-Interview- No Cigar (6/12/15)

Billings, MT rock band No Cigar gets interviewed and talks about their start with music, crazy show stories and their upcoming plans. Read more below.

From: Billings, MT
Sounds like: Rock

1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? Who thought of the name “No Cigar” and is there any meaning behind it?

Chris - We've all been playing music since high school. Our sound is a result of the collaboration between our musical backgrounds. We're all songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, which keeps things fun. Nick thought of the name No Cigar.

Zach - I was classically trained in piano and some woodwind instruments starting in 4th grade. I gave up on that stuff when it stopped being fulfilling for me. I learned how to play guitar from reading tabs and playing by ear, starting around… I think it was somewhere between 7th or 9th grade. I’ve almost forgotten how to read music now, which is fine with me. I probably developed most of “my sound” from attempting to emulate bands I was listening to at the time, and still am. Mostly Alkaline Trio, Bayside, Blink 182, and shit like that. Nick totally stole the band name from a Millencolin song. I think.

Nick - I started playing the snare drum in 5th grade & got my first pawn shop drum set between the 7th and 8th grade. I played in bands and started promoting shows all through high-school, afterwards I moved to Wyoming to play in a punk rock band called The-Front. After that I spent a year in Phoenix, playing with a few different groups. In late 2007 I got a call from a mutual friend of the Photo Atlas saying they needed a drummer to finish out a month of touring. I learned the material and hopped on a plane 2 days later to meet them at the Cincinnati airport I think. After that month of touring I returned home and instantly uprooted again to move to Denver. I spent 3 more years recording and touring with the Photo Atlas. I’ve always put playing music in front of anything else like school, or a good career. Eventually though it just became too much and I simply couldn’t find enough part-time work to feed myself and support my most basic needs while on tour or even between tours. I ended up moving back to Billings, MT in 2011 with a deep desire to start over. I started playing more guitar, writing songs, and learning how to record. The name No Cigar is indeed a great Millencolin song.

2. What do you want you listeners to take away from your music?

Chris - I just hope that people find something they can relate to.

Zach - I want people to understand the genuine nature of our songs. The subject matter may not be super deep, but it’s definitely down to earth which is what I want people to appreciate.

Nick - Some of our songs can be taken very literally, but a lot of them can definitely be interpreted in different ways. As long as a few people can listen and relate, that’s more than I could ask for.

3. How has the response to the new single "I-90 West" been thus far?

Chris - It seems like people like it. We've had a lot of positive feedback on our lyric video.

Zach - My mom didn’t like how often the word “fucking” is used.

Nick - It has been received well. Backing up the song with a well-crafted lyric video definitely gets people’s interest more so than just releasing the song itself.

4. What can people expect from your live show?

Chris - An intense rock show. Lots of jumping around and loud guitars.

Zach - One thing you better not see is Nick contacting me in any physical way, he’s only allowed to run into Chris. I do my best to look like an idiot. And stare at Colton. And keep Nick from “accidentally” hooking my cables and unplugging them.

Nick - I like to kick Zach.

5. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Chris - That's a tough one.

Zach - In a fantasy world? I would say A Wilhelm Scream, A Wilhelm Scream and probably A Wilhelm Scream.

Nick - Anyone on Riot Fest.

6. Any crazy show stories?

Chris - I was elbow dropped on stage once.

Zach - Oh man, one time, here in our hometown, we were about to play our last song and a really drunk guy in the crowd (who was one of the bartenders at the venue we were playing, but was off the clock) started yelling at Nick that we all needed to turn down because we were too loud and the bartenders that were working couldn’t take drink orders. Nick was all upset and shit and they yelled back and forth for a few seconds and then Nick runs over to his amp and just fucking cranks the master all the way up. Then he yells “Turn down for what?!” I have no idea what the main mix sounded like, but his amp was already too loud on stage, in my opinion, which is the usual case. Anyway, we start playing the song (finally) and a minute into it Nick’s girlfriend is up against the stage trying to get his attention, I think trying to tell him about how upset the off-the-clock bartender is, and Nick’s trying to ignore it and keep playing and his guitar is wayyy too fucking loud and I think he was so upset and distracted that he forgot the words for a second. All of a sudden he just stops playing, throws his guitar on the ground and says something like “Fuck it, we’re done, see you guys at our next show. Fuck this and so on…” And...The rest of us are just stunned. We still weren’t exactly sure what was going on and why Nick was so upset. So I just kinda shrugged at the folks in the crowd and took my stuff off the stage. Turns out the off-the-clock bartender guy and Nick were both friends, but both were really drunk. Or something. And they just got mad at each other. Five minutes after Nick threw his guitar on the ground everything was fine. It’s a really lame end to what could’ve been a much better story.

Nick - Socorro, NM. The show was booked via a third party. All we knew was that we had guaranteed beer and pizza. What we didn’t know was that there was no sound system and we were expected to cover 2 to 3 hours worth of time although there were no other bands. After asking all the bartenders if they knew anyone we could call with a PA to no avail, we decided to run vocals through a spare guitar amp. We played two sets, having to teach each other/learn some cover songs in between sets outside where it was quiet enough to hear an electric guitar without amplification. By the time we asked for our pizza, we were told the kitchen closed at 10. One guy wouldn’t stop yelling “La Bamba” all night long. He actually bought some merch after our two grueling sets. We still refer to that guy as La Bamba. We packed up, and had to drive overnight to Houston. Next thing I remember is being awoken around 6am as we pulled into a US Customs checkpoint, that’s a whole other story. Don’t mess with Texas. We somehow made it to Houston just in time to load onto stage and have the sound guy buy us a round of beers. Houston was awesome, and there were tons of excited kids there.

7. What’s your take on the current state of rock?

Chris - Music as a whole has changed drastically in the last decade. People are downloading instead of buying CDs and it's easier than ever for an independent band to get their music out there. Rock is not dead.

Zach - If I’m being honest, I have no take on the current state of rock. I don’t actually listen to much music. I’m a cynic so I pretty much assume most bands that I hear about through mainstream media are shit. And I don’t go out of my way to find other music. So yeah.

Nick - I feel like rock isn’t as big as it use to be, and most of the mainstream rock bands are just regurgitating riffs and hooks. I’ve always believed that any good band needs passion in their lyrics, as well as the music to back it up. Rock will never die because there will always be hordes of passionate musicians and fans of passionate music in this world.

8. What’s the current music scene like there in Montana both locally and state-wide?

Chris - Billings, MT has really begun to develop a very strong music scene. You can go to a show any night of the week here. It is tough for bands to get out. We are like an island surrounded by land. The closest metropolitan area is 8 hours away (Denver).

Zach - I agree with Chris mostly. There is a decent “scene” here, but it’s really only in one part of the town. It’s almost all exclusively 21+ as far as I know. Locally, I’d love to see some sort of well-received all ages venue that’s as active and frequented as the 21+ places. Statewide, I have no idea. When it comes to “rock” or punk music, I assume that most of the bigger cities in the state are similar to Billings. I noticed “more” local music in Missoula when I was going to school there for five years, but the diversity and feel of the scenes there didn’t seem far removed from what I’ve experienced in Billings and other cities in the state.

Nick - It used to be that when a great band or tour came through Montana they would play Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, or nowhere. Quite often the ladder, not playing MT, but rather stopping at Denny’s on their way through was very common. Nowadays it seems like tours are hitting at least two spots in the state if not more. Billings seems to have something going on at multiple venues almost every night.

9. What’s your take on legal/illegal music downloading?

Colton - I think the world of legal downloads (itunes) has taken away from the connection the listener would receive. There is no better feeling than searching high and low for a record that means a lot to you and having that bond with it. Music should be a beautiful experience in many different ways. As far as illegally downloading goes, we’ve all done it. If you illegally download something at least buy a t-shirt or go to a show and show the true support for the artist at hand. If someone illegally downloaded our stuff, more power to you. I hope you enjoy the record.

Zach - What Colton said. Buy what you want and don’t be a dick. If you’re just in it for free shit, that’s pretty lame.

Nick - The illegal downloaders are just more potential fans. I’ve tried looking our stuff up on bit-torrent sites. It doesn’t seem to be there yet, but hopefully one day. Haha. Maybe I’ll start the seed. Basically, artists need higher percentages from streaming sites like Spotify, or we just need to start cutting out the middle men altogether.

10. What’s next for No Cigar?

Chris - Tour in September!

Zach - Bothering Chris while on tour in September.

Nick - We are playing a music festival in Denver on July 25th called the Denver Underground Music Showcase, or UMS for short. We have quite a few local shows coming up and we’re currently booking our fall tour to the West Coast. Besides shows, we have a lot of new music coming out. Our song “I-90 West” will be featured on Rise Or Die Record’s Unveiling The Underground 50 Bands from 50 States compilation CD. 5000 copies will be passed out at 25 separate Warped Tour dates.

11. Any shoutouts?

Chris - I'd like to say hi to my cat Oni.

Zach - Chris’s cat Oni.

Nick - Anyone who reads this interview. Rock on.