Nameless Friends shares new single, “Need” (Interview)

Nameless Friends

London, ON’s Nameless Friends Rocks Hard With “Need” On Climate Change And Economic Inequality

Nameless Friends think big. Big music. Big sound. Big ideas. Go big or go home. This is part of the reason why the ferocious rock band from London, Ontario, wrote their new single “Need” about the biggest problem of the modern world: climate change and its relationship to economic inequality.

Fun times, right? But Nameless Friends is not a dour band. Far from it. This is also the band who put out a live album of Queen covers, recorded in front of a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern—because they’re the kind of band that can actually pull off a Queen cover set, with all the musical chops and sense of camp that requires.

The forthcoming new album by Nameless Friends is called Blasphemy, and in their own words, “it’s a high concept record about intense, personal subjects.” They’re likely the only commercial rock band in the world to write a song about reproductive and menstrual rights (“7 Years of Blood”). Their debut EP, 2018’s Mezzanine, was a song cycle about grief. The songs by this female-fronted, multicultural, queer-inclusive band have struck a powerful chord with audiences, including a recent hometown crowd of 15,000 people.

Despite their serious subject matter,

“Joy, hope and love are also intense personal experiences,” says the singer, producer, guitar-maker and founding member known only to the outside world as Number One. “We’re trying to present those truths with as much courage as the hard stuff. We’re trying to make music about the justice we want to see in the world, that’s also really bloody fun to listen to.”

Blasphemy is out on May 19, 2023. It was mixed by Andrew McLeod (Sunnsetter) and mastered by Darcy Proper (the first female engineer to win a Grammy). Nameless Friends are touring Ontario and Quebec in May and June and head to Western Canada in fall 2023.

Watch the video for “Need” and learn more about Nameless Friends via our mini-interview.

Care to introduce yourself?

Hey Canadian Beats, we’re Nameless Friends! We’re a band of glitter-wearing hard rockers from London, Ontario: sometimes there are four of us, sometimes there are more of us. We’ve been called modern glam, metal-adjacent, prog-punk, hysterical pussy shit, and your new favourite band.

Tell us about the process of writing “Need.”

‘Need’ started as a pandemic tune. We wrote it in lockdown with the rest of our upcoming album (Blasphemy, out May 19, 2023) when everything was feeling pretty strange, and everyone kept using the word “unprecedented.” We were lucky enough to have a little rental house with a home studio in a lovely, wealthy neighbourhood in London, and the difference we were seeing between our neighbours’ experiences and our friends’ experiences in this supposedly free, democratic society was absurd. Our musician friends and peers were struggling with food insecurity and/or working risky, “essential” jobs with awful pay and no protection, at the same time that our safe, work-from-home neighbours were writing these novels in the neighbourhood Facebook group slagging homeless people and delivery drivers. 

We wrote Need to literally play with musical inequality so that the listener gets the same sense of cognitive dissonance we were feeling. The verses are riffy and driving and have this frenetic cymbal work that sort of sounds like what chronic anxiety and instability feel like. And then the choruses are these huge, grounded releases, where you can let go and revel for a minute before we change the key, which ratchets up the tension and starts the whole cycle over again with higher stakes. It’s a lot of fun to play because we also wanted to capture the audacity of the hope and joy that still found ways to bubble through preventable suffering.

What’s it like being a musician in London, ON?

When you first arrive in the city, humbling. There are wicked metal and country music scenes here, and those genres don’t mess around, so the standard quality of musicianship is phenomenal. 

As working musicians now, it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, the local government is loudly invested in local music and supports cool initiatives like the London Music Office, London’s UNESCO Music City designation (the first in Canada), grant funding, local talent incubators, etc. On the other, the housing market in London is hideously expensive, one of the worst in the country. Musicians, students, and other creatives are struggling to keep up with rent and the cost of living required to actually stay in the city and take advantage of the opportunities available. So it can be like a high wire: awesome momentum but very little safety net.

Who was the first Canadian artist to blow you away?

After a quick band poll, Number Four says Rush, period. Number Three says Josh Ramsey from Marianas Trench during the Masterpiece Theatre era, and if that makes him a basic emo kid, so be it. Number One grew up down the 401 in Kingston, so feels obligated to name the Tragically Hip, but says it’s honestly a tie between Steppenwolf and Ryan Malcolm on Canadian Idol. And Number Seven says Rheostatics. Wait, no, Joni Mitchell. Wait, no, Rheostatics again.

You’ve been making music for a while now. What’s one piece of advice you can offer to those starting out?

Get brave about producing your own stuff. Even if, especially if, you’re from a marginalized background(s) that’s historically been excluded from technical and/or leadership roles in the recording studio, live events, music video shoots, whatever. Our lead singer is a record producer, and our guitarist is an audio engineer, so when we shopped “Blasphemy” around to some bigger Canadian producers, and they didn’t get it, we knew we had the experience to stick to our guns and do it ourselves. And then, we taught ourselves to direct and edit music videos this year! 

This is obviously easier said than done when you’re just starting out, but that’s where the ‘brave’ part comes in: be brave enough to make stuff and then be brave enough to put it out and then be brave enough to see how it does and try it again. Learn from wherever you can afford, and don’t get distracted by the pursuit of fancy gear. We’ve watched major names in music Google mixing tips, and we’ve made amazing recordings with an old Radioshack keyboard and a fifty-dollar mic lying on the floor. 

Connect with Nameless Friends:

You must be logged in to post a comment Login