Imagine a room of people who’ve come to see a band play – a band who plays every show like it’s gonna be their last show – and you leave at the end of the night, so happy, amped up and energized that all you can do is yell “Yeah!!” back and forth, at your friends, and fellow concertgoers. This is the goal of Nick D’ and the Believers, an Indie Pop/Rock band who called Columbus, Ohio their home. Before they went onstage at the A&R Bar for the PromoWest Fest after party, I had the opportunity to meet up with the entire (!) band, and have a quick chat. We just meshed. What was supposed to be a five minute conversation turned into a much longer life talk with an invitation for a kickball match and a video game-esque challenge in a human sized hamster ball. I love these guys. Here’s what we talked about:
Michelle: I have four questions…(I really did try to keep it brief, I promise).
I guess the most vague question would be: All of you are in a band together. I know some of you are new to the band – 6 months-ish? I don’t know, but I’m assuming you’ve played music in other bands before this.
**Disclaimer – I also made a challenge to see how many different sport-type references we could sneak into the interview for fun. So if something feels extra disjointed, that would be me)**
NDB (Kerry): Oh yeah. There’s a lot of Bocce ball involved.
Michelle: So, so much.
NDB (Nick): Oh my God, we should start a kickball league. (the whole band agrees)
It sounds like we just did!
We should just go challenge other bands to kickball.
Kickball’s the best.
We should just challenge Brand New as they’re coming off the stage.)
**Can this please be an official thing?*
Michelle: So you’ve all played music, leading up to this band (Nick D’ & the Believers)…why? Why do you play music?
NDB (Kerry): That’s a good question
NDB: (Seth): Why do I play? Because it makes me feel good, and then when we play out to an audience, you can feel that energy, that’s what it’s all about for me. Like, a live performance, writing songs, you know, the whole thing…the ultimate for me is the live performance aspect…and there’s nothing else that makes me feel as good as music does-listening, playing, whatever it is, in my 27 years (as of July 16th-Happy Birthday, Seth!).
(Side note shared by the band…I meant to ask about the backstory on this) If you’re a true genius, you’re gonna die, this year.
NDB (Seth): I will die, this year. maybe a car wreck.
NDB (Kerry): No, you can do better than that. Get all Final Destination on it, maybe get your hand caught in a garbage disposal or something.
NDB (Seth): Yeah! It’ll grind me up, and someone will drink me… (the whole band cracks up).
Michelle: Oh! I was thinking more Pink Floyd, like the meat grinder.
NDB (Kerry): That was gonna be my answer, I was gonna say Pink Floyd was the reason I play music. That and, I think because my friends do it, sometimes.
Michelle: It’s like a way to bond, kinda?
NDB (Kerry): It’s always trying to recreate a feeling.
NDB (Seth): When I was 3, my parents took me to church, and the pastor was a phenomenal piano player, and I saw him, and I was like “Wow, I want to do that. That’s what I want to do.” And so my parents, got me piano lessons.
Michelle: When you were 3?
NDB (Seth): No, not until I was 5. And I’ve forgotten everything (everyone laughs).
Michelle: But she (Seth’s mom) remembered.
NDB (Seth): She remembered, 2 years later, and I took lessons from the same woman, Joyce, for years. I think for all of us, music has just been a big part of our lives from the beginning. There was a spark at some point in our early lives. Someone we saw- a guitar player, a piano player, that inspired us. And I’ve tried to do a lot of other sh** with my life, I tried to go to school for Political Science, I was gonna go to law school, there’s a lot of other stuff…and I just kept coming back to (music).
NDB (Cory): I think that’s the truth in that you have to do it. It’s not like it ever feels like a choice. ‘Cause who would choose to do this? (laughter) Especially when you’re just trying to get established, it (can be) miserable. You sleep on shady floors.
NDB (Joseph): Yeah if you’re not a musician, the perspective is that it’s pretty glamorous, but it’s really not like that.
NDB (Nick): Yeah! There’s so much lying at family reunions (laughter). “Things are going great, you know?” That feels like the truth, you try all these other things because they’re easier, and you want stuff, because it’s less friction. And you keep winding up doing music.
NDB (Joseph/JB): I feel like we’ve all tried to have “real jobs” throughout our lives, and it just hasn’t worked out. What else would we be doing? If we had other jobs, would we want to stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, working on it? You know what I mean? We’re working on it constantly, around the clock. I can’t imagine any other profession where I’d be like “I’m gonna total up these receipts, tonight, until 3 in the morning, ‘cause it’s fun” (laughter).
That’s a huge thing. When I was in college, one of my professors said “You know you love something if you love the drudgery of it.” And I took that with me. And with music, I love the drudgery of it. Even when it’s sh**ty, I still love the drudgery of it. And even when it’s really hard, I still love it.
NDB (Seth): I think that’s when I love it the most. When life sucks (I turn to music). And then you get to be on stage, and all that stuff is gone.
Michelle: To me, my favorite performances feel like sacred experiences. There’s just something that happens, like a deep exchange, that nothing else can compare.
NDB (Nick): ‘Cause you carry all that mileage and all those sh**ty nights with you, and then you have the show moment. That’s like, the moment of catharsis. Just let all those bad nights out, and make it worth it. We’ve had several nights of sleep that were just horrific experiences, and then the next weekend, are still saying “Alright, we got 2 more shows.” And we realize “wow, we really like doing this”.
NDB (Cory): If your job was “Oh yeah, we have to drive through the night, but we actually didn’t book you a room. (laughter) You’re actually gonna sleep outside in the park, with the mosquitos.” You’d say “What? I’m quitting, today”.
NDB (Nick): You’re gonna lose money on it too, by the way. (more laughter)
Michelle: You were mentioning dying (laughter). Speaking of that, say you have a bucket list for an interview – where would you want it to be, and/or what would you want to be doing?
NDB (Seth): I think if everybody were in a giant, inflatable hamster ball, all together…all rolling…
Michelle: So we’d need a big field…potentially either before or after the kickball game.
NDB (Seth): Yeah, I mean it’d be ideal if the field had some cliffs and drop off areas.
(The brainstorming puddled into a grand, top secret plan for kickball, which will unveil itself in the future)
Michelle: I’m so excited.
I haven’t seen you guys perform (a live show). I’ve seen you on YouTube, but never live. So I’m excited, because I feel like every time you perform, it’s like a party, right? So I’m really looking forward to seeing that (live). Say someone has never seen you perform, and possibly hasn’t (even) heard your music. What would you hope, at the end of your show, they could say to their friends?
NDB (Cory): I hope they’re just yelling at each other (demonstrates through a series of back and forth “YEAH”s).
NDB (Seth): I’m sure we’ll do that.
NDB (Joseph/JB): That happens on stage. It gets pretty raw up there.
NDB (Nick): I think “Find a Little Love Before You Go”. I think that lyric-we usually play that song last, and we all shout it together, everyone’s shouting it. And that’s kinda the vibe, the feeling. That’s what we want people to take away from it. That’s what we take away-no matter how we’re feeling, it doesn’t really matter. Once we get to that moment of the set-even if it’s a sh**ty set, we get to that moment and are like “That was a kicka** show!”.
I think exactly what JB just said. It’s kinda apocalyptic. I think we play every show like it’s gonna be our last time ever playing music.
Michelle: And for Seth, sometime this year, it will be.
NDB: Yeah! (laughter)
NDB (Nick): I feel like every set just ends with us being stoked, just hugging each other, before we even walk offstage. We just leave it all on the (ball)field. It’s part of our whole dynamic.
Michelle: Something I’m always curious about. I feel like everyone has different regimens when it comes to staying…when you tour, when you go to multiple places, back to back, sleeping in parks, how do you keep your energy levels up? I know you’d mentioned feeding off the audience…but keeping your energy levels up to keep your performance on point.
NDB (Cory): Protein bars…(laughter) you find creative potions to make from what they have at the bar. Red Bull and whiskey is a new favorite. A lot of high fives, a lot of smiles.
NDB (Seth): Actually I feel really unhealthy when we go on tour. I have no regimen, and I feel pretty terrible.
NDB (Cory): I feel like the last couple of days, we don’t really want to do it. We’re all really tired, and then we get on stage, and we’re all like “YEAH!!”!
NDB (Seth): There’s always enough energy for one more show.
Michelle: I know you’ve done so many interviews. Is there anything that’s come up in conversation (with the band) that you wish an interviewer would ask of you?
NDB (Cory): I feel like the more obvious stuff, like “What’s your favorite color?”
Michelle: Ice cream flavor…
NDB (Cory): Aww, yeah, stuff like that.
Seth to Cory: What IS your favorite color?
Cory: I like purple. And also stuff like “Where’s your family from?”.
NDB (Kerry): We had a good question the other day about which famous artist we would want with us on a deserted island. They were all kinda like our lady crushes, except one of us picked Bob Dylan. You’re not gonna keep the human race going that way… “Me and Bob are just gonna watch each other die”…he would probably write a song out of it. He would be writing it while you’re still alive, though, which would be sort of creepy…and then he’d accidentally use your name once, while he’s playing it for you. (have I mentioned I love these guys?)
Michelle: So what is your favorite ice cream?
NDB (Cory): Purple. No, anything cheesecake, if you throw cheesecake in it.
NDB (Kerry): What about cookie dough, man?
NDB (Cory): It’s fine. It’s pretty close.
NDB (Kerry): I like hearing about people’s epiphanies. Nick had an epiphany at a Dr. Dog concert, and he quit being a teacher, and realized he wanted to do music. Did you have an epiphany about photography where it clicked, and you knew you wanted to do it?
And we went down another spiraling talk about how I’ve been doing photos forever – about how my college professor told me if I ever wanted to sell out as a photographer, I should be a wedding photographer – the lowest rung of photographers. And that was what I then decided to do. Truth be told, I feel like I have moments almost every day that guide me to the next one – people telling me something can’t be done, having moments of deep connection, beyond words, becoming excited about something that moves me so much, there’s no going back. I love that these fellas have found their calling with each other, and have made the commitment to bring the fire every night, to every performance.
After this awesome talk, and after watching their performance the night of our interview, I can see why Nick D’ & The Believers have a loyal fan base that continues to grow, each day. They care about their fans, they live for them, and they bring a party to every show. See what I mean at their CD release party on Friday, September 19th, at the Gateway Plaza: 29 E 11th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201.
And be on the lookout for a hamster ball interview about epiphanies, paired with a kickball match – coming to a field near you.