Class One Dark Sky 3:080:00/3:08
There is a new, nostalgic alternative rock presence emerging from the depths of Austin’s Orb Recording Studios; nolo, a band that combines their high energy, luscious grooves, and ear-catching melodies with a truly inspiring personal story behind their creative work. nolo was formed in Austin in 2018 after the four group members met in an Austin-area rehab during a journey of healing and self-discovery. It was there that they drew inspiration from their collective challenges of the past and began collaborating. Composed of Richard “Ritchie” Wall (bass & vocals), Brett Mayers (guitar & vocals), Drew Vena (guitar & vocals), and Jason “Jay” Amato (drums), nolo released their first independent full-length EP “Where We Grew Up” in October of 2021. For the past three years, nolo has honed their sound and made a name for themselves performing in and around Austin, and working toward the release of their first full-length album slated for Spring 2024. Co-managed by Kelsey Flanagan and Blue October’s Matt Noveskeyof Daisy Bone Management, the new album was produced and engineered by Kelsey Flanagan (Sydney Palmieri, Crobot, Swimming with Bears) and Drew Blucher at Orb Recording Studios.
“So much of working in the music business is instinctual and based on intangibles,” said co-manager and producer Matt Noveskey. “It's really hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about certain artists that makes them stand out and makes them special but I definitely got that rare feeling when I first heard nolo.”
During their treatment program six years ago, the four members of nolo bonded over the vulnerability and fears they shared on the path to becoming sober and the fact that they all played music. Though nolo started as a cathartic way to put their past behind them, the bandmates have become more like a family, drawing inspiration from their shared experiences to create their first full-length album. “Our collective experience with mental health struggles, addiction, and finding connection have always found a way of weaving themselves through our music because it’s so personal to the four of us,” said bassist Ritchie Wall. “Music has always been a place to process our own struggles and fears, but I think the longer we do this, it’s growing to be more about the general joys/struggles of being a human being and connecting with the world. I think a lot of our music thematically highlights the juxtaposition between grief and joy.”
The band’s upcoming single “RE-ANIMATOR,” set to release Nov. 3, 2023, lyrically explores how isolation can distort one’s perception and make you think the people who care about you the most are out to get you. The eerie, high energy track also expresses the eventual realization that there are people in your corner who actually want the best for you. “Musically, I think we are all finding the best in one another and bringing it out of each other in this song,” said Ritchie.
Another standout track on the new album, set to be released on Dec. 8 of this year, is “Appetite.” The edgier single drives the line between progressive and alt-pop music, expressing one’s inner dialogue while dealing with the stress of everyday life. It is reminiscent of the days when all you want is to throw your phone in the garbage and pull the blankets over your head.
“Appetite really embodies my ‘all or nothing’ mentality when it comes to life/music/relationships and the struggle to find balance between them,” said Ritchie. “This is one of the best examples of us finding our sweet spot for writing a pop song that has some cool unexpected moments.” The band is planning a special release party for “Appetite" and its accompanying music videoon Dec. 8, 2023 at Hole in the Wall at 8 p.m.
The new album will explore the themes found in “Appetite” and “RE-ANIMATOR” more thoroughly, sharing the collective experience each band member has had with mental health and addiction at different points in their lives. “I think mental health could be considered a theme for this record, but above all else, it is just a story of different parts of our lives and challenges that we have been through,” said vocalist and guitarist, Brett Mayers. “I think the cool thing about nolo is that creating and playing music together is the symptom of a shared connection,” said Ritchie. “The fact that we met under these circumstances and continue to create together is kind of mind-blowing.”
“Being able to build a relationship and work with nolo is one of the great joys of my life,” said Matt Noveskey. “I care about each of them as individuals but I'm so invested in the music because they have something to offer the casual listener by creating catchy melodies with mainstream appeal but also speak to the musicians of the world by writing songs with complex and unexpected progressions. I love the fact that they keep you on your toes, but you can also sing along. I couldn't be more excited about what the future has in store for nolo.”
In addition to creating music together, the members of nolo have also worked in collaboration with Recovery Unplugged to create and host an event called Sober Sessions, a monthly, open-mic concert series available to anyone who wants to perform music in a safe and supportive environment. Recovery Unplugged is an addiction treatment center that blends music with traditional treatments to assist with drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Each member of the band works with the organization and has formed meaningful relationships with the facility’s clients.
“Sober Sessions is incredibly important to us as a band and we’re honored to be a part of it,” said Ritchie. “When we were getting sober in 2017, we were fortunate enough to get to participate in Sober Sessions as clients in treatment, and it was environments like this that helped the four of us become comfortable with ourselves as musicians and people. To be able to be a part of Sober Sessions today, and get to watch other individuals in the community express themselves, share their creativity, and discover who they are, is a huge honor for us.”
nolo’s first full-length album is slated to drop in Spring of 2024.