Sitting at a wooden table in a plumber’s bar covered in fake wood and the relaxing faint smell of a thousand mopped pukes all point to the jukebox. The waitress drops off our beers. Nidhan’s beer is an ale. His face is rough, gang related, but his eyes dart around in child like wonder. Standing at around 6’2″, Dirty Penny’s new bassist is sitting pretty. He has joined what may be Canada’s next The Guess Who, The Tragically Hip, The Barenaked Ladies.
Alex Magnuson (Me): Nidhan, how did you first-
Nidhan Grewal: It’s “Nidhan”
NG: Say “Don” like normal.
NG: Okay, now “Ni-DON”. Emphasis on second syllable.
AM: “Nidon” [I believe I was pronouncing it fine at this point but we were too far into awkward land to help me] “Nidon”…”Nidon”…”Nidon”
NG: That’s good. Enough.
AM: No, I really want to get it right. I’m planning on writing a book about you guys. What if I have to speak at a press conference and I say your name wrong? It looks bad on all of us.
AM: Ok. So, you’re the new bassist for Dirty Penny? For sure?
NG: I think so. They said the words ‘welcome to the band’ so..
AM: Wow. Like ‘WOW’. You’re in Dirty Penny.
AM: You must be pretty pumped.
NG: It’s good. They’re- excuse me, WE’RE not famous or anything. But the music’s got spirit and style. That’s the most important thing. I’ve been in cover bands and worse: original bands that have no sound. That just made me hate music which is terrible. I grew up with music.
AM: What do you mean you grew up with music?
NG: Classically trained in tabla and harmonium starting when I was 6. Got my first guitar in grade 10 and then gravitated toward the bass shortly after and still playing it. I just always liked playing music.
AM: So now that you’re in Dirty Penny you love music again?
NG: Uh, no, I got back in it with my other band, Fire Hydrant, who are also awesome.
AM: How long ago was this?
AM: So do you know anything about the former DP bassist? “Sugar Bear”?
NG: Sounds good on the recordings.
AM: What do you think about the circumstances around his departure?
NG: I don’t know much about it.
NG: Ya. Why? Is there something I should know?
AM: You said you didn’t know “much” about it. Then what do you know?
AM: It’s alright. You can tell me. I’m the band biographer. I’m YOUR band’s biographer.
NG: This is weird. You’re weird.
AM: FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!
NG: Whoa, dude, reel it in…
AM: [I'm hyper-ventilating here. I used to get attacks as a kid but they went away when i hit my teens. Haven't had one in 30 years. Thankfully my old trick of biting my tongue until the first faint taste of blood still works and I was able to calm down in a minute. The contractor men at the table next to us were all looking at me. The bartender was looking at me. What I thought was "Satisfaction" by the Stones was really a Kate Bush song playing over the house system. This was impossible. They would never play Kate Bush here. This was a man's bar. There was sports on the overhead TVs. All the interior was faux log cabin. I became paranoid. After my attack the endorphins allowed me to keep a calm appearance. I knew I was outta the hyper-ventialtion woods but my mind was closing in. All eyes were still on me and Nidhan looked horrified. It was too much. I needed to know for sure what was playing on the stereo. If I could be sure of that I knew I could pull myself together. I began to sing along with what I was hearing. Hopefully Nidhan's face would tip me off quickly on whether I was on the right track]
AM: ‘The hounds of love are haunting me?’
NG: [his hand is suddenly up holding a 20 dollar bill for the waitress who was now coming over, ready to assist in 7 different ways, no more, no less] Keep the change and no worries. My friend here has been without sleep for too long.
waitress: That and something else if you ask me.
Dirty Penny’s new bassist is a compassionate, thoughtful man with strong hands. I lead the way down the stairs to the street while he gripped both my arms from behind all the way. I felt a little like a shopping cart.
This interview hadn’t gone well. I considered not publishing but knew that I would not get another chance so here it is, warts and all. Shit.