Introducing Boston post-hardcore sextet No Nations
No Nations make its presence felt on Friday, December 3, with the release of first single 'Seltzer'
BOSTON, MASS. [DECEMBER 3, 2021] -- The past 20 months have been a time where most of us have drifted apart in relative silence. For No Nations, it was the right time to come together and make some noise.
The new Boston sextet, whose style is some kind of fucked up mix of shoegaze, post-hardcore, alternative, indie, and grunge without ever being only one or two of those things at the same time, release debut single “Seltzer” on Friday, December 3.
After letting the pummeling “Seltzer” marinate over the holidays, No Nations strike back with another heavy hitter in “Queso,” and both tracks will be featured on a cassette release come January. “Seltzer” was recorded with Chris Johnson (Deafheaven, Doomriders) at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts, in September; with Johnson on board to master the cassette release.
No Nations takes its moniker from a political idea that can apply to music as well: Taking down power structures that assert dominance of some more than others, and removing borders and boundary lines from everything we do as people and a society. For No Nations, that ideology is furthered in its sound, its vision, and its own ideology within the group.
Conceived by guitarist Erik Wormwood, many of the players in No Nations have played together in past bands, with a musical DNA that runs deep in the Boston and New England music scene, extending to the likes of I am become Death, Suffer on Acid, Kimachi, Cocked N Loaded, Polarbaron, The Vershok, Mean Creek, Marconi, and countless others you saw that one time at that venue somewhere. The lineup reads like the mugshots displayed in their first press photo: Garrett Gordon (bass), Kyle Neeson (vocals), Jason Perry (guitar and synth), Jason Seaver (drums), Steve Trombley (guitar), and Wormwood.
“The musical vision for No Nations I think tries to fuck with alot of the stuff I loved about getting into music in the first place,” says Wormwood. “There are some heavier, driving rhythms that I got from playing punk and hardcore. There is some guitar interplay that takes from early ‘90s alternative music. There are melodies and melodic interplay I dig from mid- to late-’90s emo. I also love fucking around with some of the repetition of Krautrock where a simple pattern repeats and there is stuff that builds around it. Overall, I think a lot of this reflects our experiences playing in bands before. Most of us played mostly in hardcore bands and listened to alternative music in our down time so I think there is an element of that.”
That sentiment reverberates through “Seltzer,” with its driving rhythms and panicked vocals, it’s a barreling tune that serves as a proper introduction to the layered sonic approach of six dudes coming together to corral a chaotic sound into an almost hypnotic state. And with three guitarists, the band, before landing on the No Nations band name, first jokingly referred to themselves as Guitar Center.
“I think the original discussions were taking elements of a few different genres -- post-hardcore, shoegaze, alternative, etc. -- and mixing those up,” says Jason Seaver. “Mixing quieter low-key parts and songs with heavy parts and songs. Also having three guitars was a decision made pretty early on which adds more dynamics to the parts.”
Adds Wormwood: “The first batch of songs I came up with were fucking all over the place style wise, but there were a few things I started to notice bubbling up that I dug. I got super into layering melodies and rhythms. Lots of my favorite bands did that in different ways. Bands like New Order and how they sort of have four or five different melody and rhythm parts going on in a song like “Dreams Never End.” Layering of guitars like in Swervedriver or Ride, or even the way the guitars on Jawbreaker’s Dear You record are so layered sounding.”
Jason Perry admits that while a lot of the early No Nations demos begin as sort-of shoegaze compositions, the post-hardcore and punk influence tends to permeate into their evolution to pull them out of one genre world and into something else entirely. And they’re fairly unconcerned where, by definition, the songs end up, as long as they reflect a certain No Nations sound that’s still relatively undefinable.
“What I've been really excited about is that our approach tends to favor serving the songs versus trying to sound like X or Y,” Perry says. “The result feels very organic, which I have to imagine is due in part to how well we all know each other, and it's taking us into some really interesting places sonically as we're continuing to write. I don't even know what I would call it, especially now that we're branching out with our instrumentation a bit with synths/keys.”
It’s really up to the listener to determine where No Nations land on the sonic spectrum, and “Seltzer” provides an impactful first taste. The track came together quickly, but it fast became something fit to introduce No Nations to the world.
“This is really the first song we finished front-to-back, so to me it represents the successful proof of concept for this band,” Perry adds. “This is a song where Kyle wholly drove the lyrics and vocal performance. I think it was also really exciting for all of us to hear his approach to vocals in this band and what it adds to the songs. I will say he absolutely crushed this performance.”
Wormwood concurs: “Having the guitars modulate in and out of tune is something I dig a lot like Adam Franklin (Swervedriver), Greg Sage (The Wipers), Kevin Shields (mbv). It came together quickly after bringing it to the rehearsal space. I was stoked to hear Kyle bring what he did to it vocally. This was an early song, and we were still trying to find the vibe for vocals, and Kyle was sort of oscillating between screaming and vibey singing, but when he started singing on this I heard all the stuff I loved about his voice.”
It’s easy to call No Nations a pandemic project, but in reality, it’s so much more than that. It’s six musicians filling the blanks in their lives and their own battles with creativity, calling upon camaraderie and a desire to create art at a time when art is devalued more than ever. It’s a drive to communicate and collaborate, having a voice as the world burns around us, channeling lives spent in practice spaces and basements and rock clubs and bars and connecting with others who share these common interests. And it catches a wave of heavy Massachusetts bands beginning to make names for themselves -- groups like Crescent Ridge, Broken Head, Weatherless, Blood Built Empire -- and bringing gaps that often exist in the city’s disperate music scenes, where barriers and borders have existed for decades, and only recently begun to erode.
“For me, our prior bands impact less of what the sound of No Nations is, and more of the dynamics and roles of each member,” says Seaver. “Because most of us have known each other for years and played in other bands, there’s an understanding of everyone’s personalities and how each person works in a band setting.”
And that feels pretty fucking good after the past two years.
“I'm sure the forced isolation we've all been experiencing the past 18 months has something to do with it, but it's been incredibly satisfying engaging with friends again and working on a project,” Perry concludes. “I've known most of these guys for well over a decade, but whether it's because of our varied roles in the band, our approach to the songwriting process, or hell, maybe just where we are all in our lives at this age, we seem to have tapped into something that feels new and we're all really excited about. We hope people enjoy it as much as we do.”
No Nations two-track cassette artwork:
Credit: Rob Adams [email@example.com]
No Nations are:
Garrett Gordon: Bass
Kyle Neeson: Vocals
Jason Perry: Guitar and Synth
Jason Seaver: Drums
Steve Trombley: Guitar
Erik Wormwood: Guitar
‘Seltzer’ was recorded with Chris Johnson (Deafheaven, Doomriders) at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts, in September 2021. He also mastered the forthcoming No Nations record. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Nations press photos: