Local boys make a mess
by Sarah Kitteringham
The three men that make up Calgary act NOSIS are aware of the stereotypes that threaten to envelop them. Buzz genres like metal, rock, and blues all evoke certain preconceptions in people’s minds, and you’d be hard-pressed to name a local act that melds all three into a move- ment-inducing mess. Luckily for them, the amalgamation of the three has resulted in a unique sound that makes you dance, head-bang and fist pump simul- taneously.
Composed of guitarist/vo- calist Trevor Welsh, bassist/ backing vocalist Robby Bell, and drummer/backing vocalist Jon McLean (three “nice young boys” who “won’t defile your daughters”), NOSIS is the merg- er of diverse musical tastes. When the guys meet up with The Reflector for an interview over delicious Club Med shee- sha, the members are adorned in Beastie Boys t-shirts and Red Hot Chili Peppers tattoos, and quip constantly about “big balls” amidst mentions of the Police, Gordon Lightfoot, Clutch, and Led Zeppelin.
“A lot of our songs are written through just jamming and just hitting on a groove,” says Bell, who spends up to half a year in British Columbia tree plant- ing. The bassist helps provide the meaty foundation of the dy- namic trio who has been making rounds through Calgary since 2004. “It is usually deep, heavy, loud, somewhat fast — we do appreciate dynamics. A lot of it is grooves and as big balls as the three of us can muster.” Peals of laughter ring through the high- ceilinged restaurant.
Given Bell’s job and thus limited time spent in the city, it is puzzling that the band bothers remaining a cohesive unit. However, it is this lengthy annual separation that helps them keep on track and makes their live performance so powerful.
“It’s like the perfect marriage,” notes McLean. The percussionist joined the band on Valentine’s Day in 2007 (much to the cha- grin of an ex-girlfriend) thanks to FFWD Weekly’s invaluable ‘musicians wanted’ postings. All of NOSIS’ members converged this way, and believe that be- cause they only know each other through the band, the music remains fresh and excit- ing. McLean jokes the annual break is great because “you can fuck other people whenever you want to!”
Just as it would be in a strong marriage, all three musicians lovingly proclaim they prefer NOSIS to any of their past or present projects. Although they only have one EP under their belts — the 2008 eight-song release Wash Me — they have 18 songs in their discography, including such highlights as “Pay the Rent,” the abrupt start- stop punk jam “Mexico,” and the blazingly energetic cover of “The Immigrant Song.” These have been perfected by the band’s many performances in bars, all ages shows, and house parties — the last of which was shut down at midnight by the Calgary police, who informed them that the noise complaint came from “two blocks away.”
“It’s like molested metal. We’ve taken it and made it our own thing,” says Welsh of the group’s Clutch/Monster Magnet/Kyuss amalgamation. The father of two provides the deep, growling yelled vocals and writes the lyrics for NOSIS.
“I like rock better than metal. Metal just sounds so long- haired,” says Bell, “We are pretty bluesy sometimes.” McLean jumps in, noting that the quiet- loud dynamics are an essential piece of the puzzle. “To me it’s about teasing the audience. You start out a little bit, you bring it up, up, up…”
He sighs. “And it disappears again.” See Nosis play at the Distillery on Sept. 25.