The Nodzzz LP is one of my personal favourite records of the past few months, packing in 10 perfect pop songs in under 15 minutes. It's also well worth checking out the should-have-been summer smash "I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) which you can listen to on their myspace. While trying to sort out which Nodzzz mp3 it was cool to put up for download over at the Vice Blog, I ended up chatting to singer/guitarist Anthony Atlas on gmail chat which turned into this interview which I've edited to get rid of the inevitable gmail foibles.
So I guess we should start with How did Nodzzz come about?
I grew up in new jersey with the first drummer pete. we were in bands together from 6th grade, onward into high school. i met Sean Paul at college in Olympia. he coached the student club baseball team, which I played on. we did a band too. later me, sean paul, and pete (the first drummer), all lived in San Francisco so it was a natural, easy thing to start.
Were you listening to a lot of same bands / going to the same shows as well?
I probably met pete on the playground in middle school, and sean paul at the college sporting field. but we all had similar taste in music, yeah. Sean Paul introduced me to a wider, non-college community in Olympia, that involved more house shows and stuff. He had lived there a little longer than i had.
Did those house shows directly influence the sound of Nodzzz?
There's an ideal environment we envision our music operating in, which probably resembles the music scene we were part of in Olympia closer than anything else we know of.
So were you in other bands then?
I was in a band called Study Buddies, which oddly and beautifully became Gun Outfit when I moved to Oakland. Sean and I did a weird band called Vacation, too. And I was in two other sporadic bands called Kamp Willies, and Breech Boys
yeah, you get the willies when you go to camp kamp willies is what my grandparents got during WW2
What are your top Five Records that relate to the music you make with Nodzzz?
Cool question lets see A Date With the Everly Brothers harmonies amazing
Bob Dylan "Basement Tapes" It's a big big big record for Sean Paul. He knows every word. I love it too, but his heart pumps that record.
my dad's a dylan obsessive,I'm a big fan too
Yeah, like one of the heavy ones weird i noticed the other bands put dylan too i guess that's not too weird because he's the best
Gun Club "fire of love" i'm answering that one for sean and Eric who seem to love it so much and jam the songs at practice i dig it okay. but it resonates with their southern california upbringing
becoming obsessed with Felt lately, so Felt - "forever breathes the lonely word" pop mind candy
The Kinks - Something Else kinks
fuck fuck The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms that's huge!
did you ever hear Denim? guy from Felts other band?
haha denim is nuts right i have their music on my computer but havent listened to it yet
Denim's not so good compared to felt
it's still amazing though! lawrence pretending he's not some hopelessly OCD fuck-up total pop posturing it seems yeah have you read much about him?
i just now he had a deep emotional aversion to other people's excrement is that true?
yeah, I've read that too.
a sad legacy for such a prolific and sensitive artist! there's a felt lyric i read the other day, which reminded me of it. let me see if i can find it
I thought I had read it in the Rip it up and start again book
oh wow, is there a felt chapter I think so, I can't find it though, its a good read anyway
Grass Widow We share a practice space with them, and our drummer helped put out the record on his label. It's the best. Dynamic, and moving post-punk.
Brilliant Colors. They have two 7"s. Also share a practice space with us, and, with Grass Widow, are the other best band in San Francisco.
Broken Strings A bizarre limited edition LP on True Panther of a recording from 2006 by Adam Croce, who now plays in Rainbow Bridge. Entirely felt and genuine bedroom-pop, whatever that is.
Gun Outfit From Olympia, Washington. They have a 7" and a 12" on PPM, and each is a unique world and a great record. Brilliant, moving lyrics, interlocked guitars, and a powerful sound.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. He's found a wonderful group of musicians to back his songs lately, and their recent version of his song "phantashtma” is proof of it." i'm excessively enthusiastic about bands right now. Things are good in music here
Do you feel that there's been a lot more great bands coming out of America recently or have people just finally started taking more notice?
I think it's a synchronistic emergence of great bands, but it's developed alongside a "horribly incorrect music market", as my friend put it. any recognition of quality bands comes out of the unbelievable mountain of shit in mainstream music culture. and the quality is probably due to people feeling that they had to sustain and develop a legit music community on a small level and devote themselves to it.
If there was one thing you could change about the music industry what would it be?you can have more than one thing
hmm. i was just laid off from a record store job, so i can answer this in a personal way, or in a more detached way. Ideally, a music culture i would like to be part of would be slower. bands would feel little pressure to pump new product out to meet demands, at the cost of quality. the transmission of ideas and songs is whats important between people, there's so much that distracts from that, that it gets disheartening.
Like hype / marketing?
Yeah, marketing its unavoidable and necessary but i want pop music to be equivalent with a village bon-fire or afternoon tea with friends. I get stressed when i see the opposite happening.
When bands get bigger I guess it becomes harder for that community feel
That's true, an obvious toss up, I suppose.
What are your ambitions beside making music:
I also do visual art, and graphic design. A fusion of those two fields is likely where I'll find myself making a living, if I can get it together. I love looking at old poetry books, and art-related graphics. Book and record design, I'm after things like that. Early work by Joe Brainard,Jim Dine, and George Scheeman convinces me that there must be a playful, low-stakes way of living the artist's life.
Who or what inspired you to start making music when you were young?
Not entirely sure. There was a grand-piano in my living room, but I could never figure out how to play it in any way that satisfied me. I'm not a "natural" when it comes to music, and my approach to it is more verbal, if anything. I got into punk music at age 10, and went to hundreds of shows before I graduated high school. Music was an easy and excited upbringing which happened before I was even really conscious of it.
Finally have you any plans to tour over in Europe and the UK?
Yes, yes. We're going to Europe in September. I've never been there. The majority of the dates will be in the UK.