Together since 2004, three piece (Aja, Rich & Dan) Nico Vega have been drawing crowds to the LA clubs with an energetic live show and aggressive, in-your-face rock n’ roll. With their debut record recently released on MySpace Records and production help from none other than legend Linda Perry, they’re a band to watch out for in 2009.
As exciting as starting out in a new band is, the LA music scene can be a bit of a daunting launch pad. “There’s so much going on with the entertainment industry here with movies etc… it feels like live music can sometimes come second for a lot of people in terms of what they do at night,” explains Dan.
Nico Vega are learning that in the city of all things entertainment, it’s a competitive pool to start out in. From starting out with “little shows”, Dan says the band have grown largely thanks to “word of mouth”. “We learnt early on that the after party is key as far as rallying people goes,” he continues. “Early on when you’re in a band and maybe as many people don’t know you, it’s a competitive thing in Los Angeles. If you can draw an audience here, it’s definitely rare. So we learnt to make our show a scene, make it an event.”
With areas like Brooklyn, Montreal and Portland getting constant press attention for their music scene, is there a scene in Los Angeles to really get stuck into and grow with? “There’s definitely small spots, every neighbourhood has its own little music community. So many of our friends play music – there’s always something going on here. I think that’s kind of what the goal is - to have a vibrant music scene with bands and friends who inspire you and who you’re excited to go see or for their records to come out. That’s what we love, when I hear the music my friends are doing and making and it inspires us to dig deeper. I mean like the music communities in England in the 60s, imagine being a part of something like that - that’s what we hope this becomes.”
Nico Vega’s determination to make themselves heard paid off when they hooked up with Linda Perry to produce tracks for their debut album. “Linda was someone we’d been putting in a lot of energy trying to get in contact with, for some reason we just had a feeling that she’d be right for us and the day before we were about to start this first recording we got a call from her.” Not bad for beginner’s luck. “It was really special working with her. She’s so meticulous about sounds and we’d spend hours trying to get a drum sound right so that kind of environment was really inspiring. Unfortunately the recording process only took a couple days. We did three songs with her and if it took a year we would definitely all have been happy! Her studio unleashed the child in me. It was such an amazing experience. It’s the only time in our lives where we were asked, ‘do you need anything?’ and we responded ‘no!’
Did having a heavyweight like Perry in the mix change the writing process in any way? “She would suggest things to do with dynamic but other than that she would just let us go for it.”
The band all seem to fulfill their roles seamlessly, each bringing their individual parts to the table and moulding them together to create their overall sound. “Lyrics are definitely Aja’s thing,” says Rich, “I’ll write the music and a handful of riffs, I’ll take it to Dan and we’ll start building it from the ground up.”
The Nico Vega sound is a direct and intense hit to the senses. It’s easy to imagine their live shows being frantic in the best possible way. The band have already landed support slots with Semi Precious Weapons and The Von Bondies. “Live shows are fucking great, I mean they’re real like they used to do back in the day I guess,” Dan says. “We’re really up there performing something as much as we are playing. We try to take the audience with us. We’re not really subtle people. We’re all pretty over the top and I think that comes across in our live show. It’s just three people who are not afraid of making mistakes, we let it all hang out you know?”
Nico Vega are one of the few bands signed to the relatively new Myspace Records. Run by the infamous Tom, it functions as an independent label, but with the invaluable access to MySpace for promotion and marketing. “Tom came to one of our shows, he’s a totally regular dude! Except you only see him from the left side, he only shows the profile picture side of his face,” Dan jokes. Despite Tom’s reputation for being a mythical MySpace ‘friend’, Dan says he “hand picks the bands” signed to the label and “is a real music lover”. He adds: “He’s really involved and really cares about us as a band, they’ve been absolutely badass.”
So what does 2009 hold for Nico Vega? “I’d actually really like to continue to tour with other bands for a while because I love getting turned on to new people every night and new people being turned on to us,” Dan says. “Our first record came out a couple of months ago so we’ve got a lot of work to do! It’s going to be a busy year for sure. We just want to keep moving on and moving up! We’ve got a good momentum right now. We’re in second gear right now and we’re trying to get that motherfucker into 3rd. Just keep on cruisin’!”