Interview With Nerds In Denial

What was the beginning point for your music career? How did it all start?

Ben: That is a hard question, seeing as long as I remember I’ve been surrounded by some instrument or music. When I was five my Grandma sat me down at the piano and had me learn the basics. Five years later I was gifted an electric bass for Christmas and started taking lessons at the local music store. When I was fourteen the band had formed with Devin and Richie and the lineup we currently play as wasn’t even decided. A lil later I fell in love with guitar and wanted to play it for the band and the rest is history, with plenty of singles/b-sides, a freshman album and of course our sophomore album we’re currently working on.

Dashuan: (From what I’m told) The drummer at the church my Grandma went to when I was real young used to help her out with me, so she could get church stuff done in peace. I got a drum set for my second birthday.

Devin: I have always loved singing for as long as I can remember, and sometime in middle school I got interested in being able to accompany myself. My dad bought me my first acoustic guitar, and at the same time as I was teaching myself to play that, Ben and Richie got me involved with the school choir. I became obsessed with learning everything I could about music from that point forward.

Richie: My parents are both musicians and music lovers, so I’ve been making music in one form or another all my life. Every member of the band was involved in school music at Brockport High School where we started the band in 2011. In 2012, we played our first real show at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, NY and after that I wasn’t turning back. Here we are almost 10 years later and we’re still going strong releasing music that I’m incredibly proud of.

Tim: I started piano lessons with my local church’s organist back when I was like 6, then I joined concert band in 4th grade as a percussionist. I can never thank my teachers enough for building the foundation I’ve grown from, and my parents for always supporting and encouraging me.

Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?

Ben: Just getting to the point where I felt like I had an identity on the instrument took some time, multiple years even. That was my biggest challenge; understanding that with practice I’d be able to do bigger and better things then yesterday.

Dashuan: Music on a scholastic level was challenging for me because I thought that although music was important to me, it wasn’t something people encouraged me to do. “That’s a hobby, not a career.” I guess believing in myself contrary to what people thought or felt made me look defiant.

People asked at 15, “what did I think I’d be doing in 5 years?” Ultimately my answer was “focusing on music”, and it wasn’t well received. People felt like I should have gave them “the right answer” back when I gave them the actual truth. So, I did what made me happy, and a couple of years later that same “focus” to me and the boys around the country for a bit.

Devin: We face all sorts of challenges as a band, every single day, and to be honest I’m not sure if I could pick out the one biggest challenge we’ve ever faced. All I know is that we’ve come through on the other side no matter what, every time – and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are dedicated towards making sure that continues to be true.

Richie: I’d say the hardest part of being a self-sufficient band that records and produces ourselves and makes our own merch, is securing a good location to do all that we are to do. Moving a large setup from place to place can get tedious, but at the end of the day it’s worth it to make our art, and we’ve made specific steps to have a more mobile recording setup.

Tim: I think one of our biggest difficulties is scheduling; it’s very difficult to get five dudes’ schedules to line up for practice and recording when we’ve all got jobs and other things to juggle as well.

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

Ben: Every time I hear a brand new master on a new track it is beyond fulfilling and satisfying.

Dashuan: One concert, we played a new song as our closer to finish up a headlining set. We played the song the whole way through, and ended it. The crowd was loud before the song, during the song, and once the song ended. They kept singing the chant in the song. We denied them twice, and even attempted to unplug. Yet, they sang sang and clapped steadily. We got ‘the nod’, and we finally played that same ending song some more. It was a thrill. It felt fake. I was JUST under drunk, and it’s a miracle I even pulled it off.

The song? “It’s Gone Too Far”

Devin: This is another question that’s very hard to pin down to just one moment – but in recent memory, one of the most satisfying things for me was to receive a recording of one of our hometown legends, Chuck McCoy, reciting a script that we sent him meant as an advertisement for our upcoming album. Chuck, if you’re reading this, I love you and you’re a saint!

Richie: Back in 2017 the band took a cross country tour for our debut album, “Take Two.” We made some incredible memories, but my highlight had to be our show at the legendary Whisky a Go-Go and the night we spent on the Sunset Strip. I made one of my own dreams come true and nothing is more satisfying.

Tim: Having content released to the world with my work in it is incredibly satisfying – so personally, I’d say the first time that happened, with our first EP this year.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Ben: The best I can do, no matter what.

Dashuan: “Dysfunctional Cohesion” is the name I gave it.

Devin: We sound kind of like a music queue put together by a kitchen full of stoners working a shift at a nice little sit-down restaurant.

Richie: Craft Rock-Fusion

Tim: “Rock++”

What is your creative process like?

Ben: Depends on the day, I prefer thc and caffeine to be used in the process as well.

Dashuan: I try and use movies, and things I’ve learned something from to inspire me.

Devin: One of our strengths, I think, is that we don’t confine ourselves in terms of how our songs get put together. I think different pieces call for different compositional approaches – some things demand an individualised, personal direction, whereas others require full collaboration from the entire band. As a result, our music is more unique and varied track-for-track, I believe.

Richie: We try to make the coolest sounding music to us and challenge each other to make it more intricate and unique.

Tim: I believe the last time I answered this I said “hot garbage”, and I think that still holds true… it’s a lot of trial and error, and I’m still figuring out the best way to do things for myself. But these other guys here are huge creative inspirations for me.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

Ben: I would change the accessibility to the local musician from a larger viewpoint. Perhaps create an online catalog of some sort sorted geographically for the acts I’ve seen to make communication across scenes easier.

Dashuan: I’d definitely try to change the Artist to Public relationship, and try to prepare people for a lifestyle that may look cool but is actually hard work.

Devin: The one thing I’d change is how artists are paid on streaming services for their content. I’m not sure exactly what the figures are platform-to-platform, but the rates at which artists are paid for each stream are abysmal.

Also, maybe there’s something wrong when only a handful of lare corporations own the rights to an overwhelming share of music out there…

Richie: Rock and Roll needs to be brought back to the forefront! The fans are there! The scene exists! If the industry was looking for the best musicians out there, I’m confident they’d land back on the rockers.

Tim: EAT THE RICH

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Ben: Keep doing your best no matter what I takes.

Dashuan: Practice!

Devin: Continue to push the boundaries of your capabilities with everything you do – you’ll be surprised at what you can really do when you’re determined enough.

Richie: Make music that you like, that makes you happy. Nothing brings me greater joy than to play with these boys. Find yourself some good friends to jam with and have fun!

Tim: Make mistakes, stay humble, always be learning and growing.

What has been the best performance of your career so far?

Ben: I’m a fan of the show we did at the Salamanca winery that one time. Was badass, super intimate.

Dashuan: It hasn’t happened yet, by my standards.

Devin: Another question that’s difficult to answer here – but one show that comes to mind was our tour kick off show here in Rochester. We were very tight and energetic that night, and the crowd responded very well.

Richie: We’ve been playing together for so long, but when we added Tim to the band it truly felt right. It was like a missing puzzle piece, he just fit.

Tim: Hard to pick one, every time I’m up on stage with these fellas it feels magical.

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?

Ben: Hopefully not living paycheck to paycheck, but honestly – who knows?

Dashuan: I’m glad I’m a musician, so we don’t have to find that out.

Devin: If I wasn’t a musician in some kind of capacity, I would not be me at all.

Richie: Hard to imagine. I suppose I’d be dreaming of being a musician like I used to as a child.

Tim: I currently pay the bills with a software development gig, so I’d probably keep doing that.

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?

Ben: We’re getting more organized day by day, watch out folks.

Dashuan: Producing better studio quality music on our own.  That, and interpersonal communication skills. We want to be a good example of that for those who wish to one day become musicians and entertainers. Developing a strong and healthy sense of communication between the lot of us has helped us get through some tough obstacles, and tight deadlines. Nothing is easy, but anything can be accomplished if you got dedicated people working with willingness alongside you.

Devin: We’ve got so many things lined up for the future, it’s not even funny. I’m thinking that we’re going to have pretty consistent releases for the foreseeable future here. Stay tuned, we’re always cooking up something new!

Richie: So much writing and recording, and it’s awesome. We produce everything in house so the fun never ends. Lots of releases on the way though!

Tim: We’re currently working on our FOURTH EP of the year!! After that, we’ve got one more before our big album release next year. Stay tuned!

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