I just noticed that, for some odd reason, my below posting from back in May of the Nick Pagan EP disappeared from the site. I did not take it down so there must be some weird glitch going on with my blog host on the backend. So below is reposting of it- I will restore all of the hyperlinks within in shortly and the .jpg of the disc too. I will also try to replace the comments that were left for this posting, including one from Mr. Nick Pagan himself!
If you happen to notice problems with any other old postings, post some comments and let me know.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MAY 31, 2011
NICK PAGAN “THIS IS NOT A TEST” 4-SONG 7″EP (COLUMBIA, SC- OUTRAGE, 1979)
Here is a very cool record from a state which is kind of a “KBD desert”, if you will: South Carolina. Other Southern states like Louisiana and Florida produced many great, well-known records in the KBD era but the states which lie between and around Louisiana and Florida- namely Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and both Carolinas South and North- did not produce a lot of similar ripping sounds. Of course Atlanta had the great Kris Methe and The Mistakes EP and North Carolina had the barnstorming Village Pistols single. But beyond that, I have to refer to the Collector Scum discography to even REMEMBER what other discs came out from those Southern states in the late 70’s and early 80’s pre-hardcore days. Same for South Carolina- um, beyond the Nick Pagan EP I can only name a few discs, which I only know by name and have never even heard. I know some people in the state’s other major city, Charleston, and I have travelled there in the past and I know of no, nadda, not ONE KBD disc from that city at all.
Nick Pagan’s hometown of Columbia, South Carolina is a college town, with the most well-known school there being the University of South Carolina. College towns were/are sometimes known for producing great bands with members either being college students or the kids who live in town (aka “the townies”), who loathe condescending college kids and then channel that hate- many times with great result- into their music. Er, not Columbia in the late 70’s. Or, maybe there were more great bands, but they never sat foot in the studio and committed their best stuff to vinyl (?). You tell me.
Good thing Nick Pagan DID commit his best stuff to vinyl! This is not a four-song EP with one highlight, all four songs are great! Nick and his backing band Nervous Tension (more on them later) churned out a energetic, out-of-the-box, unique-sounding mix of organ-driven punk that I really like. Nick has a great, kinda gruff singing style and pounds the keys in just the right amount. The organ is not overwhelming and doesn’t drown out the great guitar noodling (as I’ve found happens with a lot of other organ-infused punk!). Very catchy and very hummable (even whistle-able at times!) ditties- the first track, “Madison Avenue”, is the fastest-paced tune and might be my favorite track. “You Are Nothing” is great and I have been digging it ever since it was on the Stragglers #1 comp CD about 10 years ago on the Hyped To Death label (thanks, Chuck Warner, or I may have not have otherwise ever been clued off to Nick Pagan!). Side 2 starts with “I’ll Never Tell” which is a nice head-bobber and kinda funky yet still driving. They slow things down a bit for the closer and get a bit more introspective on “This Is Not A Test”- me likes the nice guitar growl and organ interplay. And Nick’s voice gets a little gruffer on this track which is a perfect touch. It’s funny, for all these years I have usually never been into punk with organs but on this nifty EP I am all over it.
According to a comment Mr. Pagan left on the Collector Scum site, the EP was “recorded, mixed and mastered in 6 hours with a gospel music engineer that I picked at random from the phone book. I sold them at a record store near the University I attended and a few at shows of The Fanatics (the band I formed with different guys early in 1980.)” This reaffirms again to me that the best records are almost always done in a similar quick “let’s get it done!” manner. No multiple recording sessions, no retakes, no overthinking- a few tries in the space of a few hours and it’s a wrap! Let’s mix it and then get it to the pressing plant!
After this EP, Nick Pagan formed a new band called the Fanatics who, in 1981, released a split EP with- oddly enough- his old backing band, Nervous Tension. I am now dying to hear this record, someone please help me out here! It is quite rare and I can’t spare the $100+ this thing has sold for in the past. [As an update Nick Pagan himself provided me some rips of the 3 Fanatics songs from that record (thanks!), as well as another treat, which I will get up here soon. But I still need the Nervous Tension tracks from that split EP.]
In putting this post together, I found out some interesting info and some funny stuff too. On the funny side, when you throw Nick Pagan into Google, most of the search results are for this self-help named Nick Pagan who believes in- get ready- “Fundamental Insights Into Better Living”. LOL! Other Google results are mostly horseshit that have nothing to do with Nick Pagan from South Carolina. But I did come across a MySpace page for the Nick Pagan from South Carolina. According to his MySpace bio, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria and between 1995 and 2002 played in The Changelings, a self-described “ethereal/neo-classical/electronica/ world music quintet”. And Discogs has an artist page for Nick Pagan that lists all of his stuff since the early 90’s and has a cute little picture of him.
And there is a YouTube clip with Nick Pagan and The Fanatics circa 1980. The clip originated with local Columbia station Channel 10 doing a news report on the local “New Wave” scene (of course they didn’t dare utter the dreaded, scary “P” word when referring to things). A reporter travelled to a club called Von Henmon’s and we see Nick on stage with The Fanatics. He totally plays up to the camera crew while pounding away on the keys and looks to be quite a showman. At the :29 mark in the video, the band plays a song called “Dream The Impossible Dream” which, incidentally, is not on the Fanatics / Nervous Tension split EP. Then at the 2:07 mark they play a cover of the theme song from the old 1960’s Spider Man cartoon. Maybe not the band’s best stuff that night but TV stations usually don’t. Um, my favorite part of this video though is the stiff dancing at the :30 second mark- yikes! Then at the :47 second mark we have a Nick Nolte lookalike with the classic late 70’s bushy moustache. Classic!