I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that one of my writing heroes, Nashville Scene editor Jim Ridley, once interviewed me for a Scene cover story called “The Lust List,” focused on Nashvillians with lust-worthy qualities. I felt profoundly unworthy and also fantastically honored. My husband laughed, a lot. It’s still online, but a little weirded up, so the text below.
Remember the coolly reserved brainiac in AP English—the one who was so quiet but wrote so fiercely, you were sure she nursed a secret life? And then you went to a house party, and there she was: rocking a floor tom in a noise band, an unruly strand of hair keeping time on her forehead? In high-school terms, that’s the essence of Nicole Keiper’s hotness. As The Tennessean’s pop critic and indie-beat reporter—who doubles as drummer for three local groups—the club crawler with the perpetually unfazed expression has aced the first rule of being cool: not caring about being cool. “I’m a big geek, but I don’t worry about it,” says Keiper, who brushes off claims of her hottitude with a shrug that of course makes her even hotter. As a Long Island teen, inspired by Stone Gossard—“I still love Pearl Jam,” she says, no matter what the Pitchfork police say—she picked up a guitar at age 14 and switched to drums at 18. The former CMJ editor moved to Nashville to be with her now-husband, guitarist Keith Childrey, and juiced 1100 Broadway’s once-moribund rock coverage with her sympathetic, refreshingly snark-free style. But it’s the combination of her laid-back poise and super-tight drumming—the hint of hidden passion—that makes pulses quicken. Especially if you’ve never stopped crushing on Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful.