No Win: The FIDLAR Side Project That Sounds Nothing Like FIDLAR

Listen to a new song, "Heart Knowing Rest."

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Jun 9 2015, 2:00pm

Like so many bands before them, FIDLAR’s members had barely entered their 20s when the group’s success began to snowball, and in the span of roughly three years, they vaulted from the literally-titled Shit We Recorded in Our Bedroom to sharing stages with The Black Lips and The Hives. Danny Nogueiras was along for at least part of that ride, serving as FIDLAR’s drummer for a number of the band’s earliest tours. He’s still several years shy of 30, but at some point, he parlayed his experience into an actual career.

After growing up on house shows and homemade merch, he’s now married, co-owns a recording studio, and smartly recruited other members of FIDLAR’s almost Elephant 6-like circle of friends to flesh out his new project, No Win. Rather than recording shit in a bedroom, the band went straight into Nogueiras’ studio and produced several tracks like the one below (available to stream for the first time anywhere). It’s not as spastic, surfy, or snotty as FIDLAR, but its laidback mix of effortless hooks and fuzzy tones feels like an understated approach to a similar idea. It’s FIDLAR grown up—out of the garage and into the studio.

Listen to a track from No Win, "Heart Knowing Rest." Plus, we talked to Danny about FIDLAR, LA, MTV, and other things that probably require all-caps. Hear the track and read the words below.

Noisey: So I’m slightly confused, is No Win a band or a solo project?
Danny Nogueiras: No Win is definitely a solo project, but I think it kinda wants to exist in the middle ground between solo project and band. I wrote some songs and then Max Kuehn from FIDLAR played drums on all the recordings and David Jerkovich from Kind of Like Spitting and Novi Split played on it, and to me, if this was a band, that would be my band. But because of touring schedules…

And this started as a recording project, right? Was that just a consequence of everyone’s limited availability?
Yeah, I mean, our first show [was] on the 22nd of this month, but it started as recording. I think after being in a band for years and playing shows and touring, it was nice to have time to sort of write and record things and get the sound that I wanted done, and now I can hit the ground running playing shows and really come from a place where I feel more secure. I think every other time I’ve started a band, we just start playing and figure it out as we go.

At the time that my previous band broke up, I talked to Max about needing him to play, like it was a necessity for me. I’m obsessed with the guy’s drumming, and we’ve known each other for so long and we’ve talked about playing together, so that was kind of a motivating factor. I knew that once the FIDLAR record was done and they were getting back on the road, I’d lose my studio drummer.

Actually, can you talk a little more about the FIDLAR connection?
I was friends with Zac [Carper], their singer, from... me and him met each other in like 2008, I believe, working at studios in LA together. Then FIDLAR started, [and] I knew that their drummer Max was going on tour with all these other projects, so for the first year or maybe a little more of that band, I was in and out on drums anytime Max was on tour.

And then also the whole FIDLAR scene is like a really tight-knit family, so over the past couple years, even once I was kind of out as the drummer and Max was here full-time, it’s like, every video we make we all make together. We’ve all screen printed their shirts in the backyard. It’s been a really tight-knit crew of musicians and friends and artists who kind of work on everything together. So it was natural once I started a new project to go to the well of all these super inspiring, rad friends who’ve been making stuff together over the past couple years to get people for my project.

Do you worry at all that you’re inviting comparison or that No Win might have to escape from FIDLAR’s shadow a bit?
I don’t really. A large part of my identity comes from the people I love being around and working with and are my best friends. So that is a natural thing to tie myself to. But musically speaking, I think I represent something completely different. I have no interest in competing with or trying to live up to or live down from or do anything to my friends. I just want to be making what I make, and I think it’s different.

You mean musically different? Because yeah, if someone clicked into this article thinking your track would sound like a FIDLAR track, they’re going to be pretty surprised.
Yeah, I mean... I don’t know. The facts are that, you know, the people who played on this record happen to be in that band. I’ve been a part of making things with those guys for a long time. I feel like it would be unnatural of me to like never mention something that’s such a big part of my creative life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to it for eternity because it springs from a common source or it springs from like some sort of connection.

It seems like Los Angeles has really impacted No Win in a lot of ways, both practically and artistically.
Yeah, absolutely. I grew up in LA county, but I never really lived in the city proper ‘til the past four years. Joining FIDLAR and making those friends was like a catalyst for me moving up here. Me and my girlfriend now wife moved up and we lived down the street from them, and that totally became this all-inclusive sort of family vibe and everything socially and creatively always seemed to be linked. It’s been super inspiring to make more friends and be involved so closely with so many people that are making constantly.

Do you ever feel the influence of broader LA culture within that FIDLAR bubble? Like, what are the best and worst things about making music in LA?
I’d say the biggest negative is maybe the similarly it breeds sometimes. I feel like if something does well in LA, it seems artistically there’s this big herd mentality to rush and kind of, “Lets all do something really similar to that because it seems to be going well.” But the positive is just how much everyone wants to create. I like that there are all these talented people who are constantly interested in making and working super hard and just going as fast as they can. That’s really cool.

Generally speaking, you seem like a really positive guy, but your band name is a huge bummer. Is it kind of tongue in cheek?
The first word is “no,” so it’s definitely not a positive vibe right off the bat. But at the same time, maybe I was attracted to it because it’s sort of similar to what the song’s about where it’s like, “Fuck a win.” Like, fuck a win, no win. It seemed to be something that’s like kind of dismissive of the whole attitude of winning or losing. Oh, also, I couldn’t use my name. That’s the main reason I have a band name. I feel like my name is impossible to Google. My name is really hard to spell, people don’t know how to pronounce it usually.

I know your previous band Brown and Blue had a song appear in an MTV show at some point. Any plans to pursue stuff like that with No Win?
It’s cool when that stuff happens, it’s nice, and it can be a good opportunity for a musician, but it’s definitely not part of like my... you know. I never want to be the kind of musician who sits down to make something going, “God I hope MTV calls.”

What if you could pick the show? Just, any show.
I would really like to see a song in Adventure Time or The Simpsons. Simpsons is number one pick, Adventure Time afterwards.

So not MTV.
I don’t know what shows they have anymore! If there’s one MTV show I’d like my music to be on, it’s the one where they go like, “Hey, here’s a song, by a band, and it’s music television.” I’d do that one. The people at Super Sweet 16 won’t be getting any, like, feverish emails from me trying to make that happen.

Scott Butterworth is on Twitter.