In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that profiles a new Columbus band or artist each week.
This past Monday night, Columbus indie-pop act Nick D’ & the Believers practiced at Musicologie, a local music-instruction studio partly owned by guitarist and keyboardist for the band, Joseph Barker. The back-alley studio that the band is practicing in has a garage door that served as a massive see-through window into the band’s late-night session.
The practice came one day before the band performed at The Woodward Theater in Cincinnati and dropped the first single off its forthcoming EP. The song, “Crown,” is just as dynamic as any of the previous three projects the group has released, but it is layered much differently.
With a trio of three-song projects annually released by the band since 2013, this year’s yet-to-be-titled EP encapsulates the most experimental phase that Nick D’ & the Believers has gone through.
“We expect to kind of go on that journey every time we write something, create something; to just explore and see where the song takes us,” said Barker, a 2006 Ohio State graduate in strategic communications.
The band has already adapted to the most recent challenge when it added members Seth Bain on bass and drummer Corey Webb a week ago. During the aforementioned practice session, guitarist Kerry Henderson met Bain for the first time, there was synergy in the room as the band ran through “Crown” hours before it became available to the world.
As for Webb’s connection with lead vocalist Nick D’Andrea, Henderson and Barker, it stems from live shows the trio previously performed with the drummer’s elastic backing. For purposes of enhancing the live experience, Nick D’ & the Believers recently decided to recruit Bain and the bandmate-named “dangerous” Webb.
“We really wanted to start getting the sound of our records live, and playing as a three-piece, which we did at first for the sake of convenience, we weren’t able to get the same sonic experience of the CDs,” said D’Andrea, a 2009 OSU graduate in English.
After the lead singer explained the reason for extra onstage help, Webb jokingly struck a note on his drum pad that proclaimed, “Music!” The room ensued in laughter from the band members, and the brand new collective already seems like it’s been a quintet for years.
In addition to the recent lineup change, the sound of the band has also gone through an evolution this year. Instead of relying solely on guitar, synth, percussion and vocals to guide listeners along a wave of positive-sounding vibes, the group is experimenting with an eclectic variety of instruments and sounds.
The usual process behind Nick D’ & the Believers creating a song is to start out with as many parts as possible, and then strip the track almost bare.
“It’s kind of like Mr. Potato Head: you got all these different pieces, and you could give him a moustache and a top hat,” D’Andrea said.
Henderson finished, “But that’s gratuitous.”
Nick D’ & the Believers has primarily dabbled with synthesizer sounds in the past three years, but “Crown” has, by far, the most moving parts and exuberant dynamic out of the band’s entire collection. The track debuted on Tuesday, along with start of the band’s eight-date Ohio and East Coast tour. The multi-song project has no set release date, but will appear sometime this fall.
D’Andrea described the new set of songs as “more organic,” sentiments which Barker echoed.
“We actually didn’t use nearly as many synths as we have in the past,” Barker said. “It’s more of a rock-band sound; guitar-based rather than synth-based.”
At its core, Nick D’ & the Believers sounds like an upbeat pop-rock group destined for radio, but the band members’ personalities remain humble despite possessing a marketable sound.
“I think when you write with different people it’s like cooking with different spices,” D’Andrea said. “When (Barker, Henderson and I) make a meal together, it’s usually upbeat and a good time.”
Columbus has embraced the group.
“People are warmer here, man,” Henderson said, “so it tends to help for a live show.”
Nick D’ & the Believers will be performing at Rumba Café this Friday with Nonaphoenix and Harbours as part of the band’s release of “Crown.” Tickets are $10, with an additional $2 door charge for those under 21, and doors will open at 9 p.m.