During Louisville-based recording artist Nick Peay's decade plus of putting out records, he's constantly reinvented himself. Sometimes he's the front man of a zombie themed rock band, sometimes he's a ukulele-swinging Christmas songster. He even fronts a Beatles cover band for Abbey Road on the River, one of America's largest Beatles tribute music festivals. But most often he's the earnest singer-songwriter who is always trying to express himself, and reveal the truth behind the trappings.
Peay peels back another layer on his latest release "When You Can," a Chicago-inspired five song single that charts the progress of one song from conception to completion.
"This release has all the versions. When I finish the very first version of a new song, you know, I have the cords, and a couple verses and a chorus, I sit down and play it into my voice memos on my phone, just to get an idea of what the song is like. In the past, I've never let people hear this stuff."
Peay has been playing "When You Can" since he wrote it in December, and it's started to pick up steam among his fanbase. There are plans to eventually include it in an album, but Peay says he couldn't wait.
"I'm just really in love with this song right now, but it doesn't fit on the EP I'm working on."
Peay's EP's are always thematically and sonically linked, which is an homage to the glory days of the artist-driven full length album.
"It's a dying art. So many records now are just a random collection of tracks. I want my EP's to hold together, and give someone, even someone who only has about twenty minutes to listen, the experience of a full musical journey." Peay says he oftentimes designs his EP's to approximate the length of an average work commute. "It's one of the only times someone will just listen to music without creating a playlist, or thumbs up and thumbs downing stuff constantly."
Though he's in the middle of laying down tracks for a fall release, Peay realized there was a another lost art he could dabble in with "When You Can": the old school single.
"Back in the days of 45's, through 8-tracks, and tapes and CD's, there was a sort of art to releasing a single. The b-side was carefully chosen. That b-side would really reveal something about the artist. Now with digital releasing, any song can be bought separately, and we don't get those insights."
With the five radically different versions of "When You Can" on one CD Peay is certainly revealing a lot about himself and his process.
"I've also always been interested in hearing demos and acoustic versions of other artists' works."
Peay is excited to share the song with the town that inspired it.
"My first tour started in Chicago. Since then I've always had so much love for it. It's a special place for me. Then last fall I played a show, and spent a long weekend up there. I remember at one point me, my girlfriend and our friends jumped this fence to go out to the beach. Standing there next to the water was incredible. When I came home, I thought about all the times I've played Chicago and how much it means to me, and I wrote this song."
Fittingly, Peay will release "When You Can" at at an upcoming show in Chicago, at Uncommon Ground, one of the venues that inspired it. He'll share the bill with Laura Glyda, who contributed back up vocals to the radio version of the song.
released July 31, 2015
Nick Peay - guitars, piano, bass, drums, organ
Laura Glyda - backing vocals
No Fret Quartet - strings