Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 19th 2018

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New Year, New Noise

By Shelby Nalepa

Local trio Noiseheads are playing a show at chizuko Friday, and it’s their first one in Pensacola since 2015.

Guitarist Nick Gray’s intense, grinding voice fits faultlessly within their ’90s-embodying sound, while still finding a modern edge. The local, but not-so-local, band also has a bit of an online following, with accolades including “Bands to Listen to in 2016″ from Alternative Nation.

“We’ve been fortunate enough during our time as a group to play in several cities across the U.S. and enjoy success internationally because of the internet, but there’s nothing like playing in your own town,” Gray said. “It feels good to be back for our debut at the year-old chizuko.”

Gray was briefly signed to an indie label as a solo artist in 2009 before starting Noiseheads with his brother, bassist Joe Gray, and drummer Greg Nicholas in 2010.

“It didn’t last long because the producer I was working with, who also co-owned the label, ultimately had a very different idea than how I believed the music should sound,” Gray said. “After experiencing the opposite of what I wanted in a music career, I left the label and started Noiseheads.”

Gray and his brother come from a musical family and started playing instruments at a young age.

“I never took lessons, but I was a band geek all throughout middle and high school while playing in local bands here and there,” he said. “In college, I wrote and taught for percussion ensembles while singing and playing guitar in cover bands and drumming in groups around town.”

Although he and his bandmates are all products of the ’90s, Gray said that they’re more influenced by bands including The Beatles, Black Sabbath and The Who.

“I studied jazz in college, Greg’s a fan of underground hip hop, and Elton John, Cat Stevens and James Taylor were all on constant rotation in my and Joe’s childhood, so everyone in the group is just about a fan of everything,” Gray said.

Noiseheads’ debut album, “1994″ was meant to play with the idea of nostalgia and people’s obsession with the past.

“It was intended to be an ironic expression of our generation’s obsession with nostalgia culture,” he said. “We seem to be stuck in a nostalgic bubble with entertainment being mostly reboots, remakes or rehashes of what we’ve already consumed. Because no one seems to care about anything remotely unfamiliar, our first album was titled as such to get attention among the muck.”

Gray said that looking back five years later, he would have chosen a different title but still thinks the album did what they wanted it to do.

“Our debut was intentionally crafted in soundscape and visual presentation to easily find those looking for that kind of music,” he said. “However, as we’ve grown as a group, we’ve throttled back on the throwbacks and looked for ways to produce music that’s more modern while embodying the same spirit that the ’90s seem to represent.”

Noiseheads is about to release their second full-length “Sitcoms for Aliens,” which will drop the same day as their show at chizuko. Local musician Michael Daw of Chainsaw Kelly and Colonel Gentleman and the Intangible Fancies will be filling in on bass for Gray’s brother, who currently lives in North Carolina.

“‘Sitcoms for Aliens’ was the easiest and most difficult album to make,” Gray said. “In the beginning of 2016, the band was in the middle of transitioning to North Carolina, where we thought we’d all relocate. Long story short, Greg didn’t make the move, my wife and I moved there and then back to Pensacola within six months, and my brother moved there with his family and has been there ever since.”

Despite the difficulty, Gray said, there was one week that they were all together in North Carolina and that’s when majority of the album was recorded.

“I think the album was reflective of the events of that year, the effects of which we still feel today,” Gray said. “There’s a wide range of emotions on this record.”

In between “1994″ and “Sitcoms for Aliens,” Noiseheads also released an EP in 2015 which was a departure from their usual sound.

“It sounded quite different compared to our debut, which I think alienated some of our core fanbase,” Gray said. “It was more polished and ‘produced’ sounding. The goal with the new record was to create something a little rougher around the edges but a definitive progression from ‘1994,’ something that sounded retro and modern at the same time.”

Gray said that the band also didn’t limit themselves to being a trio on this album.

“We don’t have a second guitarist but there are harmonizing guitar parts,” he said. “We have no keyboardist but there are keyboard parts sprinkled throughout, and we don’t tour with a string quartet but there are many orchestral elements present.”

Noiseheads’ last shows in Pensacola were at Sluggo’s and Vinyl Music Hall opening for The Psychedelic Furs.

“We have a love-hate relationship with Pensacola,” Gray said. “We’ve never quite felt at home here but, alas, it is our home. I’ve grown to love it for what it is and try not to hate it for what it’s not, accepting the fact that it is and likely always will be a tourist town. Cover bands are the name of the game here so, if anything, Pensacola has inspired us to do our own thing and carve our own path outside of the city.”

NOISEHEADS
WHAT: Noiseheads with Surrounder and Ynicorns
WHEN: 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5
WHERE: chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: $5-$8
DETAILS: noiseheads.com
“Sitcoms for Aliens” will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp and locally at Revolver Records on vinyl, CD and cassette Jan. 5.