The last year-and-a-half may have felt like whirlwind for alternative rock band, Nothing More, but if there’s any band that proves perseverance pays off, it’s them. Success didn’t come easy, however, and years of a DIY existence pushed the band to the edge, but it was the challenges of those trying years that would go on to inspire their most recent release. “It’s just been fascinating because we wrote this record not expecting it to go to radio,” the band’s bassist, Dan Oliver, said when asked about the success of the album. However, with catchy choruses, hypnotic chords, and pounding beats that seem to hammer life into their lyrics, it’s not hard to see why so many are dawn to the band. There’s an honesty that resonates with the casual music listener, a wild energy that leaves the loyal show-goer wanting nothing but more, and like most, Music Existence has fallen victim to the magic. We caught up with Nothing More on the last date of their Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, and prior to taking the stage, spoke with Dan about the band’s recent success and the pressures of living up to it, the importance of just believing, and why you should be excited for their next release.
ME: Nothing More is a favorite here at Music Existence. We always jump at the chance to catch you guys on tour, so thanks for the interview.
DAN: Thanks for the support. We couldn’t have done it without you.
ME: As a band, you’ve been in this business for over ten years, but it’s really been the last year-and-a-half where we’ve seen you break into the mainstream. As musicians, what has this recent success taught you?
DAN: It’s hard to pinpoint it as just musicians cause really it’s just been a complete life change for us in general. Before, we were very DIY. We traveled a lot, but it was mainly regionally and on the weekends just because as an underground band, you can’t play on Wednesday in Little Rock and, you know, make the gas money to get back home. We were always a band that was like, “Eh, we don’t need a label. We can do it on our own,” but then the label came along, and it’s been an amazing experience getting to work with the people that we have. It’s just been fascinating because we wrote this record not expecting it to go to radio or anything like that. We definitely learned that the general public is ready for a little bit of different music. And, it’s cool with “This is the Time” being the first single – that was my favorite song– but I never thought that it would do as well as it did, or that it would have a mainstream appeal just because the bridge is complicated. There are just so many lessons now that we’re working with such great people. There’s kind of this element of trust that we have to have and let go of certain things. Now, we don’t have to set up our equipment or tear it down, and we used to, like, we used to do all of our own booking, and sometimes it’s hard to let go of that stuff. Like, you’re overly critical of the people working for you and with you, but things are just totally different now, totally in the right direction.
ME: So with that, are we as fans witnessing the rebirth of Nothing More or is this just the natural journey of your musical evolution?
DAN: I think it’s just the natural journey. If I look back on the last 10 years of my life, I would say that all the energy, and music, and sacrifice put in this has totally been fulfilled and given reason. We didn’t just quit, or dissolve, or fade off into the distance. So, it’s just interesting because when we entered into the mainstream, I think the biggest thing we learned was musically, our path – the direction we were already heading – was the direction we needed to keep going, which is right were we love. We always play with the audience in mind when we’re songwriting. Songs are meant to be shared and it’s not just this self-indulgent kind of deal. So, this next record is going to be pretty interesting because we have wind at our sails and everyone behind us, and it’s almost like we broke people in something a little it more complicated or heavy. It’s going to be good, though. I’m excited. I’m super excited.
ME: So then out of curiosity, because the band has released albums in the past, what do think it was about this particular album that seemed to resonate with so many people?
DAN: This record definitely embodied the hardest parts of all of our lives. It seems like we all had a major struggle: deaths, relationship just blown to pieces, friends stabbing us in the back. I feel like as a group, we hit our stride with songwriting and creativity and really found our sound, and I think the subject matter was so human and something that everybody goes through that it was able to connect with a bunch of people. And, we write all the music and lyrics together, so it’s really nice in this group having so many different perspectives and stories to build into a song. It really makes for a strong product.
ME: You do know that as a band you guys have kind of been dubbed, like, the “saviors of rock,” right?
DAN: (Laughs) That’s so funny! I’ve heard that one or twice. I wasn’t sure how much that mattered.
ME: But because of that, do you feel any pressure to live up to your recent success?
DAN: I would say so. It’s not really something that weighs on us, though. We’ve just gotten so used to working. This record took us so long to write; I don’t think the next one’s going to take as long. But, we had to go back and write and rewrite things and so, there’s definitely pressure. There definitely does need to be an amazing record, but we’re not scared of the effort or feel like there’s going to be a lack of inspiration to get us there. I don’t…(laughs) I don’t know if that sounds cocky or what, but there’s no fear we’ll figure it out.
ME: True. Technically, you guys shouldn’t fear the “sophomore slump” curse because you’ve already released a second album, but now there’s a bigger audience to please.
DAN: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot more scrutiny, and if a certain group of people turn their backs on us because of how it sounds, then it will hurt a lot more. Or maybe it won’t, I don’t know, but it’ll be a lot more people no matter what.
ME: Before this latest tour, the band’s long-time drummer departed. With the experiences you’ve gained throughout the years, how do you go about attacking the unexpected, especially now that you’re doing things on a grander scale?
DAN: This whole thing started as a fate journey for us if you will. Like any ambitious project, you’ve just gotta believe that it’ll work and believe in your power to take it to that place. I still think we cross those chasms all the time, and even something like Paul quitting and us finding Ben, it all just worked out perfectly. There’s nothing that we could have done to bring the right drummer to us. We couldn’t announce it publically to look for anybody because we had all these tours booked, and we didn’t want to have promoters canceling shows. We knew we were going to figure it out, but we don’t necessarily have the A to B, so management just started secretly searching, and we tried them out on YouTube and just went from there. We just go; whatever we’re thinking in our heads, we calculate it, and just push. It always seems to have worked, so we’re able to continue stepping forward confidently. Even when it comes to the album, we just believe that we will be able to deliver. I do all the welding in the band and for me, I feel I get to kind of cross this area a lot, because I also used to work on the van and do that kind of stuff. There were always these sort of miraculous things to me. It’s like, “Oh god, I don’t know how this thing’s going to work,” you know. I just had it patched together. Or if I’m building something it’s like, I don’t know how this thing’s gonna look like before hand or if it’s even going to work, but you just kind of have to put a stake in the ground and start somewhere, and then hold on and keep going. (Laughs)
ME: Speaking of keep going, something that’s really admirable about the band is the fact that you’re so supportive of certain causes, especially the #iknowjenny campaign. Because of its success and so many people have supported it, where do you hope to take it next?
DAN: It’s hard to say because it’s definitely something we’re going to be pushing forever, whether or not it has the focus like it being the title of our headlining in June. We hope that it’s something that kind of launches itself. We’re not going to be constantly beating people over the head with the idea of ending a stigma or like that. There will be other focuses as we go along, but we’re happy to have been part of it and to have introduced it to a bunch of people’s lives. So, it’s not by any means something that we’re going to let go of, or trash, or die. It’s become a part of us, and it’ll carry on with us.
ME: The one thing you’ll hear anyone say about Nothing More is the live shows. It’s always, “You gotta go see them live. If they ever come your way, don’t miss them. Their energy is like nothing you’ll ever see.” Being that you’re constantly on the road, what is your philosophy when it comes to how you approach a show?
DAN: At the end of the day, I think we all ultimately enjoy what we’re doing and loved it enough to stick with it as long as we have. It just kind of comes out, I guess, but it’s hard to say what people pick up on because we’re not the observers; we’re the ones up there. We take every show very seriously whether it’s in front of 10,000 or just a handful of people. We’ll have bad shows sometimes, but for the most part, it feels good to be up there. I’m the bass player, so to have all this noise that’s attributed to this low end hitting my back and locking in with the kick-drum, it really is physically just an amazing feeling. It’s something that I celebrate on stage and something I hope to never go without for the rest of my life.
ME: So then being that you’re a very tour-heavy band, how do you compare being an opening feature versus headlining shows?
DAN: They’re both definitely very different, and they both have their perks. If we’re opening for someone, usually we’re playing for a lot more people, but the mentality for that situation is way more of a how-do-we-win-over-this-crowd-kind of thing. You have to turn on this different aspect of performance, like what you’re feeling in the moment and how it comes out, so how you engage the audience it changes. I think that’s the main thing between headlining and opening: you act different. It’s like meeting someone for the first time versus hanging out with someone you know or have at least met two or three times. I definitely prefer headlining. The amount of people that are in the audience never really matters to us; the coolest thing is the general energy that you get to participate in, and with headlining, it’ll always be greater. We could have way more fun playing in front of 20 people if everyone’s there together and in it then some of the biggest festivals where if you’re too far from the crowd, it feels like no one’s paying attention.
ME: You mentioned earlier that you were excited for the new record, and since we’re all pretty much dying for new material, what should fans expect with this next coming album?
DAN: It’s pretty much impossible to put music into words. I’ll say it’ll definitely be heavier. We’ll be exploring more of the heavy elements and the heavier side of what we have out now. I have a feeling that that’s going to get a little bit more of the spotlight on this next record. We do have some stuff written, but we haven’t had any time to come together and let the songs evolve in the rehearsal space. We all each independently have pieces of music, but I don’t know what to tell you what to expect. It’ll sound like us, I think. (Laughs) We hope people will say that sounds like Nothing More. We’re not switching to Latin or jazz or experimental. We just hope it’ll be like the pervious album and maintain these evolutionary jumps. We’ve known bands that have been like heavy rock and then they have a folk album; we’re not going to be throwing curve balls. We just hope to hit more home runs. (Laughs)
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