nothing people seem informed by the scientists, birthday party, suicide, thirteenth floor elevators and a whole lotta obscure late 70s prog and punk bands.....which makes for some of the most interesting music you might hear all year long.......
below is an interview with NOTHING PEOPLE conducted by tim scott of THE THOUSANDS, a weekly magazine out of Brisbane, Australia...(the nothing people were on tour there earlier in the year)....
With today’s expectation of instant access to music and information there’s something refreshing about Nothing People‘s mysterious anonymity. Google wise they are true nothing people – a search reveals little more than some reviews of their three brilliant punk albums. Before this interview the only press they’d done was for a a small bedroom zine. But holed up in their home studio in Orland, California – far from the hyped scenes of San Francisco or LA – the four piece produce music that draws upon elements of garage psych and heavy synth that captures just the right balance of ambience and power.Ironically, despite their relative online obscurity it was the internet that led them to their first shows outside the US after Adelaide’s Mondo Phase Band tracked them down and invited them to tour Australia.On the eve of their first international tour I catch up with √òD from the band to talk about their new album Smells Like Metal, The Scientists and dead celebrities.
I just watched the YouTube clip of your new song ‘Cathode Ray Tube‘ five times in a row. The old school almost surreal/paranoid vibe of the Felix the Cat cartoon works well with the song’s fuzz.
√òD: Cool, some of those Felix cartoons are very odd and interesting to us and few felt that they would work well with what we do.
You are from smallish city of Orland, CA, what’s it like playing in a smaller scene compared to LA or SF?
: There is no scene in Orland! That’s why we live here. It’s all farmers and commuters to some of the bigger towns in the area. The kids in the area are into modern country or influenced by MTV or whatever is popular at the present time. It’s like we don’t exist here, which is just fine with us. “The strange folks that make the racket out by Brentwood Dairy.” SF and LA are completely different worlds, even compared to each other. The difference out here is we are on our own. When living in a place like LA or SF it’s easier to get a support group. Even if you are doing something a bit different from your peers, at least you have some like minded thinkers to relate to, and share with.
TS: You record your own records in your home studio. Have you recorded other bands?
√òD: No, but I always thought I could do a cool job with Las Llamerada. We have been asked about recording others but we never followed up. I don’t think it would have the same heart unless it was a project I was way into.
How did you hook up with the Mondo Phase Band ? You are releasing a split tour seven with them?
√òD: They contacted us and asked if we would be interested in coming out to Australia to accompany them on a smallish tour which is huge for us. We were able to work it out. At the same time Nothing People were working with Chicago label CAPTCHA on new releases. Mondo Phase Band have a cool thing going so we offered up a split 7″ to CAPTCHA and they liked the idea.
So this upcoming Australian tour is your first outside the US? Have you done much touring within the States?
√òD: Yes it’s our first time out of the US as a band. We have done a lot of shows on the west coast of the US. San Diego to Seattle, and a trip to SXSW in Texas a couple of years back. We have careers that keep us close to home. Long trips across the US would be hard for us, but we want to, and have been asked a bunch of times so I’m sure it will happen sooner than later. People have asked why we are touring overseas, but haven’t been to the east coast of the USA yet. The simple answer is, we were offered a chance of a lifetime trip and there was no way we could let it get past us.
Compared to other bands there is very little online information on you. Have you deliberately kept this air of mystery about? I don’t even know your names!
√òD: We keep to ourselves unless we are releasing something or we have been asked to play somewhere. We have only agreed to one other interview before this one. It was for a small homespun mag. That’s the kind of thing that will encourage us. The guy in his bedroom who is writing about what he loves and not jumping on the latest hipster band that are passing through town and have been hyped by Vice. HA!
Speaking of hype. Soft Crash made many critics ‘Best of the Year’ lists. Do you care if some blogger thinks you released a good record or are you hoping that your music has more legacy/relevance?
√òD: It’s strange reading press about the band. We really appreciate people liking what we do. It’s cool when they get the influences right – which is rare. The positive comments have been beneficial to the band I think. It’s great to be appreciated by people you appreciate.
Comparisons have been made between you and Chrome, the legendary San Francisco band who were considered godfathers of industrial music. It the new album title Smell Like Metal in relation to this?
√òD: Ha, yeah that is brought up a lot. I even tried to contact Chrome to see if we could take advantage of that press and get a show with them. Smells Like Metal is actually a reference to nuclear fallout. The album is loosely based on the idea of a post apocalypse day-to-day life. Even though the life you new the day before is completely gone, you still have to take care of the day-to-day chores of living. A lot of it is written from what we were seeing going on in Japan after the earthquake.
My favourite song from Soft Crash is ‘Marilyn’s Grave‘ It’s about Marilyn Monroe right?
√òD: Yes, a reference to Marilyn Monroe’s resting place and all of the cemeteries in Southern California that claim stars as their residents. I’m from Anaheim and there is a lot of myth and fantasy and tragedy in that area just because of the nature of Hollywood and the promise of stardom and fame. My friends and I used to explore places where those fantasies or tragedies occurred. But instead of looking for where Gone With The Wind was filmed or where Bob Hope lived we would check out where Robot Monster was filmed or where Ed Wood lived in downtown LA when he died. The song is a combination of these nights and the many dates that fell flat on their face by the end of them in my big black Oldsmobile.
Soft Crash had a slight directional change from previous records. Is this also the case with your new record Smells Like Metal?
√òD: I always felt that Soft Crash was a perfect medium between our first and second albums but we’ve been told it had a different sound. It was recorded in the same studio with the same people. It might be a bit angrier but that’s just another personality to the band. We experiment with new equipment and ideas and never go back and listen to what we have done before.
The use of different equipment that is new to us will also contribute to the different feel of the record. The equipment we use is a huge part of our sound. We like how different effects color what we are used to hearing. We take advantage of that and write around what we discover. It is just a natural progression that can’t be avoided, unless you want to repeat yourself. Which can be very boring both to listen to and create. Smells Like Metal has a bit of all three albums. I hope it is different.
Most of your music sounds like it was influenced by the raw sounds of the ’60s and ’70s early punk and new wave, especially Australian bands like the Scientists. How have they been an influence on you. Have you seen them play?
√òD: Yeah very much so. Raw, but controlled raw. The Scientists are really high in our idea of influences. Australian bands have been a definite influence on us and just by chance we have been able to play with a number of Aussie bands while on they have been on tour out here including Radio Birdman, feedtime and Beaches. We also pull from obscure American bands, and British punk bands, Motown, dirty blues and experimental synth. We have never seen the Scientists of course, but that would be a highlight in our lives if that was possible.
PREVIEW THE SMELLS LIKE METAL LP BELOW....
it's out on vinyl later this month......
Nothing People /// Commit /// Smells Like Metal from Benjamin Funke on Vimeo.
ØØØØ /// SMELLS LIKE METAL /// NOTHING PEOPLE from Benjamin Funke on Vimeo.