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QRD #33 - the Father's Day issue - June 2007
about this issue
Martin Bowes of Attrition
Benjy Johnson of Benjomatic
Sam Rosenthal of BTFABG
William Amundson
Josh Howard author of Dead@17
Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance
Aaron Molina of If Thousands
D.A. Sebasstian of KSK
Alan Sparhawk of Low
Shane Sauers
Rune Flaten of Origami Arktika
Tore Boe of Origami Republika
Chris Olley of Six by Seven
Timothy Renner of Stone Breath
Patrick Ogl of Thanatos
Mats Gustafsson of Broken Face
Jason Wallach of Unquiet Void
Chris Wade of The Wades
Nevada Hill of The Zanzibar Snails
Wayne Barnes
Dan Sostrom of Tonevendor
Colin Newman of Wire
Joe Kendrick of WNCW
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Nevada Hill - graphic design and custom printing
Interview with Nevada Hill of Zanzibar Snails
May 14, 2007

Nevada Hill is a graphic artist & musician in the band Zanzibar Snails.  Being a father for only about a year, he’s the newest dad in our interview series, but he has some clear ideas on how his life has changed.

Name: Nevada Hill
Bands: Bludded Head, Zanzibar Snails
Website: www.nevadahill.com

QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?

Nevada – I’d just graduated from high school & was trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life & I knew I liked to doodle band names on notebooks & I was in a band, so when I went to sit down with the college advisor I told him that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  So about eighteen.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?

Nevada – Basically just playing memorable shows with diverse line-ups.  I used to play in a band called Harry Has a Head Like a Ping Pong Ball & we were this incredibly difficult math rock group & we played with a country band & hip-hop group & some pop act at J & J’s basement & that was pretty memorable for me.  I just like playing with a diverse range of musicians at shows.  Just recently with Zanzibar Snails we haven’t been playing in bars; but in art galleries, warehouses, people’s houses, & clothing stores so that’s been pretty interesting.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your graphic arts career?

Nevada – Working with other artists.  Me & my friend David Price have started doing a lot of collaborating on zines & packaging for CDs.  Also providing bands with album artwork or for t-shirts or posters has been really great & kind of what I always wanted to do.

QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?

Nevada – It kinda just happened & I needed to make a decision at a fork in the road & I chose one of the forks & here I am now.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?

Nevada – Positive is definitely making me get my shit together.  Be more organized & more responsible & really manage my time a lot more.  Because when you have a child you only have x amount of minutes a day that you are actually free to accomplish something.  Before you have time to think about what you’re going to do, but now I definitely know what’s going in that time slot.  When I was in college I had all day to do whatever the hell I wanted & I would generally do nothing with it.  So it makes me focus on working on goals more.  Not just for my art, but also for my family.  Negative is also managing time, trying not to step out to do my work.  Trying not to work on my art when I need to do something around the house, that steps on my girlfriend’s toes.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?

Nevada – Well, I just started a screen shop & that affords me to make money within my house.  So I have two jobs, my own business & then one printing for someone else.  But it’s a nice idea that I could quit my job & just work in the house at night & then I wouldn’t need to pay for child care & I’d get to be around my daughter all the time.

QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?

Nevada – I worry about it more than it actually effects me.  I’ve always been a big saver as far as saving money when I can.  A lot of times I get to the end of a month & wonder how I made it through it.  It’s never been a huge issue, but it’s definitely something we were worried about when my girlfriend was pregnant.

QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you'd known?

Nevada – Yes.  When I was younger I didn’t think I could go on tour & now a lot of my friends are going on tour for the first time or the second time & I realize I could have done it.  It’s not easy, but it’s doable & I wish I had taken the opportunity because it is something I really want to experience eventually.  So hopefully when I’m fifty I’ll get a beat-up van & drive around in it around the country.  Until then I’ll just make CDs.

QRD – Has your child effected the music you make?

Nevada – It made me go to improv.  Because when we had our daughter the time issue came in with having rehearsals & we decided as a group to not rehearse as much if any & to just play shows.  It’s really been a great experience for me because I didn’t know anything about free improvisation when we started this & now we’ve all grown as a group from doing this.  I’ve become not necessarily a better guitar player, but a better musician without having to practice six hours a day.  So that’s a real change & that is definitely due to having a child & family.

QRD – Has it effected your graphic arts at all?

Nevada – Yeah, it has.  In kind of the same way.  I can’t sit down & work on something for a long period of time.  I can only work on something for five or ten minutes.  I can’t do huge paintings, I don’t have the space to do anything really large.  I just work in a sketchpad & do little comics.  When I used to ride in the train to Dallas I would draw my little mini-comics that I put out & that was my artwork for me.  But now I work in a large sketchbook & I work in a few minute long increments over the day.  You put a lot of time into it, but I try to make it free improvisational artwork.  Because I can’t sit down & research for pictures like they teach you to in art school.  I just sit down & do black & white drawings & still take care of my daughter.

QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?

Nevada – I want to say being a father does.  To be there for your child & to raise them to be able to go out & contribute to the community in a larger way.  But then by being a musician, depending on what kind of musician you are, you add an element of diverse culture into your community & can effect people in a positive way.  Documents of that may create an equal effect over time.  But I think being a father will outlast any of my musical endeavors, especially if no one really hears the music. 

QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become a musician or parent?

Nevada – I hope she becomes a parent through choice rather than happenstance.  I’d love to see her become an artist to be honest.  I play her all kinds of stuff now when she’s young & she has a little xylophone she plays on.  I try to expose her to a wide range of music & ideas.  So I really hope she becomes an artist, but she’ll probably end up doing something that I’d never suspect & I’ll support that too.

QRD – What do your children think of your music?

Nevada – Well, she’s about to be a year old, so she really doesn’t have a lot of opinions about it.  She doesn’t scream when she hears it & I guess that’s good.

QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your daughter?

Nevada – Yeah, I do have odd fantasies about me & my daughter playing music together.  We want to get her a violin so she can play country fiddle.  & I do have fantasies of her being older & me helping her to record – it probably won’t ever happen, but who knows.  I’m about release a split 3” on Mayyrh Records with David Price on June 23rd.  The 3” is composed of light melodic home recordings & you can hear my daughter in the background.  So this is my daughter’s first venture into experimental music.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Nevada – I’ll just recite something that I always keep in the back of my head that is from some skateboard art magazine or something.  “To be a good artist never move to New York, never go to art school, & never rent a loft apartment.”  I’ve only done one of those three things & I’m doing pretty good.

QRD – 2015 update - any new insight from eight more years of fatherhood?

Nevada – Just show up & smile. Also have patience. Ask them more questions than they ask you. Share your unique experiences with them.