Friday, October 23, 2009

Drummers of Next Big Nashville: Dan Epand of Nico Vega

A small crowd was gathered at the downtown Nashvegas club 12th and Porter...they'd already seen countless bands over the past few days and were showing some signs of exhaustion...cue Nico Vega...

Lights are low...ambient guitars start to come through...Aja walks out in a long dress and barefooted...and for the next 45 minutes they have the attention of everyone in the room. I keep trying to figure out at what point did they have me hooked...Was it the chanting intro of "Million Years"....was it when Aja jumped down from the stage and bumped my shoulder, pushing me aside as she "visited" her crowd...or maybe it was when Dan stood up screaming and proceeded to punch his cymbals...

And then I think,"Who cares?"

Who cares at what point I was hooked...point is, they had me. By far the most enjoyable show I saw at NBN. From start to finish Nico Vega showed Nashville why they deserved the accolades they've received. On a sidenote...shame on Nashville, which is notorious for their lack luster live crowds, for having such a poor turnout for their first time in town. I was equally impressed with the intensity of their show despite not having a huge audience. Nothing was left to chance...they left it all on stage.

If you don't have Nico Vega's album, you need it...go here to download the tunes. They've been on "Last Call w/ Carson Daly" and earlier this year they had a song featured in the movie "The Collector". We need more female singers like Aja in the rock world...heck, we just plain need more great bands like Nico Vega!

What's your background with the drums?

I had some great teachers growing up. NY drummer Joe Bonadio was a big insperation and really challenged me. I also studied with Keith Copeland, a great jazz drummer, who opened up a lotta doors. More than anything though, it's about putting in the time and doing the work. Also, listening to music and drummers who inspire you. I was lucky to be surrounded by some great musicians and other great drummers growing up. I learned alot from the guys I grew up with. It got competitive sometimes... In a good way

Traditional or Matched grip?

I use both. Depends on the style of music. With Nico Vega I generally use matched.

Favorite drummer?

John Bonham, Steve Gadd, Jim Keltner, Tony Williams, Ringo

Favorite band?

Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Jeff Buckley, Beatles

Do you have a consistent practice time outside of rehearsals?

I used to. Less regimented now. These days I spend most of my time just playing and touring. I used to split my practice time between drumset and reading on a practice pad. On the set, I spent a lot of time with Gary Chesters book "New Breed". Great for independance. For the hands I have about 40 snare drum books that I'd go through. I learned a lot about feel and texture from playing with James Brown and alot of jazz records.

Do you have a day job?

I have a friend who says make money when you can, not when you have to. I try to work as much as possible, but am just not home very often these days. There's a company called The Real Rock and Roll Movers in LA. The owner is a drummer and employs only musicians. Pretty rad. I'll usually give him a call when I'm home and have down time.

When you're on the road, what do you travel in?

We just bought a van. Still working on a name though. It's silver in case you have ideas.

Best part about being on tour?

Playing a show every night.

Worst part of being on tour?

Food. It's a real callenge to not eat crap all the time.

What sets your live show apart from others?

One of my favorite words in music is conviction and i've never been drawn to any artist who doesn't live or die with every note. I would say that we leave it all on the stage when we play, and hopefully the listener walks away having felt or released something as a result.

With the major labels struggling, do you feel it's more important for a band to focus on getting signed or focus on getting a significant buzz within a given group of people?

I think you should never focus on an outcome like getting signed. It really means nothing anyway these days. I know alot of other signed bands who have nothing going on. Make good music you believe in and people will react. You have no control over anything beyond that.

How much does chance play a part in the success of your band and how much of the success comes from sheer blood, sweat, and tears?

I would say we had to work for and earn everything that has come our way. There is chance maybe in the circumstances of 3 random people connecting and creating something so special... The chemistry feels so magical. But we put in the time as a band. Creating the music is the only part that has come easy.

Quote that you live by?

"he that's not busy being born is busy dying" Bob Dylan

Top photo by Zoran Orlic

And there you have it, the Drummers of Next Big Nashville...I really do hope you've enjoyed these interviews. And again, I want to say a huge "Thank You" to all of the great players and bands that took the time to share their experiences, passions, and music with us...


Andrew Hahn said...

Love this band, so much!

Audiyo said...

Yea, they're great...I loved 'em before the live show, but that took it to the next level for me...

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