Nickel Creek's Chris Thile: We had some unfinished business as a creative unit

Categories: Concert Preview
Photo by Brantley Gutierrez
When the idea to revisit Nickel Creek came around, what was only meant to be a brief return became a full-scale reunion. In their younger lives, Chris Thile and siblings Sara and Sean Watkins, built a career around six albums pushing the boundaries of bluegrass -- one produced by Alison Krauss -- gained some Grammy nominations, and multiple awards. This all coming from a band that began when they were 8-year-olds.

Before Nickel Creek's show at the State Theatre on Sunday evening, Gimme Noise caught up with Chris Thile as he prepared for the whirlwind that follows a reunion tour.

Gimme Noise: What's the feedback you've gotten on the new album?

Chris Thile: I think people are excited, but I don't know how many people would tell me if they weren't.

Do you pay attention to album sales at all?

You can't not. It would be lovely to have the self-restraint to never look into it; I have yet to meet a musician who doesn't check in.

Obviously this album signaled the reunion of Nickel Creek. Can you pinpoint when getting back together with Sean and Sara and making music was a possibility?

I think at a certain point, just enough water had gone under the bridge. We'd been Nickel Creek since the time I was 8 to the time I was 26, and we needed to go and do other things. With my other projects, I was given that time to do the things I had been wanting to do, so maybe it was time to revisit Nickel Creek.

At first, it was going to be a trip down memory lane, but after the first writing session, it became clear that we had some unfinished business to attend to as a creative unit. It's a collaborative experience that's different from any of my other projects, and it fills a void in each of our lives. There are things that we can do together that we can't do with anyone else.

Why did you feel it was so necessary for you all to go out and work on other projects?

We had spent so much time on Nickel Creek, and that created voids in other parts of our lives. I'm really proud of what I've done with the Punch Brothers and what I've accomplished over the years. It served to help me appreciate what's special about what Sean, Sara, and I do.

Basically, I don't think we need to make Nickel Creek any more than what it is: to fill a void that we've now filled with other projects. Does that make sense? Now Nickel Creek is free; we're free to make music that the three of us naturally make together in a way that we never did before. Because before we all had personal agendas. Nickel Creek was our only outlet that we had to pursue those agendas. Now Nickel Creek has taken the exact form of what it ought to be.

How do you think those years that you were pursuing other creative outlets changed or influenced you?

I'll never be satisfied with my output, but I am very satisfied that I get to do what I'm doing. There's always work to be done, improvements to be made. I think in the time that Nickel Creek was last active, I've gotten to dot some personal "i"s and cross some personal "t"s. Being a member of the Punch Brothers helped with that.

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