Here I am again with a ‘band’ that is not a band in the traditional sense of the word, but this artist sure makes you forget you are watching/listening to only one person. Aside from just playing the ukulele, his quirky, fun songs and personality draw your attention to him within seconds. Badass band 44 is Restaurnaut.
I came to know Resaurnaut, aka Nicholas Dolezal, back in April when I was helping to organize a show at Fulton 55 in Fresno. We were having issues booking bands up until the last minute, but nearing the deadline Restaurnaut and I Do Not Exist jumped on the bill. I had only listened to one of Restaurnaut’s tracks before the show, and I was curious to see what he would bring to the stage. Well, up walks this scrawny, smiling young man with a ukulele. He also had a set of rope lights wrapped around him (Turned on of course). I think if I could have read everyone’s minds in there, they would have been thinking something along the lines of, “What the hell?” However, as soon as Nick’s fingers touched that uke, he had the attention of everyone in the venue. The combination of his insanely, beautiful uke melodies and velvety voice were not something one could easily ignore. His songs fit no classification, they range from folksy, slow tunes to some faster jamming ones. HIs lyrics combine intelligent, witty metaphors with simple, funny quips. I really can’t even describe his music in a way that will do it justice, so I am going to stop here, you need to listen to Restaurnaut on your own and hear the magic that this guy creates.
However, you can also read on to hear from Nick himself! Find out what other bands he has been a part of, why you should be a ‘super cool guy’ and give him a chance, and how he stumped the folks at Aquafina…
When and why did you start playing?
Well I started playing ukulele about two and a half years ago when I picked up my friend Dan’s and realized how darn perfect it was for me. I had been trying to play guitar for quite awhile and it had just started to annoy me. Before that I was the lead singer for a couple of folk groups The Tenth Dimension, and Flying Fox and the Youthful Jaws, and before THAT I did vocals for several metal bands. That’s where I really started playing music, if you wanna call screaming like the cookie monster and flailing around like schizo playing music.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
As a 90’s kid I heard the occasional Smash Mouth and what not but I was mainly forced to listen to alternative christian radio. Disney movie music was probably some of the best stuff I heard back then. It wasn’t up until sixth grade when my best friend Zaq introduced me to punk music. It was a slippery slope from that to Showbread to Norma Jean and BAM! I was one of those hardcore metal kids begging their parents to let them go to shows on school nights. All of this completely differs from what I listen to today considering the only metal I listen to now is Mastodon and I mainly listen to 60’s-70’s music on vinyls that I pick up at garage sales.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
Some of my all time favorites consist of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, etc… Lots of “old” stuff. I really dig Bright Eyes but Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band is what hits the spot for me. I admire these musicians because they play traditional styles but they put their own twist on it and make it something completely new. I feel that the songs that they write are honest and the music is heartfelt. I also really appreciate experimental artists such as Beck, Animal Collective, Peter Bjorn and John, MGMT… I try to stay away from listening to the mainstream though so that I don’t get to involved in one sound. I’ve been listening to more garage-rocky type stuff lately and PUJOL has become a big inspiration to me. And of course I admire all the great bands I’ve gotten to play with since I moved to Fresno!
Do you get nervous before a show?
Oh hell yeah! I puke in my mouth and burp all over the place!
Any rituals before a show?
Some of my rituals before a show include puking in my mouth and burping all over the place.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
If you come to one of my shows and you have eyeballs that work you’re probably gonna see me standing up on a stage in a shirt and some pants and I usually wear flip-flops but my girlfriend just but me some shoes so that might change. You’ll probably examine that my guitar is really tiny and that will be because it is actually a ukulele and in fact not a guitar at all. I usually try and crack a few jokes between the burps and farts and then get into the music which may or may not be folksy depending on who’s judging. You’ll probably think I’m weird and go away unless you’re a super cool guy and willing to give me a chance. I got a wide variety of tunes and you never know what you’re gonna get yo!
How does your creative process typically work?
Yikes! I reckon I typically begin the creative process by singing songs in my head, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, it’s gonna happen if it’s gonna happen. Sometimes it happens when I don’t want it to and I come up with a great bit of a song while I’m busy doing something really important and I know I won’t be able to remember it! When this happens, if I get the chance, I will whip out my Wal-mart brand Smart Phone and textulate up a few of the lyrics, which I usually then forget the melody to and rewrite later. Sometimes I’m actually chillin’ at home with my uke and fiddling around when all the sudden something brilliant comes to me. That’s how a lot of my “best” songs come to me. I don’t know. My creative process is different every time and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard just like life but who cares?
What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
The bigginest breakinest greatest opportunity in my career so far is definitely opening for David Liebe Hart from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
The biggest challenge for me so far ever in my entire life has been putting up with this total piece of a car I bought from some random gangster dude who thought Tupac was called Tupop. It’s a ‘98 Chevy Malibu with a manufacturer installed theft system that will not freaking shut off and will not allow me to start the car properly. Other than that I guess high school sucked and music wise it was pretty hard for me to adapt to playing instruments at all. I am now challenging myself to learn other instruments and it’s proven to be more fun than a challenge. Although, I do not think I will ever be as good at any other instrument as I am at ukulele…
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
Right now I’m working on recording an EP that I will put up on Bandcamp. I then plan to commence recording an album that I wrote last year which is chock-full of songs I wrote in dedication to my friends. Ironically, the album is called “Friends Are For Nothing”, however this line is taken from a song me and my good ol’ buddy Forest wrote in our band Flying Fox and the Youthful Jaws. It goes “Friends are for nothing, they fill you like music, and sit in your stomach like the last drink you drank.” In the meantime I also have a split I’m putting out with my friend Zaq’s band Native Son. So yeah. Pretty busy.
Why should people listen to your music? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
People should listen to my music because that would be so darn nice of them. I guess what makes me unique in our modern world of creative cliches is that I write very non-traditional ukulele music and that I have a variety of musical influences. Gosh I don’t know, you’re supposed to tell me! Haha! No I guess my style is unique? Or at least I wanna say it is… and just like any style some people will like it and some people won’t. Haters gonna hate. My band does have a slogan and is the dictionary definition of my band name. “One who very commonly eats out, and is recognized easily by waitstaff.”
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
I would completely get rid of it.
One song you never get tired of.
Dondante by My Morning Jacket.
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
I’m probably gonna have to say Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Eat, hang out with friends, art.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
I don’t want to be Ash Ketchum but I would totally want to be a Pokemon trainer.
Best prank you have ever pulled?
I used to put ketchup packets under the toilet seat before my little brother went to the bathroom all the time but that got old. One time I prank called Aquafina asking them how they make their water taste so good because I needed to replicate the taste of their water for my twelve children. Totally had them going.
If you only have 5 minutes on Earth to play one song that would have an impact on society forever, what would it be?
Ummm… The only cover I do is Paint It Black. If you’re wanting me to play my own stuff, Young Canyon, which is unfortunately a song I have yet to record, but you will eventually be able to hear on the Young Parents split with my friend Taylor of Control Noodle. We wrote it and then he moved to L.A. SUCK FEST 2012!!!
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