Aliases: Nic O. Teen, Nic North, Nicholas West
Position with the Comateens: Singer, Songwriter, Arranger, Producer, Musician, Performer
Instruments: Bass, Drums, Guitar, Percussion, Keyboards
BIO: NICHOLAS WEST is founder and creator, along with Ramona Jan, of Comateens.
A GOOD DECISION
However, at age 15 he decided that he wanted to become a professional musician and composer, and began classical piano lessons again as a pupil of Rosalie Sirlin, and later attended master classes with composer Seymour Bernstein. He also played tympani in his junior high school orchestra.
After high school, Nicholas entered the City College Of New York and studied theory and composition with composers Miriam Gideon and Pulitzer-prize winning electronic composer Mario Davidovsky.
He also joined his first band at this time, a blues/jazz/rock band called The Eels, comprised of local neighborhood friends, playing drums in the band and writing his first songs. He got his first live performance experience with The Eels playing small block parties and a few chaotic festivals in Central Park.
Nicholas left City College after two years of study in order to enter the real-world music business. He got a job at the world-renowned Mediasound Studios in New York, and there entered an apprenticeship with veteran mastering engineer Ray Janos to learn the art of disk mastering. He subsequently became disk mastering engineer at Mediasound when Janos left to work at another company. During this time he continued to play with The Eels and various other short-lived groups, sometimes playing piano and sometimes playing drums. During gigs at Max's Kansas City and CBGBs he also met and became friendly with fellow band Laughing Dogs, who later invited him to perform with them in their alter-ego group The Kojaks at New York's Bottom Line.
COMATEENS ARE BORN
In September 1978, he met engineer Ramona Jan at Mediasound Studios, and the two decided to write songs and form a band. They began to rehearse together, Nick playing bass and Ramona playing guitar, using Ramona's "Kent" electronic rhythm box for drums. Thus the original Comateens was born. The name "Comateens" was suggested as a joke by Bill Dickson, guitarist for fellow band The Rousers, but the name stuck and fit the minimalist style of the band, and was adopted.
During this period he was also a member of two New York experimental bands with long-time friend and collaborator from The Eels, guitarist Jerry Agony, playing keyboards with Jerry's group Special Jellies, and performing twice on national television on ABC-TVs One Life To Live. He also wrote and played bass with Jerry's trio Stigmatix, which also featured "No Wave" saxophonist James Chance, (later James White).
WEST & BYRD APPEAR
After the death of brother Oliver in 1987, Comateens, now consisting of only Nicholas and Lyn Byrd, recorded an album as a duo under the name West & Byrd and performed a series of shows in Paris backed by Special Jellies guitarist Chris Cunningham, Maggie's Dream bassist Lonnie Hillyer and drummer Zach Alford, later to join the B-52s and Bruce Springsteen.
After that, however, they readopted the name Comateens, recording the hit "A Place For Me" with Lyn Byrd and Nada Surf guitarist Matthew Caws, and also releasing a "Best Of Comateens" CD on Virgin Records.
A true multi-instrumentalist as well as singer, Nicholas plays piano, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, organ, synthesiser, drums and percussion.
Lyn T. Byrd
All materials Copyright © 2006 Comateens, all rights reserved, except where otherwise indicated. No material may be reused without express permission.