Gary James' Interview With Mike And Larry Uzzell Of
Of all the Rock groups I've interviewed over the years, Nantucket was certainly one of the most talented. God, they were good! They were special. They had great songs and a stand-out stage act. I used to call their record label, Epic Records in New York, and speak to the publicity people, asking what they were doing to get the word out about Nantucket. I never did that for anyone before or since. In June, 1978, Nantucket performed at a club in Syracuse, N.Y. called Uncle Sam's. I interviewed the Uzzell brothers, Mike and Larry, prior to their show at The Dinkler Inn, where they were staying.
Did I mention Nantucket was special?
Q - Why do you call yourselves Nantucket?
Mike - We were called Nantucket Sleigh Ride seven years ago. We got the name off of Mountain's album, "Nantucket Sleigh Ride". Later, we dropped the Sleigh Ride.
Q - How was Nantucket discovered?
Mike - Bill Cain, one of our managers now, saw us at The Kiki Lounge in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Q - What gives the group greater satisfaction, concerts or club dates?
Larry - Concerts, because everything is much more professional. Also, at a concert people are coming to hear your music and see you perform. At a bar, guys are coming to pick up chicks and chicks are coming to pick up guys.
Mike - At concerts now we're only given thirty minutes, whereas before we'd play for three hours.
Q - Who have you opened for?
Mike - Foreigner. Little River Band. Four dates with Ted Nugent, Kiss and we've got six dates coming up with The Doobie Brothers.
Q - How'd you do at the Kiss show?
Mike - After the show, the promoter told us we did real good. 95% of the groups that open for Kiss get blown away.
Q - How would you describe your music?
Mike - It has its roots in Rhythm and Blues. It's a combination of Funk and Rock 'n' Roll.
Q - How hard is it today for a group to get a record deal, get out on the road and sell a lot of records?
Mike - It's almost impossible. This is the toughest business to be in. Kids at nine and ten aren't picking up baseball bats anymore, they're picking up electric guitars. Major talent agencies won't look at you until you've sold about 150,000 albums. Everybody kind of lays back and watches the group, looking to see what the group is gonna do.
Q - How many albums has Nantucket sold so far?
Mike - About 92,000 in three months. Our biggest state is Connecticut.
Larry - It's funny, but everybody seems to have heard of Nantucket when you ask them.
Q - Did you ever give up hope that you were going to get a record deal?
Mike - We never doubted that we would make it. We were packing 1,200 to 1,300 people into clubs at the height of Disco's popularity, playing 75% to 95% original music. I know that eventually something would happen.
Q - How did club owners let you play your own material?
Mike - We wouldn't tell them. We'd just sneak a couple of originals in here and there without announcing they were originals. We might do three originals in one night, come back the next night and do seven.
Q - Who are you guys being compared to?
Mike - We've been told we sound like Aerosmith, Boston and Kansas.
Q - Do you have to be more commercial with your music than you'd like to be in order to get people's interest?
Larry - No. 'Live' you don't.
Q - When did you decide to make music your career?
Mike - We never decided to do it until after college, didn't like it so we left. The six members of this group have nineteen years of college among them. From 1969 to 1975, we just sort of phased into it.
Q - Do the opinions of music critics matter to Nantucket?
Mike - I don't care. Every major group that has ever made it has been criticized somewhere along the line. If you're not, then there is something wrong with the group.
Q - Who's considered the leader of the group?
Larry - He is. (pointing to Mike)
Q - What happens Larry if you get a sore throat?
Larry - It's happened. We still play.
Mike - Once he had some nodes removed from his throat and couldn't sing for two months, so I learned a lot of the material and took over the singing.
Q - Do you like the music coming out of England today?
Mike - There's two sides to it. There's The Sex Pistols violent side, which I don't like, and then there's New Wave. I like The Cars. I don't think Punk Rock is going to make it because only a minority of kids like it. In The Beatles' case, a majority of the kids liked it.
Q - Who will be the next big band?
Mike - The Nantucket Band. I'm not kidding. There's a goldmine of music in this band. We haven't even scratched the surface of what we can do with our first album. We were told, "if you can sell 100,000 albums, you can sell 500.000 albums."
Q - Do you meet a lot of strange people on the road
Larry - Who doesn't? What I especially hate is the people who come up to you trying hard to impress you. "Hey, man! Nugent's in town, man. I give 'em this" or "go with 'em here." Why do they do that? I don't try to impress them.
Q - Do you demand anything out of the ordinary in your dressing room?
Mike - No. We ask for a case of beer and some fruit juice. We wouldn't ask for shag carpeting in our dressing room, like Emerson, Lake and Palmer did. Some of the groups just ask for these things to see what they can get away with.
Q - What happens if Nantucket becomes a "Supergroup"?
Mike - I think we can handle anything that comes along. We've seen a lot of tragedies. One of our drummers was killed in an automobile accident in 1971. We were almost killed in an auto accident driving from Florida back to North Carolina. Our van almost went over a bridge into the water. I suffered a broken back and Larry was hurt.
Q - So, you feel for whatever reason that Nantucket was meant to be.
Mike - I have very strong feelings about that.
Q - What does your future look like?
Mike - We're working Texas in September. In October we'll either be out West or cutting our new album. Also, we've been in touch with the Gibb brother's lawyer, who told us they're searching around for groups to produce. So, we sent a copy of our album.
Q - So, it's possible The Bee Gees might produce your next album?
Mike - That's right.
Q - How long do you think you can keep up this fast-paced life?
Mike - I approaching 30 soon. I'm financially secure. For the past ten years we've been living in "the fast lane", as The Eagles would say, but hardly getting any money. I'd like to do what Jagger now does, be in his position five years from today, announce a concert a day before you play it.