“I never thought I’d be playing country music, I’ve always been the rocker” says Oxford’s multi-faceted musician Nick Spiller. As a teen and young adult growing up in Guin, Ala., Spiller fell under the influence of a number of great musicians that helped refine his sound.
Most notably Eddie Van Halen, which explains Spiller’s self-identification as a “rocker.” Though, he also draws influences from others that would not classify as “rock,” explaining his ability to play a variety of genres. “One person I always go back to is Johann Sebastian Bach,” Spiller said. “There’s just something mathematical about what he does and it get’s me going and makes me think about things a little more.” Spiller credits most of his country influence to singer/songwriters like Jerry Reed and Albert Lee.
Spiller’s vast musical palette and knowledge of instruments has helped him stay prominent in the local spotlight for 10 years. He has also taught music lessons at Austin’s Music since 2007, offering guitar, bass, and piano lessons. “I would give banjo or mandolin lessons too if anyone wanted them but I primarily stick to guitar,” he said.
Spiller’s first instrument was the drums; he played bass in a few bands, but really enjoys the guitar. He received an electric guitar at an early age and can remember practicing for four hours a day in his room, Spiller claims it was love at first sight. “All in all though, I like to play any string instrument,” he said. “I love the baritone guitar, that suits my vocal range a lot especially because of the country stuff we do.”
The country stuff Spiller talks of is his new band Hawgwash. You might have seen them at bars like Roosters and Irie or the newly opened restaurant Delta Steak Company. With Spiller on lead guitar and vocals, the trio typically performs outlaw country, older country and Southern rock, while incorporating four or five of their original songs. Spiller admits that they do play a majority of covers, but with a little Hawgwash twinge. “We love these songs, but we play them or way,” he said.
Hawgwash is Spillers first band where he is the primary vocalist. “I used to shy away from being the leader at anything but now I’m starting to feel very comfortable with the aspect of being the leader,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m ever going to be the greatest singer in the world but I know how to get my point across.”
Before Spiller became a third of Hawgwash he performed in numerous bands. He attended Lee University in Cleveland, Ten. where he jumped around with a couple of bands. After graduating with a major in history, Spiller became a schoolteacher. Soon realizing that the education life was not for him, Spiller came to Oxford in 2003 and has been here ever since.
As Spiller puts it, upon arriving to Oxford he “got into the square scene” and held various jobs as a bartender. In 2008 Spiller and two friends formed his first band in Oxford, The Reviews. Spiller described the band’s genre as punk rock/hard rock. He recalled long sweaty nights of jamming in the air-condition-less Red House (new Two Stick) about every weekend performing all originals.
His time with The Reviews is when he started taking his song writing seriously. “Now all the time I’m writing songs, or live recording I think the situation we’re (Hawgwash) in right now is great, we’ve sort of fallen right into it,” Spiller said. “It’s really great to have a group of guys that understands where you want to go and they can either follow or lead.”
Spiller feels the trio has finally started to get into their groove and increased bookings back that up. “We’ve definitely tapped into something we like and now we’re just trying to make waves, he said” Hawgwash is performing this Thursday at Roosters, and Saturday at Delta Steak Company.
Contributed by Jordan Driggers, a journalism student at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Jordon is from San Antonio, Texas.