An Interview with Dominic from Nothing, South Side Music Hall, February 15, 2017
It was a rather cold evening, as cold evenings have gone this winter, in Dallas, TX on February 15th. I had just seen Nothing play and, frankly, had no plans to interview anyone because I couldn’t seem to get in contact with the band through any of their channels. After Nothing was finished, I headed out and ran into their sound guy. We struck up a conversation and, eventually, Dominic, the principle founder of Nothing, came out the back door. I introduced myself and he told me to start interviewing him, so we struck up a conversation. The following is the result. Dominic answered questions about the band’s history, his choice of sonics and building his own sound, the writing process of the band, and a bit about the third LP.
So thanks for doing this and sitting down to talk with me impromptu. I appreciate it.
So I guess I will start by asking about how Nothing formed. How did this band get together?
I went to jail for a couple of years and came home. I was completely lost in the world. As soon as I came home, I thought things were going to get better but things got worse. A couple of my friends died in weird tragic accidents simultaneously. I packed up my bags and moved to Los Angeles, thinking LA would be the thing that would save me. It only ultimately made things worse.
Yeah, I’m from LA. I understand.
Yeah, so you know. It was like 2006/2007. It’s a different place now. I had a bad time and didn’t talk to many people. I stay by myself most of the time and got fucked up most of the time. Then I went to Joshua Tree with some weird dudes because I was selling mushrooms and ecstasy to people. I had a revelation there and felt I needed to take another stab at music and it wasn’t going to be there.
So, from there I moved back to Philly and write one good LP. That was my goal. Then I was going to tell music to fuck off forever. I released the demo by myself. It went over well so I tried to find some people… I met Brandon and he’s been the one that has lasted with me this whole time. We made an EP on Big Love out of Japan. We released the next EP on 8389 Records out of Baltimore. Then, finally, Relapse picked us up and we released the LP. So, we released the LP and it worked out well… now I’m here talking with you.
Can you talk a little bit about the writing process of the band?
It’s pretty lax. Brandon and I usually write songs by ourselves away from each other. Then we kind of stack up things and then come together to do work and put shit together. At this point, it’s becoming like a process where Nick is involved and Kyle on drums. It’s getting better and better in terms of becoming a full-on writing process and not just me writing stuff or Brandon writing stuff. It’s become a more unified thing.
Taking you back to your first LP and having some distance from it, how does it hold up for you?
I love that record. That record will always hold a special place for me. It was my goal, to get that one record done. There was a lot of build up between the prison time and the deaths of friends and honestly, I put so much of my life from the past decade into it… growing up in family, so much fucked up family shit, being poor and being from a shitty place. A lot of that got dump into that record, as much as I could, so that record is always going to be really special to me. I love the way the production came out. It has a slight lo-fi sound to it. Tired of Tomorrow was more polished and cleaned up. I like that… that’s the ultimate goal for us… always to progress. But I love that record [Guilty of Everything].
So, in terms of what we are doing and planned to do with this thing, it makes perfect sense. I consider the world very chaotic. I don’t believe there is a reason for everything. It all works best when you bask in the chaos and you understand it, then you can truly understand what’s going on. I can’t wait to record another record, so that’s the next step.
Let’s talk about Tired of Tomorrow. I love the title because I resonate with it most right now really.
That’s what a lot of people say. We were going through a lot of things during the writing of this record. I’ve spoken a lot about it in the press and you can google most of what it’s about since it’s been overdone in terms of information. A lot of things were going very wrong with a lot of people dying and people start calling you the unluckiest band in the world. The same things were happening during the second as the first record. Life brought inspiration and I’ve always treated this band like a diary for me. It’s always been a way for me to vent and deal with whatever is going on in my head.
Tired of Tomorrow was the same thing. We wrote about things that were affecting us. I dealt with bad head injuries from a beating that I took. While we were recording songs, I was dealing with vertigo, which I’ve never had to deal with before. In between vocals, I was running to the bathroom and actually vomiting. Like I said, there is no period where everything is going to be ok. It’s always going to be like what’s going on now that sucks. It’s what I like to build off of, the dark parts of this life. The dark parts of this life can sometimes be the most beautiful parts of this life. You can’t know how good sunshine is if you’ve never been stuck in the rain.
So I really dig your guitar tones. Can you talk about how you shape and approach your guitar tones?
Well, me, personally, I’ve always been a fan of Billy Corgan, Kevin Shields, Neil Halstead… those are my top three. Even during the EP’s, I’ve always been stalking these guys out and seeing what they did. As you progress and get through it, you find your own voice. I never want to emulate anyone. There are so many bands that sound like My Bloody Valentine. I’ve never wanted to sound like them or Smashing Pumpkins or Slowdive. I’ve always wanted to do what I wanted to do. I still use Invaders in all my Stratocasters like Billy Corgan because I love that tone but I have a different pedal board set-up. I take a little bit from Slowdive. For a bit, I used a JC120 and had a Boss Over-drive for a while until I tossed it. Then I was using a Skreddy Mayo pedal on the first record. That pedal is hard as fuck to get but then I got rid of that. Then I started using a Rat because I love Kurt Cobain’s fucking sound and it sounded so good with my reverb. You find your own place after a while and you never want to sound exactly like someone else. You want to take what you can from all your favorite influences and then put it together. I think we are getting comfortable and I think, on the next record, people are going to be saying that “this is what Nothing sounds like.” This is Nothing. Nothing will match up to that because it will be our sound.
So you do dual vocals between you and Brandon. How do you work out your parts?
We always try to write thing separately. If he comes with a full song, then we all just try to lay it down that way. It’s pretty open. I have final say but I’ve never turned anything away at this point. Brandon is such a better songwriter than I’ll ever be and way better guitarist. I have a knack for writing songs that are catchy. I write a lot of lyrics for his songs. We work on vocal melodies together as well. Everything is very unified. We all take time and deal with each other’s ideas and make the song how we want it to sound.
So it’s very organic?
Yeah, it’s always organic. It’s pretty natural. We don’t have a hard time doing this. It’s easy for us.
So are there any tracks from the Tomorrow sessions that you’ve left off the album and we might eventually hear?
Honestly, we literally write what we release. We wrote 12 songs and put 10 on the album and then released the other 2. Bruce Springsteen’s the only person allowed to write 30 tracks and only release 10.
Thanks so much for talking with me and it was great to meet you!
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