Words by Jasmine Bourgeois
Photo by adeleWinn | courtneyWhitloW
Anyone familiar with Nots — Memphis “nuevo no wavo” trio — knows that this is a band who aren’t afraid to play outside the box. Described as “dark, unpredictable, [and] liberating,”‘3’ is the band’s first major release since their sophomore album ‘Cosmetic’ in 2016, and the first album the band’s put out as a trio.
The album was largely recorded live. The chaotic improvisational energy is in harmony with the band’s incredible musicianship and interpersonal chemistry.
“Recording the main instrumental parts live… keeps us from going into a vortex about details that ultimately don’t matter instead of thinking about how the song sounds as a whole. And It definitely captures the energy and the sort of controlled chaos we like,” says Natalie.
This album is crazy good. All three are killer musicians, filling the album with piercing vocals, thrashing guitar riffs, and intense fills that are executed so seamlessly you almost miss them. Tom Tom talked to the band about their new album.
TTM: Can you guys introduce yourselves? Names, pronouns, instruments?
Charlotte Watson: she, drums
Natalie Hoffmann: she, guitar, synth, vocals
Meredith Lones: she, bass
TTM: Can you tell me more about how you guys started playing together?
Charlotte: I started playing music with Natalie when we were both still in college, probably around 2009. Nots formed in fall 2011. Natalie and I first met at a party hosted by mutual friends and hit it off. We mostly chatted about film but also connected on music we liked. At the time I think we just gushed about Phil Spector and Shangri-Las and how we wanted to start a band. I don’t clearly remember the first time we played music together but we’ve been rocking ever since then.
Natalie: Yessss we’re celebrating a decade of rocking!
Meredith: They had been playing together for a while and released the first record and then I joined when Madison moved away.
TTM: This is your first album in a couple years, and it’s your first album as a trio. Do you think your sound’s changed a lot since your last release?
Charlotte:I’m really proud of this new album. We took time off to focus on our personal lives and other projects and I think that really allowed us to come to new sonic conclusions together.
Natalie: I think so. At a certain point in the writing of this album we decided to completely lean into the idea of being a three instead of four piece band. There’s inherently more space to explore as a three piece and we went with it. It changed the way we write a bit and that brought out some new ideas and different directions to try.
Meredith: Our sound has definitely changed a bit. After becoming a trio we decided to embrace the empty space and let things be a little more minimal. We still sound like us, just with a different dynamic.
TTM: You’ve been playing together for a while now. In that time, what are some of your favorite shows you’ve played, and places you’ve been?
Charlotte: Favorite shows with Nots have to be Gonerfest 14 and 15 here in Memphis and Primavera Sound 2017 in Barcelona. I also really enjoyed playing shows with Quintron and Miss Pussycat on our tour with them back in 2015.
Meredith: Melbourne was one of my favorites. It’s full of amazing bands and great people.
Natalie: Primavera was incredible. And our west coast tour with Q & P was so much fun. I’m also a big fan of the NOTS beach tours we did a couple of years in row where we’d play a bunch of weird shows in Florida and then spend almost as many days as we spent touring vacationing in a cheap beachside motel. It was great, we need to do that again. Best way to tour!
TTM: I’ve seen you guys described as a lot of different things. “Weird punk”, “nuevo no wavo”, “feminist”, “all-girl punk”… How would you describe your style and sound?
Charlotte:Genres are hard. We are definitely a punk band but are not beholden to any particular punk sound. We all draw from a lot of different interests and influences musically and artistically and I feel as though staying true to ourselves leads us to a thoughtful result. Nuevo-No Wavo is certainly my favorite way we have been described even though I’m not exactly sure what it means…
Natalie: Genres can definitely feel stifling, but I do understand the need for them as a reference point. “All-girl” is not a genre though, and that gets old fast.
We don’t really get hung up on trying to fit into any certain category. Our influences are all over the place. Nuevo no wavo has always been my favorite description of us because it leaves the most room for interpretation and a healthy dose of “what does it mean??” And I like the “no wave” mentality when it comes to songwriting.
TTM: You recorded this album live, right? How much room did y’all leave for improvisation?
Charlotte: We tracked the majority of the record together but we also made a lot of split decisions in the process, which made things really exciting. We hadn’t played any of these songs live yet so that kept things really elastic. Since we hadn’t solidified these songs in a live setting, there was plenty of room to change it up if we wanted.
Meredith: We always record things live because it’s the best way for us to capture the energy of the song. We choose which take to use based on how it feels instead of which one is the most accurate, if that makes sense. There’s lots of room for improvisation when we record. Some of the songs on the record were finished in the studio actually.
Natalie: Recording the main instrumental parts live is great for all of the reasons mentioned above, and because it keeps us from going into a vortex about details that ultimately don’t matter instead of thinking about how the song sounds as a whole. And It definitely captures the energy and the sort of controlled chaos we like.
TTM: Favorite and least favorite potato chip?
Natalie: this is the best and only answer to any question about chips-
Charlotte: Funyuns are my favorite and least favorite chip.
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