Music / Staying ahead of the chaste


Virgin’s bassist Nick Zarin-Ackerman talks to Vincent O’Boyle about being unprepared, from New York, and how nice guys don’t always finish last.

OTWO CAUGHT UP with Nick on the eve of an NME showcase in London; the first of many shows on the band’s intense schedule. Ackerman was looking forward to cutting loose and playing shows instead of suffering the gruelling promotional duties they’ve been doing as of late.


“At least it’ll be better than the promo, because it won’t be 14 hours a day and we won’t start till the afternoon”.

Ackerman speaks in a casual drawl with words rolling off his tongue in a very carefree manner. If he were any more laid back he’d fall off his chair. It seems the rest of the band share his drive, determination and downright tireless pursuit of, well, not taking life too seriously.

“Our second show was in Paris in front of like, five thousand people so we’ve gotten used to being unprepared and doing these huge things – we sort of learned the hard way how to handle things”.

That show was part of the Paris Fashion Week and saw the band opening for legends Patti Smith and Sonic Youth. “That was pretty scary, Patti Smith played right after us and was next to the stage while we were playing and Sonic Youth played and Suicide played, all these huge legendary bands”.

“You don’t have to be psychotically ambitious to succeed”

Playing with acts of such a high calibre as part of only their second show was bound to raise a few eyebrows. The Virgins toured with another band that had a lot of initial hype, Tokyo Police Club. But did they learn any lessons from a group who were in such a similar position?

“They didn’t tell us anything but watching them certainly helped me… I think that seeing the way they acted in this industry made me feel like there are nice people in this business and you can be nice, you don’t have to be an asshole to succeed. You don’t have to be psychotically ambitious to succeed.”
Ackerman is wary of the influence of New York on the band’s success. It seems like every week that the next big thing is emerging from the legions of indie bands in Brooklyn.

“I don’t know what it’s like to be in a band not from New York; I know there are ten billion bands in New York who don’t get any press attention. Being from New York helps people put you in a category. If we were from Seattle people would be like ‘ooh a new Seattle band’.”

Debut single ‘Rich Girls’ ranked 65th in Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 100 songs of 2008, but the band had no idea that the song would be such a success. “That was the first song we recorded in a studio so we sort of wrote half of it on the spot. It was more about learning how to record a song in a studio environment rather than making a pop single”.

The Virgin’s self titled debut album, which sounds as if “Niall Rogers and Lou Reed were to make a record together”, is out now.

The Virgins play the Academy on 25th April