Short and Sweet: WMSE Talks to Nots

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Memphis punk quartet, Nots, bring the noise (and the keys) like a sister from another mister of long-gone 90s band, Six Finger Satellite. The band’s spunky but punky sound is high energy, a bit droll and a lot of fun. WMSE talked to leader of the pack, Natalie Hoffman, before the band invades the small (but awesome) space of the Circle A this Sunday for a show.

For the record, were Nots ever a duo? There are several sources that mentioned that you started as a duo, but you contest that on your Facebook page…

No, Nots has never been a duo. Charlotte and I have played in every incarnation of Nots with different members. We started as a three-piece with our friend Carly on bass and Charlotte played drums. Carly ended up moving outta town, so we reformed with a new drummer, Laurel, and she ended up quitting the band before we recorded, so we reformed again with Madison on bass, Charlotte on drums and Alexandra on synth.

When did you start really feeling like a band? Most bands have a few months where they’re just figuring everything out.

This incarnation of Nots was pretty new when we were writing and recording the album. Madison had only been in the band for about three weeks by the time we recorded! I think we felt the most like a cohesive band after we played our first out of town show together in New Orleans on the Fourth of July at our friend Sarah’s Pelican Pow Wow Pow Wow festival.

On first listen, it’s hard to envision your music without the synthesizers, but if that’s how you started out, how do you think your fans would react to that setup?

It is how we started out, and it’s a different animal for sure! Way more percussive in some ways, and a bit more stripped down. It was fun playing that way too, but I feel like the synth has really filled out the mix, and has given our songwriting more room, especially the way Allie plays synth; she’s never played before and she comes up with some really crazy stuff.

What’s it like being a musician in Memphis? How often do you play your own city? How often do you go on tour?

Being a musician in Memphis is great, we have a tight-knit scene of very dedicated music fans and we’re in a city with a deep music history. and living in Memphis is affordable so we are able to tour often. This Midwest / East Coast tour is our first long one, and we are planning more tours for 2015.

Did you end up on Goner Records because of the Memphis connection?

Well, they are right down the street and the guys who run Goner, Zac and Eric, had seen us playing out and offered to do the singles, and then the LP.

Natalie, who would you say is your biggest influence as a singer/vocalist?

Whew, tough one. Everything I listen to kinda influences the way I sing, you know? I can’t really pin it down to one, but I will say that I love the way Poly Styrene sings, Iggy Pop’s lines are stuck in my head, and Androids of Mu have some pretty catchy alien vocals. I’d start with those.

You’re touring and slated to play Milwaukee on November 16th. Have you played Milwaukee before? Will you be ready to small-scale your setup (as Circle A is notoriously tiny)?

It’s a three week rager through the Midwest and East Coast and this will be our first time playing in almost every city. We are ready for the coziest of shows at the Circle A. I’m gonna have to play with Allie on my shoulders using my head as her keyboard stand while we balance on Charlotte’s bass drum and Madison stands on her bass amp. It’ll be a regular freak fest! Can’t wait.