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  • The Outfit

    An interview with The Outfit drummer Mark Nawara
    by Tommy Rage
    May 2020

    Chicago rockers: The Outfit

    Chicago rockers: The Outfit

    In terms of music, when you hear the word ‘Viking’, you probably think about a Nordic Death Metal band – or that one Netflix show where your girlfriend drools over the shirtless, battle-axe wielding pillager? You probably don’t think about a fresh rock band out of Chicago that just released their second album: Viking. The Outfit, an original and bold rock band that formed in 2016, has enjoyed the initial success of their first self-titled album with the hit single “Soldier Boy”, which secured the #34 spot on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart. Now, with two years under their belt and successful nation-wide tours with SOiL and Puddle Of Mudd – the Midwest marauders are back with a treasure trove of rock songs that any vinyl Viking would love.

    Releasing their sophomore album, Viking, this spring, The Outfit, guitarist Matt Nawara, bassist Mike Goran, singer/guitarist Andy Mitchell and drummer Mark Nawara have put together ten solid songs which have continued to carry the band’s modern Midwest rock sound. Drummer Mark Nawara talks about how it all started for the foursome. “My brother Matt and I and had been playing together our whole lives; but he came to me back in 2018 and he asked if I wanted to start jamming again. I was kinda on the fence, as I was busy running the record label (Pavement Entertainment), but I thought we should try it out. So, we started playing together and writing music, and I suggested we go down to the studio and lay some tracks down for one of the songs. I was friends with one of the best bass players in Chicago that I’ve known for a long time, Mike Gorman. I reached out to him and asked him to come down; and he added some bass. I was always a fan of Cheap Trick and Robin Zander and I had run into a guy when I was in Arizona years earlier named Andy Mitchell, who was a great songwriter. I reached out to him and asked if he wanted to do some vocals for a demo-track we were doing, and he said sure. He sent it back and it sounded great and we were thinking about it; so, we did another one, it sounded great, so we just decided to start a band [laughter].” 
       
    That natural “why-not” feeling is heard throughout all of Viking. A truly effortless album that flows from the first tracks through to the end. The ease of the classic guitar riffs backed with the strong bass and drum foundation is held tight throughout the album. That tightness, for only the band’s second release, was something that might normally take years for a band to develop – but not for these polished musicians. Easing into their second release, Mark explains how The Outfit had an optimistic and relaxed approach to putting Viking together. “We got a lot of great praise and positive reviews from our first record thankfully. So, at that point when you are doing your follow-up, you’re kinda worried. We thought, ‘Shit, this record has got to be better than the first one.’ But we didn’t want to stress about it. We just wanted to write the way we write, and not over-think it too much, and that’s what we did.”

    It’s that “ease” of rock mentality that blends a modern and classic-rock feel on tracks such as the up-tempo “Believe” and “Carnival”, as well as the band’s first single “Come Alive” - which has gained a lot of attention since its release. “We had a release set for it in March”, explains Mark, “but we pushed it back a month. The song was written by Andy, and it’s about finding your relatives when they have passed on, and you are dreaming, and you get to reconnect with them. It’s kinda a cool concept, and we did a far-out video for it, and we really like it.” While the video has over 50,000 views on You Tube, and over 60,000 plays on Spotify, the single continues to climb the charts and push the band to the front of the music scene. “Our stuff is just bold and in your face stuff, which people really like. Our Producer, Ulrich Wild, (Breaking Benjamin, Pantera, Deftones) said that our sound is familiar - but it’s fresh. When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to see Queen and Thin Lizzy at Chicago Stadium with my brother. I was blown away by it, and I was influenced by it a lot.”

    That classic yet modern rock anthem is brought forward in songs like “Sirens” and “Midnight Moses” which has a fun and smooth crafted piano and guitar groove, that lays open with a chorus that will get stuck in your head - long after the song is over. “Sitting Here Alone” closes out Viking, which is also the name of the brilliant title tack on the album, that had been road tested prior to recording it shares Mark. “We wrote the song ‘Viking’ about a year and a half-ago and started playing it live. It became a crowd favorite, and every time we played it – the crowd erupted. So, that’s why we named the album Viking and it’s got a heavier edge to it, and we feel like this record is loaded with some good stuff.” 

    Viking highlights the chops of all four veteran musicians in the band, while keeping the energy fresh and modern by not re-inventing the wheel. The Outfit simply perfects it, by staying simple and staying out of each other’s way. Smooth and easy grooves along with catchy choruses are woven throughout the album. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that guitarist Matt and Mark and are brothers and have put their sibling bickering behind them. Well, almost laughs Mark. “We get along pretty good, except for every once in a while, [laughter]. I only threw him into a wall once [laughter]. We were doing a show and I was looking for the set-list and I walked up to him, and he gave me a smart-ass remark. So, I lifted him off his feet, because he is lighter than me, and he ended-up going into the wall – we laughed about it. But we get along well, and he is a great brother.” 

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    CD: Viking Record Label: Pavement Entertainment
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