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Alex, Gabe (NOPES)

Interview with Alex, Gabe from Nopes
by Paul Carr at 01 December 2016, 10:46 PM

San Francisco punk band NOPES has emerged as one of the most visceral, wildest and exciting punk bands in this or any other year. Their debut EP “Nectar of The Dogs” was a raw and raging beast that barely hinted at what these four guys were capable of. Their early promise has been fully realised on their debut full length album "Never Heard Of It". It smashes all expectations delivering a sensory overload of raging guitars, pummeling drums and ragged, intense vocals. Metal Temple chatted with the band about what it’s like to be a young touring punk band and what inspired them to write one of the punk albums of the year.

Music has always be primarily concerned with escapism. Starting a band is the ultimate way to escape from the drudgery of the day to day and just plug in and play. This is precisely the reason why NOPES first got together. “Music is just a fun way to deal with all the bullshit from our day job” Alex Petralia, NOPES singer explains. Understandably, balancing a job with the necessity of touring can lead to a few difficulties as drummer Gabe reveals, “I didn’t even tell my job I was going to leave!”. With that confession, the band probably won’t need to worry about finding such a balance in the future. Nevertheless, their commitment to making music has never waned. The band has existed in a few forms over the years as Gabe makes clear, "We’ve played music together in other bands for like 5 years now. This is like the third incarnation. We made MUDMOUTH about 5 years ago. Then we made UNSTRUNG but that didn’t last quite as long. Then we became NOPES."

For the band it is obvious why this incarnation is working better than the last two,

“We stopped caring! When we got together we just said who cares what it sounds like? Let’s just make something loud and fast. We stopped trying to please other people as much”. That mind-set meant that the band were in less of a mood to compromise and fit in with a ‘scene’ or adhere to current trends, “Our music isn’t as popular in the Bay area. There’s a lot more of an Indie Rock scene. Like a 90s NIRVANA thing. It’s ok but we kind of stopped caring so whatever.” With that in mind the band has adapted to a new way of writing. “In our old bands we would all just write a song and bring it into practice but every song we’ve made for this band has just been us at practice and we just make it in the short 2 hours we’ve got. I think that’s what makes it more fun is that everyone really has their own input. It gets a lot more refined like that.”

The new album "Never Heard Of It" marks a clear progression for the band. Whereas their early EP, "Nectar For The Dogs" saw the band trying to figure out what kind of band they wanted to be. "Never Heard Of It" is a much more surefooted and confident record. There’s a reckless abandon and heaviness to the music which has translated into more memorable hooks and insistent choruses that will embed them into your brain. As Gabe explains, “We feel we have a better idea of what we are trying to play. I think initially we were just happy to get a band back together. I feel we’ve developed a lot in the last year.”

"Never Heard Of It" is replete with the frustrations of living in an ever more homogenised city as more and more people are forced to live in the shadows of big corporations. Singer Alex found himself in just that situation and his personal lyrics reflect that. “I guess it’s all me. Living in San Francisco in the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places in the world and you have to work a shitty job just to pay rent there. So a lot of frustration just comes from dealing with that. A lot of tech companies, yuppies.” Inevitably, this has led to a raft of societal problems that Alex addresses on the album. Alex uses the example of the song “Corners” to explain:  “A lot of tech companies have taken over downtown and a lot of homeless people have been pushed into really compact areas. So where I work there are a lot of really high-out-of-their-mind meth heads, and there was one in particular who used to just follow me home every day for a good mile or two. I mean I thought that deserved a song. We see weird shit all the time. People shitting in the streets, looking in each other’s butt holes for drugs.”

NOPES live for playing live. Punk shows are all about connecting with the crowd. It also gave them a chance to see what style of music incites the best reaction. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the frenetic and hyperactive sound of the album was directly influenced by playing live. “We had a more Indie Rock like NIRVANA band before this but it wasn’t as fun. I like that kind of music but I don’t like playing it. Playing shows I think we’ve seen what works. Like really wild stuff. Heavier stuff which is way more fun too”. That said the band did mention one unexpected influence. “BRITNEY SPEARS, the early School-girl outfit period. I think we could compete with that!”

Thoughts are already turning for the follow-up album. “For the next one we are just going to build on a lot of themes from the last one. Make it more wild. More heavy stuff. Our time is pretty limited but we have some days off so we might try and jam some stuff out.” NOPES are clearly a band in it for the long haul. They’ve served their apprenticeships and they are committed to seeing just how far they can take it.  “We will carry on until somebody dies. Which will probably be Kevin (bassist). He’ll die from an infection in his fingers. They get red raw every night.” With dedication like that, this is a band worthy of your time.


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