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Letting their inspiration direct them

Violinist Sara from Grammy-nominated band, Nickel Creek, discusses the progression in their bluegrass-based sound and the time they spend touring.

They've been together for over thirteen years, which is hard to imagine when you consider that Sean Watkins, his sister Sara Watkins and Chris Thile are all in their early twenties. Success came slowly for the Californian three-piece that began its career as pre-adolescents playing pizza places and weekend festivals.

Their self-titled debut album received two Grammy nominations, paving the way for "This Side", Nickel Creek's latest offering. The title, however, does not suggest a change in direction for the 'bluegrass' band as violinist Sara confirms. "We are not revealing a completely different side to Nickel Creek or trying to steer away from our original sound. It has just become a bit dissolved. We are evolving and letting our inspiration direct us."

Nickel Creek's eclectic musical interest has given rise to an original sound described by Sara as "progressive acoustic", which separates itself and cannot be compared to anything being played on radio. "We are discouraged with what radio plays", admits Sara, "there is a lot of great stuff out there, you just have to find it."

Nickel Creek have been touring Britain for the past couple of weeks and are performing in Dublin's Olympia Theatre tonight, Sunday 20th October. This is their second visit to Dublin, having performed previously at Whelan's. Sara is enthusiastic about the gig. "Our live performance is a lot more energetic than our new album, which has a more mellow sound. For the show, we have a lot of props and things."

Sara spoke over the phone as she travelled together with Sean, while Chris travelled in a car behind. Does Chris ever find it difficult being in a band with two siblings? "I hope not. Having grown up together, we are all siblings."

The long hours spent travelling from one gig to the next provide ample time for reading. The band has made a conscious effort not to let their education suffer and have been home-schooled and tutored while on the road. "Who knows; maybe we will go back to college when we become exhausted from touring."

It's this carefree, easygoing manner with which she speaks throughout. Here is a band that has been performing for so long that it is as natural to them as waking up in the morning. Perhaps Sara puts it best, "when your going through it yourself it all seems to make sense. The progression seems natural."


by Laura Brown

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