Monday, July 29, 2013

Feature: NGHBRS Release 'Twenty One Rooms'

>> I love artists that make a name for themselves.  Rather than being labeled simply 'a band of this genre' or 'a band from that state,' I like bands that gain recognition for making music they're proud of.  Personally, I enjoy artists that don't fit one genre, or ones that could potentially be categorized as more than one genre.  If an individual song can cross genre boundaries, that's even cooler.  I like things that are different, unique, and full of passion.  That's probably what has drawn me to NGHBRS over the years - this is a band that was born to stand out.

>> NGHBRS recently released their debut full length, titled Twenty One Rooms, on July 16th, 2013.  A few days later, the band played a record release show at Revolution in Amityville, NY.  I talked to the band before the show about the recording process, how they made a point of doing things differently, and where they want to go next.

>> I first interviewed NGHBRS via email back in 2011. I got to see them live for the first time a while later at a small venue on Long Island (Rogue Studios in Hicksville, NY).  They played a show with a bunch of other local acts, but something about their set really stuck with me.  I'd heard songs from their Hellomind EP when I was getting ready to do that first interview, but hearing those songs live was a completely different experience.  I was genuinely blown away.  On that day, I knew I'd found a band to watch.  Not only did their EP sound great, but their live performances of those songs brought the greatness to another level.  NGHBRS is a band that consistently puts out excellent music, and seeing and hearing that music performed live is something else entirely.  If you like what you hear on a NGHBRS CD, do yourself a favor and experience a live show.  Between 2011 and now, the shows have become even more electric.

>> The bill for the Twenty One Rooms record release show was full of talented local acts including Coasta and Heavy English. People filed in as the show went on, and by the time NGHBRS was set to start, the place was packed.  The room was full of faces both familiar and new, and that's a great environment to be in.  I ran into friends, people I saw at the last NGHBRS show, and plenty of people I'd never seen before.  Everyone seemed connected that night and while the band got set up on stage, the shared anticipation in the room was practically visible. Two people even dressed up for the occasion (left). We were all there for one reason, and that reason was to celebrate what the guys in NGHBRS have been working so hard on for so long.  It was worth the wait.

>> The album is different than the band's Hellomind EP in many ways, but it has characteristics that can only be described as 'classic NGHBRS.'  There are certain qualities or techniques that only NGHBRS can really pull off.  These songs start out one way and end up completely different.  One of the best parts about a NGHBRS song is the fact that it never really goes where you expect it to.  If a song starts out calm, it usually doesn't stay that way for long. Take "We Were Wolves" for example.  The track starts out with vocals softer than on some of the others, but all the while there's a driving feeling that hints at where it's going.  The intro of the song is almost like a warning growl from a wolf, and when the chorus hits, it turns into a full on attack.  Every part of that song, and each of the others, is put together so well.  There isn't a predictable track on this record.  "Wake Me In The Morning" starts and ends the same way, but it serves as more of an interlude.  It's almost as though the tracks before it were thoughts and experiences throughout a day, and that this track is a man's reflections on the day- softer, more personal.  This introspective song is immediately followed by "Beneath the Raging Sun" which is anything but tame.

>> One of the many cool things about this record is the fact that there's nothing typical on it.  The edgier songs aren't trying too hard to fit a mold, and neither are the tamer tracks.  There are mini interludes within songs as well as solos and beats that make you want to bang your head, but through it all the band maintains their individual style.  Drummer Jordan Schneider summed up the band's goals for the album: "We recorded the whole album live. ... We didn't want to record in a studio. We wanted to live somewhere and just live the record."  This isn't your typical rock band: The only mold NGHBRS fits into is the one they made for themselves.

Source: Aud Lew Photography
>> The album is impressive.  NGHBRS have grown but have maintained their recognizable sound.  This definitely comes into play during the live shows.  The record release show was one of the most energetic and lively shows I've seen the band put on.  There were points where singer Ian Kenny looked as though he was in his own music-filled world, swaying and moving wherever the songs took him.  Between that and the overall passion put forth by every member of the band, the set was amazing.  Hearing an album come to life on a stage is a treat especially with this band because they don't play the songs exactly as they were written.  Instead, the band adds to each song.  There are extensions, riffs, interludes, and special effects (not in the cheesy way, but in the "damn, that's cool" way).  A megaphone comes into play at least once during the set, something that I always find really unique and interesting.  There are also hints of dubstep scattered throughout some of the songs in the live performance, making it feel like you're watching a remix happen right in front of you.  I've seen NGHBRS countless times now, but every show is different.  They're all great but for different
reasons.  This record release show was really something special.  When the band left the stage, the fans wanted more.  The "one more song" chants led to an encore during which a fan jumped off the stage and crowd surfed his way to the back of the room.  Even during the last song, the energy in the room could not have been higher.  Between the band's excitement and pride in getting to share their work and the crowd's excitement to hear it all, this was a show to remember.

>> The band just released a live video for their song "We Were Wolves." Check it out for a taste of what you would get at a NGHBRS show.

>> Back when I first spoke with the band in 2011, they had this to say about what set them apart from other acts - "We take a lot of pride in being out of the box. I think our passion, raw energy, and intense live show is what sets us apart."  It's a great feeling to be able to say that while the band and their fan base continue to grow, that statement is more than true today.  If you don't know NGHBRS yet, now is a good time to get acquainted.

Source: Dani Sacco Photography

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