MARCH 21, 2018

http://www.rockwired.com/ForgetMeNotsCD.jpghttp://www.rockwired.com/CapitalTTimes.jpghe combining of hip-hop with the raucous stylings of heavy metal is a an old recipe that goes back to the days when rap was something you only heard on the streets as opposed to every facet of American life. This hybridization first became popular when RUN DMC teamed up with AEROSMITH for the hip-hop retelling of the latter's freak flag classic rock staple WALK THIS WAY and reached it's zenith in the late nineties/early 2000s with bands such as LIMP BIZKIT and LINKIN PARK. Despite the fact that this type of fusion is absent from the charts these days, WE ARE BAND NERDS has no probablem dusting the genre off for their new album FORGET-ME-NOTS (PAVEMENT ENTERTAINMENT) but what makes this new release so exciting is that the ...NERDS' approach isn't the same ole' same ole'. Their musical arsenal is a considerable one with jazz and electronic elements and lyrics and rhymes that examine middle class minority life and the highs, lows, and hopes and dreams that go with it. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with rapper/vocalist TONY LUCAS regarding the band's new release. Here is how the interview went.

FORGET-ME-NOTS is a fantastic album and it truly comes off as a band that has been around for quite a while. There is a knowingness to the music. Now that the album is almost out there for people to get a listen to, how do you feel about the finished work?

I'm very proud of it. We have come a long way. We've been together for a while as a band in one version or another. The BAND NERDS brand has been together for almost a decade. We started out as a production company producing for other artists and eventually BRANDON CROSS - who is now our lead singer - wanted to start incorporating instruments into what we were doing and become more of a band so we transitioned from producing artists to becoming this neo-soul hip-hop band and then transitioning to adding rock into our music and then into a hard rock nu metal sound and that is what we are today.


So you guys evolved from a band to being a full-on band.

Over the years how have people responded to all of these changes to your music?
Whenever we started incorporating more hard rock and metal elements into what we were doing with our hip hop music people started to respond very positively to what we were doing. I'm not completely sure for what reason but as soon as we started doing that, people responded to the music very well because it's not something you hear a lot of anymore. It was something that was very popular in the past. Currently, you've got some people out there making that kind of music but they don't approach it in the same way that we do and they don't have the background that we have  in rapping and hip hop and stuff like that. We approach this music very differently and because of that we've gotten some positive responses.

Given your background in production was the production of this album all an inside job or was someone else sitting behind the recording console?
J.P. PAINTER from here in Dallas has recorded artists like ERYKAH BADU and GEORGE CLINTON of FUNKADELICS and PARLIAMENT. He was handling the mixing and the mastering but BRANDON CROSS and I write the songs and everything. J.P. recorded us at this place called THE KITCHEN here in Dallas.


So far, have there been any reactions to this album that have surprised you or that you didn't see coming?
Not yet. The thing is the album isn't actually out yet. It comes out tomorrow but we've been getting reviews and they've been very positive. Every review I've gotten has been a  good one so people are responding very well to it. I'm really thankful for that.

Talk about the other members of the band and what it is that you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work?
I'll start off with our drummer STEPHEN "S DOT" BONILLA. He brings a metal element to our music. So does our bass player SANTOS "SANDMAN" JOHNSON.  They both bring the metal element to our music. Our guitarist DORIAN "SCULLIE" THOMAS does as well but his background is more versed in R&B so his playing style is a little different from your average rock metal guitarist. CARLOS "DJ SOL*LOS" JUAREZ is our DJ and his background is mainly hip hop but he loves all different types of music and he is always up-to-date on the newest stuff. He, myself and BRANDON - the lead singer - bring the hip hop element to what everybody else is doing. It's that combination of different backgrounds and styles is what makes us unique.


With all of the bcahnges that this unit has seen over the years, who has been with the band the longest?
Me and BRANDON have been with this thing the longest and then the guitarist. After us was the DJ and the most recent additions have been the bass player and the drummer. Those two have been with us for about two years now.

In listening to you, it sounds like you and CROSS are the creative nucleus of WE ARE BAND NERDS. How does the songwriting get handled between the two of you? Or within the band in general?
How it works is CROSS will come up with some lead guitar riffs and drum patterns and stuff like that. He'll lay it all down and come at me for ideas and I'll add a lot of the atmospheric parts to it with synthesizers and pads and stuff like that in order to flesh out the song. Once the song is produced we will come up with an idea for the song or a concept. This is where we truly collaborate. BRANDON CROSS is pretty much the captain of the boat  with respect to the production. He'll have a song idea in his head  and he'll have an entire song laid out and I'll add my two cents in there. A lot of times all I've got to do is rap. It all really depends on the song that we're working on. Sometimes the other band members will come in with some ideas of their own. Our bass player might come in and alter and change the bassline of the song or have his own idea for a song and stuff like that. That's more or less the creative process for us.


And before the establishment of WE ARE BAND NERDS, what was your musical background?
I've been rapping since I was fifteen. I started out producing, making beats for people and rapping.  That was what I first started out doing. That's kind of a lie - I actually started out beatboxing back when I was fourteen. I would beatbox along to people who were rapping when were  at lunch in school. That was what we used to do. The transition from that lead me to want to rap myself and produce music. I got into producing hip hop beats  and in doing that I would end sampling form records and stuff like that from all different types of music so I've grown to love all kinds of music. When I got linked up with CROSS, he introduced me to rock. I had listened to rock but no one had ever introduced me to it before and none of my friends growing up had ever listened to it. Because of that, I wasn't really exposed to it. Once I was exposed to it I immediately fell in love with it and I found out that there have been bands that have mixed both rock and hip hop togehter and I was immediately hooked. Whenever I would perform onstage as a rapper I wold always be energetic and then I found out that there were people who were doing that long before me. After that, I was hooked.

And what bands specifically got you excited about rock music?
When I first got into rock, my favorite style of it was grunge and then stuff form some earlier bands like LED ZEPPELIN and BLACK SABBATH. When I got into newer stuff I got into bands like FAITH NO MORE KORN and LIMP BIZKIT LINKIN PARK and COLDCHAMBER. That was what got me inspired to do the music that we're doing now.

And with the release of FORGET-ME-NOTS, what songs off of it have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
I'm most excited to get people to hear our song SAVAGE. It's just a mean song and I think it has an infectious guitar riff and the transitions between each part of the song is pretty interesting. I think it'll throw people off a little bit in how it's arranged but it's also very catchy.  I can't wait for people ot hear it .

Have there been any opportunities to perform these new songs in front of a live audience?
There will be soon. We're going to start playing some of the songs off of the album in our next show which will be happeing at SXSW in Austin. It also looks like we're going to be touring very soon as well. I'm really looking forward to that.

Describe the band's relationship with PAVEMENT ENTERTAINMENT? How have they been as a label for you guys?
It's going great. They've  been really good to us. They've been helping to mold us. Artist development is what they've been doing with us and we've been enjoying it. We're very anxious to be putting our album out but they've been behind the scenes working ot get our names out there helping us build onto the fanbase that we already have and they've been giving us a lot of opportunities.

"Artist development" isn't something you hear about within the music industry anymore.
I think it only exists with boutique and indie labels. With major labels you've already got to have your cake and the icing as well and they're not going to waste anytime with artist development.

And with FORGET-ME-NOTS, what is the big idea? What would you like for people to come away with after they hear the album?
I'd like for them to enjoy it. That's the main thing but ultimately I want them to open up their eyes to new possibilities. It may be something that they've heard before but they've never heard it done in this way and hopefully they fall in love with our band. We're really proud of this project. It's been a long time coming  that we've been able to release something in this way and my hope is that people really enjoy it. 


http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalB.jpgrian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com