The Nearly Deads’ Theresa Jeane Discusses New Album, Going Indie + More
In the last three years, Nashville’s premier grunge-punk-pop-rock outfit, the Nearly Deads, have toured the states extensively, playing more than 500 gigs. Just a couple of years ago, the Nearly Deads picked up the John Lennon Songwriting Contest grand prize as well as coming out on top in a Converse ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. Needless to say, they’ve been busy.
Following the release of their first two EPs, the band finally gave fans what they’ve been waiting for: the Nearly Deads' debut full-length album, ‘Invisible Tonight.’ Chatting with us from Milwaukee, frontwoman Theresa Jeane opens up about what it was like releasing the new LP without the backing of a major label, how important crowdfunding can be and more.
So the band is originally from Florida, but now you're based in Nashville?
Yeah, we’re all over the place, right? We met in Tampa. During college I met Steve Tobi, the lead guitarist and songwriter. I kind of took over his old band. They had a different singer. We moved to Nashville and everything just started going from there.
Do you feel like you fit in inside Nashville's music scene?
We definitely stand out in Nashville. There’s a lot of country, a lot of Christian music, the industry is very big, it’s very much like an L.A. kind of atmosphere as far as the business goes. We definitely stand out being a grungy punk rock band, like pop punk, there’s not really a lot of it. I love that. It makes it easier to stand out that way.
It seems like you'd maybe be a better fit in East Nashville, though even that scene is very Americana focused.
Very Americana, that’s a good way of putting it. We love that stuff, but it’s definitely not our sound.
Do you feel influenced at all being around such different music?
As far as career or business choices, absolutely. Nashville made us buck up and practice more and get better. Everyone is so talented. But, we are definitely true to our ‘90s grungy punk roots. We don’t get too influenced by the country accent. I have a little bit of a southern accent right now, so I guess that’s as far as it’ll go. [Laughs]
Congrats on 'Invisible Tonight.' What happened from your last EP to the release of this LP?
So, we have two EPs, one we self-released, the second we put out with Standby Records. The full-length, we put out by ourselves again. We were on the label and then we both decided that it wasn’t what we wanted to do with the full-length. We spent some time separating from that agreement and everything. We don’t really talk about it, but the fans have been waiting for the full-length for a long time. We put out the second EP, we re-released some songs; a lot of people were waiting for the full-length.
We recorded it in Nashville with Jon King at Page 2 Music. He’s done all of our records and is just awesome. The decision we made was to do a Kickstarter campaign instead. Since we weren’t on the label anymore, we wanted to do things ourselves. Through that campaign, we raised over $10,000 and, I mean, the whole process of getting it out was amazing. We’re really, really proud of it and so happy to have the full-length out. We’ve been working on it for a long time. Some of the songs have been recorded and they just hang out and kind of just wait until they’re ready to be put on the record. Being independent and doing everything yourself, you have to do everything on your own. You know? The artwork, the packaging, everything. So much more stuff to think about than a lot of bands realize. We love it, though. It’s finally out and it’s getting great response. We’re really proud of it.
Are you surprised you're able to put a modern spin on such a seminal genre, like '90s-inspired alternative rock?
I just think it’s inevitable. Whatever you listen to as a kid, when you grow up, that music is a part of you. So when you start creating music, it’s generally like 10 or 20 years later, you know? That music resurfaces. That’s almost with every musician; when you think about their influences, it’s stuff they listened to when they were real young. It’s just putting the modernness into it, it’s like putting yourself into it, what you like, instead of just copying it. If something is already done, it’s almost impossible to just copy it without putting a modern take on it.
Recording technology has changed. If we wanted to go and record on tape, I think we’d get a lot more of that authentic grungy sound. We’re in modern recording studios, though, everything is slick, everything is pop. You know, I’m also influenced by pop vocalists, and my friends told me to roll with it. If you like Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson, just go with it. I’m never going to sound like Janis Joplin. I’m never going to, so I just run with what my voice sounds like. The pop vocals, the grunge, it makes up our sound.
It's a surprising blend of music, but it sounds really cool. The pop influences, the grunge influences, it's all there in one sound.
Thank you, I appreciate that. We work hard on that.
How did it feel opening yourself up to doing a crowdfunding campaign to release 'Invisible Tonight'?
It was overwhelming. It was a lot of hard work. The reason it was so successful and we were able to meet our goal was because we have been, three or four years as a band, building our fan base. We had people ready to donate. That’s why bigger bands are able to do it and fund their projects and stuff.
I really look up to Amanda Palmer, she’s a big influence, as I’m a piano player myself. Looking at her campaign and everything it did for her, it kind of changed the game. I think the public and fans and people in general, they appreciate the transparency in the music industry today. It’s understood a lot more now, the relationship between the band and the label. This is just a way for people to contribute directly. They understand that relationship and it’s amazing and it’s overwhelming. We were able to raise enough money to keep doing what we love to do. These people are allowing us to do that and we can hopefully give them something that impacts them or influences them in some way. It’s this beautiful thing I think.
It's definitely interesting. If you give me the option to just buy a record or buy a record and be a part of its release from the ground up, I think I'd almost always choose the latter. Another cool thing the Nearly Deads are a part of is being on Channel One. Can you talk about that a bit?
Channel One is something I didn’t really know what it was. It had to be explained to me, but actually two guys in the band were so familiar with it, they actually had it at their high schools. It’s basically a channel that goes to high schools all across the country and is pre-recorded. Every morning they roll it out and kids watch it in the classroom. It’s like news, new music and featured artists. And we get to be featured on it! It’s going out to high school kids all over the place. It’s a really, really cool opportunity. It was something we got through the promotion of the record. You know, when you’re independent, you don’t just get these things. There’s nobody at the label who’s doing this. We had to find the right person, our publicist, to do this and help us with this. Even our producer, Jon King, had Channel One in his classroom when he was in high school. This is a huge deal, everyone is going to see this.
If I was sitting in high school, I'd be blown away to see a band like the Nearly Deads show up in my classroom. It's awesome. It seems like since the release of the album, you have no plans to slow down. Have you started thinking about what's next for the band?
I think that we are definitely going to do a second full-length. I don’t think we’ll do another EP. It just depends on what happens. Nowadays, the industry is singles focused, so we might release a few more singles or even brand new tunes next year. We have a big tour coming up, we’re really excited about that. Probably, we’ll do another music video, or something like that. We always want to have something come out every once in awhile. This is what we love doing. I want to do another music video, I want to do another tour. I write music all the time. We can’t turn it off. We’re always writing. We’ll probably head into the studio at the end of the year and record things piece by piece that could make up another album.
Are you shopping around for a label?
That’s a good question! We’re definitely not ruling it out. From the business side and the artistic side, it would have to be the right feel, the right time. It’s something we’re encouraging younger artists about. You know, think of everything that is available to you, and then see what you need to do. We’re very proud of being DIY, we have so many resources available, we can do just about everything we need. We’re not ruling it out, but who knows? We’re not seeking it out right now.
You guys definitely seem very DIY, but you're still able to do everything a major label would do.
Yeah, and we definitely have to thank the fans. I can’t even say that enough, obviously, a lot of the things we do, we pay for it all ourselves. Without the fans buying albums, songs, t-shirts, without that, we’d come to a standstill. There would be nothing to fund it. We’re not using mom and dad’s savings to fund this. All the money we make goes straight into the band. I feel more like an entrepreneur than anything. It’s like you own your own business and you have to treat it like that. Nobody’s going to do it for you.
Get details on the Nearly Deads' latest studio effort, Invisible Tonight' -- as well as their full tour itinerary -- at their official website here.
The Nearly Deads' Official Music Video for 'I Said'