This band is one that exceeds the mere concept of genre bending. These guys masterfully mesh folk, rock, and electronic sounds in a way that no band I’ve heard has done. One second you’re hearing something reminiscent of the Rolling Stones, the next second something more like Pink Floyd and then something like a descendant of, say, Be Bop Deluxe. They’re musical ADD in the best way possible. Meet Badass Band 99, Nacosta.
I heard about Nacosta quite a bit before finally getting around to see them, which I now kick myself in the ass for. Oh well, better late than never. As an outsider seeing them live for the first time, you think, “Man, this is like being in a carefully created musical time warp between the 60’s/70’s and something entirely its own.” On top of the array of instrumentals, the harmonies between Marc, Ian and Brandon are unbelievable, mellifluous and strong.
Their debut record, Under the Half Moon, released back in March and it is well worth taking a listen all the way through. You don’t know what to expect track to track and it’s just a goddamn pleasure to listen to. A few of my favorite tracks are:
- “Paradise Cough”-Rock n roll track with a little synth flair. Definitely catchy with lyrics like, “Paradise cough, its everything you wanted it to be. Paradise cough, it will bring you down to your knees then high.”
- “14 Feet”- Mechanical sounds to peak your interest at first, joined by drawn out harmonies. The keys will resonate in your bones throughout the track. My favorite lines are, “14 feet, buried below the sunset, with no cares and no qualms. 14 feet, sitting about the skyline. You’re so sweet when you’re alone. On those nights where there’s no one home to care, or care about me anymore.”
- “Aberlina”- bright guitars contrasted with deep rhythms and echoey vocals, this tune will take you on a journey through space. Just enjoy the ride.
Not too long ago, I was able to hang out with the guys from Nacosta, Brandon (Guitar/Keys/Synth/Vox), Ian (Guitar/Keys/Vocx), Marc (Guitar/Vox), Shane (Drums/Keys) and Jace (Bass). During this time they answered a few questions for me, so read on to find out how to truly pronounce the name, why being an LA band is a double-edged sword and what super cool fictional characters each member would chose to be.
When and why did each of you start playing music?
Brandon: I started playing music because my dad is a musician and ever since I was a little kid, we were just raised on music. It was just something I always did and then it became natural. There really wasn’t much thought about it. It’s just that I started doing it and that’s just what I wanted to do.
Jace: I started playing music back in elementary school because I had the choice of either to going into a band or to go into choir. There was no way that a elementary school boy could ever do choir. I was like, “Okay, I’m going with the band.” I had to decide right then and there. I was like, a violin? Let’s do it. I’m still playing four string instruments.
Ian: I started in middle school because in elementary school, all I had available to do was choir. After elementary school, I didn’t think it was cool anymore, so I moved to band and I started on sax, and then my brother actually brought a guitar. He never played it, so eventually I got sick of just seeing it sitting there. I picked it up and that’s how I started with that. I pretty much have been playing ever since.
Marc: I started playing music when I was seven. I was kind of forced into it. It was just an extracurricular activity that my parents thought would be good. For the next 12 years, I suffered the cruel tutelage of Marjorie Vanderpool. That’s my violin teacher. I’d say that she instilled the proper amount of respect and love for music. By the time I hit 18 and no longer taking private lessons, I dropped violin and picked up the guitar. I haven’t put it down since.
Shane: I started playing music around the age of 13. I wanted just to copy what my favorite bands were doing, to have that energy. I’m really into Nirvana and Dave Grohl. He’s reason that I started playing drums and guitar.
How did all of you guys meet?
Brandon: Is it weird if we say Craigslist?
Jo: You’re not the first.
Jace: Hopefully, Shane and Brandon didn’t meet on Craigslist, but the rest of us did.
Shane: Looking for brother.
Brandon: Yeah, I mean, me and Shane are obviously brothers. We met though and then we met Marc actually at this really crazy psychedelic rock acid party kind of thing here in Silverlake. It’s like this big jam. It was funny because we were supposed to audition actually for a spot on this festival. That all went to crap, but we met Marc. We jammed that night without knowing each other and that’s how we formed. Yeah, we met Jace and Ian online.
Did you go through a lot of people before them or were they pretty solid contenders right off the bat?
Shane: We had a lot of auditions.
Brandon: Yeah, we did. We’ve had different people in the past, but this is the first time where it’s been like the real full band where everybody is involved in the band. Whereas before, it’s more like a recording project of Shane and I.
Why the name Nacosta (nuh-coast-uh, folks!)?
Brandon: We wanted to come up with a name that was just something that didn’t have a defined meaning. It was just a word, something we put together. We wanted to make it ambiguous. There are certain bands where you don’t even listen to them because you feel like you already know what they are going to sound like. You might get turned off based upon their name. We felt like if we didn’t do that, it would give people a little bit more of a mystery. We’re all about trying to make things with multilayers and things you’ve got to dive into to appreciate a little bit more. We felt like making the name more ambiguous that that would lend itself to that. It means whatever you want it to mean. Some people have said, I think in Portuguese, it roughly means to live on the coast, sort of be on the coast, which worked. Then in Italian, I think it roughly means to be hidden or withdrawn.
Marc: I always thought it kind of sounds like-
Brandon: Like the mafia.
Marc: An Italian crime family.
Brandon: That’s what my dad said. He was like, “You guys trying to be in the Italian mob or something?” Which, obviously we’re not.
What does your band sound like? What do you guys normally answer with when you’re asked this question?
Brandon: Well, we’re taking from different elements. There is stuff like Radiohead, which we really like the hybrid and electronic, the rock music. We’re trying to be like Autolux mashed with Neil Young. You know, bands like that. Really, originally, we were trying to do like a electronic rock hybrid with lots of full key harmonies and some stuff like that.
Shane: It’s 60’s rock and folk and lots of modern stuff. We started to do this electronic thing and started to do more like that. It’s really trying to incorporate as many different genres and temperaments as possible. For the layman person, I guess its rock music.
Brandon: We’re just good old rock and roll. Nothing wrong with that.
How does your creative process typically work?
Brandon: It’s been interesting because it’s kind of changed since we’ve started all playing together.
Jace: We all carry a different style. One song was created right before we went on tour with Brandon coming in and playing. The next song was Shane and I just jamming on drums. Then Mark presented us a song. It’s all different and it’s coming from all of us.
Brandon: Everywhere from coming in with songs to jamming songs or ideas that are built upon. It’s different. I don’t think we have this one way necessarily.
Shane: There usually is one part that’s already written and we expand.
Jace: It’s cool though. There is no preconceived notion how it’s going to sound. One of the things that I really liked about this band from the get-go was work hard, but don’t be afraid to put your own interpretation on it. Make it big. I think that’s carrying over to the writing process quite nicely. Yeah, somebody will present something, but there’s not going to be really any dictation in terms of how you’re supposed to play.
Shane: Yeah, for the older material, we don’t want them to be puppets or anything. You just put your own spin on it.
Marc: I think a lot of the old songs have evolved with the new lineup. We’ve kind of made them our own.
What do you think the biggest challenge is being a band in Los Angeles?
Jace: Everyone else is trying to do the same thing.
Shane: Really, everyone is trying to be in a band.
Brandon: It’s funny. I was just talking about this on the way back from Bakersfield. We played a really awesome show out there. It’s like we only have to go an hour and a half and it’s like a totally different world. You’re kind of celebrated and you make money. It’s interesting when you go into smaller towns, they appreciate you more and they really want to just have music. Here in LA and New York and these bigger towns, you’re playing a show, people are like, hmm, they are watching you and it’s like blah, blah, blah. Then you go to these other towns and they have just this reckless abandonment and it’s just like we want to have fun. They want to see a show and they appreciate it. Here it’s definitely over saturated. With that said, I feel like that forces you to also push yourself even further to distinguish yourself from the other bands. There are lots of great bands in LA right now and there probably always will be. A lot of our favorite bands are bands in LA right now whom we play with and stuff. I love LA, I was born and raised here, so I love the city. It is a double-edged sword because there are so many bands to compete against.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Shane: (Jokingly) The fact that they are not acknowledging us.
Brandon: It’s a bit like clubs and venues expect the artist to make all the draw. They should be able to promote their shows as well. Most of the time, these smaller places in LA, they don’t even want to pay you. It’s a joke. The arts really treated unfairly in the U.S. in general. Also, not being fined for putting up show posters. And, this isn’t exclusive to LA, but I wish we could play a lot more all ages shows.
Shane: I was going to say that.
Brandon: The alcohol industry controls a lot of shows obviously. I wish we could play to more people. Most of our fan base, as we can find out in Facebook analytics or whatever, its 25 to 34-year old males. I’m not complaining, but it would be cool to do some more shows. A lot of the all ages places are kind of lame, which is sad because kids want to see shows.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Brandon: Seeing Grizzly Bear play at The Wiltern was amazing. It was one of those shows that gave me goosebumps the entire time. There have been a lot of good ones, but that was one of my favorites.
Jace: My favorite live show of all time is Circa Survive at The Glass House in Pomona. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen them. I was just blown away.
Ian: I saw Jack White at Radio City about a year ago and it just so happened he was really pissed off from the night before, so he didn’t say a word to the audience the entire set. I thought that was like the most badass thing. He didn’t say anything until the end and he said thank you and he walked off stage. That’s like a rock show.
Marc: The best live show experience I ever had was in 1993 at Cornell University and it was a group from Japan. It was just sound produced by 50-60 drums and drummers on stage at the same time playing. The largest drum must have been at least like 10 feet in diameter and just the sound, the power of the music went and affected that auditorium and the people listening to it. People came to that show in tuxes and were standing up and like shouting at the top of their lungs. It was an amazing experience for me and definitely one of the most formative and profound shows I’ve ever been to.
Favorite things to do, not musically related.
Jace: I’m into photography and videography. I just got back from Arizona yesterday at midnight, I was shooting photos for a website for a motel. I do that on the side a lot of times. Playing guitar. Staying creative.
Brandon: I’m a huge movie fan.
Jace: We definitely have like a penchant for strange cinema, and I think that’s something that we all kind of share.
Marc: I think there is stuff we actually like that is not that strange, but we really do need to do that Star Wars marathon.
Brandon: Yeah, definitively, movies. We also just got back from a band hiking trip.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Brandon: I’m on the Star Wars thing, so…
Marc: You can’t all be Boba Fett.
Brandon: Siddhartha. I guess that’s a real character.
Marc: Jace the hero. I read this story. It’s by one of my favorite authors, Jorge Borges. It basically chronicles this man who lives in Buenos Aires in Argentina, and his friend invites him over to his house and he goes, “I have to show you something.” It’s in the basement and it’s underneath the staircase in the basement. This guy walks down the steps and he goes and checks out what’s underneath the basement. He sees this point in space and it’s called The Aleph. Just by looking, he can see simultaneously from every single point, every single direction and every single point of view, everything in the universe at once. I think that would be a really cool character to be.
Brandon: I think I’d be more down to earth. I’d be the dude from The Big Lebowski.
Ian: I’d stick with Lord of the Rings. I would be Tom Bombadil, the guy who lives in the woods. They cut him from the movies, but he was a great character.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what are some bands that you would feature?
Marc: I would do a band called Slow Collapse. At the time when I was looking to join a band, I went with Nacosta, but Slow Collapse was one of the other bands that I saw that needed a bassist. Then they had an EP online and I downloaded the EP and I love it. It’s completely different styles. It’s harder, it’s I guess post-hardcore, the good sub-genre whatever. They were really good. They have like 500 likes on Facebook when they should be like 10 times that. They are really talented. I would send them.
Brandon: I’d say our friends from New York called The Bottom Dollars. It’s a really cool band. Man, you know something? I love IndianGiver.
Jace: Oh, yeah.
Brandon: IndianGiver. Oklahoma. Yeah, their band was started in Oklahoma and the last tour was really good.
FIND NACOSTA HERE: