Nickel Slots – Hear what you C
You can stamp the “c” word — that’d be “commercial” — on the cover of White Lies And Cigarettes, the radio-ready debut disc by the Nickel Slots, and the band won’t view it as a death kiss to their credibility — whatever that equally slippery “c” word means.
White Lies And Cigarettes is pop-rock from the catchy, twin-guitar opener “Hollywood” to the, well, catchy twin-guitar closer “Lucky Stars”, with about five cents worth of rootsiness at its fringes. “Bar pop” is how guitarist Dave Bartholomew describes the quartet’s sound. “Steppin’ Out” even brings to mind early-’80s radio hogs .38 Special, although with more of a bar-band bite. (Say what you will about those Southern-rock stalwarts, but “Hold On Loosely” is still rattling around in my head almost 20 years after the fact.)
The songs originate with lead singer/guitarist Will Marley, whose previous band, heavy-popsters Lustre, were on A&M just long enough to release a record. Like everybody in the Nickel Slots, Marley is no stranger to the Central NC music scene, a beast as volatile as it is vibrant. Bassist David Collins was most recently in Glory Fountain and has played in a couple of Greensboro-based groups. Drummer Chris Henderson was in the latest incarnation of the Accelerators before leaving a month ago to concentrate on the Nickel Slots.
But it’s Bartholomew, a self-proclaimed “rock whore,” who gets around the most. He played in the Accelerators with longtime comrade Henderson roughly a half-dozen years after the pair co-starred in “high school angst” outfit Sometimes Why. He’s also backed area journeyman Jeff Hart, filled in on bass with kindred spirits Big Joe, and been on the roster of two other bands. “Being young and stupid has its advantages,” he laughs, after we add his full-time day job and his gig as soundman at Raleigh’s venerable rock club the Brewery to the list. “I’m living this life of some kind of cocaine insanity guy, but I’m doing it with water and cigarettes.”
His ever-growing resume and the mercurial nature of the local music scene aside, Bartholomew is already making long-term plans for the Nickel Slots. He’d love to see them follow the lead of one of his favorite bands, veteran road warriors Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, who still have a loyal following more than a decade after they first started getting a little radio airplay.
“In 10, 12, how ever many-odd years, I want to be doing the same thing,” Bartholomew says. “I want this band to be able to go out and tour, playing clubs between the size of the Brewery and Cat’s Cradle. Put plenty of people in there and give them what they want.”