Nothing's Dominic "Nicky" Palermo: "We're Never Going to Be Pretty, Just Pretty Ugly."
Courtesy of the Artist
On the strength of the group's first full-length effort, Guilty of Everything, Nothing, out of Philadelphia and led by ex-con Dominic "Nicky" Palermo (who spent two years in jail several years ago for aggravated assault and attempted murder), have quickly become perhaps the best of the current crop of blossoming shoegaze bands that haven't been around since the creation of, well, shoegaze titans Creation Records.
Though shoegaze as a genre envelopes more than ear-rattling reverb, Nothing expands their sound into punk and old-school, alt-rock terrain, adding texture to their dreamy melodies and hazy vocals. The band has been touring the globe non-stop since the March release of their album, and that seemingly never-ending tour includes a stop this Saturday night at Dada in Deep Ellum. We recently chatted with Palermo about the rivalry between Dallas and Philly and adjusting to life after prison.
DC9 at Night: Maybe it's just due to the football rivalry between the Eagles and the Cowboys, but Dallas and Philly seem like they're worlds apart. What are your impressions of Dallas, or Texas, in general?
Palermo: My mom and stepdad have always been huge Cowboys fans. It was annoying and more embarrassing than anything because my friends would come over and they'd have, like [Troy] Aikman posters up and shit. I never really cared about the actual rivalry much though, or football for that matter. But yeah, we love Dallas. We have a ton of homies that always make sure were way more fucked-up than we should ever be, like the Powertrip guys, Narrow Head and everyone at Parade Of Flesh. Dallas is tight.
A few years ago, you spent some time in jail. What were some of the day-to-day things you had to deal with and overcome in the days immediately following your release?
You'd be surprised how awkward society becomes after being away only for two years. Interactions with people, from a normal store transaction, to just trying to meet people is awkward. It's astonishing. It's a clear sign that we're forced into engaging with each other on a day-to-day basis. When I got out of jail, I stayed in. It took me months, and a massive amount of alcohol, to become even slightly social.
What do you think the primary differences are between a band like yours who play shoegazey music and the Swervedrivers and Rides who were a part of the genre in its "glory days?"
I think we are very different. I'd say we have more of a connection to some of the early '90s alternative scene that ran with that shoegaze sound and made it their own. We have a rough edge in one hand, and in the other hand we have a smooth blade. We're never going to be pretty, just always pretty ugly.
Because it's often hard to decipher your lyrics when listening to the record, do they tend to take a back-seat to a song's overall vibe?
I mean, that's up to the listener. It's always a major thing for me to carry whoever is listening into the horrible time I'm writing about. It's the same for the music, though. But people are stupid and I'm writing about the same shit everyone is bitching about anyway, so who really cares?
On the other side of that equation, do you feel a greater pressure to get the mood and musical aspect of a song perfect?
Again, I think it's up to a listener. I won't listen to a band, no matter how good the music is, if they aren't saying anything. My mom once told me to never read any Cocteau Twins lyrics because it will ruin things. Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but that was in 1990-ish, and I still never have.