upcoming CD Release party next week in NYC at The Knitting Factory. PW readers a pair of tickets to the CD release show
NYC-based indie trio The Nowherenauts formed during their early teen years, brother and sister Anders and Sofie Kapur were introduced by Guided By Voices drummer, Kevin March, to Hunter Lombard. Along with live drummer Tony Franco, the three songwriters and musicians have been hailed by The New York Times as “effective miners of late-80s and early-90s indie rock, with a ferocious lead guitarist…and a kinetic lead singer.” They have played various legendary NYC venues, including The Living Room and The Bowery Ballroom, where they opened for art-punk heroes, Shudder to Think. The band is set to release their long-awaited, debut album at The Knitting Factory in NYC on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. PopWreckoning chatted with the trio about how the band formed, their first show, and what we can expect from The Nowherenauts in the future.
Also, The Nowherenauts are giving one lucky PopWreckoning reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to the CD release party. In the interview below, the Nowherenauts share their favorite NYC venues. To enter, comment and tell us your favorite venue by May 2 at 2 p.m. EST. We’ll pick a winner then. Please use a valid email address.
Brianna Hernandez, PopWreckoning: You hail from NYC and met when you were very young. How did you meet and how old were you?
Hunter Lombard, The Nowherenauts: I met Sofie and Anders at a music school in the city when I was 12 years old.
Anders Kapur, The Nowherenauts: Sophie and I met Hunter in like 2006 or 2007. So at this point, we’ve all been playing music together in some capacity for at least four years.
PW: When did you each start playing an instrument? What are your musical backgrounds?
Hunter: I started playing guitar when I was 10. Jack White was a huge influence as a guitar player.
Anders: I started playing bass in 6th grade. A bunch of my friends had a cover band together, and, feeling left out, I borrowed a shitty bass from my friend’s dad so I could learn to play. My musical evolution pretty much followed that of your typical rocker kid; I started playing and loving classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and through the years my tastes and playing style have gravitated more toward modern sounds.
Sofie Kapur: I started playing violin when I was in second grade, but stopped around the time I started singing and taking piano lessons, when I was eleven. My dad’s dad played jazz piano and my mom’s dad loved classical music so there’s a little bit of both influences there. Also, my parents always loved music and played pretty much everything they liked when we were younger, like: New Order, The Who, Dar Williams, and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few. It was a very wide range though.
PW: How did Kevin March of Guided By Voices influence you to start a band?
Anders: Kevin taught at the music program where Sofie and I met Hunter, so I guess he recognized our potential from our time there. Kevin brought us all together as a sort of “music experiment,” and we kind of grew into our own from there. He’s been a huge help and we wouldn’t be where we are without him.
Sofie: Kevin’s vision and inspiration is what got us together in the first place, otherwise Anders and I may have never played with Hunter.
PW: What is the story behind the name, The Nowherenauts?
Anders: Well, we had a different name, Blame the Patient, but due to some unfortunate, unforeseen circumstances we had to change it. So we’d be on stage and people would yell “What band are you guys?” and someone else would shout, “They’re Blame the Patient!” And we’d say, “No we’re not!” That evolved into NowhereNauts, and it stuck.
PW: Critics have noted your 80′s and 90′s sound. Is that how would you describe your sound and style?
Hunter: As a band, we’re definitely influenced by music from the 80s and 90s, but each of us has such different tastes in music that we like to think that our sound isn’t pigeonholed into one era or genre.
Anders: I guess it’s a fair comparison, because that stuff definitely does influence us. But I don’t know how I’d describe our sound. It’s difficult. There are a lot of influences in there. We’re just trying to make music that everyone can enjoy!
PW: What was your first show like?
Anders: Our first show was a mess. We were all in high school back then, and we played this showcase at the Cake Shop with a bunch of other high school bands from around NYC. Pretty much every other band there wanted to borrow a piece of our gear, we couldn’t hear ourselves, and I’m pretty sure I broke a bass string in the middle of the set. But it was still a fun experience. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.
Sofie: It was nerve-wracking primarily because we had never played our own music for anyone before. We had practiced together and were used to that, but playing a song you wrote for complete strangers can be scary, especially when it’s a new experience.
PW: NYC is a such a great hub for live music. What have been some of your favorite places to play? How are The Nowherenauts able to stand out among all the other NYC bands?
Hunter: My favorite place to play, so far, has been the Bowery Ballroom. We played there opening for Shudder to Think a few years ago. The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn also has a really cool stage and great sound.
Anders: NYC is THE place to be if you’re a musician. We’ve had the opportunity to play at the Bowery Ballroom and the Mercury Lounge, which are both awesome venues that are also humbling to play as well. But we’ve also played smaller and more intimate shows at places like Spike Hill (in Williamsburg) and the Rock Shop that are always a lot of fun too. So far, we’ve mostly played in opening slots, so our goal for those shows is to make our act impossible to follow. The comment I keep hearing is “You guys are really tight!” It comes from college students, 20-something hipsters, elderly, high school kids, small children, scenesters, metalheads, people who just happen to be hanging out at the bar at the venue we’re playing…. If that broad a range of people care enough to tell me that after our shows, I figure we must be doing something right!
PW: If you weren’t playing music in The Nowherenauts, what would you be doing?
Hunter: I would still be making music. I would probably have another band and hope that everyone loved playing music as much as I do.
Anders: That’s a possible scenario? I guess I’d have to be playing music is some other band.
Sofie: I honestly have no idea. Possibly perpetually competing with my twin sister.
PW: What is your creative process like when you are writing a song and creating music?
Hunter: It varies. Sometimes one of us will bring in an idea and we’ll all work on it, but other times we’ll just get to rehearsal and jam until we have a song.
Sofie: Usually we come up with music and melodies and the lyrics follow. Everyone suggests ideas and plays around until we hit on something we like. It’s not until we have the basic idea that we start to really give the song a form and meaning lyric-wise.
PW: Who/What inspires your music and lyrics?
Hunter: Television and movies. I came up with the riff for “Delightfully Distracted” while I was watching Hannah and Her Sisters. I like to write lyrics with a specific character or relationship in mind, but personal experiences and people I know always help too.
Anders: We all have very different backgrounds, and I think that comes through in our writing. Hunter’s guitar playing is very influenced by Jack White and St. Vincent. I like to think of my bass playing as halfway between Peter Hook and Matt Sharp (from Weezer). And nobody can seem to pin Sofie’s influences down, which makes for something very original and interesting.
Sofie: For a lot of my melodies I listen to other singers and if there are little hooks or stylistic things they use I’ll try to capture the essence of those bits. I also try to write some lyrics as I work on melodies and polish them later. They come from books I’m reading and ideas I have. I also try to take my point of view on a situation and twist it or flip it so what I’m singing is more interesting. In fact, sometimes I even combine thoughts or experiences in one song or line to get the right mood.
PW: Who/What are you currently listening to?
Hunter: Recently I’ve been listening to Austra, Tune-Yards, Twin Shadow, Washed Out, The Avalanches, and Fever Ray.
Anders: Maybe it’s a reaction to everyone comparing us to bands from the 80s and 90s, I don’t know, but I’ve gotten more and more into that music recently. So a lot of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., New Order, Wire, early Weezer, stuff like that. I’ve also been getting deep into a wide range of Brazilian music. But no matter what it is, rock, folk, psychedelic, samba, cheesy popular dance music like Forró, it’s all united by a strong rhythm section. As a bass player, I’m really drawn to that
Sofie: I just recently bought three albums down in Chapel Hill, NC. One was a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album and I’ve been listening to that nonstop for the past week. I tend to listen to albums I like to death. Then I listen to them some more
PW: What does the remainder of 2011 have in store for The Nowherenauts?
Anders: We have our record release on May 4 at the Knitting Factory, so after that, just gigging around and seeing where the year takes us! Writing and recording perhaps? A second album? I’m excited for whatever comes our way.
Sofie: The album release show is a looming event. We’re working like mad to be ready for it. After that we’re hoping we can keep playing and building our fan base. We have to get our music out there so that’s priority number one at the moment; let people listen and hope that they like our sound.