There’s a lot that goes into having a successful music career. Good songs, image, management, and promotion are just a few of the things that separate the local bar bands from the arena head-liners. Although Mathew and Gunnar Nelson might have had a jump start on the competition due to them being from the musical Nelson family, they certainly paid their dues. Read on, in this exclusive interview with Gunnar Nelson:
WM: Can you give us a brief history of Nelson, as in you and your brother?
GN: Brief history … ok, well, our first memories were of watching our dad perform, beside the stage. We actually watched him do his thing and make people happy, and we decided that’s what we wanted to do, forever. I was seven when I got my first drum set and about six months later Matthew got his first bass. They stuck us out in the barn, and we began playing and getting our chops together. We started playing professionally from the time we were twelve. We actually played the LA club scene on the same stages as bands like the Go-Gos, the Bangles … you know, the whole 80’s New Wave thing. We were very very young, but we’d been playing for a long time. It was right around that time we had our first recording session, that our dad produced, and that was really the final nail in the coffin. As far as our mom was concerned, she never wanted us to get into music, so … that was really it. Our dad produced that session, the Pointer Sisters sang backup, and that’s when we really knew that was it for our lives!
We spent our high school years playing the LA club scene as well as rehearsing, and getting things together. Our dad passed away when we were 18 years old, on his way to a gig. We had already booked ourselves playing Saturday Night Live as the only unsigned band to ever do it. We decided to go through with the show, but at the time I was back on drums and Matthew was up front singing by himself on bass. After we played Saturday Night Live I felt, man, there’s so much turbulence right now, so much chaos in the air, that if we’re ever going to make a change now’s the time to do it. And I decided to learn how to play guitar. Spent a year doing that, and came up front with Matt. And that’s when we went from our high school band to the Nelson that everybody sees now.
We hooked up with Mark Canner, our producer and co-writer, and spent the next couple of years writing songs and really getting the trip together. We got signed by John Kalodner over at Geffin Records, and put the After the Rain record together. The first song, “Love and Affection”, went #1 on our 22nd birthday. That made us the only family in history with 3 generations of #1 hitmakers. Our dad had two, and grandfather Ozzie had one in 1934 with a song of his called “And Then Some.”
Then we just toured like crazy. We did 206 shows with the band we had at the time, which was Bobby Rock on drums, and Paul Mercovich on guitar, Joey Capcard on rhythm, and Brett Garset on lead guitar. It was a six person band. We toured the world and back, literally. Then the whole music scene changed. Right around that time, the whole confidence rock of “Living on a Prayer” was over, replaced by the shoe gazers and security rock of Seattle. Everybody from our particular generation was trying to figure out what they were going to do. Like our father was trying to figure out what to do after the “Ozzie and Harriet Show” ended and the year of the singer/songwriter was here for the first time, in the ‘60s. Just like he put together his Stone Canyon Band and became a singer/songwriter and hit with “Garden Party” all over again, Matthew and I have been spending the last six years playing shows all over the world and really connecting with our audience during the show and especially after, when we meet everybody. Putting our trip together now, which is currently has one foot firmly in rock and the other firmly in country. We’re doing our own thing, which we just call American music.
WM:: That’s great. Now you mentioned your first session was produced by your dad. Has that ever seen the light of day?
GN: Actually, we put that on as a hidden track on a record of ours. We’ve made nine records to date, and that particular song was called “Feelings of Love”, and we sound like the Chipmunk. (laughs) It was the first thing that Matthew ever wrote, and it was pretty cool. We put it on as a hidden track on The Silence in Broken record.
WM: And that was self-released?
GN: Yeah, it was on Stone Canyon records.
WM: So now you mentioned you were signed to Geffin Records, and John Kalodner was the one who signed you. He’s pretty much a take-it-or-leave-it kind of guy, right? It’s John’s way or the highway?
GN: Yes. Yes.
WM: Have you talked to John recently?
GN: Absolutely. We just got off tour with Peter Frampton and Styx, and we saw John when we were out on tour. It was really great to see John. Back in the day, you’ve got to understand, what we were all trying to do together was very, very different from what anybody else was doing. Everybody else was trying to do the “top of the now” “still beyond it” “girlfriend’s kinda black & white video” trip. What we wanted to come out with John was really a modern version of the Hollies. We wanted to do stuff that was like very vocally heavy, with lots of harmonies. We wanted a colorful presentation, and we just wanted to really unique. You know, the MTV era was obviously here to stay. We all figured that people were going to be flipping through their video channels, and any new band is going to have, at most, a second and a half of somebody’s time when they’re flipping through the channels… whether or not they’re going to park on that channel or not, and we wanted to make sure that we stood out.
So we worked out everything and really thought about the whole visual presentation as well, the sonic presentation, and we wanted to make sure the visual could uphold the audio image of who we were.
It was really nice being with a guy like John, who was very much into doing things that were different and unique and special. Fortunately at the time he had the pull to be able to sway a record company to do what we wanted to do.
WM: That was obviously your most successful record. Was it triple platinum?
WM: That must have been hard to follow up.
GN: Well, no, not really. See, my father always said that a career is nothing more than a series of comebacks. But if you’re to look at that from a broad perspective life is nothing more than a series of comebacks. You know, I remember before Matthew and I got signed. I remember a well-meaning best friend at the time going, “Well, you’re never going to be as famous as your father, so why even try? What if you guys don’t even get signed?” The funny thing that happens is, once you get signed, well, what if your record never comes out? What if the record’s not a hit? Once it hit #1, well how’re you going to follow that up? That’s what we all did to ourselves, in living our lives, and you know it’s a happy problem to have. I think success takes on many different forms, and it really depends on where you are in your life, as far as what you regard as successful.
My grandpa Ozzie always said, “Doing what you love to do for a living, and supporting yourself doing what you love to do, is like having a license to steal.” The way I look at it, we’ve already won before we’ve left the house. We’re here making music, and doing what we love to do more than anything else in the world, and not having to compromise that. So just in that sense, there’s really no pressure. Each generation of Nelson has really made their own unique mark and done their own thing, and I never really felt pressure to uphold any of that. I never felt pressure to do anything other than my very best. To be honest, I’ve known when I’ve pulled my punches and not done my very best work. And I’m the one who has suffered for it. I also know when I’ve done my very best work at the time, and whether or not it was commercially successful at the time, I felt successful making it. Because it was art, and I did my best.
Like I’ve said, we’ve been doing this since I was seven. We’re on our ninth record right now, and now we’re able to do things on our own terms. We’re own our own label, we are our own bosses, we have our own relationships with our own distributors around the world that get our product out there. The internet has really helped out a lot, as far as being able to take the music to the people instantly. When we were signed to our first deal, there was no internet. Even running a fan club, that was filling an envelope and sticking a stamp on it. Not a big deal when you’ve got 20 people in your fan club, but when you’ve got 20,000 people in your fan club as active members and you promise them quarterly mailings, do the math! Just being able to beam out an email to people right now, it’s revolutionary!
Things are really picking up. What I love more than anything, is that the more the world seems to change, the more technology seems to get us moving faster, I think people really need music in their lives more now than they ever did before. They really want a connection with the people that make their favorite music, that make the soundtracks to their lives. So we make sure we try to do our music incorporating the best of both worlds. Instant delivery, as well as staying behind after every show and just talking about life with people. So, for us, that’s really what gets us off making our music, is actually doing both things.
WM: After you recorded After the Rain, your second record was called, Imaginator, is that correct?
GN: Yeah, actually the second one was called Imaginator, and that was the one that we kind of made in seclusion. Geffin was kind of reeling, trying to figure out what they were going to do with their agenda, everything had changed with Nirvana. And what were they going to do with the Whitesnakes of the world, that were signed to their label, and the Nelsons, and all these other bands. We found that John Kalodner was spending a lot of time with Aerosmith. I guess Aerosmith was kind of priming itself to leave the label during all of this change. We were left alone, and we made an album that was really, really heavy. It was an album called Imaginator, it was actually finished about six months before Metallica did the Black Album, and it was really intense. It was a conceptual album, and it definitely was full of piss and vinegar. But again, it was a really honest record, albeit a serious departure from the pop metal that we had done on our first record. Even though Geffin didn’t want to stick with the same formula that was on the After the Rain record, they also obviously didn’t know what the next step was going to be. When they heard this particular record it scared the hell out of them. They were like, ‘What happened to these sweet blonde kids for crying out loud!’
GN: But then again they decided to market it the easiest way they could at the time. The easiest and cheapest way for them to market the first record was the teen magazines and all that other kind of stuff. Matt and I never did any interviews for those magazines, they just decided to do it that way anyways. Whatever, little girls need to rock too, what can I say. (laughs)
To make a long story short, they rejected the record. They heard the Imaginator album, and said, we don’t want to release this, we think it’s a mistake, and yada yada yada. And Matt and I were devastated. We spent a lot of time putting the record together. John Kalodner stepped up and said, ‘Well, I wasn’t involved in making that record, but I will be involved in making another one if you guys want to go back to the drawing board and do it all over again.’
So that’s what we elected to do. We made “Because They Can” record, which I’m very very proud of. I think it’s a wonderful record. It’s definitely a record, listening to it now, which was about 15 years ahead of its time. It’s funny, because it really blends a lot of rock and a lot of country right where the modern country thing on CMT is really at right now. It’s pretty fun. But John’s always kind of been a visionary, and I really enjoyed that record.
The problem was, four and a half years had gone by. So by the time we turned it in, because they canned the record from when we’d first released the After the Rain album. All of those fans, obviously life had moved on, things had changed, people had gone very ‘alterna’ at the time. For us, our best work that we had done up to that point really only found an audience overseas and in Japan and the Pacific Rim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, that sort of thing … so we had to go overseas and do a lot of touring. That’s where we spent the next few years, was actually concentrating on our overseas following.
When we came back, the relationship with Geffin finally dissolved, and we decided to start our own label, which was Stone Canyon Records, and ever since we’ve made a record a year.
WM: You did eventually release Imaginator, how many years after the fact was it?
GN: After the fact, meaning after we turned it into Geffin? About five years.
WM: And what was the response five years later?
GN: It was excellent overseas. It’s a very, very intense record. We had Henry Rollins do a spoken word on it, for crying out loud!
GN: Yeah! Like I said, very intense. If Geffin had released it at the time, the Metallica Black Album came out six months later… It was definitely much more congruent with the kind of live show we had been doing. Cause we recorded with our touring band, with Bobby Rock and all those guys. It was definitely congruent with the two years on the road that we’d spent. We would have felt very comfortable supporting that record.
I learned an awful lot. I learned that you’ve got to follow your heart, you’ve got to follow your material, but you’ve got to put out stuff that makes sense too. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another major label deal. Not because I don’t feel we could get one. I just don’t know, knowing what I know now about the industry, if I would ever be open to it, to be honest with you. But I think things have really started changing in the industry, too, in the artist’s favor.
WM: So what do you view as the pros and cons for releasing an album independently, as opposed to being on a label like Geffin?
GN: Real simply… you can definitely get yourself to be a household name if you get released on a major and they put all the money behind you. But what people have to understand is when they sign, a major has got a whole roster, and an agenda for the year, a certain budget for the year. They are going to wave that magic wand on only one, maybe two acts in their entire stable. Everybody else, they’re going to rely on that band’s built in following, that band’s management, that band’s own ingenuity to get themselves promoted out there… regardless of what they tell you in meetings. The ones that are going to get all the push, all the money, the spaces at radio, the relationships and favors pulled, are going to be one, maybe two acts. If you’re one of those one, maybe two acts, like Nelson was in the beginning, it’s great. Buckle up and get ready for the ride.
However, if you’re a band that’s also on that roster and if for some reason, one of those many planets that needs to align for you did not align, you’re going to find yourself stuck. Unable to make any other music for anybody else, or do any other thing, without your label’s permission. You will have, in a sense, been signed to a slavery contract. So you need to be very, very careful with that. I would recommend, if you do get into a major label deal, you make sure you are good enough to create a bidding war. A bidding war can create some leverage for you and your attorney, to put in some conditions.
Two conditions I would definitely stick to, especially nowadays: a ‘key man’ clause, for whoever signs you. If that person leaves the label, like John Colander left Geffin halfway through our deal, we can elect to go with him or leave altogether. That’s one.
Second clause: return of your masters to you. Your masters are your real estate. Make sure that after a certain amount of time, something that’s fair, let’s just say it’s the length of the contract. A personal service agreement in Los Angeles can only run seven years. So let’s say at the end of those seven years, your masters belong to you, they don’t belong to the record company. Why is this important? Because so many artists are retiring and dying broke, for this one particular reason. A major label, any label, its number one moneymaker is its catalogue. Long after your lead singer has slept with the bass player’s girlfriend and the band has broken up, your label is going to be out there repackaging and regurgitating all of your masters on all of these compilations like Monsters of Hair.
WM: Which is really the rage right now, a lot of ‘80s compilations …
GN: And you know, the bands that are current right now, they’re going to be on the same compilations ten years from now. The problem is, as an artist, you do not get paid for that. Your label does. Now arguably, what they say to you is, well, we’re going to make you famous, we’re going to do all of the promotion, and your money is going to be in the touring. And you get to go out there and you get to tour. Here’s the problem. The problem is, yes, this is true, but, unlike a record, which can get sold and you can make passive income on without your being there, you need to be there when you play. You can only play one show a day. You have to travel your balls off to get there. Eat bad food, lose your relationships, and all that other stuff. So there is a trade-off. And you have to understand that going into it. So, what you can do…
Put it to the readers this way: having a major label deal is like this. Let’s say you want to go buy a house. You go to the bank, and you prove that you’re credit-worthy. You get a loan. You take that loan, you go out and you buy that house. Over the next ten years, you sacrifice everything in order to pay that bank back the money that they loaned you for that house. Ten years pass, you’ve worked really hard, the fates smile on you, and you are able to pay them back 100% of all the money they loaned you. And the bank still owns your house. You’ve just experienced the music industry.
That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s always been. Now, I’m not saying that there’s not good parts to having a major label deal. Yes, they’ve got the relationships at radio, they’ve got the relationships at the video outlets, there’s so much money at stake, that they make sure that they keep their stake live. So they’re much bigger players than you will ever be as an independent. That is fine. However, if you’re able to make a win-win situation happen, which a lot of people are doing. – I mean, Subpop started out as a little independent – basically what you do is you’re an entrepreneur, and you have a band that’s started to build a big, hopefully huge following, and you can have a lot of leverage. That’s how Nirvana started their whole thing. Yes, they signed to DGC, but they really actually started on an independent first. It was a joint venture.
I think there’s so many ways for artists, new bands and new artists, to be savvy. To actually do the research, go out there on the web, and go down to the bookstore. So many great books that they can learn, that actually explain the terms of the music industry. I’ll finalize my little diatribe on the music industry to say this: after you’ve learned absolutely everything as far as how the music industry works… forget it, because it doesn’t work that way.
How it really works, and I will say this as ‘personal relations’, the music industry is about personal relationships with everybody. It’s about favors. It’s about who just happens to like your band. Also, you have the manager who did a favor for Joe Schmo when he was the night-time jock at some station in Podunk, Iowa… who is now running Clear Channel. You know what I mean? That’s the way you take your career from playing by all the rules, and you can really get that one opportunity. You need to make sure that your shit is together, so that when the sun shines on you, you are ready for your opportunity. That’s your job. They say that it’s all about luck. But the definition of luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You can actually make sure, based on the team that you surround yourself with, you have better chance of having opportunities, and you as an artist can make sure that you are prepared. So the ball is really in your court.
WM: So all of this knowledge that you have about the music industry… was that too little, too late for you?
GN: Not at all! I’m still in the game.
WM: As far as Geffin is concerned …
GN: No, I mean all of that stuff is such a valuable lesson for me to learn, but it was also a different time, man. If you think about this, all that stuff was going down 8, 9 years ago. Think about how much the industry has changed in 8 or 9 years. I’m not talking about the music itself, I’m talking about the way people do business. All of the major labels are scrambling right now. I mean, downloads? Just in general, as a concept? What a terrifying concept for them! Think about it! What do you mean, we don’t have a stranglehold on the public now? You mean, just because we owned all the trucks and decided what was in the record store racks – you mean, we don’t have that anymore? What are we going to do?
What the record industry looks like they’re going to start having to do, which is good, is rather than treating the artists like they are pains in the asses, and necessary evils that they have to just put up with, the labels need to start working with the artists if they want the artists to start working with the labels. Up until now, it’s always been, this is the name of the game, it’s our way or the highway, take it or leave it. Then when the whole download thing happened with Napster, they had the balls to come back to the artists and go, they’re ripping you off! And the artists are going, no, we don’t make any money from you anyway! The fans aren’t ripping us off, you guys have been ripping us off forever, and then you want us to come to you and help you guys out?
I think it needs to be a win-win thing. I think that definitely there has to be some kind of a profit-sharing standard. It has to be, ‘Hey, you know what, as a label, if we’ve got artists that are smart enough or have a big enough name or whatever, we will rent their material from them. And give it back to them as their retirement fund. That’s only fair. We’re going to whore them out and we’re going to make millions of dollars, and then when all is said and done we will allow them to retire on a comfortable existence if they are savvy enough to re-license their material to people. That’s like step one.
Songwriting, publishing, I think that’s really the only income string where an artist really does get hurt. When the whole thing was happening with free downloads, I think it’s important for kids to know, for people to know in general, and this really only applies to people who write their own music, which I happen to do, downloading hurts the songwriter. In an era where … you know, in Nashville there are a lot of people who are just songwriters, they’re not artists as well – you know, a songwriter/artist can make up for loss of income by going out on tour. But then again, I gave you what the downfall of that was. But, they can get hurt just by their stuff being freely shared.
As a person who also performs as well, who is a live artist, it’s a catch-22 for me because I want people to make my music a part of their lives. So it’s kind of like, pay as you exit. If you like my stuff, you’ll come to my show, hopefully, one day, you’ll buy a ticket, you might take some of your friends, and you might buy a t-shirt or three when you leave. And that’s cool. And then it’s a win-win thing. You know, I’m glad that my song is a memory to you, and I’m glad that it anchors you to a time in your life that was a pleasant memory. Or a relationship that you really liked. Or something. Anything. But do me the solid too – I helped you out, help me out too.
WM: Do you own the masters of your albums that were on Geffin?
GN: No. I do not. I do not own After the Rain, and I do not own Because They Can. Those are the only two records that are on Geffin. I own everything else. I own Imaginator, The Silence is Broken, Like Father, Like Sons, Brother Harmony… those kinds of records. I own those, those are great. But also, my re-record restrictions are up, so if I ever wanted to faithfully reproduce, I mean down to the T, what I did on those first records, I always could.
WM: So when there is an ‘80s compilation, and Nelson is on it, you don’t see anything from that?
GN: No. It’s my gift to all of you!
WM: (laughs) Thank you!
GN: You’re welcome.
WM: So royalty checks from Geffin are pretty much a dream…
GN: Yeah, they are a dream, but you know what, it’s totally ok. You can’t rape the willing. Realize this, we knew what we were getting into when we got into it. Geffin was the game to get into. I mean, God bless those people, because without their hard work, and without their expertise, and without their belief, there’s no way in the world I’d be in the Guinness book right now. So that’s something I can enjoy for the rest of my life. I don’t care if it cost me millions of dollars, it’s something that my grandkids can brag about. I’m alright. But lesson having been learned, at this point now, it’s all about balance. Just like life, it’s all about balance. There’s got to be a little give to a little take. I’m not saying that the record companies are the enemies. They’re businessmen. They’re trying to pay for their expense accounts and the big cars, and all that kind of stuff. I dig it. I understand it. It’s funny, it’s like my quote, “It’s a good gig if you can get it.” As long as there are garage bands that are literally willing to sign away their first born child, they are going to have the upper hand in all negotiations.
But things are changing a little bit. People are getting smarter, and the technology is flat-out changing. To the point where people can literally … think about this, fifteen years ago, if you were to tell me I could have a 32 track state-of-the-art, 2496k studio on my home computer, for $1200, are you kidding me? The only reason why people really had to go to the majors back then for the recording fund, is because you had to do the recording in a huge-ass studio with a quarter-million dollar budget. To even rent those studios back then, it was $1200 a day. And that’s not including engineer, tape or producer. Nowadays, you can do this shit at home! You grab your m-box, you deliver it on your I-pod. So the distribution, and the production, it’s all changed.
It’s both a good and a bad thing. With the advent of Autotune, a lot of people who can’t sing all of a sudden become singers. So it goes from being an artform, and goes into being product. That’s kind of a drag. I love a lot of the stuff that’s out there. That’s cool. But then get that person on stage, and they have to dance around with the little headset mic that’s never on, singing to track.
American Idol. Hey, look, that’s wonderful. I think Kelly Clarkson’s fucking awesome! But they should call it Karaoke Idol. You want to make it a real competition, make them write their own songs. Then it will be legitimate. Shoot, man, when I go see U2, I know U2 is writing their own songs!
WM: There’s a tv show right there.
GN: Exactly right! I have a feeling that the talent pool would be slightly thinner! Escapism in entertainment is all really great. At the bottom of all of that stuff, we’re all in the business that we’re in because we love music. We love music. It’s not just about the product, it’s not just about the sales, it’s not just about the time on the video outlet channels. Man, when I want to put myself back to summer camp, 1979, I put on Led Zeppelin 4, and I’m there. What I want, I want a new Led Zeppelin. Get me excited about that, you know? The ‘80s, what a great decade that was. Every act that came out wanted to sound different. If you think about it, all those singles on pop radio, their goal was to sound as unique and different as they possibly could. They wanted their own individual sound.
Unfortunately, like in the ‘90s, there’s a whole bunch of music that was rewarded for sounding the same. I think now, whether you’re talking pop, rock, country, what I really am encouraged by, I’m hearing some great tunes that are coming out where I’m going, man, that sounds unique. That lead singer sounds different. That chord progression is really great. I’m starting to get stimulated by that. There was a whole period of time where I couldn’t tell what band was what! Honestly, I really couldn’t. I’m not taking any of the validity out of it, I’m just saying I really couldn’t tell the difference between one or the other.
WM: Your hair in the ‘80s was synonymous with you, as much a part of Nelson as your harmony was back then.
GN: Yeah, for better or for worse. (laughs) Everybody knew who we were.
WM: Do you still find that people associate you with the two twins with the long blonde hair?
GN: Yeah, you know, I suppose so. I think it’s going to be our responsibility to kind of cruise through that until we get some other video up there, that kind of re-introduces people. It’s so funny, tv kind of keeps a personality kind of trapped in somebody’s mind, in that place. A lot of times, they see them a few years later, and think, ‘Oh, gosh, he looks so different!’
WM: Do you see you or your brother popping up on any of these reality tv shows that are the rave right now?
GN: No, no, I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ll be doing any of that stuff. We’ll be doing stuff that’s scripted. But the whole Surreal Life thing? It’s not really my style.
WM: Do you act?
GN: Yeah! We entertain.
WM: Yes you do.
GN: Actually I just got a radio show on the morning dj for Lifetime Radio’s morning show. It’s a National Show, I actually start on the 16th of this month.
WM: What is the premise of that?
GN: It’s all about self-betterment and self-improvement, but it’s an adult contemporary station. It’s called “Balancing Act”, it’s about finding balance in your life.
WM: So being it’s Lifetime, it’s geared more towards women?
GN: Thank God! (laughs) I love that, I’ll take that all day!
WM: Working with your brother day in, day out, what’s it like? You grew up together, I’m sure you had the brotherly spats…
GN: Well, no, not really. We were never the Everly Brothers, let’s put it that way. It was cool. We had a turbulent upbringing, and my brother’s always been my best friend. I’m very thankful for his being my brother. He’s a great guy.
WM: There’s two different types of musicians: you have the road dog, and the musician who is made for the studio. What are you personally?
GN: Got one foot in both buckets, man.
GN: Yeah. I know a lot of road dogs, they hate going in the studio. And I know a lot of guys who are just built for the studio and hate going on the road. They both have their blessings and their curses. They really do. You give up a lot to go out on the road, but then you get to meet your fans. So that’s great.
Being in the studio, hey, that’s great. You get to be creative, go in there, and make your internal vision a reality, and that’s great. It’s like … I don’t know how else to put this. It’s really a magical experience to hear something in your head, and then a day or two later, hear it coming out of the speakers exactly as you envisioned it. That’s a wonderful thing. But then again, you don’t get any kind of feedback at all, like being on stage. There’s nothing, nothing like the feeling of being on stage, looking out over 5000 people that are singing your lyrics back to you.
WM: That’d be a trip.
GN: It is, it’s a trip. It’s great! It justifies for you all the stuff you go through, and the sacrifices you made to get to that point. You see that and think, this is really great. But then again, I love going back in the studio and coming up with new stuff.
WM: So now you are going to be doing several days in Green Bay. Is it going to be an acoustic show?
GN: Yes, this particular engagement is going to be an acoustic show, it’s going to be the same show people saw us opening for Peter Frampton and Styx with. It’s just the two of us doing it. Which is kind of cool, it’s not like a watered down band show at all, or a cost-cutting venture, or anything like that. It’s not like Nelson-lite. It’s a way for us to really tell the stories behind the songs …
WM:: Like VH-1 Storyteller?
GN: Yeah, between the songs. It’s not a sleepy show. I think you get a lot more connection this way than you do with the band.
WM: Also, Nelson-lite would only be like one of you!
GN: Yeah! (laughs)
WM: As far as your set list, what are you doing?
GN: Well, it really depends. We’re going to read the audience like we always do, we’ve got four hours of material to pull from. So, we’ve got nine albums worth of our stuff, we’ve got our dad’s tunes that we can play as well. It really depends on our read of the audience when we get there and what we want. I guarantee you they’ll hear no less than an hour’s worth of top 5 songs or above.
WM: Any plans for a dvd?
GN: Yeah, eventually. We’re putting together a whole new trip right now. Got new management together, got a new agency together, and more importantly got a new band lineup together. So the next six months time is going to be spent pulling that whole creative thing together.
WM: Now’s the time, man.
GN: Now’s the time, I’m ready to do it!
WM: Are you going to be able to grab some of your older MTV videos for that dvd release?
GN: Oh yeah, we’ll do something that’s comprehensive.
WM: And at your show in Green Bay, I’m sure you’ll have merchandise with your cd, t-shirts …
GN: We absolutely will, and if there’s something there that you want that we don’t have with us, you can always get it through our website. Same cost, we just beam it right to you.
WM: Sweet. And the website is…
GN: www.thenelsonbrothers.com, all spelled out. Otherwise you get a plumbing company.
WM: Last question: anything to the Wisconsin music fans that have supported you through the years?
GN: You know, this part of the country is really our bread and butter. The folks that actually come to see our shows when we’re in Wisconsin are salt of the earth people, who I would say, quote “get it”. Man, we really, really enjoy playing there, at this particular casino. What I had the most fun with, last time I went there, is the Packers were playing the Tennessee Titans. I’m from Nashville, and it was great. I got to go to a block party the day before one of my shows there, and I hung out with people I never met before and had just the time of my life. It was really just great. So, I don’t know, I know it sounds trite… but it feels like a part of me is coming home, I’m really looking forward to the visit.
WM: But you’re going to root for the Packers this time.
GN: I don’t know about that! (laughs)