We caught up with Indiana garage punks Namen Namen about their most recent tour across the Midwest, the recording of their recent EP, and how they got in contact with lo-fi punk poster child Erik Nervous for their planned full-length debut.
After developing a devoted Midwest fanbase through their manic live shows and early singles, Namen Namen released their anticipated self-titled debut EP through Massif Records back in April. Comprised of vocalist Dylan Record, guitarist Kellen Baker, bassist Zara McCord, and drummer Ron Record, the Fort-Wayne, Indiana quartet offer listeners a nuance of energy loaded with unhinged guitar solos, crusty riffage, and impeccably tight and fast rhythms. Their self-titled debut EP is 15 minutes of of unrelenting intensity that drives up your heart rate, giving you that fix until the next record. Later this month, they're planned to record their anticipated debut LP with lo-fi punk poster child Erik Nervous, which should please the Maximum Rocknroll weirdos; expect an Eddie Flowers or John Morton hype sticker.
It's been quite a year already for Namen Namen and we caught up with all four members through email to discuss their most recent tour across the Midwest, the recording of their recent EP, and the expectations for their planned full-length debut.
Paperface Zine: How did you all meet and form Namen Namen? Also, where did the band name come from?
Dylan Record: Ron and I are twin brothers of 22 years. Kellen and Zara have been dating since middle school. So we all have established friendships and relationships. We've all been in various cover bands with each other throughout time. In 2020, Kellen wanted to start a new band with original music. Namen Namen was born! We had a lot of names tossed around. We eventually landed on the name, "Namen Namen" out of sheer desperation. It's just "name" in German twice. It's one of those things you say so many times it loses its meaning.
PZ: Do you maintain any other projects outside Namen Namen?
Zara McCord: We all dabble in other endeavors outside Namen Namen. Ronny has an television animation pitch that he's been working on as well as his solo project Roman New Time and collaborative project Home Phone with Olivia Morris, both with music out on Beet Fat Records, which is Kellen's record label. Dylan just finished up two projects one being a script for his screenplay and the other being a full length album under the name, Titanic. Kellen is always releasing music under different aliases including, Gidget and Johnny Skin, both solo, and in the band Uncle Muscle. I play in the live Home Phone band as Red Streak. I just released an experimental collaboration album under that alias with 14 different artists on Bandcamp.
PZ: Talk to us about your influences. Who are some of your musical heroes? I definitely hear a bit of early Black Lips, GØGGS, Pussy Galore, and The Birthday Party.
Kellen Baker: I like all those! Rowland S. Howard is a massive inspiration. Around the time we started, I got into the whole garage revival Goner thing. We tried calling Eric Friedl at 2:00 a.m. and convincing him to put out our music but I think it was the wrong number.
ZM: Kellen, Dylan, and Ronny. What inspires me most is being around people that push me musically, and I grew up watching Kellen and Ronny play. As much as I love the classics, Tina Weymouth, Kim Gordon, Debbie Harry, the people who inspire me most are the ones I play with.
PZ: What do you admire about this lineup?
KB: I think everyone has a very unique sound. I could easily pick out Ron's drumming in a blindfold test.
ZM: We've never had to divide up roles and responsibilities because we all enjoy different things. We all play to our strengths and nothing feels like a chore. I also think we're all very hot.
PZ: What's the Fort Wayne music scene like and who are some other bands we should check out?
KB: For original bands, playing any "alternative" music is quite small. Spots are very limited, but luckily we have two of the best in the Midwest, The Brass Rail and The Bug House. We also had The Muse on Main until its recent closing. We played our first show there in June 2020, and they always let anybody play no matter what they were doing, which was great. There aren't any two bands doing the same thing which is nice. The Namby Pamby just put out a great record. I believe Necromoon, Swell Time, and Squirrel Cage all have new music on the way, they'd be some to keep an eye on.
PZ: Following a handful of singles since 2020, you finally released your self-titled debut EP through Massif Records back last spring. Talk to us about how the debut EP came together and what the recording sessions were like.
KB: I met our engineer for the EP Tommy Cantin at a Sweetwater Rock Camp a couple years back. I got called to fill in as their guitar player left in the middle of the week. Tommy and I really hit it off, he's a fantastic drummer. I think I gave him a beat up marching snare head, and we lightly stayed in touch. Turns out he was close growing up with another friend of ours, Clayton Beehler who drums in Man of the Flood, and Tommy ended up doing a six month program at Blackbird Studios in Nashville where he had the final project of recording a band. For one reason or another, Clayton had to decline and was gracious enough to hit us up about doing the session. On August 1st, 2021, we packed up and went down to Nashville, got chicken with Tommy, and went over to Blackbird for the session. Between setup and tear down, we had about 4 hours to record, and that's what you hear. We figured we do a lot more than six songs in a 30-minute set so it wouldn't be too hard, we did spend time getting the songs tight the week before. I think Tommy was only expected to get one song done for the program, but we wanted to try and make the most of it. We did the whole thing live and added a handful of vocal and guitar overdubs, plus a mandocaster and some mugs on "Dracula AD." We didn't get to hear much until it was over, and we're stuck with what we got done. We hung around till that following Tuesday night, played a show at The Springwater, and drove straight back to Fort Wayne as I had work at noon the next day.
PZ: We love your guys' cover art especially for previous releases like Jam Crib and "The One I Love Most" single artwork. Very Flying Nun and Dietrich Sieling. Ron, you did the EP's cover art, can you talk to us a bit about it? What was the idea behind it?
Ron Record: Believe it or not, I actually made that piece long before Namen Namen! It's from all the way back to my sophomore year of high school. I really wanted to try out watercolor and that was kind of an introduction for me. I was very flattered when Zara purchased it from me around that same time because I wasn't sure what to make of it! I really do think it fits with the music because of how "in your face" everything is on the picture. As for what it is about, I would say that it has a lot to do with an obsession that I had with a lamppost by my house from around that time and also getting up in the morning.
PZ: We've had "The One I Love Most" on our Selects! playlist since its release back in March '21. How did this track come about and what did you envision when initially composing it?
DR: It was a song I wrote back in high school. I didn't really have lyrics for it until recently, just a melody and chord progression. It was a much slower, ballad type song for a while. I recently dug up the song again and brought it to the band. Some changes were made during practice. The pace of the song grew much faster and the tone much harsher, transforming into the song it is today.
PZ: I hear you're recording your full-length album in January with Erik Nervous. Can you tell us what that might look like and what fans can expect? Also, what led you to work with him?
KB: We're aiming for a full-length, depends on how many songs we can finish before the date! We like Erik's work and have heard good things from Indianapolis and Detroit friends who have recorded with him. Our EP is quite clean sounding, to the total disgust of Max RNR, so we thought we'd try leaning in the other direction. I don't think we sound much like any "egg punk" cassette-speed lovers, so it should be an interesting pairing. We're looking forward to having a fifth person involved, we're bad at making decisions. Very excited though, I think these are our best songs yet. It's going to cover a much broader range than the EP in every way. If anybody got the tour tape we made, it should serve as a big sneak peek.
PZ: What's your take on the whole sped-up cassette punk thing? It’s pretty hot right now and it's good when bands aren't totally trying to sound like a mix of The Coneheads and Suburban Lawns.
KB: We didn't know The Coneheads or any of this recent Midwest lo-fi punk stuff existed until the end of our first tour when Mark McWhirter (The Cowboys, ABC Gum, Heavy Mother) told us all about it. He's a genius and our biggest fan. I've told people we aren't influenced by any of that stuff and gotten the response, "Oh shit, that makes me like you guys even more," so I guess I'll continue sharing that. The amount of careers being made off of Mark Winter's unique style does bother me. He told me it doesn’t bother him which makes me feel a little better. I love that stuff now, we learned a D.L.I.M.C. song to surprise our Indiana friends with at our last Detroit show. We love Suburban Lawns too!
PZ: How did the recent Midwest tour go?
KB: The tour was fantastic, I think we're all still pinching ourselves at all the great turnouts, hospitality, and bands, which actually makes this a very difficult question! We were lucky to play with some bands we love at spots we previously fell in love with, like Werewolf Jones and Milk Bath at Outer Limits, or Willie and the Cigs at MOTR Pub. There really were no duds in the bands or spaces, but to name a handful that were new to us and really stood out include Corker, The Missed, Marty Brass & The Lavender Jets, Thee Elder Gods, and Loser Candy. Cat's Cradle is only of the most tightly ran and hospitable ships we've seen, fantastic DIY basement venue that opened our eyes to the vibrance of the scene in Kalamazoo right now. Dirty Dungarees definitely wins for nastiest bathroom, and also the most fun silly toys in claw machines, very endearing.
PZ: That show at Happy Dog had to be a blast! We're good pals Marty Brass and we love The Missed! You got to tell us now what toppings you ordered there.
KB: Burger with bacon, brie, onions, peppers, some kind of barbecue sauce, and tater tots on the side.
ZM: Vegan dog with lettuce, cheddar cheese, cucumbers, flaming hot Cheetos, and SpaghettiOs.
RR: Cheeseburger with Chupacabra hot sauce.
Namen Namen is out now through Massif Records.