Nonpareil is a band that wants to tell it like it is. Locally grown but internationally influenced, the Phoenix-area quartet plays a noisy brand of post-punk carefully designed to enthrall and motivate the listener and will please even the most discerning devotee of the great Dischord Records label out of Washington, D.C. In short, Nonpareil is a band you should keep an eye out for (unless you're like Sammy Davis Jr. and should definitely keep that eye in).
The band has recently completed work on their first EP, Allergen, which they are putting out themselves and releasing today. The six songs on the EP are intricate, pulverizing, and not for the weak at heart. Math rock, melody, screams, and steadily building tension make this EP well worth a listen. There are elements of the earlier work by the four band members, but the roots of the band are over-shadowed by a predominant maturity rare for an initial release.
We caught up with singer Connor Woods to discuss the band and their place in the Arizona scene. Woods spent some time in the band Abigail Williams in the mid-’00s and is joined in Nonpareil by Darren Simoes (formerly of The Bled) on guitar, John Brandon on bass, and drummer Jef Wright. Both Brandon and Wright played in well-received locals Death of Marat as well.
New Times: What's the best part of being a band from Arizona?
Connor Woods: The best part of being a band from Arizona is the community. We've all been playing in bands around the state for 20 odd years at this point and that affords us an extensive group of like-minded artists, best friends, and generally rad people unlike any other place. So yeah, the people are, without a doubt, the best part.
What is the toughest lesson you have learned so far from playing music?
Man, that's rough. I grew up playing in a band and credit it for just about every aspect of my personality and growth. I've never had lofty aspirations with music as my primary goal is simply to make songs I love and that narcotize me enough to push through the days.
What bands did you hear that made you want to play music?
Well, we all have different musical backgrounds and influences. For me, personally, Fugazi changed everything. Seeing Avail play at Boston's in 1998 drove me insane. After seeing them, I knew I'd never be alright without playing energetic, expressive music live regularly,
How did Nonpareil come together?
Long story short, I moved back to Phoenix after living abroad and in other cities for decade and ran into John [Brandon] and Aaron [Burke of the Minibosses] at the Lost Leaf. They had been jamming for a while without a vocalist and I was completely free of any projects. We jammed and it felt really good. Now, we've progressed and had to make some changes member-wise with Darren [Simoes] coming in on guitar and Jef [Wright] on drums.
How do you guys describe your sound, and does the description match up to what you expected to sound like when the band was still just a concept in your minds?
Noisy, angular, intense post-punk, but not without melody, I suppose. Honestly, since we came from disparate places, I don't there's any unified expectation that we all share concerning our sound. The organic element of creating it is what I find to be most rewarding anyways.
What is your goal with your live show?
To play our songs well, with energy and passion.
How do you achieve a level of focus to play the way you want to play in a live setting?
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Years of experience, hours and hours of practice and the basic human need for catharsis.
How has traveling around the world shaped or re-shaped your ideas about music and performing?
Having been to many remote, isolated places I have gained a respect for the freedom to express. I see it more as a privilege now more than I ever have. Due to that, I try not to take the opportunity for granted and really throw everything I have into it. I'm sure I can speak for the whole band in saying that also. We leave it all on the stage.
What would be the ultimate compliment a fan could give you?
Just that they can relate.