Roy Nichol may march to the beat of his own drums, but they’re now taking him places he never imagined with one of Canada’s premier bands.
Nichol, a well-known local drummer and sound engineer, will now be backing-up April Wine, 2010 Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees.
The invitation came officially last week via Myles Goodwyn, the band’s leader and frontman. Nichol had been approached by him on the pretense of auditioning for April Wine’s warm-up group and met with the lead singer March 23 in Montreal for a jam session.
“I was under the impression he was scouting out a drummer for their opening act,” explained Nichol. “He’d asked me to learn four April Wine songs, and then come to his place last Friday.
“At the end of the evening, he told me I had the job if I wanted it.”
The drummer didn’t have to think twice and immediately agreed.
Years ago, while living in Calgary and touring with Steeler, the musician had sworn off touring. He played then for six-plus years six nights a week, being his own roadie and sound crew, and lugging equipment upstairs and down into various bars and clubs. Although it certainly wasn’t in his game plan 30 years later, the opportunity was just too good to refuse, especially when with such an elite band, like April Wine.
“No, never in a million years did I expect to be doing this again,” he pondered. “But with this band, we basically only play Thursday, Friday, Saturday, unless we fly somewhere for the tour.
“I don’t have to do a thing; all I do is show-up.”
Nichol began learning the drums when he was 13. His uncle, Joe Harvey, played the instrument, as well as guitar, and he shared these talents with his nephew. In fact, the whole family was pretty musical, says Nichol, who usually ended up playing in bands with older guys as a teen.
While living in Calgary, he also completed studies in sound engineering at the Columbia Academy of Recording Arts, but when he returned to Cornwall, life opportunities took him to Domtar, where he worked for 17 years.
In 1991, however, he began performing with the Stacey Thorn Band, then Sam Hill, and most recently Spare Partz.
It was a couple of years ago Goodwyn heard Nichol play with Spare Partz during an Indie guitar Halloween party held at Dream Builder Studios. When April Wine recently found themselves in need of a new drummer, they came calling
“Roy is a rock solid, hard-hitting player that’s got great feel. Plus, he’s a fine singer. Roy’s also a studio engineer with a degree in recording and engineering and for me as a studio owner, this is a nice bonus,” announced Goodwyn on April Wine’s website.
Nichol premieres in his new gig when the band commences a Western Canada in Fort MacMurray on April 1 for a sold-out show. Then it’s on to Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lloydminister, to name a few stops. In the meantime, Nichol has been driving back and forth to Montreal each day to rehearse with the band, and then he’s up himself until midnight practicing on his own.
It’s “excellent,” he says, “those guys are such nice guys, you wouldn’t believe it.”
Nichol isn’t letting the concept of fame or fortune get to him. His biggest challenge right now is learning his parts, and hasn’t let himself think of anything else.
“I’m not one to get excited about things. I have to stay focussed on the band, and want to do my best. Sooner or later, it will hit me, but right now I have a lot of work to do. I never imagined in a million years to be doing this,” Nichol said.
The above article and photograph were created by Kathleen Hay of the Cornwall Seaway News. You can read more articles by Kathleen on the Seaway News website: