Nap Eyes Offer Refreshing Rock Via Lou Reed Styled Vocals on ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ (INTERVIEW)

Bringing the sweetness of the beginning of Spring in their lush, homey, curl up in your sweater sound, Nap Eyes continues their tour, playing popular tracks off their 2016 release Thought Rock Fish Scale. Fresh from SXSW, Nap Eyes provides all the warmth and comfort of a well worn sweater, with a dreamy soundscape and all the same down to earth countryside feels you would get from a band that hails from Canada’s briny, salt licked eastern coast. Like waking up to a sleepy, dewey morning, tracks like “Mixer” explore the complexities of social interaction while still trying to find yourself amongst others while more rousing songs like “Stargazer” is a march like anthem through grassy, rolling hills. Thought Rock Fish Scale blends lyrically introspective words with a simple naivety that washes over the listener like a cool, rejuvenating glassy wave.

Nebulous, yet minimalistic guitar mimics their overcast Nova Scotia stomping grounds, with their new album giving insight into a beautiful self acceptance story that weaves itself through each track. Foregoing submersion in thick layers of reverb, Nap Eyes’ approachable tunes are a refreshing take on the indie rock scene, and provide a nostalgic throwback to   vocals juxtaposed against a linear audial palate comparable to Yo La Tengo. Without being indulgently wallowy, their resurrection of good song composition skillfully conveys what it means to navigate through life’s everyday mishaps one slightly unbalanced step at a time. Chapman shared some words of wisdom while on their trek up the coast.

This past year has been a breakthrough year for Nap Eyes and saw the release of the latest album.

It’s been really good and really surprising. Paradise of Bachelors really got our music out to way more people then we would ever expect to hear it. It’s been great to reach a wider audience. Some of the press stuff is crazy, like you know we were always aware of media like Pitchfork, and have had a broad relationship with them over the years, but it’s crazy to be on that platform because it means more people can hear our band.

How has it been living in a small town like Halifax?

It can be a bit of a disadvantage to be from a remote area sometimes because you’re touring, you have to drive longer distances. People tend to have an assumption that what’s going on there isn’t the most happening thing in music today, but it’s a great place to work out your stuff and Halifax is a beautiful city that has a great music culture.

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The isolation and being in a kind of secluded setting can help with writing music and thinking creatively. Has being in Halifax had that effect on you?

Yeah I would say that there is truth in that. You get inspired by wherever your surroundings are. I do love having the space and really like East Coast of Canada.

How did you all meet and how did you all become a band?

I got to know everyone through friends of friends and high school. We were all playing music in different cities around Halifax, and we started to connect through the music scene and putting on shows at bars when everyone was of age. It was hard to know when exactly we all started getting close, but all became great friends.

napeyeslpIt must be nice to know that you’re getting to make music with people you really like and it’s not just randomly put together.

Yeah it is really nice to play music with people you’re close with versus playing music with hired musicians, though it is totally legit to do it both ways. I think there are advantages on either side, but it’s great playing with your friends for sure.

What is the story behind the name Thought Rock Fish Scale?

It’s a kind of combination of things. Up near where my parents were living and where we had a cottage when I was young in rural Nova Scotia, there was a rock on the beach which is where the first part of the name originated, and it was a place where you could reflect or contemplate things and also served as a landmark we referred to in conversations. Fish Scale mimics an ocean imagery and I think the iridescence of fish scales are really cool.

Science has been a part of your life as well, can you talk about that and its relation to music?

I went to university and studied biochemistry, finishing my undergrad in 2010. Then after a year of not really doing anything, well trying to think about music and getting scared, I went back to grad school and continued in biochemistry. The lab that I did my masters in is still the one I work in- because we have been able to tour more I’ve been cutting down on my hours, now I’m like ⅓ scientist and ⅔ musician.

Some of the lyrics are reflective of times in the chemistry lab and talk about the challenges in that setting.

That kind of environment is a place where you have mental challenges and frustrations. It is a field where you can work out your intrapersonal struggles that take shape in the form of failed experiments and other things, but it also teaches you perseverance and patience.

As Nap Eyes grows, do you think you would want to involve science to some extent?

To some extent for sure.The way that I started to think of it was that science is the rational and skeptic side of people, and something that we all have. The creative and expressive side that’s found in music is also in everyone, but I think that the rational and skeptic side for me is very important, because if I don’t have an objective or questioning outlook, I get carried away in my head. So it’s a really good balance for me to have that. Science is also just really great for the mind, and I would like to continue considering myself as a scientist throughout my life even if I’m never a great experimental scientist.

It seems like you’re striking a good balance between the two.

There’s definitely hope for people wanting to pursue different things- that’s personally something I had a lot of problems with in my life, but also it really helped me. If you are studying because your parents told you to, you feel like it’s practical, or you don’t know how to make a go of something else like art or music, it can actually be good to keep doing work in whatever field you’re in, as long as you can figure out a way to have flexibility in your life.

A lot of songs on this album are very introspective with a self-acceptance and coming into adulthood storyline. What was the lyrical inspiration for this release?

My own internal state as an individual and getting too much into my head is something I struggle with and try to work out with songwriting. But you can’t get out of balance with just thinking of yourself-you have to be aware of those around you. The songs and subject matters felt different, but the way we recorded was also different. The first record we recorded was in Montreal. On this record we were recording on the shore of Nova Scotia and everybody was bringing their own different vibes while still feeling a group vibe together. I hope all the albums continue to have a different feeling to them.

When did you first start getting into music/writing/singing.

I’ve always like music since I was young, but early on it was in a pretty passive way. When I got to be in my early teen years, hearing Green Day for the first time was a huge influence on me. I was really into that band and to hear people express themselves like that was something I loved.

Nap Eyes has a really clean sounds that isn’t reverb or effect heavy, would you consider adding more layers for future records?

I love high production music and great sonic creations with beautiful sculpted tones. Though it is a fine line. It can be good to let songs exist in a kind of a simple way, as they are such nuanced things that you have to be careful that it’s not the production being heard first and then the song second. I would like a hi-fi record one day but sometimes when you put a lot of reverb on the vocals, it can be hard to hear what a singer is saying- but a little reverb can be great. I think there is becoming room in the industry for bands that have a more simplified vibe.

Photos by Colin Medley

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