How noisy trio Nowhere found a place for catharsis in Philadelphia
It’s true that beautifully-rendered indie noise-pop is currently having another of its moments, as jangly guitars dance around sweetly sung vocals with lyrics formulated to celebrate or lament budding or missed romance. Even while all of this twangy guitar pop spills out of art galleries and basements in the city and nationwide, there exists bands that are still left that rummage through the scarred textures of our lives, that plummet into darkness every now and then and unearth truths that can only be displayed in dynamic, angular, sometimes sludgy music — the kind of music designed for the rest of us orcs left to rot outside the post-pop, twee-punk shire.
Nowhere is such a band: too rangey, too wiry and expressive for punk rock, too bludgeoning for indie rock, they’re a band that strives to not so much evoke chaos as understand it.
On Nowhere’s bandcamp page is a blurred image of a weirdo looking into a mirror, distorted and longing. The figure is trapped outside, hovering slightly out of focus, not quite longing, but lingering. “I Didn’t Think Anyone Would Be Here,” the first song on the page giving these creepy figure a lurching soundtrack, sees the three piece ripping through darkness, the track thundering along with a Shellac-ian rhythm section washed in post-psychedelic, deconstructed Hendrixian guitar phases. Live, they’re a non-stop tumult, each song pulling from the previous wave of static, their sonic experiments called forth like the spirit of their grunge and noise rock descendants weaponized. We spoke to Daniela (bass / vox), Josh (guitar) and Nathan (drums) about catharsis, and the chaos and beauty of the noise in our scene.
The Key: When and where and how did the band initially form and what were the concepts and themes you discussed when forming the band? Did lyrical content inform the music or did the lyrical concepts take cues from what you were playing?
Josh: Nowhere was formed on the border of Brooklyn and Queens in late 2017. There was never any theme or concept discussed, just a mutual need to express ourselves and keep ourselves feeling something other than the dread of not doing what you want to do with your life.
Daniela: The lyrical content, like every other aspect of our songwriting — whether it be guitar, drums, or bass — churns and weaves itself into our jam sessions. It’s back and forth between bouncing ideas off of each other, both improvised and planned. The pulsing, vibrating nature of playing the bass typically ends up being first in the jam sessions, since the instrumental components of our work do have the ability to invoke certain feelings. Our process is more like passing a ball around as opposed to slapping sounds on top of each other until you get a song. The band’s chemistry is the powerhouse of Nowhere’s sound and we allow it to primally take whatever form it needs to.
TK: Do you feel more connected musically, spiritually and / or socially in Philadelphia? How has the transition been? What aspects of Philly are conducive to or inspiring to the music that you create?
Nathan: I feel like Philadelphia, like other places with large, diverse creative communities, has been a hard-yet-rewarding social climate to navigate. As inclusive as communities perhaps try to be and portray themselves as, I feel like it’s in human nature for people to opt for some sort of power or hierarchy within any sort of community structure. I can’t say that I feel like Nowhere has necessarily been welcomed into any specific scene, but we’ve definitely made connections with like-minded people and musicians, so maybe we’re on our way to creating our own community outside of those already established.
So much of trying to gain “clout” comes from schmoozing with people and none of us are particularly into that ideology. We think the music should speak for itself and that it should be enough, but maybe it isn’t. That being said, Philadelphia is a wonderful place with a ton of culture and has so many creative types making genuine art, and you can’t really ask for much more than that. It’s also gritty, direct, and dirty, and I feel like that sort of city experience has influenced our music.
Josh: Philadelphia has been good to us in many ways. We have great friends here who support us and help us grow as people and musicians. We loved this city before moving here because our friends cared enough to show us the best of Philly’s scene. We never really got that in NYC. Philadelphia holds a certain gritty presence that I’ve yet to see in any other place and it’s easy to hear that grit in the music coming out of here.
TK: Your lyrics seem to be about addiction and consumption, sometimes disease. There is also the ever churning perspective of railing against hate, both internal and external. Have you found it difficult to navigate these topics yet still retain a semblance of hope? Does Nowhere’s music serve as a reminder of the grim realities we face or as a way to combat them and could you expound on why? Is it music’s (and perhaps art / literature’s) responsibility to provide that hope for the listener / viewer / reader?
Daniela: Ultimately, you’re allowed to take whatever you feel is more appropriate out of what you’re listening to. I’d say it’s all fair game. Music does what it does, and it all depends on the listener’s personal outlook in life. Someone could listen to it and think, “This song’s boring.” Another person could think, “Wow, this reminds me of how shitty I felt the other day and it’s helping me cope with it.” As a band, and individuals, we welcome any kind of empathy that goes around said feelings. While I save all the talking for the music, it’s pretty easy for me to open up a conversation about the topic of consumption, mental illness, and self-hatred. Is it safe to say everyone’s dealt with depressive episodes before?
Nathan: Daniela sings mostly in Spanish, which I’m not fluent in, so her sending lyrics to you was actually the first time I’ve been able to have any insight into what is actually being said. I love her lyrics, they are extremely relatable for me and I’m happy to provide rhythms to the cacophony. I don’t feel like artists have any “responsibility” to provide hope to their audience. If people can find hope in knowing that other people are sick of the way things are and are struggling to find meaning within their life, then maybe they’ll find it in our music. I play music in a very therapeutic way, and while it may be selfish, I feel like I could care less what people think about it. They’re either going to like it or they’re not going to like it, just like everything, so I’m more interested in trying to make the sort of music that I want to hear and that is fun to perform. If that doesn’t translate to people, then it’s not for them. That’s okay.
TK: What’s next for the band? Records, tours, shows?
Daniela: We’re currently in the middle of songwriting, so the gears are still running.
Josh: We’re always staying busy and working towards the band, whether it’s touring or cramped in a basement bouncing ideas off each other sonically.
Nowhere plays a free Thanksgiving Eve concert at Century in Southwest Philadelphia with Hot Flakes, Hallucinogenic Bulb, A Death By The Seaside, and Magnum Opiate. For more information on the show, head it its Facebook Event Page. Find more about Nowhere at their Facebook page, their Instagram feed, or over on Bandcamp.