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INTERVIEW: Nemes

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “60 Days”?

DA: I guess I’ll just say that I’m really excited and thankful to have people listen to it. Listening is an act of love, (it’s loving with your ears.) For diehard fans of the band there are some Easter eggs that will harken back to the very first acoustic demo we ever recorded in 2004.

AG: If you ever told us we would be releasing 60 Days as our first single in four years, up until a month or two ago none of us would have believed you. It’s a slow burning, emotional build-type song. But after playing the album for some of our friends and thinking back about what has worked for our band in the past, we realized we didn’t really need to be represented by a flashy, poppy, rock song. We have plenty of those on the way. But this is much more in line with where we’ve been as a group.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

DA: To be honest, I like to hear what the song inspires in other people, rather than provide my own personal meaning. When I hear people tell us what the song means to them, I am amazed by how much deeper they interpret our lyrics.  There were a lot of mice inside the walls of my apartment when I wrote and recorded the demo of “60 Days”. On the earliest vocal takes, I could hear them rustling around on the track, and thought it was cute, so I lyrically slipped them into the song.

AG: Like a lot of songwriters have said – it seems like some songs miraculously come together in 15 minutes while other songs get re-worked forever and ever. 60 Days is pretty interesting because it falls into neither category. I was living with Dave during the time period when he wrote it, and 60 Days was kind of always this ongoing project that he’d return to or tinker with. The basic framework was there, and I wouldn’t say he was ever reworking it, just adding and refining when his mood was inline with the mood of the song. Adding Nate on trombone is a perfect example of an idea you couldn’t sit down and come up with, but if Nate slept on your floor the night before and you guys were looking for something to do the next day, maybe you’d ask him to lay down a track too. Now it’s one of my favorite sounds on the record.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

AG: Probably not for this song, unless an idea strikes us for it. There’s no reason to force uninspired video content on what we feel to be a very inspired song.

How was the recording and writing process?

DA: This song has consumed more time than any other song I have ever written. The process was backwards from how I normally write. I was goofing around with a ukulele tune I had written and recorded in my home studio. We were having a party, when Josh arrived I said “hey just for kicks would you lay down some pretty violin parts on this?” Recording violin tracks in the middle of a party, brilliant right? When Josh obliged my request, I thought his playing was so beautiful, what he had come up with on the spot was so gorgeous, I decided to isolate those tracks. I looped the samples, messed with different effects and sounds and tried to make the recording feel surreal, sort of magical whilst writing lyrics over the loop and letting the song take shape.

I think I have listened to that violin sample more than anything I have ever listened to. I would work on it here and there, a few hours at at time and lay down a verse or a guitar line or just play with sounds whenever I had free time. Over a period of 4 years, I would occasionally revisit the track, and show it to friends who were staying over, even getting my friend Nate Reit (Gang of Thieves) to expertly play trombone on it. When I brought it to the group, we all had input on how we wanted it to go, Chris, Josh and Alex are the greatest musicians I know, and the overwhelming amount of creativity and talent made things easy. There are many times in the studio that we don’t exactly see eye to eye, but I believe that if you are creating art in a group, disagreements aren’t a bad thing, they are the growing pains that it takes to develop a recording worth fighting for.

When we recorded the song with Mike Sapone, we ended up using a lot of the original tracks that were recorded in my tiny little bedroom studio. I am not the greatest audio engineer but Mike was able to clean everything up and make it sound pristine. I love the idea of welcoming every fan of the band over and squashing into my little apartment for a listening party, this is about the closest to that as we can realistically get, it’s truly an audial doorway into my world, only expanded and fully realized with the aid of the greatest musicians I have ever met.

What role does Worcester play in your music?

DA: Funny that you ask that. Josh and I met in high school and started playing together, our first shows were right in that area, coffee houses, bars, pubs, shout out to Spiritual Haze and Bender’s bar and grille! I don’t love Worcester, because it’s just a place. I love the people who were coming out every week to see us. I hold them in the highest regard, and I value every single one of them. If it weren’t for the people in Worcester who gave us a shot, I’m not sure we would have done anything as a band, so I am eternally thankful to them. The easter eggs in this song and on the album are for them, the very first fans of the band.

AG: Even though I came up in a different scene in a different state I can totally attest to this. The first couple of years of Nemes shows I saw in Worcester were some of the most amazing, passionate local shows I had ever seen.

How’s your new album coming along?

We are waiting on the final masters and then we’ll be all about printing it and getting it out.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Sometime in 2019, no title at the moment.

What’s been like to work with Mike Sapone and how did that relationship develop?

DA: Super awesome, I don’t wanna out the guy but he’s a genius. I hate the incense he lights in the studio tho. I love burgerito tho. It all evens out.

AG: I reached out to Mike Sapone because he’s literally my favorite producer of all time, and one of my musical heroes. The Devil and God are Raging Inside me changed my musical trajectory and was one of the first albums that helped me understand how artists could truly grow and evolve. I had emailed Mike years ago and he hadn’t gotten back to me, then I decided to give it another shot and for some reason this time he got back to us. Probably because our music was much better than the first time I reached out. Now we have a genuine friendship, where we text about music, movies, synths, anything. I’m totally comfortable bouncing musical ideas off of him and getting genuine advice and feedback. It has been pretty awesome.

How much did he get to influence the song and album overall?

DA: Mike has a really awesome way of talking to you as a musician and to a band. He never sets anything in stone; he’d encourage us to record multiple versions of takes, and then multiple versions of those takes. Even if the ideas seemed like they wouldn’t pan out in the beginning, he’d suggest we do them just to try them. That sort of approach fostered creativity and forced us to think outside of the box. It helped create a collaborative environment we hadn’t experienced before, and it shows across the album in all the layers and emotion that comes out of them.

AG: Mike is dope. I think he places just as much importance on setting a vibe as he does on finding sounds and making the songs work. Any band will tell you – couping up with 4 dudes that have 4 different opinions who all really care about a project can cause a lot of…high running emotions? Mike always had that on his radar, knew when to take breaks, helped diffuse issues long before they turned into issues, and genuinely made everyone feel like their voice was being heard. He knew when to encourage us to chase ideas, but also how to tell us to just let something go.

What made you want to seek for a new direction for this new album?

DA: I first and foremost seek to create a cathartic release when I create any art, for myself and hopefully for the audience. The more fluently I learn to speak music, and the more experiences I have in life, I find a greater and greater ability to create that release. When I am creating, I find that the less I try to control, the better the art gets. When I try to impose my will on others, I always end up regretting it. I’m just lucky that my bandmates are such forgiving, patient and loving friends. They humour my wild artistic visions and are able to ground me when I float into outer space and they are the best friends I could ever ask for.

DA: Maybe not directly related to the question but I personally took a different direction with my mindset while recording this album. I finally realized that the less I try to control, the better the art gets. When I try to impose my will on everyone else, I always end up regretting it. I’m just lucky that my bandmates are such forgiving, patient and loving friends. They humour my wild artistic visions and are able to ground me when I float into outer space and they are the best friends I could ever ask for.

AG: It’s honestly not really a new direction – this album is probably the closest thing to what fans have been experiencing at live shows for years. The real difference this time around is that there’s a cohesion and focus to the recorded songs. The energy and heart is the same as it’s always been. But the way it translated into sound is something we’ve been creating live for years. Mike finally helped us get it on record.

Any plans to hit the road?

AG: Absolutely.

What else is happening next in NEMES’ world?

DA: Probably gonna try and get Tom Brady’s autograph.

AG: I’m chasing the perfect live looping/DJ/MIDI/synth setup. It’s never going to end.

LISTEN Nemes – “60 Days”

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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