Meet The Nickajack Men, the summer-appropriate five-piece bringing you sun-soaked Americana all the way from, ahem, Falkirk.
With their new EP, Wasting Away, the quartet blend country-tinged indie rock with sympathetic, nostalgic songwriting, and manage to uniquely channel the listlessness of feeling trapped in small-town life in the process. Springsteen would surely approve.
We catch up with the band to find out more about the new EP and what they have planned for next.
Can you introduce yourselves - who does what and what are your roles in the band?
“There are five of us now in the band. Jamie Burns (22) plays bass and rolls most joints, Matthew McAlister (22) plays drums for us, Matthew Boyle has recently joined to play keys and Michael Garner (19) and myself take up the writing, singing and guitar duties.”
What’s the story behind how you guys met and started making music together?
“Jamie, Matthew and myself have known each other since we were proper small. I grew up in the same street as Matthew then met Jamie at school. We all played in other bands as we were growing up. Mikey is a few years younger than us so he was kind of up to his own thing. Then I ended up at a party with Mikey through some other friends, seen him shred an acoustic guitar, and that was that. Jamie and I had planned to start something up so Mikey fitted in perfectly with what we were looking to do. It all started out as a more chilled out country-acoustic thing, but Matthew came along and we ended up with a much bigger sound. It was all pretty natural though, how we’ve got to here.”
What were your influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
“I’ve always been around music. I grew up listening to all sorts of different stuff but always really had something for country music and more modern country stuff, as well [as stuff] like Alabama Shakes and The War On Drugs. We all listen to different stuff, but also all love the kind of music were making.”
What’s the story behind the new EP?
“We pretty much had been playing every song on the EP live at our shows for a while, apart from Running, which came together in the middle of 2016. We decided before recording the EP that these were our strongest songs and we really wanted people to hear them.”
What drew you to the themes you cover on it?
“The main theme was escapism. Desperately trying to get away from a boring, mundane lifestyle: like working all year for a holiday that’s over in the blink of an eye and being stuck in the same job that you hate but you’ll never quit because you have a phone bill to pay and a car on finance. It’s something we all strongly relate to. This EP is sort of like a reflection of us getting away from it all.”
What do you hope people will take away from the EP and your music in general?
“At our shows, the songs have proved to get the audience going. So hopefully people listen to it and want to come to our gigs. There’s a nice blend of genres on the EP, so there could be a little something for everyone on it.”
How was the process of cutting your EP? Did it all go smoothly, or were there any hiccups?
“Nah there wasn’t really much [in the way of] hiccups. It felt like a smooth process. We had been playing the songs for a while and knew how we wanted them to sound. We had a blast recording the songs with Paul Mcinally from 45A side studios. Paul did a great job of producing the songs and had some class ideas that made the songs a lot better.”
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the EP?
“When Running was finally done, we were all sat in the studio thinking that this [was] what we’ve wanted to sound like for a while. It was satisfying and got us buzzing to release it.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
“2016 was a crazy year for us. That’s when the ball started to roll and we got better as band. We had a couple of sold out shows, one at King Tut’s in the July of that year and the other at Stereo. Both great nights, but the King Tut’s show was special because we did not expect it to sell out and it was the first time in a while we had played our song When The Winter Comes. We played it as our last song and the place went nuts.”
You’ve been awarded accolades such as Best Newcomers in 2015 and Best Single and Best Alternative/Indie Band 2016. How did that feel?
“We were real chuffed when we got those awards. We all really appreciate the recognition! Especially as it was from our hometown of Falkirk.”
What can people expect from your live shows?
“Some nice country ballads, choruses to belt your heart out to, guitar solos and potentially a few mosh pits.”
What do you have planned for next?
“We’re looking forward to supporting the view this weekend in Perth, also we have a show at King Tut’s on the 24th of June to celebrate the release of the EP which should be class. Its always a good time playing Tut’s.”
Wasting Away by The Nickajack Men is out now via NJM Records.