Exploring the Ragged and Raw Rock’n’ Roll of Nebraska Songwriter David Nance
Listen to the rollicking "Unamused", a track taken from Nance's recent album 'More Than Enough'.
David Kenneth Nance is a musician from Omaha, Nebraska who enjoys racquetball and creating wondrously ragged home-recorded music that travels well below the popular music flight path.
I came across Nance's emotionally raw music through a recent live recording on New Jersey radio station WFMU. A set of loose but rollicking rock, it brought to mind the Velvet Underground Live in the Gymnasium, scenes from Cocksucker Blues and something that would go on at a shambolic late 70s party in Laural Canyon.
Following a number of limited-edition cassette releases and his 2013 LP Actor’s Diary, Nance has dropped More Than Enough, his first full-band full-length on Brooklyn label Ba Da Bing.
The album is called More Than Enough for a reason with three versions recorded with different lineups in Los Angeles before a final recording was settled in Omaha. According to his label, Nance has a direct recipe for recording that involves “(a) get a shit-hot group of musicians; (b) cut songs down to their most “on” moments, or alternately let them ride a groove into the sun; (c) capture it all on actual tape.”
After the WFMU session I knew I had to get in touch with David and find out more about his music.
Noisey: Did you grow up in Omaha? What's it like living there as a musician?
David Nance: I was born and raised in Grand Island, Nebraska, which is two hours west of Omaha. G.I. is now more or less a strip mall, so basically Anytown, U.S.A. I love living in Omaha. There’s enough going on to keep it interesting, but not enough to have it flooded with people. Musically, it’s the perfect place to cut your teeth and really dig into what you’re doing. Rent is cheap. Jobs are easy to find. Basements are abundant, ergo practice spaces are everywhere. You just got to get over anyone giving a shit about you, at least if you want to do anything far out.
You began recording the album in L.A. Why the move out there? Why the move back?
I recorded three versions of the album out there, but nothing you’ll hear on the record. I guess you could call those demos. I wouldn’t. Failed attempts seem more suited …. You really felt the uselessness of being a musician there. Hundreds of people ass to elbows paying to hone their bullshit to cast into oblivion, myself included. It is completely uninspiring.
I ended up in L.A. chasing the woman of my dreams, Anna Nance (spoiler, it worked out), as she opened her grandiose-woman power-life-art studio/gallery The Dog Show USA. We lived there for close to three years and decided that we wanted to get married back home, so why not just move back and see what we could squeeze out of Omaha. It’s been great thus far.
The album was recorded in fellow Omaha songwriters Simon Joyner's warehouse studio, Casa de los Fantasmos. What is that place like?
Casa de los Fantasmos, or as we call it now Abbey Alley, is this warehouse in South Omaha where Joyner's business, Acid Stamp, is located. By day, an online antique consignment shop full of mid-century modern couches, model trains, fur pelts, vanity tables, whole series of 60s nudist magazines and other old shit. By night, a make shift studio. We recorded his album Ghosts there a few years ago. I recorded the album Actor's Diary there, right before I moved to L.A. Most of the new album is recorded there. The spot is killer. You can be as loud as you want as late as you want, a rare find.
You previously recorded a lot of cassettes and tapes. How did you approach More Than Enough?
Everything I’ve done up until now has been by myself. I rarely played live so it didn’t really make any sense to me to put a band together. Let’s call it efficiency. Or sonic masturbation. After all the failed attempts in L.A., it seemed like the only way out of repeated failure was with other people. So I called some friends and whoever picked up their phone that day was in the “band”. We’d buy some beer and fumble our way through the song. Everything recorded was pretty much a first take. Sometimes we’d cheat and do a second take. A overdub here and there and then *POOF* a record was done! What I had foolishly tried to complete by myself in two years was easily accomplished in a few hours with some friends.
Someone has said that the record "channels Jim Shepard, heroin-era Stones and New Zealand's notorious Jefferies brothers". How accurate do you think this is?
I've spent countless hours absorbing Unbroken Silence, Picking Through The Wreckage With A Stick, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Last Great Challenge In A Dull World and In The Same Room as anyone interested in rock history should. That shit is plastered to the inside of my skull along with all the other great stabs at eternity; The Modern Dance, Take The Guitar Player For A Ride, Eyes Rind As If Beggars, the first Raincoats album, Easter Everywhere and anything Bill Direen has ever done. I could go on forever…
'More Than Enough' is available now through Ba Da Bing.