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Meet Nancy, the Best Brooklyn Band Without a Van You've Never Heard of

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By Reed Dunlea

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Photo by Nikki Sneakers

Nancy, a ripping two-piece garage rock hit machine, is the culmination of a friendship that began a decade ago at Camp Northstar for Boys in Hayward, Wisconsin. Their path has since taken them from the Midwest to Brooklyn. But when Joe (guitar, vocals) and Nat (drums, vocals) were just twinkles in their father's eyes, there is no way that their two separate mothers that are both named Nancy could have predicted the genius that their sons would unleash upon a world all too unwilling to listen.

I first heard Nancy when Eat The Life Records, a DIY punk label from Chicago that put out several releases by my band Dipers, mailed me the band's debut self-titled cassette. It was insanely catchy, and I soon had it on repeat. I later learned from a review in Maximum Rocknroll that we all lived in the same town, which made me feel like an idiot for not knowing I could have seen them live or invited them to play my radio show, Distort Jersey City on WFMU, several months earlier than I did.

Nancy has an upcoming single on Eat The Life titled “(Get The) ReVVup.” You can eventually (release date TBD) purchase it here and can currently listen to it here. We recently met up for a few High Lifes at Williamsburg bar Over the Eight. I had just finished my bike delivery shift at Jimmy's Diner across the street, and Nancy showed up late because they got caught up in a particularly intense game of Virtua Tennis on Joe's Sega Dreamcast.

Noisey: What's it like being roommates, bandmates, and best friends?
Joe: I wake Nat up with breakfast in bed.

What's his favorite?
Joe: Beans and pork probably. Milk.
Nat: He gives me milk. I don't drink it. I don't touch the stuff.

Did you guys go to shows together as kids?
Nat: Yup.
Joe: Yeah. Mainly by ourselves, alone in the basement. Just one guy performing for the other guy. And then, you know, we'd do the switch.

So Nancy is not your first band together?
Joe: No, it is.
Nat: We were called The Jitters. And that was named after Joe when he drank coffee because he never drank coffee before. And he had terrible, explosive—
Joe: Shakes. I shook at night.
Nat: Explosive diarrhea.
Joe: You don't have to bring in the brown.
Nat: Well, that's actually a very important part of it all. The first song we wrote was about coffee and Joe having diarrhea.
Joe: It's not diarrhea. It's just a drink. Next question. It doesn't need to be about my diarrhea all the time. I don't understand. It's embarrassing.


Photo by Reed Dunlea

Why did you guys move to New York?
Joe: I moved to New York to live with Nat. So we could do our thing.
Nat: I've been here for years.
Joe: He's been here taking diarrheas in the streets.
Nat: Taking diarrheas up in Union Square, down in Tompkins Square.
Joe: That's disgusting. That's gross.

Do you guys like playing music in New York?
Nat: Yeah.
Joe: Yeah, we do.
Nat: Better than Hayward, Wisconsin. Am I right?
Joe: It's great, you know? It's all right. It's hard to get fans here. We don't really have any fans.

Hard to get vans?
Joe: Fans.

Oh, fans. I thought you said vans. Like to drive around.
Joe: That's true. We don't have a van at all.

You think it's hard to get fans?
Joe: People don't even care about music.
Nat: People don't even like music here.
Joe: We get to do some cools things though. We've played under the BQE [Brooklyn Queens Expressway] a couple of times.

I think it's funny that you guys don't have a big fan base in New York. Because I feel like everyone who hears your band is always like, 'that's awesome.' From all over the place.
Nat: We have more fans in other places around the country.
Joe: I think it's just New York City. What bands have a shitload of fans that aren't huge bands? Just think about when you're in your house, and there's a show in Manhattan. And you're like, 'I could go there, or I could go a couple blocks away and do something else.' I don't know. There's too much shit going on.
Nat: It's more of a hassle. You get overwhelmed with stuff. So how do you pay attention to one thing?

Yeah and it might just be hard for a garage band? I feel like kids in New York can be pretty rigid in what they like, in terms of sub-genre, you know? For DIY shit I feel like half the shows you guys would want to be playing aren't the same vibe musically with what you're doing. A lot of punk bands might not play with a garage band. I don't know if you guys call yourselves a garage band.
Joe: Just like rock n' roll I guess.
Nat: Yeah.

A Ramones band?
Joe: I don't fucking know.

Do you guys listen to the Ramones a lot?
Joe: Yeah.
Nat: Totally.

Do you listen to The Spits a lot?
Joe: Yeah.
Nat: Totally.
Joe: Have you ever heard of that band Head?

I don't think so.
Joe: You should straight up write it down.
Nat: Write down Head. They're a 90s Ramones rip-off band from Seattle.
Joe: They're so sick.

So is Nancy a Head rip-off band?
Joe: No. We're not even close to as good as Head. I don't know what the fuck we are.
Nat: Yeah. We're a rip-off band.
Joe: I think it's just whatever music me and Nat are listening to. Like right when we're writing a song or whatever, it just comes out.

What are you listening to right now?
Nat: Just a bunch of stuff.
Joe: In the past two years I've become really obsessed with this band called Sparks. Nat really loves Sparks too.

Named after the beverage?
Joe: Hell no.
Nat: The beverage was named after the band.
Joe: Whenever I'm writing a song, I'm trying to make it sound like that, but it will never sound like that. Lyrically they're the sickest band ever.
Nat: They're from California. Totally theatrical, kind of glammy, kind of clean.
Joe: They're been playing music since the 60s and are still making records. They have like 25 records. It's two brothers. It's a really cool two piece mentality.

Two brothers, like you guys. Two brothers from another mother of the same name.
Joe: Exactly. But they have the same mother. They're really funny and quirky and flamboyant. They were a huge 70s English glam band. Even though they were from California. They moved to England because they were bigger there. We saw them play in New York last year, and they were fucking awesome. We threw a CD with a cover of one of their songs that I recorded, and I threw it when they were walking off, and one of the dudes stepped on the CD, grabbed it, and walked off the stage. Which was sick nasty.

That is sick nasty. Why are you guys a two piece?
Joe: I just think it's awesome. We're best boys.
Nat: I'd rather play bass though. But it is awesome.
Joe: I just want you, Nat.
Nat: We should get another drummer. Sorry. I hate playing drums. It'll sound better with a bass.
Joe: But it's not gonna be as funny though!
Nat: Yeah it will. It will still be the same except we'll be way sicker. And I won't have to play the fucking drums.
Joe: But you're the best.
Nat: No.
Joe: I'm thinking just two piece.
Nat: Yeah, we'll see.

But there's bass on the recordings.
Joe: The recordings have a lot. There's guitar solos and shit.
Nat: Don't you want to solo dude?
Joe: Nah, I'd rather just do our thing. I'm kind of drunk.

All right, so you guys say it's hard to get fans in New York. The recorder is on. A bunch of people might read this. What do you have to tell them
Nat: We search for the meaning of life, and we invite you to search along with us.
Joe: That is perfectly stated. Cheers. (We cheers.)
Nat: If you don't look in the eyes, seven years bad sex. You know about that?
Joe: I don't think anything's gonna help me with that one.

Seven more years of bad sex.
Nat: This is a warrior's welcome. So welcome, all warriors.
Joe: We welcome all the warriors.
Nat: We're very good boys. If you'd like to see us, come see us.
Joe: Come see us or we'll murder your children. Come see us or we'll chop off your nose. How are you going to smell? After that? Right? Right? Who could smell after no nose? (Laughs maniacally)

Reed Dunlea lives in New York and has a radio show. He's on Twitter - @RealDeedRunlea

Want to become one of Nancy's new fans? Check them out opening for Radioactivity June 30 at Baby's All Right, presented by Noisey.

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