While of side of the country braves the eye of Irene, people on the west coast sizzle like a Denny’s Skillet. Nick Chamian and I were merely a pair of bacon in the valley of Los Angeles last week. Our area codes, love of Lunchables and appreciation for Vans on the first day of school kept our conversation flowing as our signature smells became sweat…Gross? Well that’s reality. And even more realistic was the honesty one could hear every time Nick’s voice came through the phone lines and spoke about his band, The Young Rapscallions.
Chamain handles the guitars for The Young Rapscallions. And along with his longtime friends, Taylor Messersmith (bass), Jonathan Sanders (vox) and Chris Mintz-Plasse (drums), these four BFFs have been letting their Rock vibes marinate in LA for about a year and are looking forward to branching out in the coming months with a new music in LP and EP formation.
The heat must’ve slowed Nick down because I was able to catch him amidst his filled calendar of band duties, teaching music and some schooling. The verbal back and forth that came about in our time together was filled with a lot of music, and when I say a lot…I’m not exaggerating. Nick is music man 24/7. But in between harmonies and melodies, we squeezed in me trying to convince him and the other guys to get peach tree tattoos, how they handle Chris’ movie career (thought that name was familiar didn’t you?) and the only reasons venues can ever really suck (okay that one’s music related, but Nick’s a musical fellow).
Kendra: When did you guys go from a garage band to a quote unquote, real band?
Nick Chamian: It’s been something we’ve done for about four years now and really within the last year started talking it really seriously. I was playing bass in a band called The Harm for like four years as well and that was my main project and due to internal conflicts or whatever, the band is kind of no more and when that happened I was playing bass in that and I never really considered myself to be a guitar player but when it happened it was like I kind of reassessed everything and just like told the guys in the band (who are not The Young Rapscallions) let’s make this kind of happen for us and just work at it and make it our main thing. Everyone was kind of on the same page, so ever since then we’ve just been playing a lot and we’re in the process of releasing our CD later in September and a new EP. I say within the past year or so we’ve been attacking it hard..
Kendra: You all have a way more mature sound than I expected because of how young you guys are I immediately assumed it was another pop punk, Blink 182 like band, but that wasn’t the case. And correct me if I’m wrong but do I hear some Chili Pepper, Suicidal Tendencies, Soundgarden influences in The Young Rapscallions sound?
Nick: I love the Suicidal Tendencies reference; I’ve never heard that before. For me a lot of the stuff, I mean you’re right on with the Chili Peppers. John Frusciante is my favorite musician as far as what he does with a guitar, his solo project as well is just to me, is my favorite thing, so you’re right on the board with that. And the punk stuff, I mean the first kind of bands I played with were like that. All of us like different types of music and I just like writing interesting things. I hate bands where you go to see a show and every song sounds the same and everything’s in the same key and tempo. You kind of get tired of it, so I always like to challenge us so that whatever song we write is that much drastically different than the next song we’re going to write. Keeping it interesting not only for the listeners, but for us and make us write more difficult, well not so much difficult but different songs.
Kendra: You succeeded on the different aspect because the songs you’re so graciously shared over on your Facebook all reminded me of different styles and other musicians, and it was “Frankenstein’s Daughter” was the one that reminded me of Suicidal Tendencies.
Nick: Yeah, because the first band I played in was a punk band so I’ve always had a nostalgic place in my heart for fast, heavy music and I’ll always kind of pay homage to that.
Kendra: Besides John Frusciante, punk and other musicians, what are some not so obvious inspirations behind your guys sound?
Nick: I think that what’s awesome is that we’re all best friends and I’ve known Chris and Taylor since we were in middle school together. I’ve known Jon since freshmen year of high school. We’ve all known each other for so long that the writing process and contribution of the songs is all free flowing. There’s not one guy saying, this is the direction we’re going to take this in. It’s not one person’s voice, it’s four different people. I wish I could say I lived the life of, I’m actually fortunate to have lived a very comfortable life, so I can’t write lyrics or melodies about hardships I’ve struggled through and God Bless the people who have had those problems and struggles and overcome it through music. And you know I respect that but when it comes to writing I just like playing what I would want to hear is pretty much is all I can say about that.
Kendra: Do you ever find it hard to write because you didn’t go through those hardships? Troubles with society, not fitting in, that outsider point of view that you said you didn’t have, do you kind wish you did to have more to write about?
Nick: I think that it’s funny I was with Jon and Taylor yesterday and we were writing lyrics all together which we’ll sometimes do and we were trying to talk about what this song was about and Jon said something like, not the problems of the world…Rage Against The Machine has this way of writing lyrics that just hit you so hard and they make you feel so passionate about what he’s singing about. But then there are guys out there who are trying to do that. They’re trying to immolate that. I don’t want our band to do that; to try and be something that we’re not. So if we write a song about chemtrails in the sky. That’s something we talk about. If you research it there’s a whole government conspiracy about it. So we just write about things we talk about stuff, that interests us. I don’t want to try and lie to people and say we’re something that we’re not. Like how you see us dressed in our pictures is how we dress in real life. We’re not really pretending to be anything that we’re not.
Kendra: So you’re all musical based, that’s cool. But now, let’s go back to school for a second. If you had to describe Everything Vibrates as a back to school supply, which would you choose and why?
Nick: I would describe it as a CD you would put in your backpack and after school and you were like, shit today sucked and I just want to relax, so you can pull our CD out and just listen to it. So it’s not really a school supply but it’s…Does that make sense? Or our music is like lunch; a nice break from what you’re doing and lunch again, is not a school supply.
Kendra: Back to music. How do you guys execute taking the music from the studio to the stage? Because some bands are so amazing on CD and then you see them live and it’s like…well I should’ve just stayed home and listened there.
Nick: That’s one of the worst things. The sign of a good band is not necessarily being able to immolate an album at a show, but being able to be just as good. If you look at a band like Radiohead whose latest album is such a great piece of music and they just released a live version of it, and the live version sounds just as good as the other album. If listening to our album is one experience and seeing us live in another, but they’re equally as pleasing to the listener then that’s good. All our songs are written in that live mentality. What you hear live is how we wrote it. I think it’s just doing justice to both aspects of music; the live and the recorded.
Kendra: Being a LA native you’ve probably been to many of the venues and as a musician you’ve played some of them of them as well. But what’s your favorite venue to go to as a fan VS. to play?
Nick: Oh man, I’ve been to some amazing venues and I’ve seen some great shows at the Hollywood Bowl, The Wiltern is one of my favorites. And in a perfect world I aspire to play those places in my life. But as far as some of the places we’ve played at I really, really love The Roxy the main stage and On The Rox upstairs. The Viper Room always treats us well. All those places on Sunset. We’ve played a place called Saint Rockes in Hermosa Beach that was a lot of fun. We just played a venue called Amplyfi and it’s owned by like a 19 year old girl, at least that’s what it says on the website. The place was awesome. It was some random place in an alley. I really enjoy every venue unless there’s staff whose total asshole or the sound sucks. Luckily we haven’t had too many venues like that. The few venues we have played like that have been outside of LA, so I’ll leave them nameless. Every place we’ve played have been awesome and that goes with places I’ve seen shows too. I just love being and playing anywhere.
Kendra: I was just going to ask about playing outside California because you have The Peachtree Music Festival coming up. You looking forward to that?
Nick: I’m excited. It’s cool because it’s the first Peachtree Festival and our first festival. I’m just looking forward to that whole experience. Playing on a music festival with a bunch of other bands, and just music all day through the night; a full day of awesome musicness and people hanging out enjoying it.
Kendra: Now does it ever get difficult balancing out the band and Chris’ other commitments?
Nick: From time to time it might, as far as we might not be able to play a specific show if he has to do something. But generally it hasn’t been a problem. We’ve had a good track so far and Chris is super committed to the band. It’s just as important to him as his film career. So luckily as far as now there hasn’t been a time where he’s like, hey guys I’m going to Australia for two years. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet.
Kendra: Unless he gets Lord of the Rings thing…
Nick: Well that’s all over but The Hobbi’st coming out. I would love it if he was in that. That’d be fucking awesome!
Kendra: I know that Chris gets asked in every interview about the whole “McLovin” thing and if it bothers him and he says it doesn’t, but has that crossed over to you all being the “McLovin” band at all?
Nick: There’s people who would notice him at a show and that’s all they see and that’s fine because some people are just like that. Then there’s some people who come see us because of him and actually like the music. Then there’s some people who just don’t care regardless and just like the music. You know I can’t say one person is better than the other. To me Chris is just my friend I’ve known since I was twelve, playing music together for years upon years. It might bother me for like a split second but in the grand scheme of it, but I can’t let it really bother me.
Kendra: You’re in LA and there’s a million and one bands out here trying to “make it.” So in this sea of bands how do The Young Rapscallions try and stand out among the crowd?
Nick: I don’t think we try and stand out in any specific way. There’s so much good music in the world and it’s like from every genre from hip hop to punk to soul and I think as long you do what you do and stay true to your style and what you like, there’s an audience for you because there’s an audience for everything. I just want to write like we write and play like we play and do what we do and if people like it then they’ll gravitate towards it and if they don’t there’s other albums and bands out there for them to listen to. There’s nothing bad about it because there’s so much music in the world some people are going to go that direction and some are going to go the other.
Kendra: I usually ask this of individuals about the impression they want to leave behind because it’s a personal belief that there’s no point in living if you don’t leave an impression. But I want to ask what impression you’d like The Young Rapscallions to leave behind?
Nick: All I can hope musically…it’s hard to say because I’m still learning so much about music. The voice that I want to show, and the band wants to show to the world. I guess any bands’ goal is to try and do something different and offer something different to the world of music. So if we can just make some songs that people can look back on and say, I really like that song, that’s my favorite song, then I’m happy. I think it’s ridiculous for any band to be like, we’re going to be the next Beatles and we’re going to change the way people listen to music. Most of those bands fail miserably. I think if you do what you like and play music you enjoy and don’t really compromise it, that’s going to leave and impression. I notice that when I go see bands; like these guys aren’t trying to be anything they aren’t. They’re playing what they like and I really gravitate towards people who you can see their passion. Those are the kinds of people who are doing something creatively because they’re trying to. You can see what they love about music.
Kendra: A couple more and then I’ll let you on your way in this heat. What’s up for the rest of 2011 and even 2012 if you have it planned yet?
Nick: Like I said we’re releasing our album, Everything Vibrates September 24th. Our CD release show’s at the Foundation Room at the House Of Blues. After that we are, we’re in the process of recording a five song EP. Not titled yet, but you can look for that probably late November, early December, and that’s a new batch of five songs. And playing a a lot more shows, hopefully some extensive touring. For 2012 we’re looking to tour, so look for us around the country. We’ve done California, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, and we’ve gone up to Washington and we’re going to Atlanta, so I think expanding where we play, showing our stuff to more people, that’s the plan.
Kendra: Last one, I like for people to make me mixtapes so the mixtape I want you to make is a play on your guys name. I want you to make me a mixtape that’s your top five songs that will forever make you feel young.
Nick: Definitely “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin. Also, [Nick goes on a search through his iTunes] Well let me think of another song…I would definitely say that a song that makes me feel young, definitely Fleet Foxes “He Doesn’t Know Why.” That makes me feel like a little child running through a forest. Let’s see…what’s a great Yes song? It’s called… [continues the iTunes search]…it’s called “I’ve Seen All Good People.” That’s three, okay, I’m going to give you a John Frusciante song since that’s popped up so much. It’s called “Interior Two.” And one more song, one more song that makes me feel young, like a little child? I love “Soft” by Kings of Leon. The first two remind me of my youth and the other three just make me feel good.
Originally published on August 29, 2011