The secret life of Nick Artman

Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 4:50 PM
The secret life of Nick Artman by Macala Leigey

From podiums and powerpoints, to stage lights and screaming fans, Edinboro University adjunct instructor Nicholas Artman has opened for more than a classroom of college students throughout his professional career.

“I’ve been doing music since I was a senior in high school. I never took a music class; I never took a music lesson or anything like that, but my dad played in a band for 30 years. He had a guitar sitting behind his chair in his room — I went and grabbed it and learned how to play ‘Smoke On The Water’ on the E-string,” said Artman.

“He (Artman’s father) gave me a bass guitar and I fell in love with bass. That’s what I played in all these bands. It just worked out because nobody plays bass guitar, so I was able to hop in these different bands.”

Since 2005, Artman has been musically self-taught and has played in multiple groups, including The Terry Meyer Band. After losing their original drummer and bass guitarist two weeks before a gig, the outfit contacted Artman and his friend to fill in.

“We learned 25 songs in two weeks and we sat in with them. We just stuck, he (Terry Meyer) didn’t go look for anybody else; we just kind of hopped in with them as they were building up and playing different shows,” said Artman.

“We played all the big venues around Pittsburgh, and opened for a bunch of different people — Dave Matthews was one of them.”

As an intern at the Post- Gazette Pavilion, Artman was previously involved on the business side of music, as well, holding the responsibility of booking opening acts for many of the shows held at one of Pittsburgh’s largest, outdoor venues. This included pitching The Terry Meyer Band to open for the Grammy award-winning Dave Matthews Band.

“The band I was in at the time, (Terry Meyer Band) we had done some regional touring — some shows in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, nothing crazy — but Dave Matthews was coming to town so I pitched it to my boss,” said Artman.

He continued: “We got to play side stage. Before his concerts, he takes his bicycle and rides around the parking lots — incognito to hang out with people — and we always say our claim to fame is he stopped and listened to us for a few songs. It was pretty awesome.”

Along with opening for multiple well-known bands, Artman and The Terry Meyer Band used their musical talents as a marketable trait at local bars and smaller-scaled venues.

“What we would do is we would pitch it to a bar or a show and say: ‘we’ll play from 10-2, we’ll close out the night, you don’t have to hire a DJ; you pay us this amount of money, we do all the work,’ and it worked. It was a selling point,” said Artman.

“We’d play anything from country, like ‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)’ to Michael Jackson. We were just a cover band at that point, but we would filter in some of our originals and really push them out there; we’d get hits from other shows that way.”

After five years of performing with The Terry Meyer Band, Artman decided to move to Pittsburgh, while a majority of the other band members continued on to Philadelphia. The band officially split up in 2010.

“We left on good terms. They kind of formed a new band and went on, but with me being in Pittsburgh, we just split on good terms. They’re still great friends of mine, but location separated us,” said Artman.

He eventually joined another band called Revolution Radio; with which he opened up for OAR, Sublime with Rome, and Frankie Muniz’s band (Kingsfoil). 

“We (Revolution Radio) ended up getting in with this promoter in Pittsburgh; we had a decent following. They would just call us and say ‘hey you don’t have to sell any tickets, come open for this band’; so we played the Hard Rock, we played Diesel, the Rex Theater, (and) Mr. Smalls — we’ve done a lot of the big venues,” said Artman.

However, he expressed touring with Revolution Radio wasn’t his favorite band experience.

 “My favorite band experience was probably with The Terry Meyer band, because we were essentially four guys that didn’t have a whole lot of background together, but we were doing all this traveling and it was fun to grow as a team,” said Artman.

“You learn about one another, you’re living life together and you’re experiencing different things. For me that experience was so crucial because of the friendship that was pulled out of that. The music, the experience was great, but for me it was making the lifetime friends.”

Artman also shared how the music scene isn’t always glitz and glam, but often has a dark side to it.

“I think the craziest thing was Sublime with Rome. We were all clean cut kids — we weren’t into drugs, we didn’t do alcohol or anything like that — but we opened for Sublime with Rome, which is a very pot-heavy band. So to see that side of the music scene is depressing to me. I think seeing the way the band acted and the lives that they lived is what led me to not go into music, from a touring standpoint,” said Artman.

“That’s the sad part of the music scene; you have all these phenomenal artists that are crazy talented [and] are just throwing their lives away. It’s a tough scene.”

Although his band touring days are now behind him, Artman still manages to play almost every week; playing for his church and for an upcoming Christian band.

“I still play today. I don’t do any touring per say, but I probably play more now than I ever have; just from playing worship at my church and playing worship at Erie Young Adults. So I probably play a minimum of three times a week, which is way more than I ever played when I was trying to do [it for] money,” said Artman.

He continued: “To take the music and the exhilarating part of a secular show and put it into terms of worship; to take the gifts God has given me and then to spin it around into something like worship, that exhilarating experience is magnified ten-fold. I love what I use to do, but I love what I do now so much more because it has purpose.”

While music will always be one of his first passions in life, Artman expressed that he has an equal passion for teaching and giving back to the academic field.

“Even being a professor is interesting to me, because neither one of my parents went to college [and] their parents didn’t go to college, so to get into college was a big deal,” said Artman.

 “What I love about teaching is all the awesome advisors that dug me out of my hole whenever I was on academic probation, saved my career and what I love to do now is give that back. That’s why I love working with students and teaching.”

Whether it be research papers or lyrics he’s writing, Artman continues to pursue his two passions almost daily, working towards the next experience.

“I think the whole (music) experience is exhilarating. It’s just such a high, and we didn’t need the drugs. We didn’t want the drugs. We were there for the music.”

 Macala Leigey is a managing editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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