Shrouded in mystery thick as a monk's cloak, the loose eight-piece collective known as No Neck Blues Band has been quietly honing their amalgamation of ethnic folk, psychedelia and performance-based improv. Their visit to the Nightlight on Sunday, April 3, is part of their first extensive tour in several years. Their headquarters in NYC, known as the Hint House, serves as recording space, living quarters and concert hall. Usually releasing records of live performances in very limited editions on elaborately packaged vinyl, the band thrives in the intimate, carpe diem existence of live action. One of the group's principal members, percussionist Dave Nuss, spoke with the Independent recently on the band's influences and current motives.
Indy: Do you find that more groups are plumbing sounds in the same spirit these days? Does that extend or enlarge any sense of community?
Nuss: We began in 1992 in a spirit of utter departure and incongruence. Subsequently, I noticed that beginning in about 1996 other young people began to contemplate what it would mean to truly be "outlaw." Several are still standing, although with a few bullet holes in their hats: Sunburned Hand of the Man is one. Both them and us owe allegiance to the Sun City Girls, for whom the fight continues. Our music is the factor that has dictated that we would evolve in relative isolation; therefore, we looked along the vertical rather than the horizontal axis for associates. These connections, for example to John Fahey, deeply matter to us. Jump ahead to 2004, the creative thrust of several new outfits especially in New York is overwhelming, so much to bear that we can not escape alliance any longer.
Without naming musical influences, can you name performance artists or writers who affect you/the band, or how physical acts in the live performance are part of what you're interested in?
An early gig was 450 Broadway, now documented on the Ass Run LP series. For that show we thought, let's show The Hellstrum Chronicles video and then play the entire set immobile. The next set involved a shovel. The nature of our plan radically shifted in 1995 when we secured our own rehearsal and performance space, allowing us to dictate all aspects of live production. In that same year we were wed to Michiko, a Japanese artist from the Butoh school but clearly on her own path of instruction. She brought forth many things: satin, fruit, shopping bags, and most importantly a mode of patient attention that naturally carried us outside of the inward-turning strum-strum-strum to an outward sense of awakeness to music in the air.
The No Neck Blues Band plays Nightlight Sunday, April 3, with Magik Markers and Virgin Eye Blood Brothers. The show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $6. For more info, call 933-5550.