Taken from Total Guitar - July 2001
If You Thought Acoustic Guitars Could Be Boring ... Meet Nick
Nick Harper's latest album, Harperspace, continues to define him as one of the UK's most revered acoustic writers and sees him step out of the shadow of his father Roy Harper. Harperspace displays not only great songwriting, but awesome guitar playing - check out his guest column on pg. 115 (guit_cocoa.html) and CD track 39, a specially composed piece that had the office bowled over.
How much practicing does a man have to do to get that good? Not much, it turns out. "I suppose writing songs is my practice," says Nick, "Although I like to explore new things when I write, I used to read all the guitar mags and found them really useful - I even learnt a Yngwie Malmsteen riff at one point!"
What musicians have you found inspiring? "Jimmy Page, Geordie from Killing Joke, Andy Gill from Gang of Four and Django Reinhardt have all inspired me. Recently I met the incredible Australian guitarist, Tommy Emmanuel. Sometimes people say to me: 'That's it: I'm going to smash my guitar up,' and other times: That was really inspiring.' I now appreciate that because of Tommy. I wanted to give up and just listen to him but I thought 'no, I just need to work harder'."
Nick's not adverse to dabbling in altered tunings either. " Open D, dropped D and DADGAD and then dropped low are great," he gushes. "There's also DGDGAD and DADF#BE which is beautiful. Happy Man was played on a 12 string acoustic tuned to GGGGBD although the intro screamed out a siren type sound so I use a whammy pedal and a conventionally tuned electric guitar."
The Lowden 0-23 is Nick's main guitar. "Buying it was a spiritual experience," he laughs. "It was saying 'buy me or pay the price'. I fitted it with locking tuners and thick strings (0.13 to 0.66) to accommodate my different tunings. Sadly they are not as reliable as I had hoped, although changing strings is fast and easy because of the pegs' ratio - 1 to 4 as opposed to the conventional 1 to 14."
Any advice for songwriters? "If you feel something when you're writing or playing, you're doing OK. Don't worry if it's not fast or clever enough. Just play and don't worry." (JS)