Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea
Jack and The Bear
Atkins began playing in pick-up bands around this time and continued to do so, often at local coffeehouses, while attending high school in a nearby town.
North Carolina and New York. After high school, Atkins moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to study illustration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene, discovering bands like Superchunk and Uncle Tupelo. She also started writing original songs and making friends with other local musicians. Among other bands, she joined a supergroup in the city called Nitehawk that, at one point, had almost 30 members. Atkins spent her junior year abroad in Australia. After she returned, she joined the band Los Parasols, releasing an EP with them entitled The Summer of Love in 2002. That same year, Atkins moved to the neighborhood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, New York. She began performing at open mic night at the Sidewalk Café in Manhattan’s East Village. Influenced by the artists on Rainbow Quartz, the independent record label specializing in guitar heavy pop music and traditional songwriting for which she worked, she moved away from the louder rock music she’d played in North Carolina and toward the songcraft style of Wilco and Roy Orbison. She returned briefly to Charlotte, living in a wood shop and playing with several bands, most notably a group called Virginia Reel. At this time, she started writing what she termed “a mix of Americana, 60s and indie rock.” She also recorded her EP Bleeding Diamonds.
In 2004, she moved back to her parents’ house in New Jersey, working odd jobs and playing local gigs. During a regular Friday night stand at Kelly’s Tavern in nearby Neptune City the audience kept requesting cover songs by local favorites Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. In response, Atkins got drunk and played a tongue-in-cheek version of Bon Jovi’s “Livin' on a Prayer”. She was not asked back.
During this time, she commuted into New York by train to play gigs and maintain a connection to the city’s underground music scene. In mid-2004, Atkins and David Muller, who had played drums with Fischerspooner and The Fiery Furnaces, started working on a demo CD entitled Party’s Over. They recorded most of the album in Atkins’ parents’ house using a Casio keyboard, a ProTools rig and a mini recorder. Drum parts were recorded at Muller’s apartment in Manhattan, with further tracks recorded at the Dietch Projects gallery in Brooklyn.
The Sea and Neptune CityIn early 2005, keyboardist Dan Chen, whom Atkins knew from her days at The Sidewalk Café, approached Atkins about forming a new group. Chen told Atkins he knew of a drummer, Dan Mintzer, who might also be interested in playing with her. When the three sat down together for the first time, Chen and Mintzer already knew how to play the songs they’d heard on Atkins' MySpace page. Eventually David Hollinghurst, another friend from The Sidewalk Café, joined the band on guitar and Derek Layes was brought on as bassist. The band, now known as Nicole Atkins & The Sea, was given a residency at the small showcase bar, Piano's, and won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar. Her Party’s Over demo had stirred interest from heavy metal label Roadrunner Records, among others. Atkins soon found herself in the midst of a bidding war between record labels and signed with Columbia Records in January 2006. In late-2006, Atkins and the Sea traveled to Sweden to record her debut album, Neptune City, at Varispeed Studios in Kalgerup and Gula Studion in Malmö with producer Tore Johansson. The album was originally scheduled for a July 2007 release, but at the behest of Columbia co-chairman Rick Rubin, it was pushed back until October 30, 2007 to accommodate re-mastering the album. It debuted at number 20 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart and, as of December 2007, had reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.
Recent workIn 2008, Atkins was cast as the voice of the mother in director Geoff Marslett’s animated sci-fi comedy film “Mars.”. On September 9 of that year, she released a four track EP of cover songs called Nicole Atkins Digs Other People's Songs, which included the tracks: "The Crystal Ship" (The Doors), "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (The Mamas & the Papas), "Under the Milky Way" (The Church) and "Inside of Love" (Nada Surf). In 2009, Atkins' backing vocals were featured prominently on AC Newman's second solo album, Get Guilty.
Sometime in late April or early May 2009, the entire lineup of the Sea was replaced. In a blog entry Atkins stated that the band name has been changed and is "a bit (different)" and is now called Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea. The band now features Christopher Donofrio on drums, Brad York on guitars, and Anthony Chick on bass. According to an interview Atkins gave to radio station 105.7 FM The Hawk on May 10, 2009, the release date of the new album on which she had been working, titled Mondo Amore, was pushed back to January 2010. Two months later Atkins severed her ties with Columbia Records. The album was released on Razor & Tie Records on February 8, 2011.
Atkins also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.
When not on the road, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Ticket Info:Tickets are $10 in Advance. Advance tickets are available at All Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com, and/or locally at Culture Clash (419.536.LOVE), and Ramalama Records (419.531.ROCK). Tickets will be $12 at the door, night of show.