Interview by Desney Cody
A group that was once going to be called “Harambe’s Revenge,” then to only have their name be a reference to a billboard in the middle of North Dakota; have a very humorous yet humbling point of view on what it means to be a band, surviving the industry and who they are as individuals and a band.
Niiice. is a four piece band with all of members attending McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota. They got their start when Chris Carbo and Roddy Gadeberg met on the McNally Smith’s new students Facebook page. Chris was in a punk band back home, and Roddy was interested in that. They recruited drummer named Sage Livergood and while jamming one day, Allegra Hernandez happened to be outside the room. Roddy asked them to jam, and the band Niiice. was born.
All members have very important jobs in the band. Roddy writes the lyrics, comes up with the “shells” of the songs, and sings and plays the guitar. Chris is the business guru and bass player. Allegra is the looks and guitar player. Sage is transportation and drummer.
GMN: When you are writing, is there a way that you want your songs to be perceived?
Alegra: So far, Roddy has written our songs lyrics…he starts the shell. All of us contribute and make changes where needed. Very storytelling like. Listeners do not have to analyze it too much. “Yee haw” is a punk and political song. It’s about Trump, but it’s more subtle.
Sage: I put my own meaning to it. Roddy writes in a way that you can put yourself in the song. It’s about personal experiences from Roddy, but everyone puts their own meaning to it. I am not trying to force any interpretation of our music on the audience.
Roddy: I think it’s cool for every single person to interpret every song differently. Chris really loves John Mayer…he’s emotionally invested in him, but I don’t get it. I don’t like when bands and artists over explain their shit. It’s boring. I want it perceived as honest. Nothing on there is fake. The song “Tonight,” [for example]. I wrote it about being gay and not being out of the closet…and I had to break up with a girl because I was gay. None of the songs come from a place that is false. It’s easier to identify with.
Chris: It’s however the audience wants to take the songs in. I was like “I don’t know. I’m not too confident about these songs” at first, but after it’s been sitting, I like the songs again. We have changed a lot since September, when all the songs came to life. But I don’t want this EP to define us.
GMN: Who are your influences?
Sage: I come from a metal music background from my dad. But as far as bands go, A Day to Remember. [I was] influenced by that style of drumming and that’s why I started playing. My biggest influence came from August Burns Red. They inspired me to become a more musical drummer than to just play.
Allegra: When I first started playing guitar, I first started playing rock and metal, like Underoath, but as I started playing other styles, I took my inspirations from acoustic and unconventional artists and jazz influenced artists. I have a blend of music influences, rock to metal to jazz to experimental. Tegan and Sara, Flyleaf, Paramore, and others like that.
Chris: For Niiice., a lot of my influence and what I bring to the band is Modern Baseball, Sorority Noise, Remo Drive. More of the indie-emo genre.
Roddy: I am influenced by bands like Green Day, Nirvana, Sex Pistols and Fall Out Boy. But since moving here, the local scene has been super influential like Remo Drive–they are a really good band and have influenced our sound a lot. And Bernie Sanders of course.
GMN: What’s the most “rock star” thing you have ever done?
Roddy: Punching my guitar with my hand during our first performance at The GARAGE.
Sage: We got kicked out of two places while trying to film a music video. I almost died at Remo Drive. Wood splinters on my face while playing at the Slack Shack.
Allegra: I’m not a crazy fireball like Roddy. But I am more chill. The first time I played a show live with a band, I sang on a song and I was able to play guitar and sing with my eyes closed because I was so into the music. The most rockstar thing is when I get into the music so much.
Chris: The most rockstar thing I have done was when I was playing at the Slack Shack, and we were playing “Fight for Your Right” and I was singing and I put the microphone up to an audience member and he started singing along with us.
GMN: How long did it take to write the EP?
Roddy: The actual writing of the songs only took about a month.
Chris: Recording started in November and finished in February. But we also added on stuff through the recording process. But if we hadn’t sat down and talked to the producer, it would be a completely different album. It felt like it took five effing years. I like that it took so long because the songs were able to become what they are. If Jaelyn hadn’t been involved, it would be a lot different.
GMN: What was the easiest about writing it? The most difficult?
Roddy: Easiest part of writing was being able to play it alone and just play, and not hear criticism. It’s hard at first when any of us had an idea and someone didn’t like it. It’s hard to hear the criticism and give it. But as we became friends, it became easier. Drums were the easiest to record. We did it in a day. And it was hard to have someone criticize my lyrics, and recording vocals. It took a minute to find a good medium with Allegra and Sage being perfectionists, me being like “eff it” and Chris being the happy medium.
Chris: Hardest thing is when to decide when a song is finished and when it is good enough. We would think it was good enough and we were okay with it. When we decided to record, we just wanted a demo tape to say “Hey, this is us” but then it turned into this months long thing. At first we didn’t realize it wasn’t gonna be a full project. We tracked the drums and everybody was in the same room. I didn’t realize that one day was only drums.
Allegra: Being the lead guitar player, a lot of new stuff that Jaelyn had suggested that I tried and I wouldn’t have thought of it. In terms of writing, it wasn’t hard–but the criticism. I used a slide on a song to go with Roddy’s vocals, which is weird, but I tried really hard to make it all go together. Trying new stuff, and that it took a long time.
Sage: Easiest part was playing, but hardest part was being okay with it. I could’ve done it better kinda mindset.
GMN: How will you know if you have “made it”?
Roddy: When you sell out the Triple Rock or the Xcel Energy Center. The goal is to be huge. But I think making it is like just supporting yourself and being comfortable.
Allegra: It’s different for everyone. But knowing you’ve made it but that not only included your craft and artistry but also your financial situation and your connections in the industry. And you have played shows around, and you can mainly support yourself off of your music. It doesn’t mean you’re super famous, but you are well known and respected in the industry and you have the capability to play shows and always working and improving on your artistry and craft. If I didn’t choose music school, I would studied linguistics or computers. But I don’t care about the money, other than to live. I put my heart and soul into playing guitar.
Chris: Making it for me, is just being able to do music and just do that. And not having a retail job to support that. Maybe just a job to support the next tour, if I can’t tour all of the time. But nothing living lavishly. I don’t want to be a rich rockstar. If I could be in another occupation, I would be a doctor. But I am so in love with music that I just have to do it. You can stop working and just relax. But I enjoy the hustle. Even if I made it, I would still be making moves.
Sage: Making it is huge is not the only way you can make it. It’d be nice and I wouldn’t complain, but that doesn’t happen to a whole lot of people when your art is your only source of income. It doesn’t have to be one band, but many other music related things. I don’t want to settle. It’s my biggest fear. I don’t want to settle for a “9-5 job.” It scares me, but I can’t imagine doing anything else other than music. You get to live show to show.
Niiice. are soon embarking on a mini tour through Minnesota and Wisconsin to promote their upcoming self-titled EP. You can catch them here: 4/21 – Milwaukee, WI @ Bremen Cafe, 4/22 – Lansing, IL @ Royal Skate Shop, and 4/23 – Wausau, WI @ Mermaid Mansion.