At Capacity

Nostranders release debut EP 'Nostranders' (interview)

Words: Shauna Hilferty // Photo: Marlee Bell

Calling all indie-rock, basement band lovers - this one’s for you. Introducing New York City-based trio, Nostranders. Their debut self-titled EP Nostranders dropped on Friday and they can’t wait for you to listen. Drawing inspiration from the likes of The Smiths and Joy Division, Nostranders leaves you wanting to listen to more with every guitar riff, bassline, and drum hit. 

I had the opportunity to chat with the band for At Capacity Zine to find out more about them, their writing and recording process, and what’s in store for them in 2021. 

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to chat with At Capacity Zine! 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourselves!

Lyle: I’m Lyle, I’m the drummer in the band. I started playing drums in the third grade through the orchestra, where you choose your instrument and I fell in love with it through there. It’s been something I’ve been doing my whole life and I’ve played in all sorts of different bands and all sorts of different types of music. But I’m super excited to be in a real group again. 

Christian: I’m Christian, I’m originally from Georgia. I moved to New York in August of 2019. I had this craze to play music to play music my whole life ever since I was twelve years old. I've been playing guitar. It’s not really happening for me where I’m from in Georgia so I’ll move out here and see what’s going on. Things have kind of been on an upward spike ever since I moved here. I’m primarily a guitar player but now I’m like a bass player and the lead singer. Anything that allows me to jam and get the message across. 

Jeff: I’m Jeff, I play guitar in the band. I’m super new to my instrument but I’m such a music lover it’s something that’s changed my life and I’ve been passionate about it. So I started playing pretty late, only playing for three and a half to four years. I’m originally from Denver, I moved here to New York three years ago. I moved here doing other stuff and met Christian. My teacher kind of forced me to join a band. He said “I’m going to stop teaching you lessons for free if you don’t go do a show or join a band.” So I put out this Craigslist ad and I met Chrisitan. And I could barely play my instrument and now, here we are. 

2. Where did the three of you meet? And when you did, how long did it take you to form the band? 

C: I was in a project - another guy’s solo project. I’d been working with him off and on for a couple months and I met Lyle through that. And I was like “Wow this guy can play drums!” 

L: It was kind of funny, like Christian said, we were working with this other guy and Christian asked me, “Oh I’m working on this other project, you want to come with?” And the minute I jammed with Jeff for the first time and all three of us together, the chemistry was just going crazy and we sounded great. This is it man! We went off running from there. We were clicking on a personal level and on a musical level too. From the very first jam session we ever had we were like “This is it.” 

3. Where did the name Nostranders originate from? What is its significance? 

J: So I live right off of Nostrand Ave and I’ve lived in this apartment ever since I moved to New York City. So I met Christian and we were coming up with band names and I said “What about naming the band Nostrand Ave?” and he said “What about Nostranders?” And so we kept the name the whole time. 

4. What was the moment you knew music was something you wanted to pursue, even if just for fun?

J: I didn’t pick up an instrument until late, but it was something that was very close to me and I knew I would always have music in. I grew up on all kinds of different genres, like rap and folk and also stuff that these guys like. Where we connect is the post-punk stuff. For me, I’ve always been drawn to it and I had music inside me. I was so eager to do it. I had seen somebody in my own life pursue music at a young age and do well with it. So that’s my lifetime idol. Seeing somebody close to me do that made me realize it’s something I want to do. 

L: I started in a school band and in third grade. Until you get to high school, school band is just cringey throughout cause it sounds bad, tastes bad, smells bad. When I first started, I actually chose saxophone and I didn’t get it cause some of the other kids did. So I got the drums and I was kind of pissed but then the minute I started playing it and my first teacher taught me to play something that actually sounded like something and I played it, I was like “Oh, I just made that! I just did that!” It clicked right there. I started playing drum set in middle school and that opened a whole new universe of this thing that I already really liked so I was just on it from there. 

C: As long as I can remember I’ve liked movies and music and writing and different artistic mediums that can go in any kind of direction that you want them to. At 11, my stepdad gave me a junk guitar. He said “If you learn to play this I’ll get you a good one.” He didn’t think I would. I would just sit there listening to things, teaching myself by ear. And then when it’s all coming together, this is kind of what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is so satisfying. No one has to be here. It just feels right to do it on your own. But it’s even better when you’re doing it with people. Music’s it for me. 

Photo: Sam Lopez 

5. How has the pandemic affected (if at all) the collaborative and songwriting process?

L: It’s been tough - I live right now at home in New Hampshire. That’s been a little bit tough to deal with. I feel no pressure. Sometimes when you’re in a band, you can feel like you’re being excluded from some of the process of what’s going on but I think the three of us, regardless of distance, we’re always communicating about everything so that’s great! 

J: The pandemic’s been crazy cause it made this version of the band. It wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic but also Lyle’s commuting and I didn’t even think about the fact that we aren’t able to play shows right now. Now we can really honne our craft in. 

C: It’s a definite silver lining that we have this time to keep building the chemistry so that we’ll be fresh out the gate whenever gigs are open.

6. What has been the most rewarding part about writing the EP? The most challenging?

C: I think the most rewarding part has been seeing something that started as jams and ideas that weren’t completely developed come to life. It’s been tough mixing and mastering this while we were apart. Our communication really shined through on that and we were able to get it done in good time anyways. 

L: Totally wanna echo what Christian said about something coming to life. I blows my mind every time we run through one of our songs that that’s our song. We made that. The way we recorded we did every part and every instrument at a time and that was just hard to sync everything up. 

J: It was cool having an idea from summer or whatever and bringing a certain idea in that ended up making it on. Then I get with Christian and all of a sudden we come up with a change for it and we have a whole song. Then Lyle jumps on it and makes it even better with stuff that I hadn’t even thought of putting on there. Watching stuff come to life was super cool! Challenges were trying to record ourselves. We were just a little cut on time. Working with these guys makes any idea I had so much better. They bring out the best for sure.

7. What other musical artists or bands did you turn to for inspiration while writing the EP? 

J: We have all been sharing songs. We have this one playlist with Joy Division and New Order - that’s a huge one. Just a lot of that style of music. I’ve specifically been listening to a lot of stuff that’s bass-driven, where some of the bands have the bass player is playing really intricate riffs. Cause Christian is a hell of a guitar player so he does that. I kind of keep it simple on the guitar and I feel like we listen to a lot of bands that do that sort of stuff. 

C: As a three-piece, we’re just trying to make as big of a sound as possible. So we pick ideas from these bands that did more with less. 

8. What is something that you want your listeners to take away from your music?

C: I want them to be open to interpretation and to hit people in a certain nerve. It can mean whatever they want it to mean.

J: At some point, in our journey of making music I want to be able to do what many artists did for me, which is mainly just to feel like somebody gets you. You listen to these songs and it feels like somebody is speaking for you and you’re like “I couldn’t have said this better myself!” Not even just lyrically, but just a feeling you get from a song where you’re like “Holy shit.”

L: I hope that a music lover can hear the elements where we’re really showcasing our stuff a little bit. But I also hope the same way that someone who doesn’t really know much about music but still loves music can just listen to it and jam regardless of the intricacies. 

9. What are your top three favorite songs right now?

L: 1) Caravan by Duke Ellington 2) Title Track by Machine Gun Kelly 3) Circle the drain by Soccer Mommy

J: 1) Days by The Drums 2) Bloody Valentine by Machine Gun Kelly 3) It Ain’t Easy by 2pac

C: 1) Shadowplay by Joy Division 2) Break my Body by Pixies 3) This Velvet Glove by Red Hot Chili Peppers 

10. How have you been keeping busy when not writing music or jamming?

J: Going to work, spitballing new ideas, listening to a lot of music or “playing the shit out of my guitar. By myself.” 

11. What is in store for Nostranders for this upcoming year?

Our EP today! And hopefully another full-length song. It’s pandemic-dependent right. Hopefully we can pack up and hit the road and play some shows. Hopefully live shows are on the agenda. And definitely merch!  

Check out the Nostranders' EP below!!

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