Nick Zinner Talks Inspirations

The wild-haired guitarist of Yeahs Yeahs Yeahs talks about his desert island discs, films and his photography.

Text by Ari Stein

A man of very few words, but with enough memorable guitar riffs to last a lifetime - Nick Zinner may very well be one of the last true myths in the rock business. His boyish face, skinny frame and unforgettable coif have cemented its mark on the music world.

Alongside the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' new album “It’s a Blitz”, Zinner also managed to squeeze in an appearance on N.A.S.A’s debut album and a recent appearance in NME’s ‘Future 50’. This, all in tandem with his personal dedication to the photographic arts. We sat down for a quick chat to talk desert island discs, his love for Bat for Lashes and the defecating punk maniac GG Allen.

When was the last time something gave you goose bumps?
Nick Zinner: Watching Bat For Lashes at Glastonbury festival.

What five records would you take to a deserted island that we may not have heard of?
Nick Zinner: Mary Margaret O’Hara - Miss America Arvo Part - Arbos Roland S. Howard - Teenage Snuff Film Steve Reich - Music for 18 musicians The Demure Sisters - compilation

What do you consider to be the essential difference between the reaction to a photography show and attending a rock concert?
Nick Zinner: Well I suppose you can spend as long as you’d like with a photograph, where as the actual gig experience is transitory.

What’s exciting you right now?
Nick Zinner: As above, Bat For Lashes. She is really, really good and I like all the weird echoes in the production of her newest record.

Was there ever a time where you were scared for your life?
Nick Zinner: Yes, many times, real and imagined.

If you could collaborate with anyone from any medium at any point in time whom would it be and why?
Nick Zinner: Lisa "left eye" Lopez, the original fire starter.

I saw a documentary on GG Allen recently. What do you think would inspire someone to act like that? And can you identify with any of his ideas about music or life?
Nick Zinner: I just saw that too. I think there’s a point where he just said, " fuck it", and stopped thinking about consequences, opinions, or morals. I really can’t relate to him about anything, but I admire his passion.

What are the best movies we should see, but might not have?
Nick Zinner: I would recommend, " Little Dieter Needs To Fly" by Werner Herzog, and "The Double Life of Veronique" by Krzysztof Kieslowski.

If you could invent a guitar what would it sound/be like?
Nick Zinner: Electric air guitar.

Is there some place in the world where you would like to go which would inspire you as an artist?
Nick Zinner: Labuhanbajo, Flores Island, Indonesia. I went there once and it was so beautiful and simple.

The biggest flaw in pop culture?
Nick Zinner: Bedazzled "punks not dead" shirts.

Is there any room left for true individuality or artistic expression these days?
Nick Zinner: Absolutely, if you can get past the jackasses making all the noise. I think everyone has the potential to take something and make it his or her own.

Glen Danzig once said, “I have to say, one out of every 100 interviews I do, I get a real journalist.” Would you agree?
Nick Zinner: Are you looking for a compliment?

Can we expect any side projects or new endeavors in the near future for Nick Zinner?
Nick Zinner: Yes, photo books, soundtracks, and collaborations!.

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