Nightosaur: We Don't Even Care If We're Metal Anymore


Nightosaur | 331 Club | Friday, September 26
If the anatomy of the metal chart of music is true, then Minneapolis trio Nightosaur would be a mix of all the sub-genres. Their new album, Set Fire to the Mountain, captures their sound in a new groove from the very start; it's rowdy, taught, dark, and gets under your skin. Some bands bash their songs against the rocks through over-complication; Nightosaur are simplistic in that they merely want to write good music.

Before their album release on Friday night, Gimme Noise sat down with John Henry and Andy Webber to figure out how metal fits into the indie-rock scene that is so prevalent in the Cities and how they've adapted their sound on the new album.

On an August evening, the front door of Grumpy's in northeast Minneapolis is wide open to let in the late summer breeze. The music blares on the overhead speakers as bassist John Henry and guitarist/vocalist Andy Webber settle into a booth at the back of the bar with some beers. John, in a sleeveless muscle shirt and long hair, and Andy, in a black t-shirt and closely shorn red hair, both have a je ne sais quoi air about them that musicians do. The way they carry themselves make it seem as if they have nowhere more important to be than drinking beers in a dingy bar.

The floors and table are sticky with years of use as Andy talks about his side business making custom guitars. Webber started Whalehazard Unlimited back in 2010, combining his love of music with being able to create something that nurtures the introvert's personality. Andy picks and carves the wood for each guitar himself, allowing him to shape how each instrument sounds. With the same care that he takes in his instruments, he does the same with the songs he writes.

On their new album, the band's sound has not so much changed as it has evolved into what they have always been leaning toward. Having parted ways with their second guitarist and drummer in the last two years, the two -- along with new drummer Brad Schwab -- have rearranged many of the songs to fit better for a three-piece, bringing a different vibe to the group. John admits that he enjoyed the sound before with the old bandmates, but he feels it's definitely cooler now. He and Andy had the task of filling in the spaces that were left when their former guitarist left. Webber says, "I can still hear the second guitar parts when we're playing live."

As the music ebbs and flows over the speakers, John and Andy list off some of their favorite metal bands, citing Judas Priest as one the few that have been able to exist over the years, and the innovative San Francisco-based metal quartet, Slough Feg.

Nightosaur embodies the nature of these other metal -- and even punk -- bands, where they let the music speak for itself. More time is spent on playing and practicing music than they spend on trying to figure out how to market themselves or promote the band on social media. Their marketing team is mainly word-of-mouth from fans who catch their live show -- sometimes by accident. John says, "Most people have heard of us, but they have never actually seen us. They'll be at a show where we're on the bill, and will come up to us after we play and say, 'Whoa! I didn't know great you guys were! You have so much energy.' When we play, we have an obligation to have more fun than anyone else in the room. When you have that energy, it comes back to you."

Andy, the principal songwriter of the group, confesses that on past  albums, he used to try to write metal songs, but has since stopped caring. In a drawl that belies this razor-sharp wit, he says, "We're just trying to write good songs, and if it fits into whatever it is we are, I don't think it matters. I don't even care if we're deemed as metal anymore. Good music is our ultimate goal."

John adds, "We're discovering more and more what we sound like as a band -- instead of trying to figure out what we sound like. Prior to Nightosaur, none of us had been in a metal band before. We're just now finding out who we are -- even if this new one will be our third album."

Nightosaur will release Set Fire to the Mountain at the 331 Club on Friday, September 26, with Gay Witch Abortion and Vernon Wayne.
21+, free, 10 p.m.

53 things you might not know about Prince
73 things you might not know about Bob Dylan

Top 10 sister acts of all time
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list