The Nixons unite for the band's first full reunion in more than 15 years 

click to enlarge The Nixons circa mid-1990s | Photo provided
  • The Nixons circa mid-1990s | Photo provided

When Zac Maloy first wrote and recorded songs like “Sister” and “Happy Song” as a young man with Oklahoma City grunge staple The Nixons, he never put any thought into how difficult it might be to replicate those strained vocal efforts in middle age.

“Some of these songs, it’s like, ‘Why did I scream like that?’ because now I have to sound like that 15 years later,” Maloy said.

The Nixons, formed as an alternative rock four-piece in 1990, enjoyed more than a decade of local and national success before officially splitting in 2002. The band celebrates its first full reunion in 15 years March 31 at Chevy Bricktown Events Center, 429 E. California Ave.

Last year, lead vocalist and guitarist Maloy regrouped with guitarist and backing vocalist Jesse Davis and drummer (and current Seether percussionist) John Humphrey for a partial, acoustic reunion during April’s inaugural Oklahoma Songwriter’s Festival.

The band’s March 31 reunion adds bassist Ricky Brooks and plugs in for the full, amplified Nixons rock sound so many came to know and love.

Humphrey is currently the rhythmic heartbeat of one of rock’s hardest working post-grunge bands, but returning to classic Nixons material was as easy as getting back on a bicycle.

“I didn’t even have Nixons on my iPod,” he said during a recent conference call with Oklahoma Gazette — The Nixons’ first interview with all four members in more than 15 years. “I had to go and download all the stuff. But [the songs] just all came back to me. There were no songs that were like, ‘Man, I don’t even know how any of this goes.’”

The four bandmates called in from scattered national locales. Before meeting this month in Oklahoma City to rehearse for their upcoming gigs, the band’s classic lineup had not shared a room or even a conversation since 2000, after the release of its last studio album Latest Thing.

While many fans eagerly wait for a Nixons stage comeback, merely making the time to be creative as a group of peers again was enough inspiration for Brooks, who said the positive energy associated with the reunion soothed whatever uneasy tensions might have remained after years of silence.

“I’m less excited about the show than I am about rehearsal and being really loud in a small room,” Brooks said.

Memory lane

The Nixons formed in the early 1990s during Maloy’s college years. Many fans were endeared to its sound around the release of its 1995 debut full-length effort Foma.

The quartet built a national reputation as tireless road warriors, sometimes touring more than 300 days a year. The bandmates shared many highlights during that time, including opening for KISS and performing New York’s Madison Square Garden.

“We played Red Rocks [Amphitheatre in Colorado] enough times that they gave us a little trophy,” Maloy said. “I still have it in my front room.”

The band recently launched an official Facebook page where the musicians post old photos and videos while reminiscing about the past with fans.

Humphrey said sifting through the memories reminds him of how lucky they were to play at a high level during their young careers.

“It was a great experience and a great learning experience — learning the business, getting signed and learning how all that works,” he said.

More than showbiz glitz that can be gleaned from old YouTube clips of national television performances. Brooks said his strongest memories are of the starkly less glamorous behind-the-scenes happenings.

“Being in a band is a lot more like being a truck driver than people realize because most of the time, you’re in a stinky van or a bus,” he said. “You’re really only a rock star for about 50 minutes a day.”

Different roads

Their appetite for a full reunion grew after last year’s acoustic gig. Their main obstacle was scheduling conflicts, primarily for Humphrey, who frequently records and tours the globe with Seether. Seether took a longer-than-expected break before the May release of its new album Poison the Parish, opening up time for a Nixons comeback.

Shortly after announcing its Oklahoma City reunion show, The Nixons booked an April 1 follow-up at Frisco, Texas’ Edgefest — an event it last played almost two decades ago.

The members’ lives have gone in distinct and interesting directions since The Nixons formally disbanded in 2002. Maloy lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and works primarily as a producer and songwriter. Once known for smashing guitars on stage, he’s most widely known as a contributing pen behind songs like Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” and Tim McGraw’s “Words Are Medicine.”

Brooks, a motorcycle enthusiast, lives in Utah.

On a recent journey, the bassist rode his Suzuki DR650 all the way to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost point of South America’s mainland.

It took him nearly a year, including fording his bike across a river and hitching a ride on an old German sailboat.

Davis lives in Oklahoma City and owns a lifestyle management business with his wife.

He’s a member of the band Anchor the Girl, which recently recorded with producer Wes Sharon in his Norman studio.

Davis is the only Nixons member remaining in Oklahoma. He said it’s where he said he feels most comfortable.

“I never quit writing songs and wanting to do music,” he said. “But after we had children, I had to change what I do.”

Maloy said there could be more Nixons activity in the future, as long as Humphrey is available. In the meantime, the men are concentrating on their first full live show together in more than 15 years. Maloy said they bring classic Nixons showmanship into the modern era by incorporating video and a variety of special effects into their set.

“Back in the day, it was us having to put on the three-dimensional show with fire and smashed guitars,” he said. “There may be some of that in this show, but this will be the most unique Nixons show ever.”

Print headline: Nix’ in line, Oklahoma City’s ’90s indie grunge heroes The Nixons return for the classic lineup’s first full show in more than 15 years. 

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