GP: What exactly happened to Nobody Special? Why did you break up, what was going on, etc?
PN: It's hard to describe the whole situation and the tensions and burn-out going on prior to the so-called break up, and other members may remember some details differently, but I'll give you the straw that broke the bands back, in my opinion. We were head-lining the New Year's Eve show in '89 at the Sanctuary in Santa Ana, CA - a large biker church, somewhat controversial in their tactics, but I wanted to play there for a long time anyway. When it was time for us to play, Frank & Chris weren't around. They knew when we were supposed to approximately go on, but they were nowhere to be found. I later learned where they were, and for their sakes, I'll not say, (only that is was innocent, avoidable, and stupid). Don't get me wrong, I love these guys, but I was pissed-off. After stalling for asap, I had to get up in front of 3 or 400 and tell 'em we weren't gonna play because I didn't know where the rest of the band was - I was a tad upset. However, my nightmare was vain as the place was heavy with the Holy Spirit - they worshipped between bands, and NS playing or not wasn't going to stop this biker church from praising Jesus - for these are those who are grateful much, and the peace about the place was thick.
But still, I guess my flesh got the best of me. Chris and Frank were pulling into the place as I was packed up and pulling out, and instead of saying, "Peace! I don't care where you were or why you missed show, I love you"! I said, " Where the !*#@? were you? They started with their excuses, but once I caught on it wasn't an emergency, I told 'em not to call me for at least a week, and I'd call them when I cooled down - I was that mad. I wish I'd reacted differently, but that's what happened. They called and wanted to get together to talk about it a couple days later, but I was still pissed and didn't want to say or do something that I would regret. I told 'em I'd call 'em in a few days. That wasn't good enough for them, and they said if we didn't meet now, they would quit the band. Obviously, evidently, neither of us gave in, and that was it...at least for that particular crew. Who's fault? Who's to blame?... Who cares? We all fall short.
I had several shows booked including Cornerstone '90. Tony Cena, our drummer, was kind of caught in the middle, and for a while left the band along with Frank and Chris, but came back later at my request, and only missed two shows. In the mean time, I found willing participants. This was all happening at the same time that Broken Records informed us that the 2nd cd was not going to be distributed nationally by Word Inc, because it was "too contraversial" in their opinion, which meant it would sell substantially less than our 1st cd. And this, after being snatched away from Frontline to Broken unknowingly, was too much. I was burnin' out, and everybody wanted us to play for free. We had no equipment, no place to practice, no management or booking, and I was hungry, not to mention having other things going on in my life - like generating an income to survive, and the "Christian" market at that time wasn't as "punk friendly" as it is now. I got married, moved north, and figured I'd take a break, and did. I've never said NS wouldn't be back, and members at times come and go. But Tony, Chris, and Frank will probably always be considered the "original guys" and even though there's a new line-up, I wouldn't rule out 3 out of 4 of us playing together again someday.
GP: What happened with the reunion and (attempted tour) that was supposed to happen last summer?
PN: Yhea, that thing. Well, after Tooth and Nail and myself tried to buy the rights to the 1st cd at a reasonable price from Frontline unsuccessfully, and they re-released it themselves on cd (I was glad somebody did), I talked to Frontline about a mini tour out to Cornerstone '96. Having aquired the rights to the 2nd cd, I was also hittin' them up to re-release the 2nd cd, do a 3rd NS cd, and my solo acoustic cd. The response was positive and I got alot of lip service, but nothing ever happened. So, the tour thing - anyway, I was in Oregon, Tony was in AZ pregnant, Chris was uninterested, and Frank was in So Cal. Tony and Frank were into it, and ready. We specifically told Frontline Records that we could only give 3 1/2 wks to the tour, without anybody losing their jobs - and Frontline wasn't offering any kind of long term promises or inclination of commitment to support our families. I started to realize that if we were lucky, we'd all break even, but Frontline had NS doing a mini comeback tour to promote the re-release of the 1st cd, and it's a crappy contract anyway. So here's what happened: Frontline is a very hard record co. to get ahold of. They hardly ever take calls, and return them even less. When they have need of something from you, or you bug the crap out of 'em, maybe you can get through. About April, (the tour started in June), Frontline gave me the intinerary and it was a six week tour. I could have done it, but the other guys couldn't be gone that long at the time. Frontline knew we could only go out for 3 to 4 wks. Perhaps they figured once they already booked us for six weeks, we'd have to go...they were wrong. Or maybe it was just a communication break down. In any event, there was no decision to be made, we simply couldn't do it - no matter how bad we wanted to.
GP: Is this reincarnation of Nobody Special a one/ two time thing, or are you going to do it regularly?
PN: I don't think reincarnation would've been my choice of words, but yhea, we're back. I knew it'd happen sooner or later.
GP: If it is more than a one/two time thing, are you planning on writing any new songs, or just play the old ones?
PN: What kind of question is that? Of course we'll be playing new stuff, and we'll be heading to the studio asap.
GP: Who is playing with you now, and why didn't the The Vax and folks join up for this?
PN: Right now it's Joel McCombs on lead guitar, Eric Kegel on bass, and Jason McCombs on drums. You can learn more about NS's past, present, and future at:
Chris, (the Vax), hasn't expressed any interest in jammin' with NS again. I've asked him a couple of times if he'd like to play again, and that he's very welcome, but I don't think it'll ever happen.
As far as Tony and Frank, it's all geography. We'd love to play again together, and someday probably will - we still talk about it. But, for now, I'll be playin' with the Northwest crew, and they're a great bunch of guys. We're still pullin' it together as a group, but I couldn't have asked for more talent - these guys can boogie.
GP: Who would you say were the different influences that were contributing factors to the first album in comparison to the second?
PN: Most of the songs on the first album were written a few years before it was recorded, and played in a band I was in called "Immortal Youth" in '81. What God did in my life was definately the driving influence behind the music in Immortal Youth and NS (it's basically a depression, drug, suicide story). The 2nd cd's stuff was written about 5 years later. I'm not sure the influences were that different. I mean, musically, my tastes hadn't changed much (I've always been open-minded and enjoy much more than just punk rock). But I did have a few more years under my belt. I think the difference in sound on the 1st and 2nd cds has alot to do with the production, and the mix. I like the 2nd cd alot better as far as the overall sound of it, but enjoy the songs on both. We pulled together guys to play on the 1st cd, the 2nd was more of a band effort, and wasn't overproduced, in my opinion. There weren't alot of similar Christian bands back then to listen to, so my exposure to Christian music was like, Mustard Seed Faith, Larry Norman, Keith Green, Sweet Comfort, and of course, UnderCover, etc. Lifesavers, Altar Boys, Lifters were around too, and I knew these guys and they had alot of influence on my wanting to share my experience musically. But, I don't think they influenced me musically, know what I mean? After starting Immortal Youth, someone gave me an Ishmael United album - I thought they were really cool. But most of my muscial influences are secular.
GP: Besides just influences, who were some of the bands you were into them, and now?
PN: Well, I could go on forever here. Musically, I grew up in a suburb of LA in the 70's and 80's. So, I was basically exposed to it all. All that's now called "Classic Rock", and the best of the underground too. I'm the youngest of four kids, and what my older sibblings listened to, I listened to - at least in the 70's: BOC, Deep Purple, Cream, CCR, Bowie, The Who, Iggy Pop, BTO, Grand Funk, blah, blah, you get the picture. By the time the 80's arrived it was, of course, the Circle Jerks, TSOL, Fear, China White, Adoloscents, SxDx, Minor Threat, MDC, Red Cross, Black Flag, Crass, Eno, The Stranglers, The Damned, The Fall, Minute Men, DK, HVY DRT, BuzzCocks, Magazine, Devo, Agent Orange, and on... and on...I was influenced by probably all of the above and many more I didn't mention. I love weird music, and punk is wierd to me. But, I also enjoy Neil Young and Lou Reed stuff too, along with Motorhead, and alot of Metalica. I guess you've realized by now that I didn't grow up listening to much Christian music, and I'd have to say, I've heard much more secular music in my life than Christian, and therefore, as far as music is concerned, most, if not all of my influences are secular.
GP: You mentioned eariler about the controvercialness (or at least to some) of the lyrics? What was so controvercial, cause now, those lyrics would be considered very tame?
PN: Yhea, Word Inc. said they were too controversial, and I never found out which specific lyrics they were referring to. Good question Caleb! I wish I knew. I'm the wrong guy to ask. I will tell you this though, that the lyrics on both the 1st and 2nd cds are censored as you know them, by the recording record co's. So, Word felt the world couldn't even handle the censored version.
GP: Did people back then seem to be upset about the honest outlook of the lyrics, cause that was something, that many friends of mind, we're drawn to.
PN: Wow..."back then", it was only a few years ago, but the market is totally different now. No, I think that's what attracted people to Nobody Special - the honesty. The consumers don't seem to have a problem with reality, it's the industry folks that have their head's tucked. I was never really, and am not now, too concerned about what people will think or buy. I write what I feel, people can take it or leave it. Keep in mind, I've written alot more music than people have heard, and I never really persued any musical contract back then. I had no ideas on how the so-called "Christian" music industry worked, nor did I care. I was playing music that moved me to unsaved punks at mostly secular venues. That was where I came from, and that was where I was most comfortable. I always felt like I was under scrutiny, or somekind of "showcase" when we played at churches - "Hey look, a punk band singin' 'bout Jesus". I wasn't used to the atmoshpere and prejudice. Jesus was my new best friend, my savior, my buddy, and I just wanted to share that with people who were hurting like I was - that's all. And I was doing it years before Frontline Records made the 1st album. Being a signed artist with distribution really had nothing to do with the spiritual effectiveness of the band at all, and didn't do much for my opinion of "Christians" in the industry overall. The most unknown and unpopular band in the Christian industry can be the most fruitful in terms of communicating the Gospel to those who have ears to hear. I don't see any direct parallel between the most popular Christian bands and the most fruitful Christian bands. Many times they're not the same.
GP: You mentioned that you guys are gonna be doing new stuff, what direction are you going in? Is it gonna be something totally different (for example - like the JAWBONEOFANASS album Scatered Few did after their reunion), or is it going to be recognisably Nobody Special?
PN: I have alot of different stuff to do, but I'm gonna put that on my acoustic solo cd, that will hopefully be done before the Tom Fest '97. That music is kind of meloncoly, dissonent, mellow, and won't be for everyone. It's a collection of songs from '80 to the present, very personal, describing many of my struggles here on earth waiting for to be there.
As far as the 3rd NS cd, I just never know how it'll sound until we record the songs. They seem to become "Nobody Specialized". I mean, yhea it'll be NS and you'll be able to tell, however, we reserve the right to do whatever we want to, and nothing less. Some of the songs are a bit longer, and perhaps more progressive, but we couldn't sound like Pat Benetar if we wanted to....know what I mean? Will it be fast? Will it be punk? Well, it'll be Nobody Special. Beyond that, we please ourselves musically, and let you guys decide whether you like it or not. We don't have any desire to be "punker" or "faster" than the next band, just to enjoy what we're doing while we're doin' it. My only goal is to produce something equally as powerful muscially and lyrically as people say the 1st & 2nd are.
GP: Why the reunion? I know its a basic question, but.....? Is there something you need to say, ... get off your chest, or is it just for fun?
PN: The NS comeback is more of a supply and demand thing. We're back from popular demand. I was already planning on doing my solo cd, and persuing life after NS with a solo acoustic tour, and may still someday. But NS is a fun band to be involved with, and there's really no pressure aside from accountability to God, and what I put on the guys in the band (yhea right...no pressure...). We have fun, I have alot more to say and share, so why not? I think we can still do it as good as any, and we've had alot of recent requests to play all over the USA. We've really only played the Southwest in the past, and since the cds were distributed all over, many who have supported us never got a chance to see us play live. Sure, I tell 'em they're not missing much, but they want to see us anyway. So, this time around we'll try to get some decent booking, and/or backing, and get on the road. And yhea, I got plenty to get off my chest, and of course, the Harvest is riper than ever. Besides, who's gonna respond to and counter the "Marylin Manson's" out there? The lead singer comes on stage with a Budweiser bottle up his butt. A satanic high priest - he thinks he's all that. This kind of underground stuff has gone on for years, but now it's not so underground, and most teenagers will be exposed.
I gladly accept the challenge of getting up in front of the same teens and telling 'em that it's BS! And that anybody can stick things in their orphuses, and puke in their beer, but a real man shows self-control, and Satan hates us, has nothing to offer, and no power at all over a child of God! I loathe what bands like Marylin Manson stand for, and find true happiness in exposing their cowardess. What a bunch of whimps!! Certainly, we don't want the young folks thinking that these guys are cool, or tough... or that Satanism is nothing more than a marketing tool for the ball-less. I know Satan, and he knows me. I don't need no amateur, want-to-be cool, so-called satanic priest, spewing ignorance and deception thru his music polluting our world without a fight - no way ese!!
GP: Are NS planning on doing shows regularly, and if so, are you going to be trying to get Secular shows, or just playing like the push?
PN: I've never really played shows like the Push, before we played there. I think that type of show is something that has evolved since NS stopped playing. We really don't care where we play, we're just not prepared to take a loss like we did in the past. We have no money to lose, and playing and practicing costs money. I think alot of bands are playing churches and stuff because they can recoup some of the money invested in getting a band together and ready to play - and that's good that the churches and places like the Push help support the bands. And besides, that's where alot of the indie music is sold, at the shows. Secular shows are usually "freebies", and many times the secular venues put the Christian bands on the "off" nights and you end up playing to the roadies and sound crew, and maybe the bartender liked you, but probably not 'cause the crew weren't drinkin'. So, you kind of take 'em one at a time. I've wanted for a long time to do prisons all over the nation (NS has played them in the past and it's a great time - captive audience, you know?). Most major prisons have days when the inmates can enjoy bands, and you're gonna play to at least several hundred. If I can get a church or organization to sponser us, I'd like to go on a nationwide prison tour asap, before anything else. But that's a goal that will take money, and I haven't won the lottery yet, and although we get lots of letters of support and encouragement, we've always been broke and equipmentless....but so was John the Baptist, and he made quite an impact, don't you think?
GP: When can people be looking for something new?
PN: This year. I'm trying to get the 3rd NS cd and my solo cd done by this summer, and Wretched Records will do other band's stuff after that. In fact, I've recently booked time in the studio for my solo cd - I think that will be available first since it's already partially complete. It's just a money thang Caleb, that's all. We're an independent band now, we're nobody special. I'll get the stuff to you as soon as I can.