Nelson and the Alexanders - 02.17.10

Interviewed by
Nelson and the Alexanders - 02.17.10The following is a mini interview of generic questions that we posed to all bands that wanted to answer:

Nelson and the Alexanders


1. How did you get your band name?
Back in 2006, a band called The American Beat started as singer Taylor Nelson Tremaine’s solo act. Within the next year, his brother (yours truly) and lifelong best friend Marcus Alexander Ford had joined him in performing and writing music. But when the “band” originally started, it was intended to be a Reason-based project predominantly incorporating drum samples and dancing piano parts, (the main inspiration being Young Love and The Secret Handshake before either band had released their debuts). When us new members came in, the project quickly transformed into a simple rock band, only having drums, me on an electric guitar, and one vocalist back in those days. As growth continued in the band and we further cemented our own style, we began to feel a major disconnect with that old The American Beat moniker. What did that band name even mean? What did any band name even mean? Why do bands have to choose some fake name to describe themselves when they already have given names? When we started asking ourselves these questions, we realized that we should make an old inside joke our new band name, which is our middle names: Nelson and the Alexanders.

2. How did this band get started?

3. What bands are you influenced by?
All three of us have been influenced by the same artists at different points in our lives. Drummer Marcus Alexander grew up listening to a lot of U2, whereas my brother and I just got into U2 recently. Taylor and I grew up with a heavy diet of the groundbreaking hip-hoppers dcTalk, with Marcus having recently jumped onto the dc-bandwagon. An ongoing influence for us is Thrice. As a vocalist, I know Taylor pulls a lot of inspiration and knowledge from Backstreet Boys and Gavin DeGraw. As a guitarist, my main inspiration actually comes from really technical artists, like The Receiving End of Sirens, Gatsbys American Dream and Edison Glass. Their music simply always has new surprises and something new to teach me as an ever-growing musician. As a songwriter, Michael W Smith will always have my heart (and my ears).

4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would it be and why?
We stick to the present; we’re forward-motion kind of guys. So we would probably choose Backstreet Boys, who still tour a lot and put on a stellar live show. Not only that, but we would be playing arenas full of potential fans. And then we could be supported on the tour by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, whom Taylor has already toured with multiple times and really enjoys playing with (back in the days when he was the bassist for Lorene Drive).

5. If you were a furry animal, what animal would you be? Why that animal?
Believe it or not, but this is a question I think about often. Taylor Nelson and Marcus Alexander are already well-defined animals: the Eagle and the Bear, respectively. But we don’t know what I should be! I’m between Puma or an Otter, but the animal needs to fit my personality too! The Marine Otter is probably me, because we are both acknowledged as cats, and, interestingly enough, I hear marine otters are often seen in groups of three!

6. Why should people listen to your band?
I could easily say something joking for this question, but I want to be completely serious: we are three guys who play together simply because we love playing together and we love music. However, we also feel blessed with the ability to write strong and powerful music that could upset the current downward trends of the popular music industry. We’ve got pop sensibility, but indie endeavors and a classical rock spirit.

7. If you were chosen to be in Guitar Hero/Rock Band, what song would you want in the game?
I would honestly love to play any of my band’s songs on Guitar Hero, but we only have two songs that we are currently promoting, “Convictions” and “All the Same.” The latter would probably be best because the guitar solos would provide for a great challenge to gamers. But we also have an upcoming song with a bunch of solid time signature changes that would freakin’ rock the socks off of gamers. No joke. I can’t wait to start promoting that one. Maybe Activision will take notice.

8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
My guess is the speech would go something like this:
Taylor: “Thank you, Finch and Lostprophets.”
Me, Chase: “Thanks God for helping the Grammy’s get smart.”
Marcus: “We’d like to thank our producers, (ourselves), who always told us we could do whatever we want.”

9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
In the last question, I actually hinted at something interesting: we as a band plan on being the executive producers of our own music throughout our whole career. We are very tired of bands needing producers whenever they make music, and then this overly-produced music finds accolades of commercial success. And then there are artists that go mainly unnoticed even though they make great music completely independently. What I would most want to change in the industry is the fact that most labels want to take decent artists with catchy hooks and produce the heck out of them in order to achieve hit status. Here’s what should happen: when a band gets a record deal, the band should be given a chance to do whatever they are able to do and make a record independently. If that doesn’t work out very well, the labels should then have smart producers help these challenged artists improve their skills and find their sound. Once the band has learned all they need to, they can be sent off once again in order to make music independently. If they never catch onto how to write their own good music, they don’t deserve to be in the music industry. The artists that thrive need to be the ones who are pushing the music industry forward with new ideas and good songs.

10. Memorable tour experience?
So far, we’ve only played in Texas. One of the best travels we ever had was when we were invited to play a Battle of the Bands at a high school I used to go to, ninety miles away in a little town called Athens. It was a long, tiring trip that cost us a whole bunch of gas money. So the only way that we could have made the show worth our time is to win an award. So we are ready to play our heart out. We get up on stage and start our first song, and what happens? The guitars stop working. The chord I was using for my guitar stopped working, and the only things left in the air were the singing of Taylor and the drums of Marcus. The song was ruined, and we could have stopped right there. Instead, Taylor and Marcus kept playing the song acapella. Meanwhile, I had to fix the chord situation as soon as possible. After switching to better chords, I was able to come back into the song at the epic end, where the guitars returned in perfect time and Taylor was still singing in the same key. After that, the songs went perfectly. But after such a showcase of showmanship, we won the battle! So we got to return home that night after a fun adventure and fully paid for tanks of gas.

11. What does AP.net mean to you?
I have been using AbsolutePunk for years as the absolute source for music news. This site is easily my primary source for learning about new artists and keeping up with all the artists I know and love. If not for this incredible site, I along with the rest of the band would honestly be completely out of the loop of the music industry. AP is my direct connection back to the music world.

12. What is your favorite song to play?
Our favorite song to play is easily “Yes/No”, a simple tune that always rocks and always feels GREAT. We actually just posted a live performance of the song onto Vimeo, at http://vimeo.com/9538345. When we did the video taping for that performance, we played the song seven times in a row and never got tired of it. That’s something.

13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
We hope to travel the whole world, but we are particularly excited about Italy. I’ve always had a particular fascination with Venice (but when I saw “always,” I’m probably referring to when I first saw the movie Poke’mon Heroes).

14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
I didn’t have a childhood. By age five, I was already trying to act like an adult. But there is one song that was used for puppet shows at my church when I was just a little tot, and it always sends me into a jolliness that only a blissful child could achieve: “King of the Jungle” by Steven Curtis Chapman, the hilariously campy and endlessly fun tune that employs a spirit-lifting horn section and always-relevant social commentary.

15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
I think the best super power ever would be the ability to never have to use the restroom. If such a trivial matter could be stripped from my life, I would save so much time and traveling on the road would improve tenfold.

16. Do you feel that your band has "made it"?
Yes and no. We all feel that there is no experience in the entire world that is better than the three of us being able to play music together, so we have in that sense already “made it.” What else is there left to achieve? We have immeasurable amounts of fun every time we come together and we are writing tunes to the absolute best of our current ability. However, we would also love if this blessing could one day pay our bills and that we can change people’s lives with our music, so we in that sense have plenty more goals left to reach. And we are willing to wait as long as necessary to reach those goals because we are content with the goals we’ve met already. We just need to keep working as hard as we already have been.

17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
I plan on graduating college with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Mathematics and Philosophy, and I will become a math teacher when that day comes that music is no longer supporting my well-being.

18. What's your favorite holiday?
I’ve been nagging the Texas governor for months about making a Nelson and the Alexanders Day, but until that happens, I’d probably have to go with Easter. Christmas and Easter both have great meanings behind them, but Easter is much more in touch with its true meaning than Christmas, which has been mainstreamed beyond belief.

19. What do you like to do in your spare time?
We all enjoy making coffee, playing billiards, and longboarding... AT THE SAME TIME.

20. What kind of hidden talents do you have?
I’m good with advice. When someone has a trouble, the words they need to hear seem to magically appear in my mouth. It’s almost a magical feeling. I hope I will be able to achieve this hidden talent within my music as well.
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