Nick Curran describes his music as a cocktail consisting of the sounds of no less than seventeen widely differing musicians blended together with a cup of broken glass. That only begins to characterize the wallop packed by the 98-proof elixir of this singer, songwriter and monster guitarist who effortlessly carries the past with him as he blazes across the musical landscape in perpetual forward motion.
Nick Curran was born on Sept 30, 1977 in Biddeford, Maine, and grew up in nearby Sanford. He started playing drums when he was three, occasionally pounding the skins for his father’s rock ‘n’ roll band. However, when he received a guitar for Christmas at age nine he had found his instrument. He taught himself to play while following his father’s advice: “Listen to everything that you like and eventually you’ll find your own style within all your influences.”
Curran began accumulating his arsenal of influences early. “My mom and step-dad were listening to rock ‘n’ roll, my father listened to blues such as Freddy King, T-Bone Walker and B.B. King and my friends were into heavy metal.” Today, he cites his songwriting muses as Little Richard, Richie Valens, Chuck Berry and T-Bone Walker. The Ramones and the Misfits particularly inspire him to pen songs outside the box. He also looks to “the real raw, rough blues like Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker—guys singing about messed-up stuff and about falling apart at any second. I also like AC/DC, Hank Williams, Sr. and Gene Vincent.”
Curran began his professional career at age nineteen, leaving Maine to tour with Ronnie Dawson, “The Blonde Bomber.” Although Dawson was primarily a rockabilly musician, many blues and punk fans appreciated his performances. He taught Curran not to get pigeonholed. Curran toured next with Texas rockabilly doyenne Kim Lenz, moving to Dallas to join her backup band the Jaguars for two years, and performing on Lenz’s recording, “The One and Only.” He is also featured on Lenz’s CD, “It’s All True,” and toured with her in the summer of 2009.
In 1999, the Texas Jamboree label issued Curran’s debut solo recording, “Fixin' Your Head.” As he would do on all future CDs, Curran used vintage recording equipment to achieve the feel and sound of old 45s and 78s, and the LPs of the 1950s. To support the recording he formed the band, Nick Curran and the Nitelifes, whose performances whipped audiences to frenzied devotion with their wild ride of retro, yet fresh and edgy rock ‘n’ roll, boogie, R&B, jump blues and a variety of other tasty stylistic devils in the details. A second Texas Jamboree CD, “Nitelife Boogie,” followed in 2001.
When Curran moved to Austin, Jimmie Vaughan, who had heard his CDs, invited him to sit in on a set at Antone’s. Vaughan would make a guest appearance on two tracks on Nick’s next recording, “Doctor Velvet,” on the Blind Pig label. “Doctor Velvet” garnered the 2004 W.C. Handy Award (now the Blues Music Award) by the Blues Foundation for "Best New Artist Debut."
From 2004 to 2007 Curran displayed his talents with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kim Wilson’s legendary band, appearing on their 2005 recording, “Painted On.” Also during that time, Curran and bassist Ronnie James Weber started the punk band Deguello, saying that it, “sounded as if Little Richard sang with the Ramones.”
Curran performed four songs in a scene in the 2008 HBO Series "True Blood," based on “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” by Charlaine Harris, which explores the co-existence of humans and vampires.
After performing a solo show in November 2008, Nick was inspired to form the rock ‘n’ roll roots band, The Lowlifes, and they began rocking enthusiastic blues, punk, rockabilly and “swank martini” crowds in the U.S. and all across Europe with their mix of retro and modern mojo. “I love going on the road. It’s my favorite thing, playing for new people every night.” Curran also moonlighted in the Austin-based punk/rock ‘n’ roll band the Flash Boys (“influences: chainsaws, the sound of jail cell doors opening . . .”), and appeared on two tracks on the Mannish Boys CD, “Shake for Me,” on Delta Groove.
“Reform School Girl,” Nick Curran and the Lowlife’s debut release on the Eclecto Groove label, is a culmination of his multitude of talents: a throwback to his roots, only amped up to the limit. “I’ve written more songs on ‘Reform School Girl’ than on any other records. I wanted it to have no filler – only good stuff. All my influences are there, from old blues like Lazy Lester and T-Bone Walker to girl groups like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, to Guns N Roses.” Curran’s music became a mainstay on Little Steven's Underground Garage, earning three "Coolest Song in the World" titles with tracks from his album, “Reform School Girl.”
In 2009, Curran was diagnosed with oral cancer. In June 2010, he had been deemed cancer free, but by April 2011 the cancer had returned and he underwent treatment. Curran eventually succumbed to the disease on October 6, 2012, at the age of 35.