It's clear that even though pop-rock outfit A Rocket To The Moon disbanded in 2013, frontman Nick Santino hasn't slowed down. Since the end of ARTTM, Santino has released two solo EPs and a full length record entitled Big Skies.
I had the chance to speak with Nick before he took the stage at Brick & Mortar in San Francisco last Thursday night. We spoke about touring off of Big Skies, songwriting, and the meaning behind "Mood Ring Eyes". Check it out below.
You’ve been touring off of the release of Big Skies for close to a year now. What would you say is one of the most rewarding aspects of getting to tour this record?
I think because it’s my first solo full-length record, it’s kind of it’s own thing, you know? It’s cool that I can do that, release a record on my own, and then go off and play some shows for it.
It’s cool to see it come alive every night.
In your opinion, what are some of the bigger challenges of touring as a solo artist than as with a band?
Some of the challenges…sometimes being the opening act and playing acoustic, people are just kind of like ‘okay…’ But that also has helped me figure out how to keep them entertained. Since I’ve been solo and released that record, I’ve been acoustic. I’ve wanted to get the band and play it live, but all of the tours just ask for the acoustic guy, and they know that I’ll do it. I’ve just developed ways to keep the crowd’s attention, like the way that I talk to them and stuff. I think that’s important. I don’t want to be just another coffee shop singer sitting up on stage, you know?
When I listen to the songs on this record and read the lyrics, it feels like I’m part of a story. When did you begin writing Big Skies and how did you approach the process of making the record?
Some of the songs on Big Skies are a few years old. I wrote a couple of them back when I was in [A Rocket to the Moon], probably like 2010. I just never had anything to do with them. So I waited, and then I got to do a solo thing, and there was a couple that stood out even though they were four years old at the time. I was like ‘those are cool, I could revisit those.’ Some of them I wrote a couple months before, and then there was one that I literally wrote the night before I recorded it. So they stretched over a long period of time.
I had a question for you in regards to one of the songs. What inspired the lyrics behind “Back To Where I’m From?”
That’s one of the ones from 2010. Yeah! That one when I wrote it, I was just trying to write a positive, feel good message song, with the attitude of “you can do this, you can do all these things, but you’ll always have a place to call home.” The lyrics are all over the place; it’s very vivid, like the (lines about) driving to Vegas, or meeting a girl in Austin. It’s kind of like a “whatever makes you happy” song.
On one of the last songs on the record, what are the “mood ring eyes” that you’re referring to? Were the subjects eyes changing color, or was it a metaphor for something else? If that makes sense. (Laughs)
Yeah that makes sense! That was the one I wrote the night before I recorded it. ‘Mood Ring Eyes’ is very much about someone who is bipolar, very flip floppy. It’s kind of saying you say you don’t want me, but then all of a sudden you call me up at night and you want me again. It’s one of those ‘make up your mind’ kind of songs, and I thought ‘Mood Ring Eyes’ was very mystique. (laughs)
A friend of mine posted a picture on her Instagram. Her eye color changes, or something like that, from green to blue, and she posted something about mood ring eyes. I thought that was a cool line.
What kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Something that they can relate to. I’m all about honesty. I want them to be able to listen to a song and be like “oh man! I didn’t think anybody felt that way, or thought that same way, or went through that.” I want them to feel like they’re not alone in the situation because there’s so many times and I’ll feel like, “this is explaining my life right now!” I want them to know that they’re not by themselves. It’s very cliché to say, but you know, if you feel weird, resort to music. It always finds you and can help you out. I think that’s what I always try to do with my songs; I try to make them as relatable as possible. So when someone is going through a shitty time, or the best time of their life, they can listen to a certain song and have it reflect on what they’re doing.
What does music mean to you?
Everything. I mean, that’s a very cliché answer but it really is! It’s been everything for me my entire life. I grew up listening to it, my parents always played it around the house, and I’ve been chasing the dream since I was ten years old. It’s literally everything for me the last eight years as well, because I’ve been signed, touring, and it’s been non-stop. It’s my number one priority.
After the tour with Oh Honey finishes up, what are your future plans?
Probably doing another tour in June that I’m figuring out all of the details on now. I’m working on some new projects, some new music, new everything. It’s kind of been keeping it fresh and working on some fun stuff.
Nick Santino is currently on tour with Oh, Honey through April 19, where the tour concludes in Philadelphia, PA. For tour dates, music, and more, visit www.facebook.com/officialnicksantino
To purchase Nick Santino's full-length record Big Skies, click here:
This has been another Shameless Promotion.