Sweatband is self-styled garage rock
Sweatband is an garage band out of Huntington and a favorite of STATIKNOIZE.com. There aren’t a whole lot of bands in the area doing exactly what they do so they have their market cornered when it comes to no-frills, cool strut rock ‘n’ roll. They haven’t been around too long, but they’re bound to make a name for themselves with their raw garage approach. Recently, a couple of the guys sat down with me and told me a little about the band and the self-titled EP that they are currently supporting.
Graffiti: How did Sweatband begin? Did you guys all know one another? What was it that brought you together?
SB: Nate Rogers walked up to Max Nolte in a tacky nightclub and said, ‘hey, you look like a guy I could be best friends with’. Our shared interests and enjoyment of playing music together led us to start the guitar and drum outfit in Max’s house that would eventually develop into the complete band Sweatband. Max was in a band with Tim Jamison years ago and asked him to jump on board, and Nick Adkins later joined and helped add that big wallop to our style.
Graffiti: What kind of band is Sweatband? How would you describe what you guys do, stylistically, in terms of genre(s)?
SB: Sweatband is a garage rock band that has four members. We were called post-punk once in the newspaper, and can’t argue that some songs aren’t, but if we get to pick, we’ll go with garage rock. I think garage rock encompasses the variety of songs we write while still representing a constitution of guitar, bass, and drums.
Graffiti : Are there any politics involved in what the band writes about or in what the band stands for?
SB: Our politics are to be yourself and be expressive, basically the same rules at Rue 21. There are no politics as in political science, but Nate is a scientist. We stand for a 13-year-olds sneaking out of their bedroom at night to rearrange letters on a church sign.
Graffiti : Give us some of the band’s different musical influences. What inspired everyone to pick up their designated instrument and even begin to write and play music?
Nate: Not Pearl Jam. Beck, Boris, Pixies, I hid behind a doorway to watch Desperado when I was too young to watch Desperado. That’s what made me want to learn how to play the guitar.
Max: Randy Newman and Lowell George. I started playing drums when another band I was in called Ladybird that I played guitar in needed a drummer or we were going to breakup. I had a drum set so I decided to be the new drummer, which was fun. Then I sold all my guitars to buy birthday presents and stuff so I was stuck on drums.
Graffiti : What else, if anything, inspires the band as a collective?
SB: Days off of work. Generous tax returns. Budweiser. The movie Jaws.
Graffiti : OK. Shifting gears now, let’s get into the music. Some bands have a hierarchy when it comes to the writing process and sometimes it’s completely democratic with contributions from all involved. How are your songs written; musically and lyrically? How does the band go about writing?
SB: Nate wrote most of the Sweatband EP, but he doesn’t write the other band members parts. Our parts sound best when we write them individually. Its much more organic that way. At this point we encourage everybody to bring new song “skeletons” to practice and use honest judgement in determining what songs are worth our time to polish and play live or record. There’s a lot of “Is this good?” then shuffling feet and a lot of “uhhhhhhh” at practices.
Graffiti : So, that brings us to the EP you’ve recorded. How did these particular songs come about and come together? Take us through your whole process with this release.
SB: The EP is a collection of some of our favorite songs from earlier sweatband that go back as far as 2007. We recorded this ourselves, so the process required a little troubleshooting and trial and error in recording and mixing. We will spare you the details of the whole process, but it required a lot of plugging things into things and wondering if it was the right thing to do.
Graffiti : Did anything funny, or even bizarre, inspire any of the songs?
SB: Nate reads a lot of books about aliens and still thinks cyber punk is cool. Nick has punched a shark in the face and saved his gf from shark and Tim got drunk once. Max has a bear mask. Once we decided to name a song “Cadaddy Shacked”, which has obvious roots. We hope.
Graffiti : Bringing us up to the present, what’s going on at the moment in Sweatband land?
SB: After recording the EP we took a short break, as Tim is now a dad, Nick plays in Station(s), Nate has a solo music project “Repomancer,” and Max is involved in a lot of video production, as well as all of the band being employed full time.
Graffiti : What does the future look like for the band? What are the band’s plans for the coming months, into the new year?
SB: Our plans are to finish some beautiful glistening gold and emerald skeletons that will eventually be recorded for another EP. We will then take these bejeweled skeletons out to the various venues in Huntington and make them dance.
Graffiti: Before we wrap, tell everyone how to check you guys out, find the EP that’s current, and where to go to find out more about Sweatband.
SB: You can stream the EP at sweatband.bandcamp.com. You can also download it for free and carry it around with you, which is fun. It’s a good album to listen to while you’re mowing the lawn, so don’t forget about it over the winter. And we are looking for a devoted fan to create us an amine music video to the song of their choice.
Huntington, W.Va.’s Sweatband is breaking onto the scene with a strong self-titled EP this fall. The release contains five songs full of strut and groove. Its raw sound adds to the cool that this EP seems to exude all on its own.
If you’re going to try and give this EP a category to fall under, technically it would probably fall onto the indie rock basket. At the same time however, Sweatband successfully transcend the typical snobbish disaffection that that scene is famous for projecting. The songs are tight enough to say that they know their instruments, but the execution is relaxed and loose; all in great ways, of course. Tracks like “Easyville” and “Cadaddy Shacked” have a great cocky strut to them that makes involuntary head-bobbing almost impossible to resist. With the song “Disappeared”, as well as select parts to other songs included on this EP, they channel a really cool, almost Fu Manchu-like groove and vocal delivery, which is a good thing, indeed.
Sweatband has a really solid thing going on here. This EP proves that real, attention worthy garage rock is alive and kicking, and it lives in Huntington, WV. Hopefully, the boys have been hard at work on some new material because a full-length release from these guys would great to have on deck. With any luck maybe the new year will provide us with a new Sweatband album. They play it so low-key, so it might pay to do some digging and find out more about these guys and catch them live. Sweatband is, without a doubt, one of Huntington, WV’s best kept secrets.