San Antonio heavy metal band, Nothing More, have been making waves on the metal scene with their stand out metallic riffs, driving basslines and multi-dimensional stand-out live shows.
Founded in 2003, the quartet built themselves from the ground up, releasing four albums with no label backing and using their live show experiences as learning experiences that have helped them refine their stage show and turn it into one that rivals the biggest bands on the scene.
The band recently signed with Eleven Seven Music and released their self-titled album in June, which features their hit single "This Is The Time (Ballast)".
Nothing More is currently out on their We Are Not Machines Tour with Sleepwave and recently had a set in Birch Run at Dirt Fest. Next month they will be heading out on the road with Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat and Hell Yeah. The tour will be making two Michigan stops. It will be in Grand Rapids at the Deltaplex on September 21 and in Plymouth at Compuware Arena on October 8.
Earlier this week, I caught up with Nothing More lead vocalist Jonny Hawkins.
Q: It seemed like your Dirt Fest performance really went over well. How do you think it went?
Jonny: I thought it went great. I mean we had a lot of people there who came out to Rock On The Range back in May and that was our notorious show for gear failures so we got to kind of redeem ourselves to them, or at least to ourselves. I think it went really well. There were a lot of great bands involved and just great people in general. Overall it was a great experience.
Q: Well all day we were asking the bands whose sets they wanted to get out and see and over and over again people kept saying Nothing More. Did you get a chance to check out any of the other sets?
Jonny: Oh wow, alright. We didn't get to see too many because we were running around doing press stuff and laying out our gear but we did get to see Hed Pe side stage for a little while. We grew up with Hed Pe back in the day so that was kind of cool. Psychostick was on and that was pretty epic and hilarious. So those are the two that we got to see. Unfortunately, we were pretty busy for the rest of it.
Q: Well your performance was definitely a standout one. Can you talk about what the goal is for you guys when you take the stage?
Jonny: Just creating movement I think is our biggest goal. Just playing live and creating a lot of feelings inside the audience. You know, what you feel when you listen to music. You feel all these crazy emotions and a lot of times there is turmoil in that. It's almost like a storm of sorts but on the outside when we are in society or around other people, you just can't go apesh*t like you may want to. I think in our live show we want people to let that loose and feel these things vicariously through us. Just going apesh*t and letting all those emotions out and working out their frustrations, if you will. I think a lot of that is due to the intensity of the music we're playing. We are also just into displaying these showpieces, which I'm sure you were kind of referring to, just where we do these big bass solos on a big metal spinning stand or big drum sections we all just kind of beat the sh*t out of these drums at the same time. In all those things that's the one thing we want to accomplish. When we watch bands, even bands that we really like who have great records, but you can go to their show and it's just like them standing and playing their stuff just like on their cd. We just get the feeling that we can just listen to that cd in our car. It would be pretty much the same thing. We don't want people to feel that way when they come to our shows. We want them to feel like they got something more than what they heard on the record. We want it to be a different experience for them.
Q: Is there a song that you are enjoying playing live the most right now?
Jonny: I think "Salem" is always my personal favorite because we all get to get on the drums. There's just something about the traditional, well not really a drum circle, but just the whole thing where a bunch of people come together like that. It's just very primal and energetic.
Q: You are going to be playing a couple of more Michigan-area shows coming up including one with Five Finger Death Punch. Are you looking forward to that tour?
Jonny: Yeah we love the area and that tour is going to be a lot of fun.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the process of putting together the Nothing More album?
Jonny: Yeah it's actually doing a lot better than we had even thought. I mean we set our goals and sights on making this a huge record globally. We really wanted to get it to a lot of people but I think sometimes you almost doubt your dreams, so it's been really cool to watch the first single do so well. This is the week where I think we're going to find out whether the single has hit number one on the active rock charts. I'm pretty sure we are like one spin away from it. [Indeed, "This Is The Time" has hit number one.] To have a debut song do that when we made a record in our house together was pretty cool to see because we weren't backed by a label at the time when we started working on it. We all knew that music was what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives and we didn't want anything to get in the way of that. A label shouldn't be a stumbling block so we decided to look into crowd source funding campaigns and got our fans to pitch in money to help us work on the record through Kickstarter. We raised about $15,000 and got right to work on it together in our house with all of us set up with our gear in different rooms. We basically just worked on the record non-stop for two years and maybe a little longer than that actually. We didn't finish it until we felt like it was really done. We didn't have a lot of money but we had a lot of time that allowed us to do the best we could. We went out to Los Angeles a few times to work on vocals and worked with Scott Stevens. We also brought in one of our really good friends Pace Estrada, who is a great singer and songwriter. They both helped write on the record and I think looking back that bringing in some of their great minds helped make it a success.
Q: What is your biggest goal moving forward?
Jonny: Making each record better than the last. On the record front, I think a lot of bands figure out their formula and then they stick to it and then on the other end there are a bunch of bands that really evolve and lose some of their core fan base because they get so far out there. I think there's a razor edge in the middle of both of those extremes that we want to ride where we keep what it is that we've been working towards and creating what people call the Nothing More sound but also slowly evolving that into something different. We don't want to make the same album every time so figuring that out is a challenge. Then on the live show we basically want to make everything crazier and bigger. We have so many ideas where we don't even know how they are going to be possible yet. One day, hopefully, we will have a lot more money and a giant crew to help us out with things like giant moving cannons and using things like having electricity exposed in weird ways across the stage. Almost like a mad scientist lab. We really want to develop this into a show like Pink Floyd's plays a light show or like you see with Cirque de Soleil but just taking it further while still being a band with a rock show.
Q: What do you feel has been the best things that you have done as a band to get your name out there?
Jonny: I think doing the new live things with the bass solos and the drum solos because they're a little bit different than the traditional set. It gives you the advantage of standing out. If it's not working, you refine it but we are always trying new things. It just sets us apart from the other rock bands and is a huge advantage. I mean if you go to see a show and you don't know a band sometimes it's hard to get into the music because unless the sound system and the mix is perfect, you can't understand the lyrics. There's all these things up against you if people don't know the music but if you see the band do something that even if you don't know the music, you can like, that's a big advantage I think.
Q: Do you have a favorite place to play a show?
Jonny: That's always a tough one. There's a lot of cool places. I think the House of Blues in Los Angeles was pretty cool. Just being in the backstage area was cool. I'm thinking of that one because I heard they are thinking of tearing it down so I'm honored that we got to play there.
Q: When you think of San Antonio you don't really think that there would be a thriving metal scene but there have been a few big bands from the area. Can you talk a bit about the current scene and how Nothing More was born?
Jonny: Well back in the day there was a club called The White Rabbit and that was kind of San Antonio's revered rock club. There really was a pretty strong rock scene but then about ten years ago the radio stations stopped playing new music and ever since then it has kind of transitioned into more of a classic rock area so White Rabbit in some ways was correlated to that whole radio thing, as are most major cities these days. So much of the life of what is going on is the result of what they are playing. So I think at one time the San Antonio scene was thriving but when we came on the scene there really wasn't a whole lot of solid rock or metal bands. We played with a few bands who have done alright but for the most part, it has been pretty scattered. We kind of just had to create our own thing. It was very much a build it and they will come type thing more than it was a there's this thriving scene and we just need to plug into it thing. It wasn't like that for us.
Q: Obviously you felt it was worth the time and energy to build it.
Jonny: Yeah, you know we all have loved music from a very young age and have been to shows that have blown our minds and that feeling that we took from those experiences trumped any hurdles in our way. We just said let's build it ourselves.
Q: Do you have any final words?
Jonny: I never really know what to say other than thank you. We can only do this and live our dream because everybody comes out and supports us and tells other people about us so thank you very much. We look forward to seeing all of you at the shows and having a beer with you.