SOUND AND FURY
JAMIE LOMAN brings us up to date on what's been going on the distinctly odd world of Cardiff's NAMELESS.
Nameless baffle me. For a start there's the name. "Nameless". How does that work? Contradiction seems to run through everything that they do. It's also difficult to tell if they're taking the piss or if they mean it. Truly 4Real, it's been a long time since a band as exciting as this turned up, and if anyone's going to give the complacent music industry a much-needed kick up its flabby arse it's this frenetic six-piece.
They live in Cardiff at the moment, but they're from all over the place. From what I can gather there's members from Wales, Dudley, Liverpool and somewhere in France. I tried asking them how they met in the interview for this article, but there seem to be as many different stories as there are band members.
To begin with then, let's have the facts.
They've been going in some form or another since about 1995, probably starting off in the always sodden grey hell of Wrexham in North Wales. They've moved from being a two piece to a four piece, to a three piece, to another four piece and now they seem to have settled as a fixed six-piece. Reading the gigography on their superb website feels a little like watching Robert De Niro prepare for his role in Raging Bull, but with the weight gain and loss chopped up and rearranged randomly.
Nameless are then, in alphabetical order: Al, who seems like a rock messiah in the making, on vocals. Dems, possibly the greatest drummer you haven't heard of. Tephlon Monkey, who can normally be found hanging around with the likes of the Super Furry Animals when he isn't playing keyboards. The French, a genius guitarist with a penchant for things that begin with "g". The Reverend, the tallest and scariest man of the cloth to strangle a bass guitar. And bringing up the rear, almost literally if the rumours are to be believed, (XXX) Rated, who's in charge of "other guitars".
They'd only been together for two weeks when they booked themselves into Le-Mons in Newport to record the jaw-dropping Read More Books EP, last October. Al explains, "We knew that we had to get it right this time around, we've been dragging ourselves along for years and felt that if we didn't do something now we'd never get around to it. We booked the studio as soon as we knew we had the right people in the band. The songs had been going for ages, and most of us already knew them so we weren't really that worried, and we felt that if we absolutely had to get it right we'd be able to. We work well under pressure. Which is good. We were working with Chris McDonagh, who used to be in The Darling Buds, and he seemed to get where we were coming from. All the recordings we've done so far have been with him, and we're really hoping that he'll be producing the album for us." The plan was originally to release the tracks as a single themselves, but Penarth based Petrified Records were so impressed with what they heard they offered to put it out themselves.
And it wasn't just Petrified that were impressed by what they heard. Reviews cropped up all over the place, largely on strange sites on the internet, but often in "real" publications. Adam Walton was so impressed he asked them to record a session for his show on Radio Wales, and he liked what they produced so much he asked them to do another one, the first band ever to do this. "It was great for us," continues Al, "because it gave us a chance to get in the studio again, which is always the most difficult part of the job when you're unknown. Radio Wales were paying for it so we felt obliged to try and do something special for them."
Around the time of the second session Nameless found themselves in Le-Mons once again, this time to record their incendiary single, The Salt Flats. Three minutes of pure energy and passion, it makes you want to dance like a gorilla from the opening salvo of guitars and snare. And don't start me on the howling. "It hasn't set the world on fire yet," says Al, who just won't shut up when he starts talking, desperate to make sure you understand everything. "I think that's because we've got a limited budget and a limited distribution though. It's been played on radio stations all over the world. I think Radio One liked it, and Total Rock definitely did because we got made Band Of The Week as a result of it. Had to do an interview and everything. It's working hard for us. It's a good song though, I saw it hanging around the correct end of the mp3.com charts the other day. I just wish it would phone every now and again. I suppose it's busy."
If their songs work hard then Nameless themselves haven't been idle either, in case you were thinking they've just been living a Newport studio. They've always had a reputation for top quality live shows around Cardiff, and during the last year they've honed themselves to one of the leanest and tightest outfits outside of an arena. Intense and frightening at turns, but also hilarious and thought provoking. It must be hell to have to go on after them.
So what does the future hold?
Petrified have paid for another studio session (and you know where by now) to produce demo versions for the album they hope to release next year, if the big boys don't decide that enough's enough and snap them up. They plan to tour early in the New Year, spreading the word further, and building on the rabid fanbase. They're going to be bigger than even the Manics. It's just a matter of time.
UNIT 12 Fanzine Issue 19