-created Leeds, UK-based indie music project which reminds us of better days as the authentic melodies seem to brush away all previous apprehensions.

in collaboration with remixer Black Star Liner. Code E1 is a fusion of Nick’s haunting melodies with Black Star Liner’s trademark electronic beats and engaging rhythms. Black Star Liner were favoured by John Peel as well as being nominated for a Mercury music award.” ~ Nick Cody

Sending us into a nostalgic pond to swim inside to see the real connection, Code E1 has dropped a real timeless wonder to play loud and with so much knowledgeable insight into what so many millions are currently feeling.

Nothing here sounds good from the UK-based Code E1 is a magnificent song for all the right reasons. Guiding us through the plastic of the world and leading us towards an honest story, which will stun many and have others in the music scene nodding their head. Sung with an experienced tone which shall warm all awaiting ears, to show us what reality looks like.

Listen up on Bandcamp.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Interview: Nick Cody tells us more about All Is Fine Til The World Goes Pop (feat. Towse)

With classic stories for days and so much vivid details, Nick Cody is at his hugely authentic best with the massively revealing interview all about busking back in the 70s, making more music and All Is Fine Til The World Goes Pop (feat. Towse).

Hello Nick. Thank you for your time. How have you been coping with all the madness in the world and where can we find you sitting as we speak?

Nick Cody: The last two years have been somewhat surreal, a bit like waking up in a sci-fi movie. I literally buried myself away in my home studio and started writing new songs. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to spark some inspiration. All my plans for travel and live work, vanished overnight, and to my total surprise and amazement, I wrote 44 new songs, 13 of which appeared on the “All is fine ‘til the world goes pop” featuring Towse. I was planning to be back in Japan, on holiday in New York, as well as on trips to India, all of which vanished! I’m now firmly rooted in West Yorkshire with my wife and two very demanding felines!

What was it like to be busking in Guildford City back in the 70s?

Nick Cody: This was such a different era and in some ways a classic period for music. The only way you could listen to albums was in record stores or on the radio. Guilford underpass was a great place to play acoustic tracks with my battered Kay guitar. I was playing mostly Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young covers and of course, everyone had Neil’s Harvest and After the Goldrush albums as well as CSNY’s 4 Way Street. You could buy an album for two pounds fifteen pence and we treasured such purchases. I could earn up to five pounds an hour on a good day and a lot of that income funded my vinyl collection!

Please tell us about your new release called All Is Fine ‘Til The World Goes Pop (feat. Towse).

Nick Cody: I wanted to create an album along the lines of my favourite album of all time, Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” which had great lyrics and melodies. I met Towse aka Grace Fellows online when she posted a sublime video of one of her original songs “When I Drive” on one of my music platforms and I was blown away by the quality of the song and the performance. I contacted her on e-mail and asked if she would be happy to collaborate on some songs. I’ve historically written songs with duos in mind and her voice reminded me of one of my favourite artists -Mary Margaret O’Hara- who released one great album “Miss America” and then vanished from the music scene!

What was planned initially as an EP grew and grew, so we ended up with enough material for two albums, the first being “All is Fine ‘til the world goes pop” which is quite stripped back and introspective and a second album with my band “The Heartache” called “Got a head full of music and a heart full of pain” which is rockier. The album is receiving great feedback and radio play to date and we’ll be showcasing some of this material on September 23rd at the 5 TH Music for the Head and Heart music evening in Leeds. These Head and Heart events are for listening audiences and to date, we have sold out every showcase, as the emphasis is on the very best music. The album title “All is fine ‘til the world goes pop” has a double meaning. On the one hand, it talks about the massive global changes that affected us all in recent years with covid 19, as well as talking about expectations of artists ‘in the music industry.”

Often the reality of being a professional artist is a mile apart from what is taught in music colleges or suggested on social media. A keen eye will notice the album is peppered with such references including the following, but the message is one of hope Hold fast to your instinct, stick with what’s real, The world is still waiting, for all you’ll reveal… (Thinking in circles) This world can’t wait, For you to play your part, Perfectly in place, Now go make a start…(She’s Tough Enough).

Your music has so much soul and genuineness. What is your vision for your project?

Nick Cody: This project is about creating original music that connects with people at a human level, especially in these tougher times. I had one hilarious comment from a music magazine that suggested that “The Leonard Cohen vibe maybe too bleak for some!”, while admitting that the album was “well crafted with fine musicianship and blended vocals.”
Others really seemed to better appreciate the real essence of this specific project and the comments below to date certainly reflected that view – “Towse (Grace Fellows) and Nick Cody make a special sound together. Two artists from different backgrounds who have found each other through the joy of music and songwriting.” Lendmeyourears “UK singer-songwriter Nick Cody is set to unleash his forthcoming album, “All is Fine Until the World Goes Pop”; the plaintive piano mockery of the state of our being at this crushing crux of humanity” Protest Musica All is fine ‘til the world goes pop’ is a magical piece, and the album cuts across folk to rock to Americana. The 13 tracks album, serves nothing else but classic music that takes you to another dimension, a world where nothing else matters.

Do you have any wild gig/festival stories that you’re allowed to share?

Nick Cody: One of the most surreal experiences of playing at a festival was playing The Lagoa Guitar Festival in Portugal. This was very early in my career of playing live and this was literally only the third gig I had ever played, so it was a total baptism of fire. I look back at some of the footage and I was playing everything 20% faster than it should be, so we were heading into “Ramones territory!” I remember stepping onto the stage and thinking “Well I’m in it now, so let’s go!” That said we were wonderfully received by the sold-out audience and as my producer would say “One live gig is worth eight rehearsals” I also met the brilliant Laurent Zeller who was headlining as the leader of his gypsy jazz ensemble “Les Kostards” playing amazing violin. We became friends and he plays on the new album. This May my acoustic ensemble is supporting Martin Simpson for the Music for Head and Heart 4 th showcase in Leeds.

If you could meet/play live with any band/solo musician in the world, who would it be and why?

Nick Cody: Two of my favourite artists are Nick Cave and Tom Waits. With Tom, I’d just be happy to be on stage even if it just meant shaking a tambourine. With Nick, I’d love to be a “Bad Seed” for a day and play “Red Right Hand” and “Stagger Lee”. Both artists have a very specific vision for their creative art. My good friend and world-class journalist “Sylvie Simmons” comments that such artists were “the awkward bastards” who refused to bend to the music industry’s commercial considerations, and the
world is better for such artists. Both Nick and Tom have always been mavericks, ahead of the curve creating inspiring, provocative and magical music. At times I’ve thought “What on earth is this?” before realising the brilliance of such creative talents.

Last, what do you hope changes in the music industry for underground artists to truly prosper?

Nick Cody: I set up Green Eyed Records to assist artists and to bring great music to a wider audience. The central theme of GER is “creativity through collaboration” and I am convinced that this is the best way forward for the health and development of great music. I discussed this in an interview with Jim Glennie founder member of James, who celebrate their 40 th anniversary, this year having sold 30m albums to date. The consensus is that a new way forward is needed, and the tide is already moving in that direction, with questions about streaming and how that affects artist income. The technology for recording and sharing music is extraordinary, but as my producer would say “Nick, it’s all about the songs.”

I’m unconvinced that having nine writers work on a single track on the insistence of a record company makes for great content. The responsibility for the future of music is as much with the buying public as the artists. Go see artists play live, buy their music from platforms like Bandcamp rather than stream it for free.

Otherwise, as Joni Mitchell once said, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone.’ I’m lucky to have some amazing artists as friends including Jon Gomm and Martin Simpson among others. I have massive respect for anyone striving to make a living from music. As the old musician joke goes “Want to make a million in music? Start off with two million…”

Hear more on YouTube.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen