Nick Oliveri 

Oliveri Twist: Nick Oliveri goes acoustic—his way.

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"Basically, the chorus is ‘Fuck you, you can’t make me [unintelligible]! Fuck this [unintelligible] outta you!’” Nick Oliveri laughs heartily after the extemporaneous performance. “Fuck, fuck, fuckin’ fuck. But that’s what Slash wanted.”

The song, “Chains & Shackles,” is Oliveri’s lone writing credit on the Guns ’N’ Roses guitarist’s upcoming solo record. Assuming, of course, the track actually makes the record. See, Oliveri has something of a reputation. Quoting from a 2003 City Weekly interview advancing a Queens of the Stone Age gig—not even a year before QOTSA canned Oliveri for alleged disrespect of the group’s fans and excessive partying:

His rap sheet includes getting kicked out of the Dwarves (“I thought I could do anything I wanted when I joined the Dwarves,” he laughs, “which just goes to show you those guys aren’t as badass as they seem”), several naked performances (one saw him arrested in Brazil) and impromptu fire spitting (on, not into, the crowd).

“Chains & Shackles,” says Oliveri, “is the only song on the whole record that has cussing and stuff.” That seems odd, since everyone knows Slash’s affection for the f-bomb, and he’s a household name in spite of it. And yet the track may be hidden or included on the Australian/Japanese version of the album due to its content. Such sanitization is a component of a bigger sellout in which Slash also partners with the likes of Fergie, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. Don’t guys like Oliveri thrive on being the antithesis of this obsequious pandering?

Well, he certainly spoke his mind regarding his expulsion from QOTSA: “The strongest leaders are chosen by their followers, not self-appointed. The best front men are chosen by their fans. And whatever happened to loyalty?” But about the Slash thing? “We’ll see what happens. I know for sure I’m playin’ bass on one song on the American release, so that’s cool.” Then he gave the “I’m not usually starstruck but Slash was so fuckin’ cool” line.

Either Oliveri plays ball more than we know, or he’s learned his lesson. Then again, the whole reason he broke into song—prefaced by a mischievous cackle, and followed by a goofy Butt-Head guffaw—was that I called the Slash situation a classic Oliveri story. Could be he plays to his rep. More likely, it’s a little of everything. Slash, he says, wanted a tune that was “on the edge … with screaming” and Oliveri said, “I’m your man. I can do that.

I’m good at screaming. I’m good at cussing. I can do all that shit.” He blames the “powers that be” for the censorship—a likely story, but one that supports the Slash cashout theory, too.

It’s like there’s a horse whisperer, dog whisperer, etc., and Oliveri found his corresponding susurrations. He’s part-timing it in the Dwarves, writing for and playing bass on the forthcoming The Dwarves Are Born Again (maybe it’s all about forgiveness?) and has graciously found diversions while his Mondo Generator bandmates start families—perhaps so he doesn’t procreate himself. “Kids aren’t for me ... I don’t think that’s a good idea.” To wit, he’s formed an unnamed band with members of Turbonegro, whose debut album he’ll finish when he returns from a solo acoustic album and tour.

It’s not the self-important country-andblues solo cred project you’d think. Death Acoustic consists of songs Oliveri played with various bands (QOTSA, Dwarves, Moistboyz) or by personal faves the Misfits, Raw Power and GG Allin. Oliveri treats them with respect, and plays them as intended—raw and loud, with lots of screaming. Because he’s good at that— among other things, which he appears to acknowledge on Death Acoustic’s last track, a cover of Allin’s “Outlaw Scumfuc.”

Oliveri’s performance eclipses Allin’s in its ferocity, and eclipses both the notorious scat-tossin’ punk rocker and any notion that Oliveri ain’t the real deal. So when he brings his one-man show to Club Vegas, should we expect the usual shenanigans? Oliveri responds affirmatively, with a word you might’ve heard him say before.

NICK OLIVERI
Club Vegas
445 S. 400 West
Thursday, Feb. 18
8 p.m.

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