Nada Surf Celebrate 20 Years With NYC Sold Out Homecoming
If you can pay rent with the money you make doing what you love, you're lucky as hell--and this isn't lost on the guys of Nada Surf, who are celebrating the two loud and fast decades they've spent together making that dream a reality. "We really love playing together," says lead singer Matthew Caws, calling in from someplace between Washington, D.C. and Columbus, OH. "It's corny and simple, but it's why we've never broken up and have been around for so long. It's because playing together is really fun for us. If there are more than 10 people who want to come see us, well, there you go. We'll do the show. And there's no reason to stop, as long as you can pay the rent and play as many shows as you need to in order to make that happen."
As their two shows at the Bowery Ballroom Friday and Saturday have long since sold out, it's plain to see that Nada Surf will carry on in the name of alternative rock long past year 20. After a year of touring consistently behind The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, their January release and the seventh record in their arsenal, Nada Surf will close out their final tour of 2012 with two sold-out nights at the Bowery Ballroom. The Bowery shows serve as a nostalgic return for the native New Yorkers, and Caws is proud of the fact that Nada Surf can contribute their demonstrated fervor to the musical fabric of the gritty city where they cut their chord-ripping teeth.
Congratulations on a successful 2012, and your 20th anniversary as a band! Did any monumental changes come along with celebrating such a big milestone?The biggest thing is the addition of Doug Gillard [of Guided By Voices]. The extra dimension of melody and harmony that Doug added from the moment he started playing with us has really grown this year. He helps bring the new songs to life just as he did on the album, but he has also rejuvenated all the old ones. His musicality is extraordinary. In real life I prefer bicycles, but musically it feels like we traded ours in for a motorcycle. I can't even imagine being a trio ever again. It feels completely organic. We feel whole now, you know? I enjoy shows much more now than I did at the beginning. When we started out, concerts felt like a math test or something--I'd keep my head down and try not to make any mistakes. Now, I'm kind of able to experience it in a normal way.
Take me through a typical night with Nada Surf. What's the experience like for you, between hitting the stage and heading out after the encore?
We always shoot out really fast, just to get those first few songs out of the way and really kind of land. With other jobs, if you were, a film director, if you managed to write a novel, any incredible vocation like that, you only get the premiere; if you write a book, you can do a book tour. But I think with music, it's unique in that you go out and do this whole thing that you've worked on--say, a new record--and you get to do it in front of a lot of people right away. You get this reaction and confirmation night after night after night, and we're really spoiled that way.
There's an opportunity for reinvention with that, in the sense that the songs may take on a different life once you've toured behind them a few times.
You know, that's happened less than any other time with The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, because the direction of this record was that we had gotten tired of that very thing you're describing. It's usually a good, but for us, it was sometimes a mixed thing because we would take the record on the road, and then all of a sudden it would be louder, faster and then we'd hear the record again and wonder if we'd taken it too far. This time, we thought, "You know, that happens with every record, let's make sure to make this one feel in the studio the way it does onstage." It's pretty close! We're playing these songs totally naturally, and they're exactly how we want to do them live.