Introducing a brand new favourite band, far from their debut on the scene but a stunning new album regardless and a great way to get you into their sound – Incredible Villains is available on all platforms. The band is N.A.S.H, and we were blessed with an in-depth interview to find out more about their journey and the origins of their music. Here’s how it went.
* * *
Hi guys – what a pleasure to chat with you, thanks for the opportunity! For those who don’t know, could you define N.A.S.H and their creative approach?
Jim Bobbi: Hello! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! N.A.S.H. is a 4 piece band out of NJ/NY. We like to play fast and loud rock n roll. We love to play live. We try our best with our performances to bring back the age of big rock stage shows that leave your ears ringing, your neck strained, and your heart wanting more. Our fans are our friends, and they are the people we need to get our music to.
Bryan: The best work in this band comes when we write together. Give and Take was a work of total collaboration at rehearsal. We didn’t go to our separate corners and write our parts, we wrote the whole thing together in each other’s faces. I am very glad we did that because as an ever-growing band, it is now a landscape we use most frequently. We learned a lot about each other by doing so and learned we are quite strong at it.
Fantastic vocals, musicality and song-writing combined – a little prog-rock with a hint of Audioslave, Pearl Jam and the like for nostalgia and freshness combined. Who or what inspired you to start making music, and what does it feel like to perform your songs with this band?
Jim Bobbi: First off, thank you for even remotely suggesting that we have a sound close to Audioslave and Pearl Jam. Those two bands are definitely heavy influences of ours and that is a compliment that really means something, so thank you again. Bryan, Joe and I (Jim Bobbi) started jamming in our parents basement early on to bands like Pearl Jam and Metallica. I think music is what inspired us to make music.
There is something that music gives you, that makes you feel alive inside. It is something that you feed off of, something that you crave, something that you need.
As we said before we really put a lot into our live performances. It is the best thing about being in a band, to get up on stage, play your own music in front of people. We just want to share our music with as many people as we can.
Congrats on the release of Incredible Villains – a brilliant album, showcasing a fine ear for melody and a great use of contrast between skilful musicianship and absolute power. What can you tell us about the album, what does it encapsulate for you?
Jim Bobbi: Yes, our latest album is titled Incredible Villains. We spent a lot of time in the studio putting that album together. It was definitely a true labor of love for us. A few us of were going through some personal things at the time and we just channelled all that into the songs.
Bryan: Thank you first of all!!! Most of the lyrical stuff on the album either happened to me personally, or is something I fear would happen to me. One thing I am very in tune with is fear. What frightens me either on an earthly physical scale or psychological. I think it’s important to know that kind of shit. There are a couple of songs on the album that are fictitious excerpts, but have very real and frightening themes. I only hope they resonate.
Joe: For me, it’s the culmination of years of hard work and practice. Some of those songs have been played live for a long time before making it into the album format.
Dylan: Thanks! It was just really cool how that album came together. A mix of some older songs that never got on records and brand new material at the time. We didn’t force anything, the new songs we wrote just came together naturally. We don’t ever sit down and say “let’s write a heavy song or let’s write a poppy song”, we just take the approach of whatever comes out. So I think it ended up being a cool mix of sounds on that album because of that.
What does the song The Escape represent (a personal favourite from the new album), and why did you choose this as the closing track?
Jim Bobbi: Oh nice! That’s awesome to hear. We appreciate you taking the time to listen all the way to the end!
Bryan: The Escape is the ultimate closer. We’ve found playing that song live that it does resonate with a lot of people, so I wouldn’t want to go into too much detail as far as what I think it means but, it is a song about loss or the threat of loss. What is most important is how you face it.
I personally had the biggest threat of loss in my life and it put a real sharp perspective on things real fuckin quick. It was an agonizing song to write. Plus, I think when we were in the studio and the way we end the song with that softer acoustic guitar, it was a great way to close it out.
Joe: Being one of the softer songs on the album it represents the range we can complete as a band.
Dylan: I always liked that song as a closer because it takes you through all the emotions. Starts off clean guitars, big chorus. The song just keeps building until that ending. Then we end it like it started with that clean guitar again. I don’t think we ever had a discussion about it being the ender, we just all had it on our lists as the ender so we left it.
Cascading solos and superb unity as a band, you have such a strong identity to your sound – is this something that has evolved since the 2008 release of Regain the HighGround, or did it come naturally and you have merely fine-tuned your natural connection as a band?
Bryan: Well, I am speaking for myself here, but when Dylan joined the band, we had a MAJOR growth spurt as a band. We’ve had plenty of those throughout our tenure as a group, but that was a major one. Dylan is a very accomplished and very learned musician.
I learn EVERYTHING from playing with these three guys. They constantly change the way I approach playing and writing. I wrote the lyrics for our first album Regain the High Ground when I was a baby. I wouldn’t change one word or one guitar riff from that album, but it is a reflection of where we were in that time of our lives.
Joe: Our growth and some of our influences as a band directed the album. Some of us grew up as fans of 90s rock and grunge, but also fans of various metal bands through the ages, which guided a heavier tint to the album. Some elements of punk also exist in the album which are also evidence of how we let our personal influences guide its direction.
Dylan: For me it was a natural progression. And as time has gone by we write more and more songs together as a group which is cool to be a part of.
Are you musically trained, or has the band been your learning process?
Jim Bobbi: None of us have been musically trained as far as going to school or college for music. Some of us have all taken classes and lessons for a variety of things over the years, but I think the more we remain together as the more, the more we push each other and our sound to become better.
Bryan: BOTH. I’ve had very very few lessons as a guitar player, and zero as a vocalist. I always want them, because it pays to learn from a professional. But like I said above, the musicians I play with make me better. That’s so important. Always play UP!
Joe: I took lessons, but I found self teaching and working with fellow band members really molded me. As a result, I likely don’t have a traditional bassist technique, but it works.
Dylan: I have musical training. I took lessons for a few years and studied theory in college. I think theory and band experience sort of complement each other as a guitar player. For me, studying jazz in college really blew the doors open on constructing a guitar solo.
What about concepts – have the topics you write about varied significantly, and is this new album impacted at all by the times we’re living in?
Bryan: I’ve always tried to stay away from anything political in the lyrics. I remember reading ‘write what you know’. Even though we have strong opinions about current events, I don’t feel it all that exciting to write about personally. I feel like it’s more exciting to come up with a story with a real theme and see how people listening react with it.
Joe: We typically stay out of politics, so, generally, the times we are living in apply to the album in that it is influenced by our life experiences.
Following over a year of missing out on live music, how are you feeling prior to your set at Blue Ridge Rock Festival this September, and how will you be preparing for it?
Jim Bobbi: Honestly, I don’t think we will believe we are playing at Blue Ridge until we are actually there. It has been awhile since it got postponed due to Covid, so we had some time to sit and wait and now time is really counting down. We know it is happening, but I’m sure until that moment we are about to get on stage, it won’t hit us.
To prepare, we had to start with picking out songs for our set. So we each selected the top 4-5 songs we knew we wanted to play and from there we combined and agreed on our set and then every practice thereafter has been/will be dedicated to those songs.
Bryan: Nervous for sure. We aren’t a band that really gets nervous and I’m not nervous about the performance per se, more about how the world is gonna shape up in the next month. You’re hearing all kinds of shit in the news and you just don’t know what will happen. We’ve returned to playing since some of the mandates have been lifted, but I think some are still rightfully unsure. We prepare for it how we always prepare. How we prepare for every show at any venue: sharpened tools and extra underwear.
Joe: We are so incredibly excited not only to play, but also to see the raw excitement that will likely be there due to what fans are going to want to put into it. They are why we are here and can’t wait to see what holding back these maniacs for a year will look like.
Dylan: We are chomping at the bit! I cannot express how excited we are for that show.
Would you say that your live shows are where things really come alive, where your fan base is the most immersed and engaged? What is it about the stage and the live audience that changes things so distinctly?
Jim Bobbi: Yes, yes, yes! We love to play live. We think it gives you a better taste of who we are as a band and what we are about. Live shows give something else. It allows people to make an even stronger connection to a song or a band. We write these songs, we feel these words and to be able to get out there and to perform them, it is such an opportunity.
Joe: We exist for our live shows. What changes is the constant exchange of energy between the crowd and us. Some artists forget that without them we are nothing. Live shows allow us to personify our music in a way not possible another way.
You’re debuting a new single at Blue Ridge – what can you tell us about this, and why the live debut before a studio release?
Jim Bobbi: We were able to get into the studio a little bit and recorded our new single, Scary House.
Bryan: We will tell you nothing. Kidding! We had this song written during the height of the pandemic. Trading riffs back and forth to each other in our respective lockdowns, and when the lockdown was over and we got back together at rehearsal, it was the first song we fleshed out together. I think it’s something we owe to this particular performance at this particular venue…something special and something just for the people in attendance.
Joe: Music has changed in the last year and we think the formula has changed with it. Sure, a lot of bands have played new songs live before a studio release but we think that the industry has changed so much in the last year that whatever “rules” there may have been in place before may no longer exist. We also just wanna play this beast and get some of our energy out. There is no doubt playing a new song live is a surreal experience.
Dylan: We’ve been stoked about this song ever since we started writing it and we’re just really proud of how it came out. I think the live show is what this band is all about so it’s only right to debut it live.
Where would be your dream venue or event to perform at, and why?
Bryan: Well the dream is always Madison Square Garden. Sold out naturally. It’s in New York, where we’re from and it’s where I saw my first concert: KISS.
Jim Bobbi: If someone was going to offer us MSG, I obviously wouldn’t turn it down! But I love those smaller venues like Starland Ballroom in Jersey. If I could play Starland each weekend, to a packed crowd yelling for us as much as they yell for IHOP, then that would be a dream!
Joe: Opening for Metallica wherever, whenever!
If you could collaborate with anyone at all, past or present, who would it be, and why?
Bryan: GREAT question. Eddie Vedder. I would just love to sit in the same room while he wrote lyrics. Just to witness the process. Chris Cornell…what a songwriter. Either of those gods would seal the deal for me. There’s a loooooong list of others, but if I had to choose. Don’t know how I could possibly begin to contribute to their process, but I’d give my all trying!!
Joe: I would love to collaborate with an artist like Lady Gaga. I think choosing an accomplished artist from a wildly different genre has a lot of appeal and leads to a lot of possibilities. I always wanted a strong female vocalist to work with as well; I think it adds some depth to rock music in general.
Dylan: Cobain. Nirvana has probably been my biggest musical influence. Still is.
What’s your primary goal as a band over the coming months and years?
Bryan: Well top priority would be finishing the next album which we are well on our way to doing. Since our fans are our blood and family, continuing to grow that is just as important. One important thing I guess we took away from the last year is you can never plan for EVERYTHING. I mean fuck who saw this coming??
So with that, enjoying music writing, making, and performing with our fans is at the very top of the list. Because who the hell knows what the next sunrise will bring with it.
Joe: Get our music out there! Will we be rich? Who knows. More importantly, we want more exposure which leads to more shows which allows us to have fun. That’s all we want.
What’s something about you that people might be surprised to hear?
Bryan: I go to Disney World more than any grown man should.
Jim Bobbi: I have had a long standing crush on Patrick Swayze.
Joe: I paint little plastic space men and I am pretty decent at Call of Duty.
Dylan: People always find it hilarious that the band and I found each other on Craigslist.
Is there anything else we should know?
Bryan: Don’t underfuckingestimate the little guy.
Dylan: We’ve got some cool things in the works. Keep an eye out. Blue Ridge Rock Fest is where it all starts.
* * *