LOS ANGELES (AP) — There's a little bit of ersatz Hollywood heaven on Santa Monica Boulevard, a small and sleazy motel called the Tropicana where all the hip new musicians camp out when they come to town.
Elvis Costello stays there. Tom Waits actually lives there. But British rock 'n' roller Nick Lowe did them one better: He held his wedding reception (to country rock singer Carlene Carter) in the fenced-in poolside patio, fake grass and all.
It was a fittingly trendy venue for the bass player-composer-producer who is floating along quite nicely on rock music's New Wave.
Lowe has an album — Labor of Lust — and a single "Cruel to Be Kind" — working their way up the record charts; he's also produced discs for any number of the new British rockers, including temperamental boy wonder Costello.
Now, playing with longtime buddy Dave Edmunds in the band Rockpile, Lowe has also gathered more fans on the concert circuit during the recent tour that brought him to Los Angeles.
Many people have been writing many words about New Wave, that post-Punk rock 'n roll subspecies which seems more easily defined by what it isn't than what it is.
On the face of it, New Wave seems rather an odd label for Lowe. At 30, he himself admits that he's been playing more or less the same sort of music — loud, short and to the point — for years now. The only thing that's really new is that Americans are finally listening.
To this suggestion, Lowe chuckles quietly and then launches into a concise history of New Wave as seen by an old rock hand.
"It stems from a period in the early '70s when I was living in London," he says, crisp British accents oddly incongruous in his seedy-looking motel room. "I met lots of people who felt the same way as I did about the state music was in, which at that time was all Glam Rock and dry ice — much the same as it is still over here, as a matter of fact.
"It's nonsense music to me. I've never liked that sort of pompous stuff like Kansas does, or Journey, the Moody Blues.
"I thought I was the only person in the world who felt like that, but I started meeting these guys and we used to sit around in bars.
"There was a group I was in called Brinsley Schwarz, and we started playing in these bars and pubs. And a lot of people that were our friends then, became sort of New Wave — like Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, Ian Drury. All those groups, they've now gained some acceptance over here as well.
"And so because I was involved with them from that early time, and I did some producing work and things like that with them, I got sort of pulled up into the New Wave bracket on their coattails.
"It's just people with ideas, who aren't afraid to take any risks — that's what they mean by New Wave," Lowe concludes. "I don't think it means you have to be 18 with a pineapple haircut. Most of those groups, those 18-year-olds with pineapple haircuts, haven't got an idea in their head. They're just copying the Sex Pistols still."
Like Lowe, other Brinsley Schwarz alumni are currently making names for themselves here — Ian Gomm as a soloist, Bob Andrews and group namesake Brinsley Schwarz as part of Graham Parker's band, Rumour.
"I think American kids are starting to realize now what America gave the world in terms of rock 'n' roll. I don't think until Gary Busey came along, many people knew who Buddy Holly was.
"Also, I think kids are starting to realize now that those groups we mentioned earlier on — your Styx, Kansas, Journey — what a Iot of old garbage it is and how old-fashioned that sort of music is."