Interview with Nashville-based female-fronted alt-rock band The Nearly Deads

By on May 11, 2015

IMG_5473HHM: How did The Nearly Deads come together as a band?

TJ:  We met in Florida, myself and Steve had some mutual friends, our original drummer was playing in another band, basically we were in two separate bands and we all decided to move to Nashville to get closer to a music industry town and we ended up combining forces and I took over the lead singer position for their band, we became female fronted and that’s how The Nearly Deads were born.

HHM: I read that the name of the band is pays homage to your home state of Florida, where did you come up with it?

TJ:  There is a saying in Florida that it is home of the newlyweds and the nearly deads and I thought it sounded kind of cool and that it would give us that association with home, and also a little that it was “punk” enough but it is still tongue in cheek.  It’s not super serious.  I think people think we are a heavier band because we have “The Nearly Deads” as a name but it’s really more of a light hearted kind of thing.

Kevin:  I think it is cool because it throws people off too. You don’t know what you are going to get if you don’t know who we are.

HHM: Who or what would you say has had the biggest influence on you musically?

Javier: Blink 182

TJ:  Oh my, there are so many.  I really love the Distillers.  I love Bert McKracken from the Used, and Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance

Kevin:  I’d say mine is a mixture of Brand New and Blink 182.  Those two bands are the reason I play bass to this day.

Steve:  I guess as a guitarist and songwriter, my biggest influences are Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Talent, and Mew from Denmark.

Josh:  Definitely 90’s Pop Punk so bands like Sum 41, Blink 182, and Green Day

HHM: What is your favorite song to sing in the car when it’s just you and the steering wheel?  You know that guilty pleasure song we all have.

Kevin: I actually like to rap, like Notorious B.I.G. songs when I’m by myself

TJ:  In general, I feel like Katy Perry is a big thing in the van for all of us.  Oh, and Brand New.  When me and Kevin sit up front, we put on Brand New and we basically sing the whole album, start to finish together.

Kevin:  Every time!

TJ:  Every time we sing it, it is like the world stops until the album is over

Steve:  When everybody is asleep, I sing along to 80’s Goth.

Josh:  I’m just going to second Katy Perry

Javier:  I’m going to go a different route and go with The Carpenter’s.

HHM:  There’s always one who likes to throw that little changeup in there.

HHM: If you were stranded on an island and you only had three things with you, what would they be?

TJ:  A toothbrush, mascara, you know, in case I’m rescued, and I guess a good book

Javier:  A guitar, a huge net to catch fish, and I would take that little device from “Waterworld” where he turns his urine back into water.

HHM:  The survivalist in the crowd (laughs)

Kevin:  I would take a female, preferably the girl I met the other night.  A net to catch fish, and a guitar as well, a bass though.  (Everyone laughs)  Definitely a bass.

Steve:  My acoustic guitar, a Swiss army knife, and a pillow so that I can be comfortable while I sleep all day.

Josh:  I’d bring drumsticks, a Nintendo DS, even though I always forget it on tour

TJ:  What would you do when the battery runs out?

Steve:  He’d make a solar powered device of course (laughs)

Josh:  and a magazine I guess

Steve:  A Playboy

Josh:  Yeah, a Playboy



HHM: My first exposure to your music was the video to “I Said”.  Every video and concert video I’ve seen of you seems to be of you guys having a good time doing what you do.  Is that what you hope fans take away from your music?

Kevin:  As a band we just want to give people empowerment.  Make them feel empowered and put positivity out there.  We stand by positivity very strongly and as far as the energy we give out, we just want the crowd to feel that energy and give it right back to us.  I mean, when I go to a show I want to feel like I am connecting with the band on stage, even if I’m not meeting them or anything.  That’s definitely what we strive to get out there.

HHM: What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome along the way?

TJ:  Honestly, we have been very lucky there haven’t been a lot of obstacles.  I think, just to mention it briefly, we have kind of been through the wringer, as far as being on and off of a label is concerned, and I think that created a newfound drive to be more independent, but we kind of took that as a positive, even though it may have been an obstacle and we felt we lost a little bit of our freedom, it made us realize how much power we had.

Steve:  Basically, being independent is a good thing and we have a lot of freedom with it but that does come with a lot of obstacles in that the industry is a lot of just who you know and we are having to meet people and create relationships on our own, and discover opportunities on our own, but it all pays off in the end.

Kevin:  One other obstacle we had was that we had to replace two members and that led us to Javier and Josh, but it worked out for the better.  It was meant to happen and I feel like we are way tighter as a group now.

HHM: Female fronted bands are extremely popular in the world of Rock and Metal right now.  In the not so distant past, it was pretty much a boy’s only club with the occasional standout female fronted band.  Has the fan base changed or is it something deeper?

TJ:  That’s kind of like a loaded question.  To us it doesn’t feel like anything changed.  It is a little bit of everything and a little bit of both at the same time, I guess.  I mean, fans have always loved female fronted bands.  The message of empowerment and being yourself. I don’t know, maybe that was something that was missing in Hard Rock, which may be why female fronted bands are more in the forefront now. There are a lot of good messages to it. I don’t think it really matters whether you are male or female fronted, I think the messages are getting bigger and the fans are just grabbing onto that.  I don’t know if the fans are more or less accepting, but we are getting more opportunities.  From a personal perspective, just to be on this tour with In this Moment is huge for us and it is getting us exposure to a whole new audience.

Steve:  Even for me personally when I was younger, I’m a 90’s kid, there weren’t a ton of female rock musicians out there.  When I heard female performers, it was typically in Pop and other genres and, honestly, when I was younger, I would hear female rock bands like when Paramore started getting big, and I was like “why would you want a girl to sing”.  Rock is supposed to be heavy and a “man’s” thing.  You kind of had that mentality in a lot of naïve listeners.  I feel like as more and more women were getting into the genre, I would hear more and more and I was like “this is badass” and I started really getting into it and now I am in a female fronted band.  I feel like, because there are more women doing it, more people are hearing it and realizing how awesome it is.

TJ: I feel like there have always been women doing it, now we are just able to do it more in the forefront. It does have more to do with the audience and being willing to give those bands the opportunities in an equal way.

Steve:  I’m not saying that they weren’t there. I’m just saying that now there are more of them.  I mean, back in the day you could count the big, female fronted bands on one hand.

TJ:  Honestly, I think all we want is to be treated like any other band, right alongside any male fronted band because we are all in the same genre.  Female fronted is not a genre.

Steve:  It’s just a label.

TJ:  To be able to be going on tour with bands like In this Moment and Halestorm like we have be fortunate enough to do is awesome, but you know Upon a Burning Body is on this tour.  They have a strong frontman.  I mean, with Butcher Babies they are right alongside with everybody.  To be able to be seen as just a Rock band, I think that is what is getting more women out there because they are treating us as equals now.  If our band is a good band that is the end of it.

HHM:  That is exactly where I was going with it.  What you just said is exactly what I am seeing from an outside perspective. That is it just “bands” now.  I talked with Heidi and Carla from Butcher Babies a few months back and that was one of the things we discussed was that they just want to be considered a band, nothing else.

TJ:  Until they start prefacing male-fronted bands as “male-fronted” band so and so, it’s not really going to be equal.  One day hopefully we will get to that point.  I mean, yes, we are female-fronted, but there is a lot more to our music than that.  I think it’s great that Carolina Rebellion just happened the other day and you had Halestorm playing, you had In this Moment, you had Butcher Babies.  I mean 10 years ago, were there really that many female-fronted bands on these huge festivals, absolutely not.  I mean these bands are paving the way for bands like us and hopefully we are paving the way for the next generation.

HHM:  Bigger and better things and maybe the next generation it will be exactly as you said no more “female-fronted” label, just “bands”

TJ:  Hopefully, yeah

Kevin:  Another thing too, these days there’s a ton more female band members and “full chick” bands.  They are taking over.  Pretty soon we are gonna be out of jobs.



HHM: Invisible Tonight has been out for nearly a year now, do you have any plans for new music in the works?

TJ:  We are definitely working on new stuff and I am really anxious to get new music out to people.  We have been touring, so we are really focusing on that right now.  In the past myself and Steve kind of took the forefront on the songwriting, but on this record we’ve got a lot of ideas from Javier and from Kevin and we’ve got Josh in the band now and he has a whole new set of influences to bring to the mix.  It’s going to be a group effort and it’s going to be awesome.  It’s going to be heavy and we have been very inspired by what we have been doing.

HHM: You have a couple of more weeks left on this tour, are you doing anything differently now than you were when you started this tour?

Kevin: We kind of knew coming in to this tour that we had to be on top of our game at all times because this is a great opportunity for us.  We are the opening band on one of the biggest tours of this year.  We have been trying to be early every day and stay out of other people’s way who trying to work.  You know, I’ve heard stories from some of the guys who talk about the opening band being in the way and complaining.  Don’t complain.  If you don’t get a sound check, that’s fine.  We are musicians. We can just get up there a do it.  We have been trying to keep it pretty consistent being on top of our game.  We don’t really party at all.  We’ve been keeping it straight, working hard and making the most of this opportunity.

HHM:  What is your favorite song to perform live?

Josh:  On this tour specifically, I think Invisible Tonight.  It’s the title track of the album and I think it’s just a cool song, it’s fun and energetic.

Steve: I like to play Easy Way Out.  I think it has a little different vibe than the other songs on the set.  The others are more straight forward and heavy and it has more of a swing to it.

Kevin: On this tour it would probably be Brave.  I like playing Brave a lot.

TJ: Normally I pick a different song, but this tour we are not playing it on our set, so I’ll give it to Fact and Friction because, honestly for me, it’s close to my heart. It’s a song we wrote when we first started and I connect with it.  We’ve been performing it the longest and so I feel the most comfortable and connected with the message personally and I love singing it.  It’s just easy to let go because it’s one of our oldest songs and people who are seeing us for the first time on this tour have no idea how long we have been performing it.  To them it’s the first time, so it just makes it feel like the first time, every time for me and I love it.

Javier:  I am going to have to go with Invisible Tonight.  It has a lot of energy and I like to jump around and stuff.

HHM: What has been your greatest moment on stage thus far?

Javier:  My favorite is sitting side stage and watching Josh try to climb up those steps to start the tracks before the show.  You never know what’s going to happen.

Steve:  I think our recent show in Chattanooga.  We had an amazing crowd response.  Everybody there was super energetic and we always feed off of the crowd.  It wasn’t necessarily the biggest show, but everybody was just so into it.  It was a great show.

Kevin: I love every show on this tour, but I think the one for me that got my stomach tingling was when we played Journey’s Backyard Barbeque.  We opened for All American Rejects and there was easily 3500 to 4000 people there.  It was unreal.  Oh, and we killed it that night too. (laughs) That’s why I was happy.  We did good.

TJ: My best moments on stage are when I look out in the crowd and see somebody singing along.  That is a really humbling, fulfilling kind of moment.  That people actually care and learned all the words and they are up front singing along.  I mean, we are still up and coming, so we don’t get that a lot and it is really, really meaningful to see that.  It gives me the power to keep doing this and keep moving forward.

HHM: What is something you haven’t done that you would really love to experience?

Kevin: Visit Australia

TJ:  The next goal that I have is to do the entire Vans Warped Tour.  We have played a few dates here and there but I would love to experience the entire tour.  I think it would be great for us.  I want to go on tour with Halestorm.  That’s my future goals.

Javier: As a personal one, maybe we could throw in some back up dancers

TJ:  Yeah, we are going to throw in some back up dancers for the guys (laughs)

Steve:  We have always said we would love to be on one of the late night talk shows.  I’d love to be on Conan.  That’s always a goal of mine. I watch it almost every night.

Josh:  I’d have to second Warped Tour.  That’s always been a big thing for me.

HHM: Is there anything you’d like to add?

TJ:  Just thank you to everyone for listening to us and supporting us.  We owe everything to our fans.

Kevin:  Thanks to the people who have stuck with us through the past few years, through our ups and downs.  They are still coming out to the shows.  Even at these big ones, we are seeing faces that we saw years ago.  Thank you to everyone that supports what we do and is there with us.

Steve:  If you like us, keep telling your friends about us, that’s going to keep us around.  Burn the CD, I don’t care.  Just tell your friends.

Kevin:  Yes, tell your friends and come to a show.


Interview By: Gary Flinn 


Check out more photos from the show HERE


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Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.