“The Fountainhead is a really deep book, you should read it,” says Barney Cortez of his literary background, before he speaks about his band, Philadelphia’s Nicos Gun.
“We’re white and we’re trying to play black music, and we do it fairly well,” says Barney. “I like white music that rips off black music, black music that rips off white music, and Mozart,” adds Barney.
Band members, Nick Bockrath (guitar/keyboard/loops), Harry Zelnick (drummer/producer) and Andy Black (bass), combine with Barney forming a musical Voltron of dance-able funky jams.
Unlike most bands, Nicos Gun kind-of formed in a reverse order. Instead of getting together and playing lots of live shows, then recording, Nicos Gun really started in the studio. “It’s [been] kind of fun making something in the studio and then figuring out how to play it live,” says Nick.
And the band’s live show is nothing to sneeze at. Recently playing a killer set at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, Nicos Gun lit the room on fire from the first notes they played. Whether the band played supremely dance-y songs like ‘Soldier’ or covered ‘Heart of Glass’ [ed: in the most awesome way possible], the band’s live show is a thing of beauty. However, it took the band some time to figure it out.
“Mainly we’ve just been getting good and learning how to live in [the] music,” says Barney, “you want to try and find the spark every time.” “[We’re] still figuring it out,” adds Nick.
Veterans of the Philly music scene, all four of these guys played all types of music before forming Nicos Gun. “To be a gigging musician in Philly you need to play jazz or soul,” says Harry, who has also produced beats for Ludacris, 50 Cent, Beanie Sigel, Lil’ Wayne, and Freeway. Barney also has experience with hip-hop, playing guitar and bass on The Roots track, ‘Get Busy’ from their record, Rising Down.
With influences like Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Little Richard, it’s easy to see how playing traditionally black forms of music has helped Nicos Gun out. But, the band’s influences go much further than that. “We like the Allman Brothers a lot, you wouldn’t hear that in our music, but those dudes were bad ass,” says Barney.
Quotes like that, should hopefully help you realize that all Nicos Gun wants is to have tons of fun. “We’re not having fun. We’re all actors,” says Barney. “We’re indie actors,” adds Harry. “We get all our power from other bands,” says Barney
All of the acting and fun comes together in the band’s music videos. “The videos are fun to make, after we’re done with the songs it adds a whole dimension to it,” says Barney. Of all their videos, listeners should really check out ‘We Are Flourescent’.
“We shot [the video] at this place the Ox. There’s guns in it, we’re dressed up as SWAT. All our friends are covered in zombie blood,” says Nick. “Being a zombie is actually pretty strenuous,” adds Harry.
While the band is currently planning another video, that’s not the only thing on their plate. Right now Nicos Gun is planning on releasing two EPs this summer. Additionally, the band will play at awesome music festivals like The Roots Picnic, Bisco Inferno at Red Rocks and the Xponential Music Festival.
Odds are their driver, Howard Black, will be taking the band all over the country this summer, something that the band members made sure to acknowledge. “We want to thank Howard Black, who drove the tour bus and basically kept us alive,” says Barney.
Check out all things Nicos Gun here. Nicos Gun plays at Cameo Gallery next Saturday, April 30th, you should be there.