Q&A: Gatsby’s American Dream (SXSW 2011)

Reunions are becoming a trend and as more groups keep putting aside their differences, it’s hard not to think artists are solely recording and performing for the money. Having resurfaced several months ago, these Seattle rockers are positive they’ve reunited because of their passion for music. GATSBY’S AMERICAN DREAM frontman Nic Newsham confirmed it over lunch in Austin’s downtown core during South By Southwest, claiming they’re a group who puts their fans first.

It’s South By Southwest and the group is scheduled to perform two shows. How does it feel to be back playing music?

It feels really surreal. Like when we’re on stage now, we kind of get caught up in the moment because it’s a really emotional experience. There’s just so many different emotions going around and the whole experience, it’s pretty hard to describe. Picture playing so many different shows and tours for so long, then you stop doing that for five years and then all of a sudden you’re playing music again; its really bizarre.
Do you think this festival and others like Vans Warped Tour add to the re-launch of the band?

Definitely. On a conventional tour, you’re not going to see the guy who owns your label, different managers and hundreds of bands. There’s a fair amount of people here in Austin and there’s really nothing like it. It’s almost like a big industry party or homecoming and it’s simply awesome.
How have fans and other artists alike reacted to your re-emergence?

It’s been humbling, man. Like this whole thing is nuts. Kids are constantly coming up to me saying how great it is to see us play when they didn’t think it would ever happen. Fans are a huge reason for why we play music. If nobody gave a shit if we made another record, I don’t think we would. We’d all still be making music at some capacity but if that’s the case, it wouldn’t happen. Kids love our band and the connection we tend to make with them, whether its at shows or whatever, is kind of indescribable.

Music could use a band like us. If that’s cocky, so be it. I can tell you for a fact, there’s a lot of f*cking bullshit out there..”

Will you be able to further that connection with a new record?

See that’s the thing; we don’t have fans on message boards or on Absolutepunk.net saying they like the old stuff and that our new shit sucks. Those longtime fans are still there, thank God. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some new fans as there’s a whole new generation out there that has never heard of us before. It’s exciting as music in general could use a band like us.

If that’s cocky, so be it. I can tell you for a fact, there’s a lot of f*cking bullshit out there and at least we’re a band that’s making honest music.
And a band that’s bringing back a familiar sound.

Our music isn’t really restricted to a beat but it’s created with a certain attitude and that attitude is still there. It’s kind of like a chip on the shoulder that says “f*ck the man”. That chip shows that you can go out there, write some kick-ass songs and not care about a million dollar deal.
Would you say the group still has that certain attitude?

Oh yeah. I’d say more now than ever. When we left the music scene, we actually left the music scene. I took a huge step back and didn’t even try to write music as I just kind of played basketball and did my own thing. I listened to hip hop but I really didn’t have a clue as to what was going in the music scene. Now that we’re back, we feel as if we can f*ck some shit up.

We want to write songs from the heart that are real and honest and aren’t bullshit. Some people just write their own parts and throw them together for songs but you have to be very critical to be emotional.

Are there any other goals aside from writing honest material?

We don’t really set goals. The band before was so f*cking stressed and so f*cking busy. Sometimes it was too much and we just burned the f*ck out. Now we take things as they come; we’re writing some songs, playing festivals and seeing how everything goes. The second we stop having fun, we will probably be done with this. Right now, we’re enjoying everything. The show last night was just awesome and we’re excited to play more.
Given the past and your present, do you think you’re a role model for this new generation?

I know that we are. It sounds cocky, but people tell us all the time they play guitar or sing vocals because of us. It doesn’t sound that interesting but it’s awesome because some kid who looks up to you could be the next Johnny Craig; they could grow into this great musician that you and everyone else will love. You’re not going to make a lot of money playing music, but to make your mark on the world and influence others, that’s priceless.
What advice do you have for rising artists?

Oh God, I don’t even know. The thing about being in a band is you’re going to have people coming at you from everywhere telling you what to do, that you need to wear this or record with this motherf*cker; what you need to do is focus on what you want. Stick to your gut instinct as it’s spot on. Be loyal to yourself, as cliche as that is.

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  • fuck.kill.eat.shit.sleep. says:

    the opinionated are so opinionated…

  • sleep.shit.eat.kill.fuck says:

    johny craig sure is a great musical role model!

    let’s break it down:


    Has a great voice and sub-par lyrics


    steals money from his fans
    consumes too many drugs
    brushes these things off (and expects others to) as if he is ordering a cup of coffee in his “apology”

    Next time…reference a decent human being…and not yourself…you’ve already affirmed you and your band’s status as “saviors” of the modern music scene enough in this interview.

  • kush says:

    Seriously? You’re a moron. If you actually took the time to read into what Nic had to say, he wasn’t diving into JC’s personal life/issues, but paying him mad respect as a good vocalist.

    Lets be real, this interview isn’t about Johnny Craig or whatever. It’s about Gatsbys American Dream finally getting back together and giving the music scene exactly what it needs – down to earth musicians with poetic prowess, amazing instrumentation and something to say. These qualities are almost non-exsistant in todays music. Everything you said is completely irrelevant. And it’s great you think you know everything there is to know about Johnny Craig, but honestly, no one gives a sh*t.

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