L.A. Nik explains Letterman connection, drops "Friends in Minneapolis" single

L.A. Nik explains Letterman connection, drops "Friends in Minneapolis" single

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L.A. Nik, the downtown personality who labels himself "Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark" -- to the chagrin of Mayor Rybak -- insists that he never set out to create a character.  But after a press release last week said he was in talks to appear on David Letterman's Late Show, we sat down with him to see how much was true and how much was more shameless self-promotion. We got more than we bargained for.

For a chat with Gimme Noise, Nik walked into Darby's Pub & Grill wearing all black -- including nail polish, eyeliner, teased hair and fedora -- and silver neck chains. He ordered a Stoli and Sprite, splash of Coke, plenty of ice (he doesn't like the taste of alcohol, so he only drinks vodka). Note: This was at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. To hear him tell it, the L.A. Nik brand is rapidly expanding into a mini-empire: A bar, a book, and the new single that mentions the Brick.  We have the track in a premiere of sorts, below, right after Nik's thoughts on why he doesn't leave downtown -- and if he would really run for office. Listen at your own risk.

So you put out this Letterman press release.

Well remember, I didn't put it out, my management put it out. I didn't know they were going to put it out, and I wouldn't have, because it's not a complete story. But there's nothing untrue in that press release.

What's going on with the show?
I got a call from a segment producer -- they called me, I didn't call them -- and he said, we have a mutual friend, Barry ZeVan the Weatherman, who said you're somebody to talk to. My publicist jumped the gun on it, though. People hated on it but I don't care. That's not the first press release I've put out, but that's what gets attention. Bad news travels quicker.

You've compared yourself to politicians in the past. Ever consider running for office?
I probably won't at this time in my life, but it's not out of the question. I think I'm responsible enough and have enough wisdom that I could make a difference in this city. I have the gift of gab. I want a greater police presence in downtown. I'd be on city council, they're the ones who actually get things done. I wouldn't do it now, but maybe once the L.A. Nik thing fades and I'm just Nik. Because now, I wouldn't want to make a circus of government. And you know, I'm not a circus, but the circus follows me around.

What do you mean?
I'm on stage every day. I'm not playing a role, but I'm on stage walking down the street. On any given night, about 100 people will come up and shake my hand. Every manager of every restaurant and bar, every suit.

Do you think there's a disconnect between building your new career around Minneapolis, but having another city in your name?
I didn't plan it! Can't I just be some retired rocker, hanging out here, having fun, caring about my community? People think I came here for a purpose, but the city embraced me. I'm not gonna run away from it.

He looks like this in person, too
He looks like this in person, too

Seems like you go out a lot. Do you ever stay in?
I never stay in ever. I haven't been home at night in over a year.

You don't have a day job. How do you support your lifestyle?
I don't have any income, but let's just say I'm good.

Do you leave downtown?
I stick to the area between Hennepin Bridge and Loring Park, and four blocks to either side. It started when I first got here, it was Christmas and I didn't have a coat, so I didn't leave the Skyways. And now, if I go to Uptown or Northeast, I'm just another dirtbag in Northeast. But in downtown I have the power of difference. I stick out like a sore thumb. So I stay in that little area and I've made an impact.

What do you think about Saint Paul?
It's pretty much a ghost town. I don't know it well enough, but the problem I have with Saint Paul is I don't feel safe over there because if something did happen, there's no one even to yell out to for help. You're by yourself on every street.

Tell me about your new song.
I did it with Nick Rod. I did the vocals. I actually do not play drums in it, even though I'm a drummer, but I always wanted to do vocals and now I have nothing to lose. Nick Rod played drums. It's just the two of us, we co-wrote the song. It's about Minneapolis and the places I go, and it's just something for fun. I'm doing this to focus on the downtown. I'm already the most famous guy in the city. What do I want, to be mayor? No way. I have no ulterior motive. I just want to help.

Check out "Friends in Minneapolis" below, but don't expect it to flip any preconceived notions about the guy.

Lyrics to "Friends in Minneapolis," so you can karaoke or something:
On Nicollet Mall by the IDS
I got my Star Tribune and my Pioneer Press
Stop by Seven Ultralounge
Turning heads without making a sound
Then I head First Avenue way
I see Nick Rod, he waves and says hey
Wanna take some of my sound advice
Come enjoy a bit of Minneapolis tonight

I might be from Los Angeles
But I got friends in Minneapolis

Might be cold but I'm so chic
Talk about me in the papers like every week
Down at at the Marvel Bar it's great
They make the best drinks in the whole damn state
The Brick, the hottest new joint around
Nye's, my favorite place in town
Target Field, hitting home runs
Now I got my shows gonna have some fun

I might be from Los Angeles
But I got friends in Minneapolis

Take it home

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