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Interview with Nonstop To Cairo’s August “ASH” Harris (vocals,) and Nick Diamond (guitar/vocals).
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Nick - I had a love for music from a very early age. My father played in bands while I was growing up and they used to rehearse in our basement. I always found it so exciting. When we would see them play at a party, everyone would pay attention to them and be dancing and having a great time. I wanted to do that!! I got my first Electric guitar at 5 and was taught how to play the blues. Few years later my dad taught me how to use his 4 track and from that point on I was hooked with Writing Recording and performing as much as possible! The great thing is my dad knew well enough to give me the keys to the car and leave it up to me if I wanted to drive. There was never any pressure, only support, and That really helped nurture my love.
ASH - I used to rap when I was younger. Just always had music around me. At an early age it was soul and R&B, but when I got to hang out with my uncle, he put me on to an array of hip-hop. Notorious BIG, Big Pun, Wu Tang, and Outkast. Moving out to Long Island even further my influences my mother had an intrigue in new music. She used to come home with new cassette tapes from virgin megastore. From 311, smashing pumpkins, nirvana, and the cranberries. It opened my mind, and I always had a compulsion to discover new music throughout all genres. If I didn’t have music, I think I’ve would have fell into some kind of technology driven work because I’ve always liked the innovation within that field.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Nick - I really like to connect with nature as much as possible. Being out in the woods hiking or camping or out on the water is my favorite pastime. I feel like that connection allows me to be introspective and really slow things down. With the hustle of my normal routine, this really lets me reset and refocus. It’s amazing what taking an hour to watch the trees sway in the breeze can do for your psyche.
ASH - Fitness and exercise are throughout my schedule during the week. It gives me a chance to exercise my mind and my body. It gives me the opportunity to zone out be creative with my music as I play instrumentals in my headphones.
How long has your band been around? Also, please tell me about the dynamic of the band of what brought you all together.
Nick - Nonstop formed from the ashes of my metal band 30 pack Jack around 2007. We played for a couple years as a 3 piece. Then, in 2009 I suffered a major injury to my guitar fretting hand and even lost the tip of my middle finger. Not wanting to stop at the time we brought in a few new members to help as our sound was changing a little. I was back to playing fairly quickly, but it would be years before I was truly comfortable with my new situation. I basically had to completely relearn how to play.
One of the members that joined was August “ASH” Harris as a 2nd Vocalist/Frontman. and from that point forward we started down the path of becoming the Nonstop we were always meant to be. His ability to switch between hip-hop and singing brought us to the next level. Funky, Fierce, and true to our unique sound. Fast forward a few years and around 2015 Alex Turner joined the band on drums. We had never had such a dynamic player behind the set and he started to transform our good set of songs into truly great works. His playing really stands out as a storytelling element and unique voice of our tracks. Around 2017 we Brought in Kevin Itwaru on Trumpet and Keys. Kevin was a musical and in general genius and all-around great guy who wasn’t afraid to tell us what we needed to hear as an outside ear when it came to our songs. He would wow people with his ability to play both instruments at the same time. We unfortunately lost Kevin in 2020 right as we were beginning the process of recording KAI. He did bless us with one last gift though, when he introduced us to Ed Nevin, our current bass player. They had played in a band previously and Kevin thought he would be the perfect guy to replace our original. He was right as always. Ed came in and we all hit it off personally and musically. Eds playing is so funky and fresh and we bounce off each other so well. He’s also very dedicated to the craft of playing bass and keeps me striving to keep up with him! We’ve had some amazing players in and out through the years, but this current four-piece version is a force to be reckoned with!
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
Nick - We are based on Long Island NY, and I would say the biggest influence is just the hustle and grind of everyday life in NY has shaped who we are as people and musicians striving to achieve. We know there are no guarantees in life, so we must work hard to get what we want out of it. Over 20 years in the game and no sign of slowing down yet.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Nick - Ha-ha I’ll always leave this shrouded in some mystery. Let’s just say it involves the NY Rangers and LIRR more than anything else. Funny thing is over the years the Nonstop part of the name has really come to symbolize what we are and stand for. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs as a group together, but through it all we continue on Nonstop.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Nick - For me that would be our 2017 performance at the Sierra Nevada World Music Fest out in California. We were nervous because it was a true Reggae Fest with some of the biggest names in the business… I mean you’re talking Capleton, Barrington Levy, Third World. We had to perform as a four-piece without any horns and thought we would be too “Rock” sounding. It was also like 300 degrees that day ha-ha. Anyway, we absolutely crushed the set and everyone loved it and gave me the confidence that we could perform anywhere for anyone and bring down the house.
ASH - One of our most memorable shows has to be when we sold out the Paramount in Long Island with 2 other local bands. It was a site to see and to think we did it without a regional or national act just made the moment that much sweeter.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Nick - My favorite venue that we have played is probably Brooklyn Bowl. Something about the way that place is set up or the guys who run the sound. I never heard everything so clear and precise. I hear MSG is nice this time of year!!
ASH - My favorite venue to play was the Gramercy theatre in NYC. The environment was always top notch, and we had the opportunity to open for the legendary Fishbone. That made for such a great ambiance and experience. My dream venue to play would be Colorado’s red rocks amphitheater.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
NICK - This is an easy one. Nonstop to Cairo – Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lets Gooooooooooo!!
ASH - A line up I would absolutely love would have been Red Hot Chili Peppers, James brown and the famous flames, Spoon and Cage the elephant. That would be a dream for me.
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?
NICK - Just get out there and have fun, it can get serious when it needs to get serious. Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t work hard at your craft. But you’ll last longer in the game if it grows into to something you truly love doing and not just some goal your always trying to reach. To my younger self…. Get used to playing with earplugs you will thank me!!
ASH - From those kids out there just getting into music. Especially with a band, never limit yourself. Be open to everything that comes your way. New ideas can come from anywhere. As for the younger me, I would say to myself. Organization is the key to success, if you prepare correctly there is no challenge you cannot take on.
Of your songs on your upcoming album KAI which one means the most to you and why?
NICK - The song Not Today. It was written as a complete combined effort between a chord progression I had and a vocal line our drummer Alex had. It was the first time I had been involved in writing a song that way and it immediately had this depth to it. The message is strong and although I didn’t know it at the time. The idea to be ok with loving yourself, even if you don’t necessarily feel that you deserve it. That is a message I want to spread far and wide to as many people as will listen.
ASH - Personally T.I.A. is my favorite song on the album. It was the first we recorded to KAI. The energy it has with the horns is unmatched and it was also the last tune Kevin was able to record on before his passing. Hearing his horn playing means a lot to me.
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
Nick - I really love playing Pope Funk, One of the songs from KAI. I think it really stands out as Nonstop Unique and has such a power to it. Plus, anytime you can play a section in 13/8 time signature you have to do it. We definitely get a lot of requests for Not Allison and Chicken in my Oats 2 songs from our last album dabble heavy. They are really fun live tunes that get the crowd pumped.
ASH - I love playing Pope Funk and Don’t Fridge Ian. They are both very raw tunes and have a lot of energy to them. The response from the crowd is always positive when we play those. Requests seem to be for Not Allison, Intro and 9-5. It’s always nice seeing our fans ask for the older tunes because of great replay value.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Nock - Usually I will bring a riff or idea to the group and then we’ll start to hash things out. I’ll never call it a Nonstop song until the guys get their hands on it because that is when it truly begins to tell its story. We are so locked in with each other at this point that it doesn’t take us long to have a plan of where we want to go with an idea. Then we let it simmer until it’s time to get it down on tape.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Nick - Honestly, I never considered myself a big message guy in general. Not saying there never is but the thing I like to do the most is stay positive no matter the situation and always treat people with the utmost respect. I hope out of everything people listen to our music and feel like they can go out and kick the worlds ass!
ASH - Messages in our music coincide with moments people have in their lives. Perspectives are different but the main idea is that everyone goes through these challenges and feelings with life in general. We just bring those ideas and emotions forthright with the music. The plight of being human.
Talk to us about more about KAI, the songs, videos, etc. and what’s coming next that you would like to tell me and your listeners about?
Nick - Our CD release party will be April 29th at Dublin deck out in Patchogue NY and then streaming everywhere May 5th I really think the mix of songs will give the people exactly what they want from a Nonstop record. We hit a lot of different areas in the music, but it’s still unmistakably Nonstop. The videos for the 1st 2 singles are already up on YouTube and a 3rd video for Not Today filmed by BOX media will be out soon.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is also on the horizon for the band?
Nick - We are planning on getting back out on the road more in the upcoming year, so if you want to see us in your town, let us hear it!! We also already have 1 new track recorded and plan to keep pumping out new music at a much quicker rate so keep on the lookout.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Nick - Yes! We are all over Social Media, FB, Insta, TikTok. Just type in Nonstop To Cairo and you’ll find us easily.