Today, we sat down with the band Nerds in Denial to get an indepth look into their music, heroes and much more! Be sure to check out their music below after the interview!
What is your inspiration to write your music? Is it your surroundings?
Ben: I’m a firm believer the instrumentals we create are a combination of our physical limitations on our instruments, and whatever mood we happen to be in. It could be as simple as choosing a key of music that we’ve never played before or using a different tuning on the guitar than used before.
As for the lyrics that I’ve written with the guys in the band, well you’ve got me stumped. When we’re together the sky’s the limit on what we can come up with, whether it’s a jarring dystopian scenario or something as simple, or even joyous thoughts of reliving parts in the construction of oneself through personal experience. The band has always been a safe space to get thoughts out even come to an eventual catharsis, a healing process that calms me personally.
Dashuan: Devin stole my answer.
Devin: Inspiration, I think, comes from anywhere and everywhere. For me personally, the things that inspire me to write often come from the experiences I’ve had, but other times I write just based off of the emotions I’m feeling. Other times, there’s complex concepts I think about pertaining to life or society, and I like to try and write about those in order to try and wrap my head around them better. In other instances still, I get ideas for songs and lyrics from off-the-cuff jokes with friends that spiral out of control. A couple of glasses of mead help on the inspiration front, too.
Richie: Our surroundings often inspire us. Everything on our ”.bars” release conceptually takes place in our hometown, Rochester, NY, because it’s a beautiful city with a great culture, though the focus of our songs aren’t necessarily about our surroundings. With some of our songs, we try to describe imaginary surroundings or how we’d feel in those scenarios.
Tim: I’m inspired by all these other talented folks up here! Really, being able to branch off of others’ ideas and bounce concepts around helps a lot with the creative process. I’d also like to think I draw some inspiration from all the things I listen to. Surroundings can definitely play a role in terms of the headspace I’m in while writing music, though it’s not the only factor.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
Ben: Personally my Mom raised me on Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, whatever was on the radio station – whether it be the pop station when I was with my siblings or Legends 102.7 with just my Mom or Dad.
Then came the guys, and it was all about the Beatles, the Arctic Monkeys, shit as long as it was British Rock we all dug it. Especially the “indie-rock” from overseas not the stuff in America, besides the Black Keys. They rock.
Dashuan: Whatever my older brothers and sister’s got their hands on. KEM. Musiq Soulchild. Avant. D’Angelo. Mystikal. 112. Destiny’s Child. Dipset. The Lox. Cypress Hill. Ginuwine. Mary J Blige. (The List gets longer, and it’s MAD Black people on it)
Devin: The Beatles were the first real band I became very attached to, but I listened to a hodgepodge of different things – classic rock, music from soundtracks of movies and video games, Weird Al, and a lot of random songs that I put on my cheap MP3 players. When I was in the car with my parents, I would ask them to put on either alternative rock or oldies-type stations. I’ve always just loved music, no matter the genre, as long as it makes me feel good, feels important as an expression of art or opinion, or moves me in some way.
Richie: The Beatles, Van Halen, Taylor Swift, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe
Tim: Lots of classic and progressive rock, as well as a ton of video game music. Got into jazz and fusion type stuff later on. Some early artists that come to mind are The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Frank Zappa.
Is there someone you looked up as a hero?
Ben: I mean now or back ten years ago?
When I was fifteen I fell in love with Frusciante’s playing. Watched every live solo on YouTube he played with the Chili Peppers.
Now I just look around myself to my family, brothers in the band, even co-workers.
Dashuan: No, but I froze up during a Drum solo once when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I’ll both never forget it, and never let it happen again.
Devin: I try as much as possible not to idolise others, but instead to respect the traits in them that I find admirable. More than anything I respect integrity, kindness and generosity.
Richie: Sora from Kingdom Hearts
Tim: NO GODS NO MASTERS (if I had to choose, maybe Weird Al? He’s cool)
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing today?
Ben: I would probably be trying to shoot more pictures with my camera, and still try my best to pay my bills. Probably eventually pick up the harp guitar or whatever thus becoming a musician, whoops.
Dashuan: Thank God I’m a musician, so we don’t have to find out.
Devin: I’d probably be in the Highlands of Scotland, living a transcendental, minimalist life as a beekeeping gardener. Or live out of a food truck anywhere.
Richie: I’m not sure. Though I’d like to take a second to shout out Sals Sandwiches. Sals Sandwiches! Located on East & Alexander! Come on down! The Gabagool is to die for!
Tim: Well, I paid a lot of money to get a piece of paper saying I’m a software engineer, so, I guess I’d keep doing that. Maybe make a website for Sal’s Sandwiches. Their social media presence is lacking at the moment.
What advice do you have for our fans out there that want to create music?
Ben: I believe Lebouf said it first, just do it. Don’t be too hard on yourself when creating in the beginning. There’s no reason why your first or even second song has to be top forty material. Play chords you’ve never played before, line them up, write a melody or two per section and then presto! You’re on to something.
Dashuan: Leave a plate of dried cured meats, and assorted cheese’s out for the guests. Or they’ll turn on you.
And grow thicker skin. That way the words “Free Bird” won’t hurt as much when they’re thrown at you.
Devin: Believe in yourself unconditionally. Take the mistakes you make as learning experiences, and keep on trying until you get it right. Find people who believe in you, and do right by them, so that they may support you in everything you do. Do just the right amount of drugs.
Richie: You’ll never know if you don’t try! We are as DIY as DIY can be and it hasn’t been easy, but if you can find the right band it’ll never feel like work.
Tim: Just go out and do it! Pick an instrument (or a DAW program on your computer), find some tutorials, and do what makes you happy. Don’t fret too much about doing things “right” – it takes practice and lots of experimenting to find your own sound. I’m still figuring things out as I go honestly. As a famous cartoon dog once said, “Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”