When Lowe was first pitched a Christmas album he said no. “Then a lightbulb went on and I thought, This could be really good fun.”
Nick Lowe is of two minds about Christmas.
“In Britain, Christmas is different,” he tells me by phone from his home in England. “In the states, you embrace the corniness. Here [in Britain], it’s more tiresome. Recording a Christmas album is considered rather vulgar, and for the most part they’re right.”
In a cruel but kind bit of irony, the new-wave icon is starting to become a holiday perennial despite his mistletoe misgivings.
In 2013, he released Quality Street, a Christmas album that included seasonal contributions by Ron Sexsmith and Ry Cooder.
"Christmas at the Airport"
...by Nick Lowe off of his Quality Street Christmas CD.
Last year, he was convinced to do a special holiday-season tour with Los Straitjackets, an instrumental rock group that plays wearing lucha libre masks.
“We tried it last year in the Northeast, from New England to Chicago, and it really worked,” Lowe says sounding guardedly optimistic. “People were really up for it, and there were so many types of people, including a few that wouldn’t ordinarily come to my shows.
“That’s the only reason to do it — it’s so much fun.”
Lowe and Los Straitjackets turned the shows into a new live album, The Quality Holiday Revue Live, and another tour, one that includes a stop at the Belly Up Tavern on December 9.
Lowe is best known for his 1979 top-40 hit “Cruel to Be Kind” and the classic albums he produced for Elvis Costello early in his career.
Although Lowe is the man who titled the British version of his debut CD Jesus of Cool, he still has a hard time admitting Christmas music can be cool.
- Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
“When the idea was suggested to me to do a Christmas album, I thought, ‘But I’m a serious songwriter.’ I had these high snooty thoughts,” he laughs. “That lasted about 45 seconds. Then a lightbulb went on and I thought, This could be really good fun.”
One of the songs Lowe wrote for the record, “Christmas at the Airport,” has started to get him some nativity season notoriety.
“I don’t take myself seriously. I like to entertain people, not ram things down their throats,” he says. “The show is predominantly Christmas, but also rock ’n’ roll. Nothing too earnest. It’s like a sock hop for adults.”