Interview: Needless to Say’s Got Something to Sayby Elizabeth Alli
Piano and metal may seem like odd bed fellows but Florida natives Needless To Say manage to meld their head-thrashing, kick-your-face-in sound with a refined and elegant sensibility.
Hardworking and talented, Needless To Say know how to craft an epic track and put on an unforgettable live show. From the perfectly synced hair propellers, to the ripping solos and high energy antics, their talent and showmanship have landed them on the 2009 Vans Warped Tour and on the playbill of national act Black Tide.
With the debut of their self-titled EP, Needless To Say deliver a collection of emotionally resonant and artistically accomplished tacks. Featuring a solid balance of heavy rhythmic drive, thoughtful songwriting and refined melodic themes cleverly disguised with a ‘Can’t get this shit out my head’ hook.
RaeMag had the pleasure of sitting down with 4 of the 6 members of Needless to Say to talk about their sound, their process and their plans to take the world by storm.
Listen to ‘Affinity’ – From Needless to Say’s Self Titled EP:
RaeMag: So first off, when and how did Needless To Say Form?
Johnny: Alright well Needless To Say is the product of a high school project I started way 4 years ago. It started just as something fun to do in 11th grade but i started to get more serious than most of the members so I decided to move on to more dedicated people, namely our drummer, Tremale and our Bassist, Kyle. We picked up a guitar player from the school and were left voiceless until Julz randomly showed up at practice and showed us her voice. Once we got things moving, writing songs and playing gigs, we came across problems with some members and decided it was time to kick it into high gear by recruiting John Kiernan (#1) and soon after Sonia and now here we stand, the Needless To Say we all knew we should be.
RaeMag: So as you’ve evolved as a band I’m sure your sound has evolved also, how has your sound changed and are you still defining it?
John Kiernan: The sound of NTS, at least for me, has always been very focused and on point with the messages conveyed. The biggest evolutions I feel we experience in the band come from everyone’s new experiences and constant boundary pushes with their instruments. I think especially now since we’ve gained some new members and the sort, more influences are and will continue to come about. I know that in the beginning the music was great and original rock music. Now I feel that we’re continuing to experiment with that sound as well as being more musical than ever.
Johnny: we are a very ecelctic and open minded bunch, so it seems only natural our sound will constantly evolve.
RaeMag: Well, you have all clearly honed your skills and your sound. John, I know that you and Sonia are both formally trained, how about the rest of the group, what’s your musical upbringing?
Julz: Well, for me, I never really had any training until about two years ago. I always just sung at home, different songs I liked and what not. When I got into middle school, I sang in some musicals. But it wasn’t until I meant Johnny where I got more serious about my voice, and started seeing a vocal coach one a week. I did that for about a year, my junior year of high school, but unfortuently had to stop because of expenses. So now I just practice on my own time, but that’s about it for me. I know our drummer is self taught..all the way! Our bassist was classically trained in piano for a while, but kind of just picked up bass a few years back.
Johnny: yeah our drummers been at it since he went to church at like 3 years old.
Sonia: I think each one of us is very musically inclined despite what training or musical experience we’ve had so it’s pretty easy to us to work musically as a band
Johnny: and Kyle (bassist) has been trained in and can play a huge variety of instruments, ranging from drums, piano, guitar, even some marching band stuff
Julz: marching band? lol…i didnt even know that
Sonia: john also plays bass clarinet lol
Johnny: As for me, I was introduced to the guitar at 6 years old, and started playing when I was 17…. Bad move on my part. I practiced non stop through highschool through 5 guitar classes (not one taught me to even read a note -_-). The only lessons I got were online or learning licks from my favorite bands. I just recently was accepted into the music program at FAU where I study with John and Sonia and have never been happier…. even if it is Jazz
RaeMag: So, take us through the songwriting process. Is it mostly a collaborative effort or do you guys develop ideas on your own and then bring them together?
Julz: When we first started the band a lot of the songwriting was Johnny and I. We’d sit in his room, he’d have a riff, I would start to sing over it and then we bascially had a rough of a song and the rest of the band would just jump in. Over time, the writing process has become a lot more collective. Lately, we’ll all be at practice, start to jam something out, and all have a part in the song.
John Kiernan: Definitely. There are some songs where it’s predominantly lead by some one or others in the band because they have a grand vision for it, but the songwriting is extremely collaborative. Very few and far between is there a song that’s fully written before the whole band is there. We have so many ideas that we each have for new material that we can’t wait to work out as well
RaeMag: Julz do you do most of the lyric writing?
Johnny: Oh yeah, she definetly has lyrics on lock
Julz: Yes, I’ve lyrically written all of the songs on the new EP
RaeMag: So, you guys recently recorded your EP at Eleventh Hour Studios. What was the recording process like? And how long did it take from start to finish?
Julz: I think each of us have our own take but for me, recording with eleventh hour is great, not only because they’re close friends of ours but because they’re so open to experimenting and really getting a feel of not only each song, but who we are as a band.
John Kiernan: It was honestly the fastest and smoothest recording sessions I have ever done. I’ve been in sessions where it’s really stressful or really not driven, or the polar opposite where nothing gets done. However, with Eleventh Hour, they were extremely fun and productive to work with. They came up with some ideas that we hadn’t thought of and they really did a great job of keeping our musical integrity.
John Kiernan: Especially coming into the band after many of these songs had been written and trying to put my spins on them, they were really accepting of many of the ideas while still having the head to say what fit and what didn’t.
Sonia: It was great to work with eleventh hour because we all were working as a team to create a great album and it’s great when you have good friends working with you in the studio to help you acheive a goal. They really were great at eleventh hour and it was an amazing creative process that lead to an amazing album.
Johnny: not to mention how grateful we are and how amazing of a job they did incorporating our newest member, Sonia, into the recording after they had all but finished recording the rest of us. I cant think of another studio that would have done that but these guys had no problem and made sound even better than we would have imagined.
RaeMag: What’s your rehearsal environment like. Is it wild and crazy or do you guys really get down to business?
John Kiernan: lol It’s both
Johnny: yeah exactly
Johnny: we all work really hard outside of practice so its hard to just sit down and be perfectly calm
RaeMag: Do you guys practice your head-banging in unison lol?
John Kiernan: YES
John Kiernan: and whirlwinds
Julz: we have
Johnny: we practice how we perform, with all the head banging, guitar spins, jumps, and mild concussions in tact
Julz: but now we are just pretty in tune with each other
John Kiernan: Main reason is so that when we’re playing, the parts don’t get messed up. It’s something a lot of bands overlook, actually practicing much of your stage presence as a collective band together. But TBH, it makes the show that much more awesome for the people.
RaeMag: What’s been your biggest challenge as a band so far?
Johnny: We are all gonna have different answers, I think, but from my observation, its really been sticking to it.
John Kiernan: I think the biggest challenge has been getting our mentalities from a local band to more of a serious band. Everything can be chill and always is, but there’s a lot that goes into being in a serious band: money, time, sacrifices, school, practices, shows…the list is endless. And there are many times where you do get knocked down by the industry, but it’s the ones that keep believing and working every day to achieve their goals that overcome this challenge.
Johnny: i mean 4 of us now live on our own, and have to provide for other people and themselves and have had so much to deal with as far as things outside of the band have gone. And I mean some of us have been pushing this band for 2 and a half years now and we are only now breaking the surface of our possibilities. It have been easy for some of us to get up and go when life got hard and the band was rocketing through MTV, but we stuck through it 100% determined that our biggest obstacle was just getting off the ground.
John Kiernan: Again, it’s something that most band don’t think about which is why so many bands end up splitting up or not going anywhere. It’s really unfortunate because there are so many people out there that deserve the recognition but just can’t get out of the mentality. I mean, being in a band is, in a sense, an entrepenurial business.
RaeMag: That’s some great advice for the younger bands out there. So, what’s next for Needless to Say? Tour? Full-length album?
Julz: Touring is definitely on the list. We want to promote this EP as hard as we can. So a full length is not on the top of the list yet.
Sonia: With the new EP out especially we want to get to as many places as we can and really have people experience what an NTS show and the music is all about.
RaeMag: Any plans to tour outside of Florida?
John Kiernan: Definitely
Julz: Hopefully summer 2011, we can tour up the east coast
John Kiernan: We want to get florida solidly behind us before we venture too far off, though we are promoting in other places well. Our EP’s going to be available in other countries, as a matter of fact…
RaeMag: Tell us again where and when we can get a copy of the EP?
Julz: It will be available for download Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 in online music stores. Such as, iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, Zune, ect.
Sonia: We’ll also be Selling CD’s through our bigcartel. We are taking presales for it now as well of $5.
Julz: Yes, and you can get a physical copy at any of our shows after November 23rd!
Needless to Say are an inspiring and talented group of musicians. If you haven’t heard them yet, you can check them out on Myspace or Facebook now and pick up your copy of their self-titled EP. Available through RaeMag November 23rd.
Needless to Say is:
- Julia (Julz) Formica: Vocals
- John Kiernan: Guitar/Vocals
- John (Johnny) Frasca: Guitar
- Sonia Galarraga: Keys
- Kyle Palmares: Bass
- Trey Dark: Drums