'Yada, Nada, Yada!'
The Nadas consists of the singer/guitarist duo of Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith, as well as bassist Brett Nelson and drummer Tony Bohnenkamp. Beginning in the mid-'90s, they successfully maintained a strong fan base throughout their relentless touring and yearly release schedule.
In 2001, Playboy magazine called them the "Best College Band You've Never Heard Of," giving them a strong boost and increasing their value in the indie-intensive college radio market.
And just this past September the band released their sixth album, the highly-acclaimed Listen Through the Static on Authentic Records. Chatting recently with Jason Walsmith, I first wondered where the bands name had originated? "We sat around for weeks trying to come up with a name that "meant something," [but] we eventually settled for a name the meant "nothing" (in spanish)."
Was the new album always to be called 'Listen Through The Static' ... and what is that title in reference to exactly? "It was inspired by a time I was traveling from northwest Iowa to Des Moines. I was just meandering my way south and east, no real pre determined route. An hour or so into a 4 hour drive I picked up a college radio station that was playing some great tunes. One after another. I couldn't tell where the show was coming from so I found myself altering my course to try and keep the signal. I was listening through the static."
"Also, when I was in College I listened to a non-com station called KUNI. In the evening they have to lower their power and that is when they play the best music. I used to just go for drives out in the country and try to tune it in. This made me examine with the FM band almost completely full how hard you have to work to hear any sort of independent voice on the radio these days."
Tell us more about the album cover art and where that shot originated? "That is a shot from KFMG radio in des moines circa 1967-1971. I wasn't around for this incarnation of the station. The station was resurrected thanks to Ron Sorensen in the early 90's. KFMG of the 90's was one of the best AAA/Americana stations I have ever heard. Looking back I can credit that station with introducing me to some of my favorite artists that I still listen to today, and I can say that because of that station I was inspired to write and perform music. That station played some of our earliest and roughest recordings as well as welcomed us into the studio for live performance. Sadly KFMG was lost to a 100 year flood and deregulation and consolidation."
How exactly, in this day and age, does a band manage to sell over 75,000 CDs ... on their own independent record label?! "One disc at a time, one fan at a time, several titles over a dozen years. Do the math, it would be a miserable failure for a major label, but it has allowed us to do this for a living. We are still trying to figure it out. the industry is changing so rapidly. When released our first few titles there was no such thing as copying cds for your friends we would play a show for 200 people and sell 200 cds. If you wanted to here the record you had to buy one or make a cassette copy. Things have changed."
What makes The Nadas stand out as a musical entity from all the others trying to make the same kind of music? "Honestly, persistence. We aren't pushing any musical boundaries. We just write songs about things that affect us and are lucky that we have fans that identify with those songs."
When you play live, what feelings flow through you to see the crowd getting into your music and singing your lyrics? "It is more of an energy that comes from the crowd. It fuels that performance. I still get a huge adrenaline rush from 100 people. Last week we opened for Bon Jovi in front of about 17,000 people. I couldn't even handle the power of that audience. It was incredible. Besides that I really just hope that any given person in the audience hears one lyric or line and it brings back a memory or sparks an idea. That is what I hope for as an audience member when I go to a show."
Have you a funny (or inspirational!) story to tell of just one of your musical encounters among the many journey's that you have taken thus far? "For me part of the prize is the places we go and the people we meet. We have always to have supportive and generous fans, friends and families. I have recently become friends with a guy who is a great songwriter and an entertaining performer and just generally a good person. He has a dozen records to him name. He sells most of his CDs online and does a couple of tours a year. He plays a few shows a month in his own town of NYC."
"He also just happens to be the executive producer of MTV news. You never hear kurt loader say his name on the air, you never see a pillow fight scene on Laguna Beach with his song as a soundtrack. This is inspiring to me because it shows what it is really about. It's not about MTV which seems like the top of the food chain in entertainment, it is about playing and recording music for yourself and whoever else enjoys listening."
What cheesy '80s song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "What year was the J Giles band? I would like to cover "Centerfold". I recently rediscovered that record."
If there were just 3 words that described The Nadas' music, what would they be? "1-Rock 2-And 3-Roll."
If you were asked to record a single for charity, and had to choose 3 other known musicians to aid you in the project (none from your band!), who would they be, what instruments would they play, and what would the name of the NEW song be?! "Wow, I should have answered that question first!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "One of my favorite flightless birds, only slightly less entertaining than the polar bears!"
Thank you very much for doing this oday for us "Well, thank you so much for the interview. Hope I said something that made sense!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Nadas brand new CD, just answer this easy question: What album would I be describing of theirs with this song-strung sentence? 'COMING HOME to MY MONICA i begin to RUN IN PLACE before i reach DEBON'S DOOR.'
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before January 31st with your answer and the subject title 'NADAS SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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