Image by Stefan Steinbauer

The Speakeasy 

Barrel proof stories straight from the source.

February 2021

Welcome to the Whiskey Network Speakeasy. Join us each month as we sit down with exciting guests from all walks of life who do amazing things and share the passion for whiskey. You'll need to know the password to get in! - Mark Pruett 

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 Willie Nile:

Islay Whisky, New York City, and Songs of Hope 

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“Photo by Cristina Arrigoni”

Willie Nile is a legendary singer/songwriter from New York who has carved out a career in rock and roll that has spanned three decades and 13 albums. He has earned the respect of his contemporaries, adoration of fans, and the accolades of the press. His songs will elate you with an undeniable sense of hope. Also, he is a fellow whiskey enthusiast. 

The last decade of his career has been a renaissance. He has been making music that has a timeless quality and tells stories of the world that he sees and hears. Of course, living in New York City gives him an extraordinarily rich environment to draw inspiration from. Willie has earned a global following of fierce fans that he adores and respects. He is the kind of artist that you could approach after a show and share a moment with. He exudes authenticity and character. Without question, he has earned his place as a legendary artist in rock and roll. 

Regarding whiskey, he is at a remarkably interesting point in his journey. After a long relationship with whiskey on the road and touring, he reached a tipping point after sampling whiskey from Islay. It is not very often that we get to talk to someone at this stage of the journey. He has been so inspired that he will be visiting Islay as soon as he can. 

This interview is an exciting opportunity to hear the experiences of a fellow whiskey enthusiast. We cover whiskey stories from the road/touring, his newfound love of Islay whisky, his music, the most recent record that he has released, and his upcoming album. Who knows, maybe the Whiskey Network will get to talk to him again once he visits Islay. You will have to read on to find out more!

Finally, he answers the questions in our feature called “The Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe” – where we ask 5 whiskey related questions to our guests. You do not want to miss this!

My interview with Willie has been edited for clarity and continuity, but every effort has been made to preserve the original conversation. The unedited video of the interview can be found here.

Mark Pruett: It is an honor to have Willie Nile with us here today! Rock'n'Roll musician, and of course, whiskey enthusiast. Wille, welcome.

Willie Nile: Thank you, Mark. It is a pleasure to be here to talk about a very interesting subject which I am learning more and more about as I travel. I am happy to be here.

 

MP: Great! Let's dive in, because I am excited to explore whiskey with you. You have been on the road all over the world, and I would imagine the places that you've been and the things that you've seen, whiskey has been a part of your life for a long time. I also understand that perhaps your journey is evolving but let us talk about the times before. What were your experiences with whiskey, or what you did you drink in those times? Tell me about the journey up to now, before you got to the tipping point, which we will get to later.

 

WN: Well, I grew up in Buffalo, NY and I liked drinking beer, wine, and whiskey. With whiskey, I didn't have a great knowledge of it when I was younger, not that I do now, but I know more than I did then, and I always liked it. Jameson would be whiskey that I would frequently drink, along with Bushmills. When I was recording an album in 1990, with T-Bone Wolk (Rest in Peace) the former bass player of Saturday Night Live and a great musician, he loved his Bushmills. He was a special guy, incredible musician, and an old man in a young man’s body. A real character and a brilliant musician. Bushmills was his go-to, and he turned me on to that. I was fairly picky with the little bit that I knew. In 1980, when my first album came out, I ended up touring across the US opening for The Who. It was an experience of a lifetime. I love all kinds of music, but as a kid I loved the British Invasion bands (the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, the Kinks) - to get to open for them was an experience. I had heard that Pete (Townshend) was a fan of my first record, so when I played in Los Angeles, I had their management come to my gig. They came backstage and wanted to know if I wanted to open for The Who. I thought he was kidding… He cannot be serious… No, he is not kidding! The band and I had a great time - we were all fans of them. I went from playing small clubs to arenas. We were on stage early and after our show we would celebrate each night, and then we would watch The Who play. There was a fair amount of whiskey that made its way around the band. That I remember, we celebrated the whole tour. It was a lot of fun, and whiskey was a strong part of it. 

 

MP: There is something about a job well done and then coming back to whiskey. It does not even really matter what quality it is. It could be bottom shelf whiskey, it could be the best whiskey on the planet… in that moment, you have opened for The Who – an absolutely legendary moment in your life and in your career – you sit down backstage, or off to the side of the stage, and you are drinking something. That must taste like the best whiskey on the planet in that moment.

 

WN: That is well put, it does. Moments like that where you are celebrating something, sharing with the band and friends… here we are on tour playing to 20,000 – 25,000 people. Went from a three-week tour across the country playing clubs, and the occasional college campus in 300-400 people venues. All the sudden we are in front of 15, 20, 25 thousand  people; it was an absolute blast. I was too ignorant to be afraid; I just enjoyed it. We would have whiskey after each show. When you celebrate something as meaningful as that, as exciting as that, it tastes all the sweeter. 

 

MP: That is incredible. Did you get nervous in front of 25,000 people?

 

WN: A little bit, but not that much. I was so naïve. I thought… well I am just going to play my songs. I am a song writer and a poet. For me, it's about the songs, it is not about becoming a big rock star; that has never been my interest. I would love to be stinkin’ rich, I got no problems with that. However, it was not for the fame or the glory: it was for the music. I had this great band: Patty Smith's drummer, the bass player from Television, two great guitar players, and we were out there sharing this experience together. We are on the stage playing songs that meant a lot to me, and still mean a lot to me. That takes care of the nervousness. I am not there to prove a point, and I'm not there to show off.  I'm there to enjoy and celebrate. So, it wasn't too bad, and I wasn't nervous.

 

MP: I sat down and listened to your entire music catalog, and something that comes through loud and clear across all your albums, whether it is full on rock and roll songs or a ballad, there is something that comes out of every single song you make - and that is always the thread of hope. It just comes through loud and clear to me.

 

WN: Thank you. That is the best compliment you could give me. We will celebrate, we will have fine whiskey with our friends, we will talk about the world, we will celebrate events in life, between lovers and families and friends. However, life is tough for everybody… look how successful Michael Jackson was, but it was a tragic story. I believe there could be some redemption in music, and I love music of all kinds, especially when it's good, full of life, and optimism. I am never going to make a record that brings people down. It's just not going to happen. At my concerts, I will go out and sign CDs after the show and thank people for coming, and they are always elated. I get that spirit, because I am elated. The music heals me. This is a wild world we are living in right now. For the next few weeks, I am making a new record. Music can heal, and that is what I love about it. The songs I make, I am trying to inspire. They inspire me, so if they can inspire others, and if you say you get a sense of hope, then I am doing my job. Thanks for saying that. 

 

MP: I sat down and had a glass of bourbon with me. I put the headphones on, shut out the world, and just listened. It washed over me; it was such a great experience. You and I, we could sit here and talk about music all day long. Bear with me for the moment, because I want to jump back into whiskey. 

 

WN: My friends Kevin and Janice, they live in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was touring with the band and we went through Edinburgh. Kevin took us to his favorite pub, the Holyrood 9a. We sat down in there and it was like a cathedral. His reverence for drinking whiskey, I could not believe it. It took us 5 minutes to take a sip. He was talking about it with reverence and passion; he was so eloquent about it. I have a reverence for music and life. Whiskey is something where everything is about character. Watching him speak about whiskey, I could not believe my ears. 

 

MP: You're right; it is connected to whiskey. I could talk about your music like that. I'm glad you brought up Kevin and Janice. That's an important part of your whiskey journey; that was a tipping point for you. And I think that is a fantastic aspect to focus on, with you. Here you are, you talk about your history with whiskey: it's always kind of been around, but something happened with Kevin and Janice. This was the tipping point, the revelation for you. Tell me about that. 

 

WN: A couple of years ago, we were playing Asbury Park, NJ at a place called the House of Independence. It was a packed house; it was going to be a night of celebration… friends seeing friends. A community develops around music. Janice had just come across from Edinburgh and she would always bring whisky for my friend, James Maddock (who is a great singer/songwriter). She brought me a present. She explained that they went on a summer vacation to an island off the coast of Scotland called Islay. She told me that there are multiple distilleries there and it's a famous place for whisky. She said she got a small square foot of land as a friend of Laphroaig and they gave her a bottle. That was the bottle she brought for me. We were backstage before the show, and I thought it would be great to have a toast before the show. I opened the bottle and smelled it. The sensation was delightful. We all had a sip and there were similar reactions…. “whoa this is incredible”. Then, I became laser-focused on why is this so good? We spoke about it. She told me all about Islay. 

I was on the phone with her earlier today and she told me that Laphroaig and Lagavulin are right next to each other and that you can walk to them. I guess Ardbeg is right there also, so there are three distilleries right next to each other. When you walk to them, you see people coming back and they are doing “they wobble”, I said that is a dance and I want to do “the wobble”, too! I let her know that I want to go Islay with them, and we can do the wobble together. Something to look forward to that makes life worthwhile. 

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“Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews”

MP: Sounds like a song you need to write in the future. 

WN: I think there is a dance song in there somewhere. Willie and the Wobble.

MP: Maybe the Ardbeg Wobble? I am not an expert in Islay whisky, but I have been around enough to know that whisky is something that is quite simple to produce, but there is an aspect to it that just is not controlled. You can put ingredients together, you can boil them, you can produce the mash, you can do all these things, and then put it in a barrel. At that time, it does its own thing. When you look at Islay: the geography, the climate, the water and those things that go into it, it's a fantastic combination that produces an incredibly unique experience from a region perspective. I brought out some notes about the area: the taste of the coastal breeze, the salinity in the whisky. Though, I understand that the whisky from this region has become a little sweeter over time, there is still that briny and savory flavor profile. Dialing into that, is that what you are tuning into when you drink that whisky? 

WN: I think so, yes. When I was with Kevin at the Holyrood 9a we sat down, and he wanted to walk me through the tasting process. I was with my band - he knew we were not experts. First, he said there is the eye… how the whisky captures the light and it clings to the glass in an oily way. We all looked at our glasses. Then, there is the nose at three points across the glass. I had never heard of that before, so I took the glass, ran it under your nose, and smell it at three points. The top note is the lightest, sometimes floral, citrus, smoke, perfume. The middle note, more intense and heavier, usually where the notes from the barrel are present (oak, bourbon, and sherry cask notes). For me, this was like poetry! He was like a shaman. Finally, the bottom note, which he called the distillery note. It's deep and strong and very alcoholic (ethanol). We had yet to take a sip, and he was illuminating it in great detail. Then the palate. He said to take a tiny bit of whisky, maybe a tear drop, to discover the flavor. Coat your mouth… mind you we have yet to swallow a drop. He wanted us to coat our mouth with it and let the air at it before swallowing. I realized that about 5 minutes went by, but it was fascinating. His flat-out passion and character reveal so much about life. To hear him talk about it was quite the experience. If anyone goes to Edinburgh and goes to the Holyrood 9a, see if Kevin is there. 

He also says the flavor and the nose are personal things. It's your life experience that helps you understand the smell and flavor. I loved it because it was a deepening of my exposure to Scottish whisky. I like character, whether it's music, people, or film. It's a journey I am excited to be on. 

MP: There are fantastic parallels to music and life there. For live music, it is a lot of things coming together. It's the venue (25,000 people or 250 people), the smoke in the room, what you happen to be drinking at the time, how loud the band is, the presence of the person who is on stage, and if they can make that connection with you. It is basically the same thing for whiskey. It becomes this sensory, sensual, connection that hits you right between the eyes. I love the fact that you are going on this part of the journey and that we are talking to you in this moment. A logical next question is, what does the future hold? Obviously, we are under some travel restrictions, and we can break free from that soon. Is there a trip to Islay in your future and how are you going to exploring to see what you find? 

WN: Hopefully, sooner than later we can get through this difficult pandemic. It affects everybody, and it's serious business. There will come a time when things open more. Live concerts will open again. I always go the UK to tour once a year; England, Wales, Scotland, and sometimes jump over to Ireland. I did not realize that in Ireland it is whiskey and in Scotland there is no “e” - it is whisky. I love it, there is so much character in that part of the world. I will go to Edinburgh, and I told Kevin and Janice that I want to go to Islay and experience that. The smell of the sea air. Walk on the ground, feel it under my feet. Go to the distilleries, see the nuances and differences. Kevin will be there to explain things and educate me. That is definitely going to happen.

That reminds of a few road stories. We were in Newcastle, England with the band; we had a done a show there. It was a good crowd, and we always do very well. I remember we were touring with The Alarm, and I was opening as solo acoustic. They are a great band. They were playing 2,000 seat venues with stand-up audiences. They are well known, but they didn't know who I was. I'd go out there with my acoustic guitar, and they are feisty audiences, and they are feeling good. I knew how to deal with that, a vibrant lively audience. They told me that I better have something good or I would get the hook. I did really well, I got them singing along. I kept hearing that they would love us in Scotland. We get to Glasgow and we are playing the O2 Arena, which is a big venue. I walked out there, and everyone was feeling no pain. It was celebration time. From the first song, I could feel their passion. They are so passionate about their music, drinking, and life.

 

Then we ended up in Newcastle in the North of England. It's a rough and tumble town; Mark Knopfler is from there. We had a show one night that went really well, and we were in a pub after the show and celebrating, having our whisky. I went out and came back and heard that one of the guys in the band (he is a rocker from the lower east side) was chatting up a girl at the bar. This guy comes up to him and asks, “Have you ever heard of the Glasgow Kiss?”. My tour manager happened to be with him and right away took my band mate by the arm and said they had to go. Because a Glasgow Kiss is a head butt, apparently it was the guy's girlfriend… my band mate was about to get head butted. The combination of music, touring, travel, women, and whisky… it was fortunate that he did not get head butted. 

Another time, we were in Dublin, and we were playing a legendary venue, Whelan’s, where U2 and many other bands that came up in the last 40 years had played. We arrived and did our soundcheck. I went backstage and there was a big box for me. In the box was Guinness Beer, champagne, and a card – which I still have with me. The card said, “Welcome to Dublin” and it was from U2. I did invite Bono and the band to come to the show. Apparently, there is something called Black Velvet, which is 1 part champagne and 2 parts Guinness. We did end up drinking Irish whiskey and Guinness that night. 

You never know where the road will take you. If you are open to new experiences, as I am, especially with whiskey now, I am fascinated by it. 

MP: The reverence in the industry that people have of you, the respect that is there, must feel incredible. The Alarm taking you under their wing in their territory, U2 sending you that gift and the Black Velvet… You saving the card is a fantastic memento.

WN: It meant so much to me. It was a kind act, and they did not have to do that. I am not a big, famous cat or anything, but they were respectful. It meant the world to me that they thought enough to make that effort, and it reminds me of a very sweet night. 

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“Photo by Cristina Arrigoni”

MP: We talked a bit earlier about how whiskey is made, as I was listening to your music I was thinking about this process. I am not a musician, but I enjoy music. Anyone can learn to play an instrument, but I recognize how difficult it is to make music with that emotional attachment. I think above and beyond that is there are a couple of videos out there of you where it is just you and an acoustic guitar. The craftsmanship and ability that goes into that is a lot like whiskey. It is a little unpredictable, because it is acoustic and not like being on stage with a band. Being able to carry something like that, put that recipe together and throw it to the wind or to the Fates to see what happens… that is a very rare ability. When examining the big picture and how people look upon you in the industry, that is reflective of your talents and there are parallels to the whiskey world. These are fantastic stories.

We have interviewed a few other folks from the music industry, and the road is always a great place for shenanigans to happen. You must cover a lot of miles, and you need to keep the smile on your face. Whether a band is playing a 25,000-seat arena or a 250-seat venue are the shenanigans the same or different? Are bands pranksters or are some straight?

WN:  It depends. It's different every case how much you party. For me, if you are serious about it, you take care of yourself. You can celebrate, and you can have fun along the way. Unfortunately, it happens that a lot of people become victim to that lifestyle. I do not know that it matters if you are in front of 25,000 or 250, because you can get carried away in either venue. I have been lucky and have been able to walk the line well enough. I enjoy myself, but I am disciplined, and I take it seriously enough because it matters to me. I am lucky that I get to do what I love, and that is what carries me forward. I am a believer in character and quality in music, whiskey, and life. I have seen all kinds of stuff on my travels. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It is possible to maintain and do it in a way that is sensible. 

MP: There are not a lot of people who survive in the music industry as long as you have and maintain that outlook of hope. That is a fantastic quality you have done well to preserve. Hats off to you for that. 

WN: Thank you, I have been fortunate. I had a good family with good people. Especially my father, who is 103 and doing great. My parents instilled in me a sense of optimism, how to treat your neighbors well, and make the best of how hard life can be. It was a really good foundation, so it makes it easier for me. I would not be doing this if it did not mean the world to me. I will not go in the recording studio unless I think I have got something special and meaningful. Then to get to share it. 

That is what we did these past two weeks in the studio making a new record. The other night, we were recording and were recording a song I wrote that is dedicated to John Lewis, the great civil rights activist. I met him a couple years ago and had a moment with him when celebrating a friend’s birthday. Such a deep cat. The song is called “The Justice Bell”, one of the guys in the band said that he never felt patriotic like he did during the recording. It gave him chills. It is about justice and freedom. Everyone was really moved. It was late and we were working hard. I felt like I could use a drink to celebrate. The moment was so special, completing the song, and it sounds incredible. Our producer had a bottle of Laphroaig in the other room and next thing I know he comes walking in with a glass. We all have headphones on, and we can hear each other but they could not see me. Then they heard me take a sip. My guitar player said… “You are killing me!” So afterwards we all had a sip to celebrate together. A great shared experience: we celebrated with Laphroaig. A moment I will always remember. 

MP: At the Whiskey Network, that is a core tenet of the things that we believe. Well, there are a lot things there… you are checking a lot of boxes. Number one, whiskey is meant to be shared. Number two, whiskey is a sensory experience. Number three, in the moment in the job well done, it's something that turns the experience into nirvana. Into overdrive. I cannot wait to hear the new music. Do you have a potential date as to when you think you are going to release the new record? 

WN: I am thinking that the new one will come out late May or early June 2021. It is going fast and really well. After years of doing this, it is getting easier and easier. 

We put one out at the end of May 2020, which is called New York at Night. It is a celebration of the city. Tell you what, this city is amazing to me… if you would have said that all of this would have happened in New York… For example, the Holland Tunnel is just a few blocks from me, I am in Greenwich Village. On Friday night, the traffic can be an hour in line to go five blocks. In April 2020, I remember walking near there and seeing one car on Friday night. On this album, I celebrate New York for being the unique place it is. Most of the songs were written here. 

MP: Looking deeper, New York at Night was released May 15, 2020. You were busy during the pandemic. Just looking at some of the accolades… “#1 Song of the Week” (WPKN and The Alternate Root), “The Best of 2020…” (Twangville Magazine), “Cause for Celebration… True Rock and Roll…” (Michael Doherty’s Music Blog), “As Sharp and as guitar driven as ever” (The Associated Press (ABC News)), “It’s official… Willie Nile takes the mantle from Lou Reed as the King of New York” (Rock is the New Roll), “The unofficial poet laureate of New York City” (Uncut), “One of the most brilliant singer/songwriters in the past 30 years” (The New Yorker)… these are incredible. For me, “New York at Night” is one of my favorite cuts on the record. I really like the tempo. I do also like “Under This Roof” as it's a very soulful song. Very introspective, I love the video that you made. In addition, I really liked “Doors of Paradise”, a very touching and meaningful song. 

Now, I have spent my fair share of time in New York, but I do not think I have seen 100% of how crazy it can be. I know there is a story to what inspired you to write “New York at Night”. Can you share that?

WN: True story. Two summers ago, I went up to the Iridium (Les Paul’s club uptown) on a Friday night, just north of Times Square. Went to go see a band play and got out at 10:30pm. I was walking through Times Square to the subway to come back down to the village. It is a beautiful night and I was going down the stairs. The train is pulling into the platform, stops, and the doors open. I am walking towards it when I notice on the floor there is a bottle of whipped cream near a guy’s foot. It was a tall can of Reddi-Whip. As I got closer, I looked and this guy had two inches of whipped cream on his feet, both legs and up his thighs. I did not want to risk looking. I thought, someone is covered in two inches of whipped cream right here… and it was a fairly crowded car. I went in went to the other end and I found a seat. I thought to myself… “WOW New York City!” That is one for the books. I came out of the subway at West 3rd Street at 11pm. There are tourists, college kids partying, black limousines outside of the Blue Note, homeless people with their hands out, and I just thought “New York at Night” …. and right away I knew that was a song. I walked two blocks home, writing in my head, and had it was half written when I got home. I came upstairs, picked up my guitar and knew that night that it would be the title song to the album. Based on a true experience, I mean, how many people can walk into the subway can see someone covered in whipped cream? It was fascinating. 

MP: Only in New York! Is that where your songs come from? Do they come from those experiences?

WN: They come from all kinds of places. Whether it is a party on a Saturday night, a love song, a song of sorrow, or tragedy in the world, the climate, whatever different things are going on, could be the pandemic. I write about all kinds of things. It is my way of expressing myself. Obviously, there are things around me. When I walk down the street, there is no time when they are not full of people. There are buildings with stories to tell. I can hear them; they speak to me. I am still as inspired as I was when I came here as a kid from Buffalo. I still feel that fire. I consider myself lucky… very lucky. The songs come from real life, sometimes you make them up, but they are based on certain experiences.

MP: I think it's safe to say that the last decade of your career you have seen a renaissance. What's interesting to me is how do you perceive how your music has changed over time?

WN: It is a factor of being more comfortable. For example, with my first record, I had never been in a recording studio (this was in 1980).

MP: So never having been in a recording studio and you put out something like “Vagabond Moon”. That is a dynamite song. 

WN: I had really great players and a great producer. I had a good team. I wrote it because it meant something to me, and I sing it because it still means something to me. I cannot believe I still sing it now. I still feel that passion. So that helps you get through stuff. If it goes to your marrow and you care about it and if you believe it, that does help you get over bumps. 

After all this time, I really have a knack for how it is done. I know more, but I am still learning. This new experience we just had has been glorious. I have been lucky. 

MP:  Absolutely, and it shines through. If you look at the evolution of going from Vagabond Moon, to Back Home, Stories of New York, Far Green Hills, Forever Wild, or even Hell Yeah. By the way, I would like to make “Hell Yeah” the official soundtrack of the Whiskey Network, but there are probably legalities there. Back on topic, you can see the maturity of that evolution that comes into the songwriting. You did not have to come far because it was already that good.  Maybe your antenna is tuned a little better to pick up on the experiences, aside from the obvious of “2 Inches of Whipped Cream Man” types of incidents. 

WN: Oh man… the whipped cream. But yes, I am still learning. Even now, I am still wanting to learn and eager to do so. As in whiskey. Hence my trip to Islay down the road. We all learn, we do our best. Try to help the other guy when you can. Be true to yourself. And put your best foot forward. For songwriting, if I get an inspiration, I do not sit down to write, I wait until it comes to me. Sometimes in the studio, more than writing, I will have a glass of whiskey to help ease things. 

MP: Grease the wheels.

WN: Yes, grease the wheels.

MP: You have been fabulously generous with your time and I want to respect that. I have got a couple of additional questions. If you will indulge me, I would like to ask one last question about the music… you had mentioned earlier that you were very much into the British invasion and had some influences from there. Who are other names that have influenced you?

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“Photo by Cristina Arrigoni”

WN: When I was a kid, my older brothers were playing early rock and roll like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers, and Little Richard. The first record I ever bought was the single “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly, and I was young. Years later, in 2011 at SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, TX, I met Maria Elena Holly, Buddy’s Wife. Think about how full circle that is. Just a little kid in Buffalo, totally wet behind the ears. I buy this record and played it a thousand times. It thrilled me to no end and here I am meeting his wife. She bought two of my records and wanted me to sign them. I wanted her to sign them for me! We have since become friends, and they have the Buddy Holly Education Foundation of which I am an official ambassador, along with a who’s who of rock and roll. Buddy and Marie used to live a few blocks from here on 5th Avenue and 8th Street. Buddy’s dream was to help teenagers that wanted to learn music. She started the educational foundation and I’m honored to be an official ambassador. 

MP: It is a fantastic honor. You earned that.

WN: I am a lucky guy. I would also say Bob Dylan was an influence for sure. Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, these were also big influences. Especially Bob Dylan... He influenced the Stones, the Beatles. It is funny, he lived 3 buildings down. When I first came here in the early 70’s I would sit on my fire escape and watch the world go by with a cigarette, having a drink. Watching and being fascinated by New York City. On weekends, I would see this powder blue van pull up in front of his house and I knew it was Bob, having seen it many times. He would take his kids in the house and I thought… wow what a city! I mean this was my neighbor down the street. There was also Lou Reed, God bless him, he was a dear friend. Life is to be enjoyed and appreciated if you can partake in it. I have been lucky in all those counts. I am still influenced ‘til this day. I also love the Ramones; I saw the whole CBGB scene go down. I used to go there 3-4 nights a week in the early days when it had just opened. It was a fascinating experience.

 

MP: Great history. A lot of history in that building. A lot of music in many different directions got started there. What a fantastic piece of history. 

 

WN: A fair amount of whiskey and drunkenness we down in that place, as well. 

 

MP: For now, let us take a minute and pour ourselves a glass of something. I have already got a glass of something here and then I have a special treat. For all our guests at the Whiskey Network, we like to ask a series of questions. 

 

WN: I am going open this wedding favor I received in Scotland from Ewan and Deborah on their wedding day. I have been saving it for a special occasion and this is as fitting as I can think of considering this special time with the Whiskey Network.

 

MP: We are honored you consider this a special occasion. Before I jump into the questions, let us have a toast. Cheers to whiskey.

 

WN: Cheers to whiskey, and to you. Thank you, Mark.

 

MP: Thanks to you. Back to whiskey, I like to ask 5 questions. These are the five most common questions that we see on our social media page, these are topics that get talked about and we would love to hear your opinion on these. We call this the “Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe”. 

The Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe

 

MP: Question 1: What was the last whiskey, bourbon or scotch in your glass? 

 

WN: Laphroaig. I had a glass to celebrate getting close to finishing this record. It was something special with the band.

 

MP: Question 2: Do you prefer to drink your whiskey in a specific type of glass?

 

WN: Yes, I like to drink from a bowl style glass. It made the aroma more present.

 

MP: Question 3: What is your unicorn bottle?

 

WN: Ardbeg, Lord of the Isles

 

MP: Question 4: I am looking for a gift for a friend, the budget is $50-$75 what would you recommend?

 

WN: A Bowmore. Another great distillery on Islay.

 

MP: Question 5: What is your favorite toast?

 

WN: Here’s to all our loved ones, past, present, and future.

 

MP: To all our loved ones, past, present, and future. Cheers, Willie.

Again, I am going to make a lobby that “Hell Yeah” be the official favorite toast of our group. With credit back to Willie Nile, of course.

I want to thank you. It has been incredible sitting with you. It has been incredible talking about whiskey and how your musical career, your musical talent, is entwined with whiskey. I am sure this will be a great treat for our audience. We look forward to news about your new album and I encourage everyone to go out and buy “New York at Night” … please go out and find it. It is a wonderful experience. Thanks again for your time, I appreciate it.

 

WN: Thank you for having me. Thank you for the conversation. I have been looking forward to this. I am still learning as we go, and this has been special. I enjoyed this very much and to you my friend… I salute you. Stay healthy, stay safe. Cheers!

 

MP: Maybe when you get back from your trip to Islay you can come back, we can talk more.

 

WN: That would be great. I would love that. I will bring stuff back.

 

MP: Excellent. 

 

WN: Thank you, my friend. Take good care and thanks for having me.

Cheers,