UZ: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how Nobody Special came into being?
PN: NS came into being in the studio after recording the 1st cd. Joey, (my brother), produced this cd in app. '85. It was a collection of songs that I'd written in the previous 5 yrs describing my experiences including the punk scene, depression and addiction, suicidal tendencies, violence and confusion, and most importantly, my experience with the Holy Spirit, God, Jesus Christ which saved my life and healed me totally and suddenly and allowed me to persue a life for myself that I thought was never possible. My newfound relationship with Jesus, and the new mentality and outlook the Lord gave me, was really the motivation behind these songs and lyrics. The 'punk' sound of the cd was simply a reflection of the music and subculture I'd been involved with and grew up around.
UZ: The first Nobody Special was released on Frontline Records with the help of guys like Gene Eugene and Chris Brigandi and several others. Who else helped you with this first album?
PN: Joey, the old drummer for the Lifters (I forget his last name - sorry Joey), some guitar extraordinaire from Canada (a rocker, I think his name was Al, but I can't be sure - my bro brought him in), some family and friends on back-up etc, and umm... myself of course - that's all that comes to mind right now. I'd have to look at the cd, and many didn't put their real names on it, but it was a group studio effort. I'd have to thank Elissa Johnson and Orlando Gonzalez; the bass and drums for Immortal Youth, the band before NS. We played most of the songs on the cd years before they were recorded by Frontline, but weren't on the cd.
UZ: How many of the songs from the first album came from the band Immortal Youth?
PN: Most of them, more than half.
UZ: I remeber bands like CIA, The Scatered Few and barely remember Urban Decay....How active were you in this "scene"?
PN: I met the guys in CIA at a bible study after I became Christian. We didn't exactly play the same style of music so I remember only playing with them a couple of times, however I became good friends with Rob Hall, their singer at the time, and we're still in touch.
The Scatered Few... well, I think it was 1981 or so, years before the first NS cd, and my brother Joey had heard about another Christian punk band, besides Immortal Youth, starting up in Burbank. I set out to meet them and found them at a small church in Burbank. I walked in this church, and there was the motly crue blairing out some pretty hardcore stuff, right there at the end of the pues. We had many things in common being punks at the time in So Cal, but more importantly, our experience with Jesus, the new hope and joy we had because of Him, and our overwhelming desire to share it with hurting, and even dying peers. We played together and got each other shows for a year or two, and as I look back, that was a very special and odd time in my life. I think both bands kind of fizzled out in about '83, and we didn't see one another again 'til NS was doing a show in a packed basement of a church in Fontana, CA in '87 with the Crucified, who were gracious enough to put NS on many of their venues after our 1st cd was made. Shortly after that, SF came back, and thankfully, started making cds themselves - in fact, they have a new one out and I can't wait to hear it.
Urban Decay - I don't know these guys at all, and don't think they had the same motivation as the other bands you've mentioned. I do remember playing with them at a place called 'the Barn', a garage/shack in some neighborhood in LA, but pretty popular with the 'local crew' around there ( I doubt anyone there was over 21 yrs old, and most were teenagers, but not ignorant to the streets at all). To make a long story short, Urban Decay and cronies, kicked us off stage and shut us down in the middle of our set, (I guess because of the content of our lyrics - they couldn't handle it), only to have most of the people there follow us out to ask us about what we were singing about. It turned out to be an awesome night, and I want to thank Urban Decay for kicking us off stage, otherwise we may have never had the opportunity to share with dozens of kids the Holy Spirit, while they set up and played to an empty room.
UZ: You didn't have band when the first album was released, but come the release of "Call It Whatever You Want" you had a line up. How long did this take and where did you find everyone?
PN: I slapped NS together almost immediately after the 1st cd was released in '86, and we played pretty consistantly 'til Cornerstone '90. I'm not sure exactly how I met Tony Cena(drummer), but he fit and knew Chris 'The Vax' Kovacs (bassist extraordinaire), and we were 3 pc for a while 'til I met Frank Wesolek in Arizona. Frank came back and joined NS shortly before 'Call It...' was recorded.
UZ: I was curios, what was your conection to bands like Social Distortion, Angent Orange and TSOL and how did these guys respond to Nobody Special?
PN: My connection? Well, I grew up in Fullerton, OC, as did SD, and Agent Orange, and TSOL. I met Mike Ness at La Vista High School, a continuation school for the 'unruly' in '79. I wouldn't call him a friend, but he did try to bum lunch money from me several times unsuccessfully. He was a fashion punk back then too, despite their groovy 'anti-fashion' song. I met and hung with Dizzy a bit later on - he was good friends with a girl I was seeing at the time. SD was nothing to the world then, or NS for that matter. Over the next ten years after both bands developed, we knew who each other were, and had some mutual friends etc.
Agent Orange, I played little league with Scott the drummer, and used to run into a couple of them at Flower St., a drainage ditch under the 5 freeway in Santa Ana where we used to skate. Besided seeing them play several times, I guess that's my connection there.
TSOL - after seeing them play several times (as they de-throned the Circle Jerks), a good freind of mine, Mike Brown aka Cheezboy, befriended the guys in the band,(this guy could BS his way backstage at anybody's show), and even paid for the 'Change Today' cd. I was Christian by now, and as many of you know, they definately were not, but they were impressed somehow with the stuff I was writing, and I think, liked it. Jack Grisham left the band at about that time, and then came Joe Woods. I spent more time with Ron Emery than the rest, we used to skate the southland with Cheezboy, in cement ditches or empty pools, killin' time on long summer days. I haven't seen or spoke to any of them for years now, except Cheezboy occasionally, now in the band "Pirates of Venus",.. no, they're not Christian.
What did these bands think of NS? I think most respected and liked us for doing something different (not all), and many knew who I was, having seen me over the years at parties, gigs, etc. However I could care less what they thought at the time, and now for that matter, having gotten over the 'punker than thou' mentality long ago. But, I did feel for these guys, and wanted them to cross over to life, instead of the self-destruction and death that was considered 'cool', and sadly, still is. I knew their pain, how real it was, and I was never afraid to say Jesus around anybody, and although I was persecuted and ridiculed by many, I think alot respected me for my willingness to share and my sincerity concerning my 'born again' status. And even though some hated my message, who I was and what I was saying (the Christian church or anything associated with institutionalized religion was easy prey for the punks back then, and still is), people who knew me, knew I was there at the off-set, in the thick of things when the punk scene started in So Cal, and many had witnessed me doing ungodly things before my 'conversion' (I'm not afraid of the word),... so I never had to defend my authenticity as 'punk' to them, only to doubting Christians later. I don't understand why anyone would want to 'become' a Christian punk, or play in a 'Christian punk band' if they weren't punk before they met Jesus. It honestly makes no sense to me. But in any event, that's briefly my connection with the bands you've asked about.
UZ: What were you up to between the release of the first album and "Call It Whatever You Want" which was released on Broken Records?
PN: Like I said above, we were playing around. Personally, I was moving alot, living in different places. I've never been a great 'long-term' planner... I kind of 'live for today' whether I like it or not. So, what was I up to? Just killin' time, playing with NS, and trying to keep my stuff together. I did meet my wife Cathi, shortly before the 'Call it..' cd was made, which of course was eventful.
UZ: In 1990 NS played there last show at the cornerstone Festival...The rumor I heard was you moved to Oregon to open up a Gas 'N' Sip (mini -mart)...What happened?
PN: Yhea, I got married and moved north, first to Santa Maria, and then to Springfield, Oregon. We ran a 'mom and pop' convenience store for a couple of years, then ran hot dog carts at 4 'Homebase' locations. After that I did some logging, drove over-the-road for a while, then became a contractor. Is it obvious that I haven't found my nitch or what? But, one has to eat, and as many of you know, there's no money in Christian punk, or at least there wasn't back then. I mean, yhea somebody made a handsome profit on NS's successes, however small or great, but it rarely trickles down to the bands - there's always a wolf around to fleece the sheep. And even today, unless your Brandon Ebel, or signed to Sloth and Snail (they won't touch me), or putting on big festivals or owning a record co with distribution, there's still no money in it - so if you're a Christian musician and your trying to make a living at it, you'd better re-evaluate your motives quick, and stop being influenced by the 'pretty boy punk hype' mentality running rampid in the industry the past few years. And it's fueled, unfortunately, by people/companies claiming to be Christian. Well, I rebuke it in Jesus' name! I know crapp when I see it ladies and gentlemen, do you? It's not about tattoos, peircings, your stinkin' hair doo, cd sales, or totally awesome songs dude! It's about my friend and Lord hanging bleeding on a cross for us so we could be partakers of His holiness in heaven! It's about love - God's love for you, and eternal life, miracles, faith, joy and hope that no band or record co can provide. It's about trials and struggles, enduring to end, reading the Word of life that feeds our spirits! Maybe take your 'Christian hard music authority' mags and use them for kindling, and read something worth your while, the Bible. Since when should we be compensated monetarily for being Christians, or for Jesus suffering on the cross!? Was Christ or John the Baptist wealthy with money? Were the apostles? In fact, I read the opposite - that we as Christians will suffer and be hated for His names sake. That's been my experience, and I'm grateful for it. Why then do we as Chrstians set out to make money using God's name? Will somebody please give me a decent answer? I've heard this one "There's really no such thing as a Christian or non-Christian band, or a Christian or non-Christian record co.", or "We're not a Christian band, just Christians in a band". C'mon people! Wake up! These are quotes from so-called "Christian something or other" record co's and bands that you've supported so they can take your money and use it to feed you more watered down, romper room crapp in the name of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ!! Yhea, it ticks me off, as it should you if you're a Christian with any kind of intelligence. So... what happens next?
UZ: You played TOM fest as one of your first shows back...What kind of response did you get?
PN: I guess a good one. I haven't heard anything bad about it. It was a blast to play there - we all had a good time celebrating our faith together.
UZ: When can expect to see anything new from Nobody Special?
PN: Well, I've been trying, and it's not so easy without a contract. And I don't kiss butt, so there's no contract in the works (not to say bands with contracts kiss butt, that's just been my experience). I have to pay for and market a cd by myself, and that takes time and money (I have lots of time). I get alot of letters and email from sincere listeners from all over the place encouraging NS's continuence, but I think to the industry folks, we're a little too threatening, or I'm too opinionated, or maybe we're 'has beens', or perhaps the Lord's got something else for me, I don't know right now. I know I've been saying we're gonna do another cd for a couple of years, but it hasn't happened yet. All I can say is that I've tried. Whether NS does another cd or not, I'm going to try to have something out within a year, even if it's just a solo project - I have plenty of music and continue to write.