Many moons ago Primo Pitino, the DJ of San Francisco’s legendary Oldies Night, passed me a copy of his friend Nick Waterhouse’s “Some Place.” Nick was a local vinyl DJ and the kid working at our Shangri-la, Rooky Ricardo’s Records. Though he didn’t have a band at the time, Waterhouse assembled some local musicians to cut a one-off 45 in the vein of the electrifying mid-century modern rhythm and blues he loved. I threw “Some Place” on the Technics during sound check a few cities down the line and was blown away from the howling falsetto all the way to the end! I gave it a whirl every night from Texas to Tennessee and all the way back home to New York. Not only were the dancers’ feet responding, but they were also asking about the track on a nightly basis. The Nashville Scene was so blown away that they printed a piece on Nick after a single listen. DJs and collectors everywhere wanted it so bad that the little record with the big sound started fetching upwards of $300 on Ebay.
The immediate and unprecedented underground dance party success of Nick’s DIY record resulted in a full band, gigs, and, after a number of obstacles, the widely acclaimed 2012 LP Time’s All Gone. Nick’s music, vision, and fully formed aesthetic caught on globally and he was instantly a fixture at nearly every major nightclub and festival on both sides of the Atlantic, Australia, Japan, and Russia – hitting stages everywhere from Primavera to Montreux Jazz Festival and charting on college, public, and commercial radio.
Only a year after self-releasing his first single, Nick Waterhouse was thrust into the chaos of leading a band, touring, and recording in the big leagues! Pummeling high speed down a bumpy hill of lineup changes, economic problems, and general chaos without any breaks, Nick made it through and the challenges made him more focused. 2014’s Holly captured a more experienced artist upping the ante in writing, performance, recording, and production, inspiring a new level of critical and commercial success.
In addition to a jam-packed five years on the road, in the studio, and in the practice space, Waterhouse also produced septuagenarian soul legend Ural Thomas, Los Angeles Latin stars the Boogaloo Assassins, and garage rockers the Allah-las. He’s currently collaborating with the likes of young Grammy-nominee Leon Bridges and Steven Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste. The Rolling Stones blast Nick’s version of “I Can Only Give You Everything” at stadiums before they go onstage. Vogue hired him to pose with Kendall Jenner. He hipped her to Little Willie John while Anna Wintour complimented his shoes. While a lesser artist would get lost in these distractions, Nick Waterhouse’s acclaim only seems to energize him and make him work harder and push his music to the next level.
Nick’s latest Never Twice is a culmination, intensification, and realization of everything he’s been developing throughout this prolific frenzy. Catchier and loaded with more hits than its predecessors, Nick’s new LP is at the same time harder hitting, more rhythmic, more harmonic, more diverse, and more adventurous than any of the excellent work that already separated him from the pack. A cool and elegant post-post-modern cocktail of 1950s r&b and club jazz, mixed with 1960s soul and boogaloo, and shaken with a minimal contemporary sensibility, Never Twice finds the artist taking his time, refining his vision, and speaking with new authority. In five short years Nick Waterhouse has come a long way and it looks like he may have just painted his masterpiece.
– Jonathan Toubin, New York City, 2016