Creators: Franz Nicolay
Franz Nicolay is a Brooklyn-based singer, musician, and composer, and former keyboardist for The Hold Steady. (He — and they — are among my all-time favorites.) His latest album, “Luck and Courage”, is available on iTunes and at Amazon. Follow Franz on Twitter at @franznicolay.
1) What have you been making lately?
As I write this, I’m in the airport on my way to the UK for a month-long tour; then I’ll start recording my third solo full-length, “Do The Struggle,” with producer Oktopus from Dalek in January. Booking what should be an amazing tour through Russia, Mongolia, and China for Spring/Summer 2012.
2) What’s your favorite and/or newest tool that you use for work?
This is relatively low-tech, but on composer Sxip Shirey’s recommendation I got a Boss PS-3 Pitch Shift/Delay pedal, which makes my banjo sound like an orchestra. As a person who’s on the road a lot, there are pros and cons to using a lot of of-the-moment technology — if the show depends on an iPad and I’m in Eastern Europe looking for an Apple tech, it can be trouble. But on the other hand, tech is invaluable offstage — I’ve never found myself lost in a strange city, looking for noodle soup, since I got a GPS and iPhone…
3) What’s your favorite and/or newest tool that you use for fun?
I’ve become so reliant on my iPhone, in fact, that I’ve started to resent and fear it as a literal addiction. As navigator, communicator, guitar tuner, office-away-from-home, it’s great, but when I finally lost my old one in May I felt more than a little relieved to have a $20 Samsung stupidphone all summer. And my tendinitis got way better. But I sure felt hobbled on the road, and when I finally got a new iPhone, I swore I’d keep up the habit of not checking it every 30 seconds. That didn’t last very long.
4) What’s something great you’ve read lately?
I love diving into just about anything on longform.org, an aggregator of the best long-form journalism of since the advent of the form. Aldaily.com is also great for learning about topics you never considered.
5) Who should I interview for this series?
The musician and producer Alap Momin is one of the great enthusiasts I’ve met, and I bet has some strong opinions about gear. And I’d love to hear from designer Christian Helms of Helms Workshop, who is the answer every time I see a record package and think, “That looks great, I wonder who did it?”