Madison’s the Nod: Stranded in the real worldThere’s a reason Madison has been called “76 Square Miles Surrounded by Reality," and one of the city's young rock groups is trying to make sense of it all.
There’s a reason Madison has been called “76 Square Miles Surrounded by Reality.”
The city sports more college students than you can throw MGMT CDs at (thanks to the University of Wisconsin) and almost as many bars as Superior (no small feat for a city 10 times its size…), and its most significant contribution to the world — at least in this author’s humble opinion — is the satirical newspaper The Onion, which was founded by two Badgers in ’88.
And, just in case you missed the point earlier, Madison’s universally agreed-upon nickname is “Mad Town.”
There’s only one way you earn such an esteemed accolade: by being crazier than the rest.
Either way, what happens to the city’s wide-eyed youth once they stop taking classes at the U? Their worlds turn upside-down.
Or at least that’s what we’ve been learning from the Nod’s Brett Newski, who took some time out from crafting powerful blasts of alternative rock to answer a few of our questions:
Budgeteer: ADD is out of control, so ... sell the Nod in a sentence or two — why should our readers line up outside Beaner’s to rock with you guys?
Newski: The Nod puts on the sweatiest show you’ll see all summer. We’ve been told we looked possessed during our sets just from our level of gusto and enthusiasm. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the band members work their butts off on stage. We put our hearts, sweat and tears into every song — and our blood if we have to. I’ll stage dive into a crowd of five people if it feels right.
We’ve always lived by ‘The more we sweat, the better the show.”
The recording of “Easy, Maverick” sounded like quite an adventure. Was it really that bad, with flooding, noise complaints, etc.?
Recording the new record was an obstacle course. We did it under a late-night liquor store in an old motel basement where a bunch of bands practice. We love the place. It’s dirty, musty and floods from time to time, but it really helped capture the character and raw energy of the record, far more than a crispy-clean studio would have.
We had to time our takes so that noise from other bands wouldn’t bleed onto our recording.
Speaking of the new album, how would you describe the lyrical content of its dozen tracks? What kind of stories does the Nod tell?
True stories of glory, shame, submission, subtraction and addition. Much of the record was written during that transition year from university into reality, so uncertainty is a word that describes the lyrical content quite well.
Finishing an education is the weirdest feeling I’ve ever felt. You and everyone around you become completely independent in every way, which is extra strange coming from a campus where we lived among 40,000 kids of the same age and general interests. Now we all have to get full-time jobs.
People often change when they are forced to become professionals: commitments shift, priorities transform and life is very different.
We recently spoke to Mad Trucker Gone Mad’s Del Monte Carlo who said this of Madison: “It is still a ‘great town,’ but it used to be a ‘[EXPLETIVE] great town.’” Would you agree with his assessment?
Mad Trucker is probably correct in that statement. They were gigging heavy in the ’90s, which was a dream era for live rock music. People just went to shows naturally, which doesn’t happen as much anymore. Going to see live music in Madison is not as much a lifestyle as they tell me it was in the ’90s, but that can change. Madison is ripe. It’s very creative, and there is so much talent here.
Finally, I noticed on your MySpace page that “early Weezer” is listed as an influence. Does this mean you won’t be rolling out the red carpet for high-profile rappers in the near future?
We love early Weezer for its pure guitar rock. I don’t blame them for getting “dance-y.” The dance beat is dominating music today. I’ll admit I can’t dance. But I can hack a guitar and I will play rock ‘n’ roll until I need to wear a diaper.
The Nod is working on getting dancier on the beats from time to time, but that’s not really our wheel house — pleasantly loud guitars are.
Jermaine Dupri will not be featured on our next single, though we wouldn’t write him off if he called us.
NEWS TO USE
Madison-based alternative rockers the Nod will perform at 9 p.m. July 21 at Beaner’s Central. See www.thenodmusic.com for complete details.