Simple songwriting

Nick Ferrio talks songwriting, musical inspirations and searching for truth

Nick Ferrio says one of his songs is about a bad experience he had with the police in Switzerland.
Image by: Supplied
Nick Ferrio says one of his songs is about a bad experience he had with the police in Switzerland.

Two years ago, self-described “sentimental gentleman” Nick Ferrio tattooed “classic country is three chords and the truth” on his arm.

The first of many tattoos, the expression encompasses Ferrio’s style of songwriting, reflecting a belief that music should capture the rawness of human emotion through minimalism.

On stage, Nick Ferrio and his backup band go by Nick Ferrio & His Feelings. They’re a classic country group that strays away from Ferrio’s past immersion in the punk rock community of Peterborough.

“Country music and punk rock have a kinship in terms of the simplicity of the music,” he said. “It was giving me truth that was reflecting on my own life and was more real.”

The manufactured quality of Top 40 music sacrifices lyrical sincerity and emotional depth, which often leads to alienation among listeners, Ferrio said.

Some country artists like Toby Keith have a “phony” feel to them according to Ferrio, but others maintain emotional authenticity like Gillian Welch, who’s not from the south, but from Boston.

“She makes music that feels like she’s speaking to me, whereas with Toby Keith it feels like he’s selling me a car.” One song on his album entitled “Free Man, Switzerland” describes his experience being arrested in Geneva by cops who forced him to empty out his bank account.

“They were jerks and made my life difficult … I ended up going back to the police station the next day to ask for a map. I mean, they stole my money, so I might as well get something out of it.”

Often an outsider in high school, Ferrio’s experience with loneliness and alienation gave him a broader perspective of the human experience.

“I was always the artsy outsider in high school and always felt weird in a school full of jocks,” he said.

However now his opinions towards sports have changed, citing football as fascinating.

“It’s like watching Shakespeare. There’s dramatic narratives going on, it’s like a soap opera — I love it.”

Nick Ferrio & His Feelings play the Artel on Friday at 8:30 p.m.


Gillian Welch, Nick Ferrio, The Artel, Toby Keith

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