Demons is out now on Bandcamp.
Juxtaposition. Light and dark. Tall and short. Fat and lean. It’s a powerful tool. This is something that New York alternative rock trio NoPop know all too well. Incorporating frantic fuzzed guitars, soaring melodies, and psychotic breaks, their sound veers from the angelic and poppy to a sound that could do with being institutionalised.
On Valentine’s Day this year they released their latest album, Demons. Possessing seven songs of gleeful and joyful ventures into the depths of beauty and ugliness, the most remarkable aspect of the album is how much fun the trio are clearly having. It is an album brimming with excitement, cacophony, and friendship.
We spoke to the band about each track on the record, and learned all about how simple songs are more difficult to write, a mother’s disapproval of tattoos, and the joy of gang vocals.
Purchase Demons via Bandcamp.
Oscar Rodriguez – bass and vocals
Louis Cohen – bass and vocals
Rachel Housle – drums and vocals
1. Wear the Feeling
Louis: It was easy to choose Bowling Alley as the song to kick the album off with. The album just starts at full force. It’s chaotic but also kinda dancey.
Oscar: This one is about infusing the mundane with mysticism or more specifically my mother’s disapproval of my tattoos. Shining demons, bowling alleys, painted arm, visions – they’re all symbols easily regarded as nonsense; it’s a mother’s reminder to not take yourself so seriously.
Rachel: I remember my voice being very tired when we recorded this one. Between Oscar’s vocals going through a harmonica mic and all of the takes we did to get the gang vocals right, it was the biggest transformation.
Rachel: I remember us kind of struggling to place this one on the record. We were deciding for a long time where this track should fall in the order of things. The breakdown section is kinda unique for us because we don’t do a lot of talking vocals, but it really came together. We went for it with the vocal overdubs and I’m glad we put a bunch of tracks on it because it sounds way fuller.
Louis: I wrote this one thinking about how movies depict war and violence, and how we become desensitized to it all. I’m not really interesting in writing political songs — it’s more about feeling removed from reality. At the time I was listening to a lot of fast pop punky stuff, hence the song’s tempo and length.
Oscar: I wrote this one as soon as I got home from seeing Kitten Forever in a basement. I wanted to write a mix of huge gang vocals and fast moving, 4+2 style phrases. The title comes from a teen band we shared a bill with way back when. Their uncle was at the show and they were all bummed out their lead guitarist couldn’t make it out because of a cross-country meet.
Louis: We tracked the vocals for this one at the end of a long day of tracking. We all recorded at once and overdubbed it a few times. There’s definitely a fair amount of lyrical mess-ups buried in there. Also, at the beginning of the guitar solos, you can hear one of the guitars drop out. It accidentally got unplugged, but then we liked it.
4. Zoo Music
Louis: I always find this track particularly fun to listen to. It’s got these kinda catchy little hooks. We basically wanted something incredibly aggressive in the middle of the record. It split the two halves nicely too. The first 3 songs are fast and go straight into one another. The 3 songs after “Zoo Music” are slower and longer. They breathe a bit more.
Rachel: When we were recording Demons, we ended up recording a bunch of noise tracks that we didn’t have a real plan for. We wanted to use some as transitions (the lead-in to “Wear the Feeling” comes from those noise bits) and we were deciding if any pieces of the noise could work as a track on the record. It was a lot of sifting through and taking down timings and comparing notes about which 15 seconds we were into and where this piece should start or end, but we all naturally gravitated toward that same basic segment that would be “Zoo Music.”
Oscar: This is my favorite track hands down. The title comes from a huge inspiration The Birthday Party’s “Zoo-Music Girl.” I was thrilled we were able to sound so violent.
5. Number One
Oscar: This song’s about privilege and all the rich kids flooding New York City. Rachel’s bowed cymbal and groove totally make the verses happen. I remember when she came up with the beat, we just said “play something you’ve never played before” and that’s what came out.
Rachel: This one has the most layers to it. We experimented a lot with how to use the recording to our advantage to bring out the feeling and the noise elements. The metal sounds fortify the snare drum and bowed cymbals add creepy, drippy texture to the guitar noise that Louis is already creating.
Louis: We did a lot of experimentation to pull off the aggressive sounds on this track, which I think really came across well in the end. When we finally get to the soft spoken hook, it’s really jarring. The guitar solos and tones on this song are my favorites on the album.
Oscar: It’s a simple one that sort of took me months to write. The verse and guitar section in the chorus were both parts of different songs that I just couldn’t get to work. I took inventory of all my unfinished songs and saw what was worth keeping and luckily tried throwing these parts together. I threw out the rest. It was crap.
The vocals were tough to do. While I usually like getting my voice nice and ugly, I felt this one needed a prettier first verse. I lost my voice from not having any downtime before our overdubbing session and ended up redoing the first verse as well as a few more vocals at a later session. The second verse and all my vocals on “Number One” are at least from that first, under the weather session; the extra ugliness worked nicely on em.
Louis: I’ve loved this one since we first started playing it and I think with the recording, we really got to make it as big as it feels live. The piercing guitar melody and reverberated snares make it feel huge. The minimalistic composition of it is really exciting to me too, especially between Number One and Frederick Fleet, which are the most complicated forms on the album.
Rachel: The single! I think we’re gonna make a music video for this one. Oscar’s harmonium gave it some pink sheen to round out the record’s harshness at certain points. The melody is really insistent and this was one song where we were always paring down our parts in order to make them the most impactful.
7. Frederick Fleet
Louis: Frederick Fleet was the lookout for the Titanic when it hit the iceberg. He survived and underwent two inquiries in the US and in Britain, both of which found him not to be responsible for the accident. Still, he suffered from severe depression in the following years, and shortly after his wife’s death, he hung himself. I was originally using the imagery of the titanic in these lyrics, but I wanted to make it more personal. In researching it, I found Frederick Fleet’s story, and decided to gear the song towards that.
Find NoPop on Facebook.