XPoNential Music Festival Artist Interview: An epic conversation with Nicos Gun (Part 2)
Yesterday, we published the first half of our epic interview with the local rock quartet Nicos Gun. In that segment, the band discussed important issues such as jacking each other’s orange juice, manufacturing beef with other bands, and the problems with performing in front of Porta-Potties. In Part 2, they get down the specifics of writing music, the rigors of touring, and doing whatever they want when making videos.
TK: From what I understand, you write a ton of music. What do you attribute to your super-fast process?
HZ: Basically building with each other, because like I can do certain stuff—like I have a good ear, but musically I can’t figure out certain things. So I’ll make a little tiny building block and then Barney will add to it, and all that kind of stuff.
[Barney grabs pen and paper and starts making a list.]
1) No work = free time
2) Life = love = inspiration
BC: See, I got no job. I got life. And then you become prolific. That’s basically it.
HZ: And collaboration too, that’s for sure.
BC: Yeah, people around you to inspire you. If you’re just working by yourself all the time, you’ve got no reason [to write music]. Now that we have a foundation, people are like waiting for it, so it gives you incentive.
HZ: But also fear of being a homeless person definitely is in my mind sometimes when I’m writing songs. Or fear of being a loser. Yeah, write that down, that’s number four. Fear of being a loser.
NB: But there’s always something to be done, and I think each of us has strengths that are perfectly balanced off of each other. Someone will start a great idea and then someone can polish it up or something. Like right now, we’re probably working on four or five different things that need to be finished today. There’s always tons of stuff. So I think that’s part of being able to put out so much music, cause it’s not just one person, you’re not depending on just one person to do everything.
TK: So why hasn’t more of it been officially released?
HZ: Because we’re kind of perfectionist-y…It will be very soon. It’s like a “Damn, everything’s building up back here and it’s gonna break, and it’s just gonna be like WHOOOSH tons of music.” We’re actually finishing the first one today, we’ve got one more vocal for it, that’s gonna be released soon. Then the second one’s gonna come like two weeks after that.
BC: The reason why songs don’t come out a lot of the time is just for the smallest things. Like we’ll be trying to figure out what album cover to use and we’ll get into whether we should make the cover ourselves, then we’ll be like “Oh this photographer’s gonna do it.” We just talk about it too long, then we’re back on tour. Can’t do anything out there.
HZ: We figured out that it’s better to just do it yourself than to rely on other people. Because we’ve had big engineers mix stuff and they take forever, and we’d be like, “Screw it, let’s just mix it ourselves.” We literally have maybe 60 songs that we want to release but we’re kind of just waiting to figure out.
BC: We want to package them together, too. We don’t want to just leak out song after song.
HZ: We’re not exactly like, Lil Wayne-ing it where he just put out tons of music for no, you know, for a reason but no particular package.
BC: They fit together.
BC: It all fits together, that’s why we haven’t necessarily…like, we’re making an acoustic EP right now.
HZ: Which is probably my favorite stuff we’ve done.
BC: Yeah, it’s gonna be really cool. It’s so organic, it’s just recorded in a room, very minimal and it’s more personal. A lot of our stuff we do in this band, it’s funny and it’s got humor and stuff. These are more personal songs.
HZ: The first EP is way more complex and the second one is way more simplistic and direct.
BC: I just killed a half-gallon of orange juice.
HZ: Good job dude.
NB: So what we’re trying to do is put out, well we basically have four pretty cohesive, I guess you’d call it an EP but it’s not really.
BC: We’ll call them mini-albums.
NB: We’re trying to put them out pretty close to each other, and like we said, there’s vibes and consistency within each of them. I think that’s kind of a cool way for us to debut our shit, because there’s so much stuff. I think that’s almost like a first album in itself, it’s like a first body of work and then you can kind of get a 360 view of what we’re about and stuff like that.
HZ: And we want to shoot music videos for everything too. So that also, we’re working on music and then we’re doing music videos.
BC: We’re definitely multitasking, you know. Like some bands, say a band in the 90s or something, basically they’d have a producer come in and they’d record a record right. Even a band like Nirvana, which you know I’m a huge fan of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, but in a way, they didn’t have to multitask as much. They would go in, do an album, cut a record, and then it’s like they’re done recording. Then they’d just go on the road and they’d just rehearse and play shows and work on their live show. […] Then one day they go and their manager gets them somebody to make a music video, and back in the day with MTV, having any music video was a big deal, just having one. Nowadays Lil B’s got like 60 music videos or something, you know what I mean? So to put a music video out nowadays it’s just like no big deal, it’s like, “Oh cool, you have a music video? My aunt has a music video.” [Laughs.]
HZ: We tour a lot. Pretty much half our time is touring, and it’s hard to work on the road. Although we’ll write little things on the road or mix little things on the road, it’s pretty much maybe on a two-week tour, Barney might write a song and I might mix something, you know what I mean? But that’s about it.
TK: It has to be hard when you get home, because you must want to collect yourself a bit?
HZ: Usually we just want to go right into writing, cause we just sit in an RV all day collecting ourselves. I have no Internet; usually I don’t have a phone on tour.
NB: Yeah, enough collecting.
HZ: Two of our biggest tours, I didn’t have a phone for whatever reason. I couldn’t find a charger, the other time it went in the Jacuzzi and was destroyed. So I just didn’t have a phone, just had to look out the window at America.
NB: […] we just came back from Bisco and we’re trying to finish this one EP. We literally have to do that today, or else it like won’t come out.
BC: And we had to rehearse Marvin Gaye songs last night because we’re playing this wedding.
NB: Yeah, so it’s a good thing too. Because once you’re touring and doing the studio stuff, I don’t want to say it’s a job but there’s a formality to it, like you have to get this stuff done. But it’s pretty natural, because after you’re on tour for a while, you’re like, “Ok I want to go in the studio for a while,” and then after you’re in the studio for a while you’re like, “Oh I wanna go play some shows.” It’s cool because you can get bored of one thing.
TK: You guys have a bunch of cool music videos, what’s your level of involvement in the making of those?
HZ: It’s pretty much just us and our friend Joe, he’s like the fifth member of the band.
BC: We actually have a new one coming out.
HZ: The music videos are always fun because it’s a non-pressure kind of thing And it’s actually kind of more collaborative than the music is sometimes, because we all are just like, “Hey let’s go to this stupid place” and the other person’s like, “Okay let’s do that” or, “That’s stupid but we’ll try it,” and everyone gets to try little stuff.
BC: Making a music video is just like, we’ll put makeup on in the mirror and you’re just looking at it and loving yourself, stroking your ego on film.
HZ: Yeah, we all love ourselves.
BC: God I love myself.
HZ: We’re all very collected and love ourselves.
TK: What would you consider your message as artists?
HZ: Be happy. We’re kind of positive at the end of the day, even though we’ve all been through lots of negative things, we want everybody to be happy and have fun and be your own hero. That’s kind of the message. Like I actually realized at Camp Bisco that I want to stop wearing t-shirts with my heroes’ faces on them. I just want to be my own hero if that makes any sense. So I have to throw out all my t-shirts.
AB: I’ve been thinking about that too. I want to start dressing in an unconventional fashion. I feel like pants and shorts and t-shirts and things are like not really the way, that’s just what I’ve been raised to believe. I want a robe. A flowing, silken robe.
TK: Like a muumuu?
AB: No. Or, maybe like a muumuu, but like silk, pink or a baby blue, something you would wear in the desert. So it’s like you’re covered, you’re totally covered, but you kind of have the feeling of nudity.
TK: What other things do you guys enjoy doing besides music?
HZ: Sex, drugs, food.
AB: Bicycle riding.
HZ: When was the last time you went snowboarding? What is up with this snowboarding thing? None of us snowboard or skateboard.
NB: Last year, I went to Vermont for a week.
BC: Texting girls that I’ll never see again.
HZ: I watch a lot of musical documentaries.
NB: I was sick.
HZ: I’m not saying you’re not good, I’m just saying you don’t do it.
BC: I like to go to this park down on Third and Brown and just sit on this stone bench and read D. H. Lawrence, think about death, you know. I just write about death, I smoke these little skinny Virginia Slims and contemplate existentialism. And I wear a beret. Then this little French lady delivers espresso to me in the park.
TK: Sounds like the life.
BC: It’s sick. And then I cry. I’m like, “I need caffeine. Death is among us.”
HZ: We also spend a lot of time asking girls who is the best looking out of all of us.
NB: Harry spends a lot of time doing that. [Laughs.]
HZ: So, uh who has the best hair out of…no, I won’t start it.
BC: He was about to go for it, you really want to go for it.
HZ: I want to go for it.
AB: He’s waiting until the recorder’s turned off.
Nicos Gun will be performing at the XPoNential Music Festival along with artists such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Ra Ra Riot, Givers, Sun Airway, and many others. The festival will be taking place July 22-24th at Wiggins Park in Camden, NJ. Tickets are available here.