Columbus, Ohio hard rockers, NoMara, led by guitarist John LeCompt (ex-Evanescence, We Are The Fallen) and lead vocalist Kelly Burdge, are gearing up to release their second full-length album later this year. Their new EP, …And So It Begins, released in January and has been very well-received. We recently chatted with both LeCompt and Burdge about the band’s origins as well as the influences behind their brand new music video for the song “Tesla,” which we’re delighted to help premiere.
John, fans know you from your time in Evanescence and We Are The Fallen. What happened with those groups and how did NoMara come together?
LeCompt: As Far as the Evanescence thing, I’m pretty sure that’s old news. We all just reached a point where we weren’t happy. It’s kind of sad when a group of people can’t respect the opportunity that they have and turn it into a bad thing. After that, lessons were learned and applied and I think we all are better for it now as musicians and human beings, in general. It was a good ride and I will hold that time very dear to my heart forever, despite the negative energy that was involved behind the scenes. I learned a lot about how something so precious is to be cultivated and respected. We Are The Fallen is technically still a group. It’s just on a very long hold because all the members have so many different aspirations and obligations. I hope that we can get together and put out something beautiful again, but only time will tell. In the meantime, I will be putting my energy into NoMara and Even Devils Die.
NoMara is something that I’ve been involved with since its inception. Until last year I only wore the producer hat and cranked out the music for Kelly to write lyric and melody to. Now, because I’ve been the integral part to the songwriting, Kelly and I only thought it right for me to actually BE in the band. It’s kind of hard sometimes to bring these musical pieces into the world, sell them to the highest bidder, and let them go. They are like my children and with the content that I’ve yielded to NoMara, I want to see it through and make sure they are nurtured and given all the attention they need to be loved like I love them. Plus, it’s a good opportunity for me to get back on the grid with something I am proud of and shake things up from the stage. The team that we’ve put together destroys the stage in the way that it should be done. In summation, I’ll quote a lyric from the NoMara song, “Use Your Love”… It’s time to have some fun!
Tell us a little bit about the track “Tesla” and the inspiration behind it?
Burdge: I grew up in a small Ohio town called Hopedale. There was not much to do other than ride around country roads with friends cranking rock music, chasing girls, and getting into trouble. There was always some big about the sound of ’80s music that, coupled with MTV, created a fantasy life inside millions of country boys across America. We all wanted to experience that life. The other thing about bands like Tesla, Poison, Motley, Warrant, is that it had to experienced live and up close to get the full effect.
Trying to explain to others why the music meant so much was not easy to do. Last year, John came up with the music for “Tesla” and shot it over to me. I immediately began to hear the words and melodies and new it was going to be a song to capture what those bands meant to me and the impact they had on my life. The first time we played the song live was opening up for Tesla in San Antonio which made it even more special. I love those guys and will never forget the magic they created.
LeCompt: With the song “Tesla,” musically I was going for something along the lines of Avenged Sevenfold. A lot of the songs are very metal, but with a pop sensibility, so on this one I wanted to capture something that was technical, but more palatable to the active rock genre. Little did I know that Kelly was going to take us down memory lane, through the halls of ’80s rock legends. It really turned out far different than I expected and I wouldn’t change a thing.
The video was shot live on tour with Telsa. What was it like touring with them and how did their fans react to a heavier band opening the show every night?
Burdge: Tesla fans are the most loyal fans in the world. I think you can see by the reaction in the video they responded pretty well considering we were the opener. Those fans still starve for good active rock music and I think transition well over to being NoMara fans. We are considered a mainstream active rock band but certainly bring a hint of old school to the table. As far as being on the road with them there is no better group of guys to learn from. They have seen it all and are still doing it, very well I might add. Jeff Keith is an incredible person inside and out. His voice is stronger than ever. The band and the crew are fantastic role models for young bands trying to make it. They have learned longevity comes with healthy choices and behaviors. To make it in today’s music business there is no room for recklessness. I would tour with Tesla forever if I could.
LeCompt: Touring with Tesla is something I would never have imagined to be on my resume. Although, if you’d asked me 25 years ago, I probably would have said, “Yes, that’s on my bucket list.” It was an amazing experience to share the stage with guys that just wake up and piss excellence. Seriously, during sound check they would talk about random songs to add to the show on whatever night, and I’d hear them say, “We haven’t played that one since we recorded it (however many years ago)” and then they’d tinker around with it. Every time, it sounded like they’d been playing it everyday for years. That’s some baller shit, right there. I can only aspire for that kind of longevity and articulation as a player and an artist.
As far as the fan reception of NoMara, it was pleasantly surprising. They really responded to our music and showed us that they were serious by meeting us at the merch booth and supporting us. It felt really good to see them enjoying our music. Really, it just felt good to see people enjoying music being performed live, by us or Tesla or anybody for that matter. I think that’s one of the things that’s ailing Rock and Roll; the fact that people stopped appreciating the experience. That’s a big part of what I think Kelly is trying to remind people of with the lyric in “Tesla.”
Check out the song “Tesla” here.
While this video is coming out, you are set to drop your new single “Cheap Talk” to radio. Tell us a little bit about that track and what fans can expect?
Burdge: “Cheap Talk” is our first single. I think it is one of many great songs off our upcoming record and demonstrates how NoMara is coming into our own from a songwriting perspective. I think it is a potential cross over song that can succeed in alternative rock station markets as well. The song itself is my current life soundtrack. The older I get and the more focused I get the more I find myself around people that “talk” a big game but can’t follow through. It’s true, “I gotta see it to believe it baby then I’ll know… your talk is cheap but I’m just not sold….”
LeCompt: “Cheap Talk” (as well as much of the album) is very guitar-driven and tells a lot about my affinity for the guitar stylings of Crowbar, Down, Corrosion Of Conformity, and Metallica. We aren’t nearly as metal as those groups, but my formative years as a guitar player were saturated with the low southern style of the first three mentioned and the accuracy and polished harmony of Metallica. I broke out the southern influences a little bit with my band, Machina, but it really exploded all over the NoMara record.
Tell us a little bit about your upcoming new album (where was it recorded, who produced it, and what it sounds like)?
Burdge: We decided to release an EP titled, …And So It Begins in January. The full-length record is pretty much complete and will come out when the time is right later this year. There is not a bad song on it and I believe it is one of the best overall rock records of 2015. Hopefully people will get to hear it and more importantly. Come out live and experience it. It was recorded in a couple locations, John’s studio in Arkansas (Red Room) and with Joe Viers at Sonic Lounge here in Ohio.
LeCompt: All the songs start with me, just sitting in front of my studio rig with a guitar in my hands. I speak with Kelly beforehand about what he’s looking for (vibe-wise) and try to get into that headspace. I’ll write a front to back piece of music, then bounce that off of Kelly to see if we are on the same page. It usually flows pretty well between us. Then we track the rest of the instrumentation here at my studio (The Redroom) and kick the sessions up to Joe Viers at the Sonic Lounge. That’s where Kelly puts the “Vocal Stank” on them, so to speak. Sometimes he goes is alone and nails it, and other times I fly up and work with Kelly on vocals. I’m a harmony guy. I love harmonies. So, I’ll get up there and work Kelly like a dog until the vocal is in the realm of “W.W.L.D.?” (What would Layne (Staley) do?). That is also where our lead player, Jeremy Harris, records those “burn your eyes out” solos that you can hear on a handful of the songs.
As far as credits, I am the producer, but I would say that Joe Viers at the Sonic Lounge is co-producer. He has a great many ideas that have shaped NoMara’s songs into what they are now. Without his ear and input, I think this batch of songs would never have lived up to their potential.
What’s next for NoMara as we move forward into 2015?
Burdge: Our goal is to get out there and play live. We didn’t invest all this time and energy into creating music for it to just float around on the internet. We want to get out on the road with other great bands, get new fans, share experiences together, and just play music. The music industry is like trying to solve the Rubik’s Cube… we certainly do not have all the answers or crystal ball, but what I can control is us, our music, and our product. We are ready to go!
LeCompt: To build off of Kelly’s answer, I am actually awaiting a crystal ball that I ordered on eBay and am damn close to solving the Rubik’s Cube for the first time in my 42 years. That said, 2015 through whenever have the makings of good times and possibly a successful run at some Rock and Roll. We’d love to see as many of you out there as possible. If you see us at shows and online and it looks like we are having fun, it’s because we are. That’s the only real reason we should be doing this. Come join the fun!
Check out the song “Sell Out” here.