With all the various shows happening over the weekend, one major little tidbit slipped by people: Laserfang returned to the stage! --- This past Friday, over at the Urban Lounge we got to see a reunited Laserfang play a full set to close out the packed evening, one of only two shows they have planned for 2011 as lead-singer/guitarist Shane Ashbridge pays SLC a visit. They'll be back to play Urban on Halloween night, but that's a different topic for a different post.
Today's post focuses on a different band interview, as the evening kicked off with our old friends in Palace Of Buddies, followed by the twelve-piece ensemble that is The No-Nation Orchestra. Headed up by lead singer (and one hell of a maraca-shaking dancer) Stephen Chai, the group took stage second and brought the crowd into the ultra-humid venue for a night of dancing. Today we chat with Chai about the band and other topics, along with photos of all three groups for you to check out in this gallery here.
The No-Nation Orchestra
Gavin: Hey, guys. First off, tell us a little about yourselves.
Stephen: We're not very good at talking about ourselves. This was a hard interview to do. Ha!
Gavin: What first got you each interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
Stephen: We all got into music fairly young, often coming from musical or musically encouraging families. Thanks, moms and dads! We each took our own paths, some starting with piano lessons and recitals, some starting with rock 'n' roll and guitar cabinets. Somehow we all ended up here.
Gavin: How did you all come together to form the No-Nation Orchestra?
Stephen: Weston and myself played in a Fugazi-esque group called "I Am Electric" years ago, before Stephen could legally get into bars. I Am Electric slowly evolved into Laserfang, where soon Josh Dickson joined on drums. When it was time to record Laserfang's LP, we went straight to Mike Sasich, who did an amazing job and ended up joining the group. Laserfang slowed down for bit and Stephen thought the timing was right to record some demos he'd been working on. Josh, Mike and Weston came in to help out with the recording. Initially, the idea was to make a studio-only project, but we we're happy enough with the recording that we decided to put together a proper band. We brought in some amazing musicians, started rehearsing, and that's where we're at right now.
Gavin: You each come from different bands with their own unique sound or style. How was it meshing all that together to create a band that sounds different from the rest?
Stephen: Fun. We've all got a love for a lot of similar things, whether or not any of our bands sounded like them. We have enough shared vocabulary that it fits together pretty easily, but yet our perspectives are different enough to keep it interesting.
Gavin: You've currently been working on a debut EP due out mid-September. What has it been like recording the album and what challenges have you met along the way?
Stephen: One of the more unique challenges was getting all the instruments recorded. In the studio, there were four of us. To pull it off live, we've put together a 12-piece group. First, we laid in the drums and bass, and then just built piece by piece after that. Guitars, keyboards, percussion, the horn section and vocals all had to be layered in one at a time. It was fun, and kept a lot of the individual studio "downtime" to a minimum, but definitely took a structured approach to get it all finished.
Gavin: You released the title-track “More More More” last month and gained some buzz off live performances. What's the initial reaction been like from people when they hear the set?
Stephen: We haven't played out too much yet, so we're not sure how the larger reaction will be. But, as we've played tracks for people, the reaction has been very positive. We hope it translates even more so live. Music gets fun when the audience and you are feeding off each other's energy. And we like fun.
Gavin: As of right now, you're not working with a label, local or otherwise. What made you decide to go the DIY route?
Stephen: We checked around at labels for a little bit, but thought it'd be tricky to land anything good without having played any shows or gained much buzz. So, we just started our own label, Nobaloney, which was named by lovely Terrence Warburton. Thanks, Terrence! Nabloney 001 will be released September 27th. We're excited.
Gavin: After the EP comes out, will you be looking to do a full-length album or another EP? Or will you simply play shows for a while?
Stephen: We've already started working on some new stuff and have a group of incredibly talented musicians, so new music is definitely on the forecast. Hopefully, another release finds it way out quickly and naturally and we can let the "when" and "how many songs" questions solve themselves.
Gavin: Are there any plans in the works to head out on a tour, or will you be sticking to Utah for now?
Stephen: We don't have much in the way of tour plans right now. We're still getting the wheels rolling and momentum established. It'd be fun, for sure. Final answer: TBD.
Gavin: Going statewide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Stephen: Salt Lake has some of the best musicians, coolest people, and raddest bands. It has its own pocket, which seems strangely aware of the larger music scene and disconnected from it at the same time.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Stephen: Not sure. Maybe Salt Lake likes to be its own secret.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
Stephen: Eagle Twin, The Rubes, Seven Feathers Rainwater, Palace of Buddies, Josh Payne Orchestra, Thunderfist and Night Sweats.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?
Stephen: 90.9 is the jam! That is all.
Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?
Stephen: Gonna pull a politician move, sidestep, and hop a soapbox for a second. The recording industry (but not necessarily musicians) needs to realize its models and practices are archaic and ill-suited to today's listeners and technology. Stop thinking of lobbying legislation as business model and criminalizing your fans. Start releasing good music.
Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of this year?
Stephen: Some fun live shows, new songs, and perhaps the beginnings of a new recording.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Stephen: One of Mike's other groups, Thunderfist, has an album coming out soon. I've heard a few of the songs. It will blow your socks off. Don't listen to it without socks. One of my other groups, Night Sweats, has a recording coming out soon-ish too. Prepare for some dark electronic moodiness.
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