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Interview with Nameless Friends
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
A non-exhaustive list of things that got us into music: cool parents with a Steppenwolf CD collection, cool parents who are musicians themselves, Green Day’s “American Idiot” on a fourth grade field trip, political unrest, and church.
At least a couple of us would be academics if it weren’t for music, so the world is really better off this way.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We’re big believers, and terrible practitioners, of rest. We love yoga, Dungeons and Dragons, Jennifer Coolidge, and video games, and we do a good chunk of that to keep ourselves rested and restored for the creative stuff. But we’re also obsessed with music, so we do all sorts of sound recording and production for other artists in our downtime and pretend it doesn’t count as work because it’s not technically band-related.
How long has your band been around?
A few of our members have been playing together since our wee school days. We got our act together enough to put out our first EP, Mezzanine, in 2018.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’ve been based out of London, Ontario for most of the band’s life, and it influences us to practice. The musicianship in this scene doesn’t mess around, and we can’t let the side down! We’re spending a lot of time down the 401 in Hamilton and the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] these days too, and that’s been a rad influence on our collaborations: we’ve made some music videos, both out and upcoming, that we’re really proud of, and it’s inspired us to get more ambitious with our sound.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The fine people of London, Ontario named our band. We started playing together at open mic nights in London while we were insecure music students, and we would introduce ourselves as “four nameless friends from Western [University]” so our classmates wouldn’t recognize us in case we were awful. It backfired spectacularly, strangers started recognizing us around town as ‘that nameless friends band’, so we figured at that point it was out of our hands. We’ve come to love the band name because it gives us the cover to just… invite our friends to play with us. A wonderful little collection of musicians have played in the band over the years, and it’s part of the thing now.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
We’ve had a few gigs that were special and galvanizing: Indie Week 2019 as a barely year-old band; Stranded Fest 2019, covering Queen and opening for The Flatliners at the sold-out Horseshoe Tavern (that one is available online as a pretty wicked live, visual album, Live At Stranded Fest); Deep River Summerfest 2022, our first festival headline for 3,000 people; London’s UNESCO Music City NYE 2022, our first hometown gig in the main outdoor park for 15,000 people.
Deep River was special to this album cycle, because it’s where we played our first single “7 Years of Blood” live for the first time. We introduced it sort of awkwardly, “Uh, this is a song about periods”, and the most unholy noise came out of the women + girls in the crowd. Not like a shrill ‘yeah!!’, like a rOAR. We still talk about the roar as a band, and it’s an ongoing goal to replicate it.
What is your favourite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Call the Office in London, rest in peace. Honourable mentions go to the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and Doors Pub in Hamilton.
As a Canadian band, we’re contractually obligated to say that we would love to play at Massey Hall one day. It’s also a band goal to play in Serbia, where one of our members is originally from. Any venue will do, barns included, it’s purely about the principle of the thing.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
See this is a nuanced question. If it’s about the show, Lilith Fair. Any lineup, any year, bring it on.
If it’s about the lineup, an aggressively Canadian festival including PUP, Jeremy Dutcher, Carly Rae Jepsen, and an open jam where completely unrelated musicians take turns fronting the Tragically Hip. Like Tom Waits does New Orleans is Sinking, followed by Lil Nas X with So Hard Done By, followed by the Heart sisters for Grace, Too. You see the vision???
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Don’t sign up to wrangle assholes. Lovely, professional people can always practice more and are a more stable, pleasant investment than talented bigots. You and your collaborators deserve to feel safe, supported, and respected by one another.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
It gets better, keep going.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
The one that went viral and made us lots and lots of money and an enviable balance of critical respect and notoriety. You, dear reader, have the power to decide which one that is.
Which songs are your favourite to play and which get requested the most?
We can’t pick favourite songs or the others get jealous, so we perform each one exactly as well as the others for diversity and inclusion purposes. Math is involved.
“Demons”, off our new album Blasphemy, has become a fast favourite of our mothers and crowds on tour: there’s a prog-metal organ solo and lyrics about religious trauma, it’s a surprisingly heart-warming time. “The Flood”, from our first EP Mezzanine is a much-requested oldie but goodie about depression, and it was on the City of Kingston’s hold music playlist for a year in 2022. “7 Years of Blood”, “Classic Protagonist”, “Need”, and “Bitter Man” are honourable mentions that you should come to a show to check out.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Our creative process is different for every song, though there’s a consistent chance that Number One will make up some weird suspension chords that everyone else will be obligated to learn. The second half of this question is best answered by our answer to the next question!
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
We write songs about the justice we would like to see in the world. Our new album is staunchly pro-choice, pro-queer rights, pro-women’s rights, anti-capitalist, and anti-fascist. We intend to keep making new albums about the world’s remaining, systemic oppressions and injustices until we run out, solve them, or both.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We’re only human, so we resolve our disagreements by skateboard jousting, just like everyone else.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
World domination and some sort of vinyl pre-order, not necessarily in that order. You should check out our new album Blasphemy, it just came out on May 19 and we’re touring to support it for the rest of this year.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Join our email list! It’s free and easy to sign up on our website (www.namelessfriends.ca), and we send exclusive updates, merch coupons, bonus downloads, and other fun stuff to subscribers. You can also find us on Facebook + Instagram + Tiktok @namelessfriends, and Twitter + Youtube @namelessfriendz.