221 N Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 5:00PM / Show 6:30PM
This event is 21 and over
Nicos Gun didn’t start out as a band at all. Rather, it started out as a Gorillaz-style studio project that Harry Zelnick was crafting in his free time. Having won a Grammy for work that he did with Ludacris when he was just 17 (“War With God”), Harry Zelnick has since worked with everyone from Kelly Clarkson to 50 Cent. When he started work on his own project, he enlisted the help of Barney McKenna and Nick Bockrath for what was originally going to be part of his own compilation project. “They were just so good, I was like, ‘Fuck it -- let’s make a band,’” Zelnick explains.
It took another three months before the other guys knew he could even play drums. Until then, they just knew Zelnick as the “beat guy.” As for Zelnick, he planned on staying put in the producer’s chair. “One night, he was jamming out and we were all like, ‘What the fuck?’ -- we didn’t know he was that good,” says Bockrath.
McKenna has cut guitar tracks for The Roots before, Bockrath has done time with American Babies and Elevator Fight (with Zoe Kravitz), and the two previously performed together as Philly indie darlings Cortez, Cortez. But when they combined forces with Zelnick and bassist Andy Black, the pieces started falling into place and they realized they didn’t have a group -- they had a gang.
Nicos Gun wants to be the punk-rock Michael Jackson. That’s the goal, anyway. “Punk Jack,” clarifies McKenna. “That’s what we call it.” With a laptop studio set up in the loft apartment they all share -- and a permanent practice space they frequent daily -- Nicos Gun doesn’t take a day off. When they’re not recording a new song, they’re making a video for the new song they recorded yesterday. “I want people to know that we’re experimenting and doing a lot of work,” says McKenna. “We’re just trying to do something new and cool everyday, whether it fits into this box or that box.”
“A big part of it, too, is that we want to bring people into our world,” says Zelnick. “We want to show people how we live in Philly. Making a video is as fun as making a new song. And especially just to be able to write a song, make a video, put it on the net, and have people respond to it is, like, fucking awesome. You don’t need a major label deal to do that.”
Indeed, all you need is a Facebook and a YouTube account and, as Nicos Gun have proven, friends will do the rest -- after all, friends have friends who have friends. “We like writing songs, we like getting them to people, and we like playing live,” says Zelnick. “It’s a pretty simplistic idea. It’s not really a business plan so much.”
-- Benjy Eisen (AOL Music / Spinner); San Francisco