They’re some bands that just deserve to be massive. Hailing for Los Angeles, Nightmare Air is a band deserving of those accolades. With Dave Dupuis (formerly of Film School, a band we interviewed back in 2010), Swaan Miller and Jimmy Lucido they have created one of this years’ masterpieces, High In The Lasers. There’s quite a few bands out there who try to charm us with their fuzz-pedals and blissed out vocals. However, Nightmare Air entice us, by taking layers of brilliant melodies that can be consumed as a whole, or by deconstructing every nuanced track.
Welcome our newest writer Eric, who joined Todd to talk with the band about the new album and the rapid trajectory of their career.
Eric: How did you come together as a band? Is Film School finished as a band, now?
Dave: Film School took a few months break directly after the intense couple years of touring we did for our 2nd LP on Beggars Banquet, “Hideout”. The drummer of Film School, James Smith, and I were friends and band-mates long before we were in Film School together so we took that time and just went into the practice space with a 12 pack of cheap beer and started jamming on old and new ideas of what would eventually become Nightmare Air. Swaan and I had been “going out” for about 6 years at that time and she was great pals with James as well, so when she picked up the bass and started singing everything just felt right. I did a third album with Film School after Hideout called Fission. There was a US tour but my heart at that point was already swaying towards Nightmare Air, our sound and our future.
Eric: How was SXSW this year?
Jimmy: Great! Saw some old friends made some new friends and played a few great shows, in particular our showcase show with Brooklyn pals in the band Heaven.
Dave: My favorite part about SXSW is that you get to exist in the same town with all your band and industry pals for a week. Life is busy and even when on tour all the time traveling to cities and seeing friends it’s hard to get the quality time. SXSW let’s you just bump into people and make plans for that night or the next day or whenever. And as a bonus the randomness of SXSW let us mosh to Eagles of Death Metal one night, and see Kenny Loggins perform Highway to the Danger Zone and Footloose back to back the next day.
Todd: I remember you asking me, who I was planning on seeing at SX. Did you find time to catch any other bands during SXSW? If so, who’d you see?
Dave: I Got to see The Besnard Lakes a coupletimes which was great, really love that band as well as pals A Place to Bury Strangers who I always love live. Also got to see DIIV for the first time and check out a few other “buzzy” bands I’ve been hearing about but wanted to see for myself what the hype was about. Plus just hanging with friends’ bands like Heaven, Dead Leaf Echo, and more, more, more.
Jimmy: I love the Eagles of Death Metal and my pal PRD was teching for them so it was a mega-party.
Eric: Your new video for “Icy Daggers” features cameos from the Duke Spirit’s Mark Sallis,Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert, and Piebald’s Travis Shettel. Tell us about your connection to those men.
Dave: Those men are all truly great friends of mine. For work I am a Tour Manager and a Front of House sound person for rock bands. I was the first touring guy that Silversun Pickups took out back in 2007 when they starting gaining momentum. Brian and the rest of the SSPU gang and I spent many a night hanging together across the world. Marc Sallis and Travis ShettelI met at the same time, both again through my work. I was The Duke Spirits main Tour Manager and Sound dude for the past many years. Travis played keys on a tour with the Dukes and is just an all around cool dude. We are both from the Boston area too so there’s a mutual New England sense that we share. Marc now spends most of his time in Los Angeles so we hang hard often.
Eric: Who are some bands you’re looking forward to catching while playing NXNE in June?
Dave: To be honest we have been too busy to even look at the NXNE schedule, we’ll get back to you on that one when this Airborne Toxic Event tour is over!
Eric: What were some of your influences when making this new record?
Dave: Always a tough question! Influences came from so many places especially considering we took over a year to make it. In general we wanted to make a hi-fi big ass sounding exciting rock record that took elements of some of our sonic space out roots and also our love for contemporary indie alternative bands and what they are doing with sonics. I suppose the word sonic is the key element here. I’m not so skilled of a music writer that I can just bust out a “rolling stones” or a song that sounds like any certain band or sound. The process really was simply me plugging into a bunch of pedals and samplers, recording samples and guitar takes, listening back to what I got, manipulating them to some degree, and then weeding through the bullshit to find the little gems.
Eric: I’ve read that you guys have received significant airplay on college radio in US, Canada, and the UK. What are your thoughts on college radio in relation to promoting new bands?
Dave: College radio holds a special place in my heart. I was involved pretty heavily when I was in school, hanging around my college station was an education in itself in indie rock. As far the impact of college radio, it seems to create a foundation, and a very important one, but I also feel it is fragile, perhaps just as the nature and turn around of the college students and DJ’s. We have been visiting as many college stations as possible on this tour and will continue to for sure.
The unfortunate reality of radio is that rock radio/ mainstream radio is still the key to large success and record sales for any band. I’ve seen that happen first hand from bands that I’ve been on tour with. Breaking into the mainstream radio market/ being added to rotation at one of the few major stations is very hard for an indie band without the financial resources and relationships that large labels and their radio people have to the stations.
Eric: You are all vets of the tour life. Do you have any favorite record stores you look forward to visiting when on tour? What’s the last record you bought?
Dave: As we all know the record store is a dwindling dog. There are for sure a few out there I try and make a point to hit up if sound-check and the traveling of the day permits; Sonic Boom in Seattle, Park Ave in Orlando, Music Saves in Cleveland, plus a few more I can’t think of at the moment. To be honest I’m kind of a gear nut more than record nut on tour. I hit up as many small music stores as I can. I typically end up coming home with at least 2 or 3 more pedals, maybe a guitar, maybe an amp. We are just about done with this month long tour and our van is kind of over run with “extra things” I’ve picked up along the way. I definitely have a spending problem when it comes to gear, but I love it. The last record I bought may have been the A Place to Bury Strangers Dead Moon covers EP.
Eric: Considering the shows down the West Coast are all sold out, what’s the tour experience been like so far with The Airborne Toxic Event? How’d you get added to that tour?
Dave: The shows with Airborne have all been great! The band and crew are all super nice peeps and being the only support act on the tour the venues are all rammed to the front of the stage from the moment we go on. Their fans are rabid and have been eating us up (in a good way!) It has been really comforting to see our layered sonic, slightly weird rock music work with fans of Airborne. Most of the shows have been all ages too which is also great! Most tours happen in bars in front of people that have already seen 15 shows in the past 30 days and by nature just aren’t as pumped as teenagers who are out past their bedtime watching a band freak out in a sea of upbeat sonic delays like we do.
This tour happened for us because we know some of the guys in the band from living in Los Angeles together, they knew that our record just came out and that we were touring so it was perfect timing all around!
Eric: Can you tell us a little bit about the new record’s artwork?
Dave: The cover is a painting done by a long time friend of Jimmy’s Chris Urbanski. The painting is hanging in Chris’ house in Columbus and when we stayed there on tour last summer I had randomly taken a picture of it. When we decided to work with St. Marie on this release we needed to find cover art ASAP and were kind of struggling to find an image that we all felt would work for the record. Then one afternoon in Amsterdam, after our first European tour, I was just looking through my phone pics in the park and saw the pic I snapped a few months earlier at Chris house. It was immediately a done deal for all of us. It’s now on Jimmy’s drum head…I love looking at that weird ass painting, it’s perfect!