The Nod

by Mike Huberty
March 2010

The Nod from Madison, Wisconsin

The Nod from Madison, Wisconsin

As one of the acts making the most noise from the University of Wisconsin, THE NOD, takes influences from Barenaked Ladies to Weezer to come up with unconventional and fun alternative rock. All the members hail from around Midwest and met here in Madison, a place they refer to as “College Disneyland”. They’re playing a special free show on March 12th at the heart of State Street at The Pub. Last year, they released an EP, Shoddy Heart to the masses and since then, graduated, and are now entering the post-college music scene. We took some time to talk about the band with Brett Newski, the band’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist.

Explaining what people can expect to hear from THE NOD, Brett describes the band, “We’ve always tried to explain the music as the quirkiness of Cake, with the drive of The Strokes, meshed with the early Weezer guitar sound”, he says. “We’ve been told we’re poppy and accessible. The hook brings you back, as John Popper once said. Lyrically, I’ve listened to a ton of Cake and Barenaked Ladies, I work hard on lyrics but don’t want it to be too abstract. I’m not afraid of pop culture, and I despise cliche lyrics. For examples, how many times have we heard ‘save me from myself’? C’mon. It’s my ultimate goal to be interesting.”

The band got to be part of the grand Madison Halloween party tradition by being featured at 2009’s Freakfest which put them alongside major label names like THIRD EYE BLIND and CAGE THE ELEPHANT. As Brett explains, “It doesn’t feel any bigger than that in Madison. We got the late slot and the street was packed with hoodlums running around in Teletubby costumes and Frankenstein masks.” But the best part for him came the next day, “After that show”, he says, “as a songwriter it was the coolest thing, I went on Facebook and saw a couple people had our lyrics as their status. It makes you want to keep writing songs know that you know you have a couple of listeners out there.”

The band released their first EP last year but are already working on a new recording. As Brett describes, “With Shoddy Heart, we really wanted to clash sentimentality with sarcasm and poke fun at sappy love songs. It’s full of themes of love, selflessness, regret, and optimism. How you can’t rely on karma and have to learn from your past errors. With the new stuff, we’d like to go for a more gritty rock n’ roll sound with more of a sixties twang influence.”

As the band enters the post-college music scene, they’re also learning what it takes to promote yourself and your music in today’s music industry. “It becomes a challenge and a lot more work to keep a steady fan base. You have to reach out beyond the university to capture the young professionals and the college grads. But that’s always the challenge for everybody, to get out and do the marketing. 10% of being in a band is just playing the music if you want to get heard.  The other 90% is busting your ass and getting your name out there.. the toilets of College Library or sticking your stickers on State Street or Starbucks.”

Brett’s says that a good intro to THE NOD is probably their song, “The States”.

“[The States] is what we’re all about. It’s a driving alternative rock song. Our drummer is a heavy drummer. He made it kind of a hard song, but it’s definitely my favorite track to play.” Going back to his goal of not wanting to be too abstract, Brett continues, “Our most abstract song might be ‘Shoddy Heart’. It’s a song that could use a little explaining. Traveling in Buenos Aires, I met an Aussie guy who was always traveling and refused to let anyone slow him down. I wrote the song on the way flight home. The sooner you hold onto something, the sooner it stings.” He laughs as he continues, ”The other thing I learned there was about the danger of soccer, a game down there is easily the most dangerous thing I’ve ever attended.”

The show on March 12th ath The Pub will be a celebration of Newski’s launch of Yes Please Media, a web-based service that will help local bands maximize their online presence. Opening the show will be Madison rockers, Meteorade and The Choons. Brett describes their live show as “We get up there and you can tell we’re having a good time. We have a PBR with the fans.” The show is free and if you want to check out THE NOD before the show, their original EP, Shoddy Heart, is available from their website for free.

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