It’s dark, it’s broody, and the trio will get you moving in your seat, your car, or wherever you happen to let it hit them ear holes. And before you ask, it’s pronounced nil-aus-er-us.
First off, that’s an awesome name for a band, how did the name come to be? What’s Nihiloceros mean?
Alex Hoffman: It’s a giant space rhinoceros made of nothing.
Mike Borchardt: We’d been discussing it for awhile and moving into heavier, slightly sludgier territory with our newer music. So we always wanted something that had a heavier creature feel, and we thought the wordplay on it not having any real meaning was kind of funny.
AH: We were coming up with different dinosaurs made of nothing and my wife suggested a rhinoceros. It isn’t a dinosaur but it’s kinda dinosaur-ish. I like how it looks written down.
MB: It’s also fun to say.
Your music is described as post-punk or trash-pop, for someone who’s never heard your music, how do you describe your sound?
MB: Well we definitely grew out of punk rock fundamentals. So at their core, they’re punk songs. I think that’s a good starting point, but there are a lot of places you can go from there that are really interesting.
Alex and Gabe [Savitz, the band’s drummer] are such a solid rhythm section, and that really allows us the ability to stretch beyond the basic framework. We can get weirder and make gnarlier sounds while still maintaining pop sensibilities.
AH: Rock/punk/pop music but covered in nails and a little out of focus. Like running drunk.
MB: Alex is an expert there.
You just released your self-titled EP on Nov 17th, what was the process of getting that together, recording, and getting it out there?
MB: We took a DIY approach to this EP, which allowed us more freedom. Most of the record was done in our practice space and Alex’s basement. We saved a lot of money and were able to rewrite and tweak things as we recorded. Then we worked closely with Chris Gilroy at Douglas Studios to mix and produce it, and he really did a fantastic job helping us shape the sound we were looking for.
AH: Mike and I came up with song ideas, then we fed them to Gabe and pushed his emotional buttons until he played beats that made him happy. Then we asked Gilroy to help us make it weirder.
What’s your favorite song off the Nihiloceros EP?
MB: I go back and forth between “A.N.U.S.” and “SAdpop.” Both those songs are really personal lyrically. I think “SAdpop” is my favorite to listen to, but “A.N.U.S.” is probably my favorite to play live,\ because everything about that song is just so fun.
AH: “SAdop.” The chorus sounds like a mouthwash commercial on fire. Which was funny because me and Mike found out later that we were both secretly trying to make it sound like a mouthwash commercial on fire.
MB: Does anyone remember that Tarzan Listerine commercial from the ’90s? We should definitely put up a link on on our website, right?
Gabe Savitz: My favorite is “Darkstar” because it’s on the heavier side. We don’t normally do that heavy.
MB: The next record is shaping out to be really heavy.
Favorite venue to see music at and favorite venue to play at?
AH: For both I prefer anything that’s relatively small like Footlight or Saint Vitus. But really, it’s more about the people than the venue.
MB: We tend have more fun playing and seeing shows at a lot of the DIY spots in Brooklyn like The Glove, or EWEL, or H0l0 where we released our EP a couple weeks ago. I agree with Alex about the crowd being most important, and those spots just have a more natural energy and excitement that you can’t replicate in a traditional venue. Everyone gets rowdy and dances.
The old Moffat Heaven basement was hands down my favorite place to both go to see shows and to play. I remember Alex almost passed out when we played there last Halloween.
As “legit” venues go though, Footlight is awesome. They’re a rad spot in Ridgewood and do some killer shows. Tim and Laura, the owners, work really hard to take care of the bands they book, and make sure newer bands have an opportunity to play shows and get paid. They’re really the kind of venue that keeps a scene together.
Why do you make music? Is it a want? Need? Urge?
AH: Somewhere between urge and need. Something I can’t really not do.
MB: I think Alex nailed it. Way more than just an urge. I guess not technically a need, since I imagine I’d still be alive if I wasn’t making music, but I’d definitely be an unhappy human.
GS: I guess I’ve never considered not doing it.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about getting a band together or someone just starting out?
MB: Play a lot of shows. Write a lot of music and have fun. Keep getting better at what you do, but don’t forget to have fun. Don’t get too caught up in all the bullshit.
AH: Play stuff that you like and don’t worry about it. Practice and experiment. Then practice more.
This is a tough one, do you remember one song or album that made you want to be a musician? If so, what was it?
MB: Michael Jackson’s Thriller definitely made me want to be a performer. Though at that age, I couldn’t even comprehend the musical genius that it was.
But I’d say, like many kids in the ’90s, the moment I heard the first ten seconds of Nirvana’s Nevermind, I knew the only thing I ever wanted to do was music. That album ruined me in an awesome way forever. And I still don’t think I completely fathom the musical genius of that record either. It was the gateway that got me into all kinds of other great underground bands.
AH: For me it was “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D. Specifically “The Brady Bunch” and “Nature Trail to Hell.” But everything on the record is great.
How do you find out about new music? Streaming? Websites? Friends?
MB: I go to a lot of shows. I think it’s important to support other bands in the scene. To me, that’s just how a scene operates and it’s the right thing to do, especially if you expect people to give a shit about what you’re doing.
Live shows are also where I learn the most about being a musician and get inspired to create new things. I’ll go check out a band I know and end up catching another amazing band I’ve never heard of.
AH: Mostly friends and streaming.
MB: I check out a lot of bands that Alex tells me to stream. Also, whenever I have a few extra bucks, I try and buy records at shows.
Anything else you want to share with the Jukely family?
MB: Check out the new EP. You can stream it everywhere or you can buy it from us if you want us to get the money. Nihiloceros is really easy to find on social media if you’re looking for us.
Our last show of the year is one of the Thursdays For The Cause benefit shows for women’s reproductive rights at Our Wicked Lady on December 14th; organized by Leslie Hong from Haybaby. That’s gonna be a lotta fun, so everyone should come check that show out.
Other than than, we are lining up a bunch of shows for 2018 and we’ve already begun working on new songs for the next EP, which we plan on releasing next year.
Find Nihiloceros all over the internet:
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