Nothing More’s Daniel Oliver talks about the grind of touring, Ghost, crazy fan encounters, playing with bands he grew up listening to and more.
Jade Greenbrooke got the chance to meet up with Daniel Oliver before Nothing More’s London show to talk touring, Game of Thrones, hockey commercials and motocross.
How do you find tour life?
It’s interesting. It’s not normal, that’s for sure. We live in a vehicle, the last two days of my life have been in this parking lot. Weird right? I imagine it’s like being a sailor back in the day, or I can kid of relate to them ‘cause there’s no home, you go to a port, you get off the bus or get off the boat and then you’re there for x amount of time and then you leave. Sometimes when I see the band and crew, we go out to bars and everyone’s just crazy ‘cause we don’t live here. We just go wild and then get back on the bus, go to sleep and it leaves.
And that’s what Papa Roach does too. That’s what all bands do. We all live in these vehicles, then we go to a city, play a show, tear a place apart, go back to the bus and then it leaves. It’s cool. I think that’s why people go so crazy, ‘cause you don’t have to see the city the next day, you just go to bed and you’re gone. And the next day’s a new day (laughs). It’s pretty cool in that aspect.
But some people can’t handle it?
A lot of people can’t. Our last drummer (Paul O’Brien) started getting real bad social anxiety disorder from touring. He just got to where he – he never liked crowds, but he started freaking out on stage because of them. He said he had to just close his eyes because he felt like, he’s surrounded and stuck. And so he quit. He worked his whole life to be in a signed band, to be internationally touring. He was in our band for five years and once we got there he was like, “I can’t do this, this isn’t for me” and he quit. Crazy right? You have to be able to handle it or it’ll eat you up immediately. That’s tour life.
When can we expect your next UK headline tour and what venues would you like to play at?
Right now we don’t know when we’re going to be back. Our main focus after this tour is to go back home and write the next record, so I imagine it’ll probably be about this time next year, or maybe next fall or winter by the time we get back here. Where would we like to be? I don’t know, I’d like to headline The Roundhouse in London, I think that’d be cool. It’d be cool to be at that level.
How’s touring with Papa Roach?
They are so fun. They are one of the best bands we’ve opened for as far as energy level. They are really nice, Jacoby constantly pops into our dressing room and he’s like, “What’s up guys?”, like all stoked. It’s cool, a lot of bands don’t show a lot of excitement towards other bands, especially openers. They are incredible, they have been doing it forever too. A lot of bands, once they’ve been touring as long as they have, they don’t really care that much but they obviously love what they do and are happy to be out here and happy to have us. They are a ton of fun. Their fans are great too, they are just very into music and show up ready for a rock show, it’s really cool.
Do you prefer to tour with bands like Papa Roach who have quite similar music styles?
Oh absolutely! It just makes for such a better concert. On some of our headlining tours we’ve done we’ll have a band that’s kind of an oddball on and I can tell that it kind of disrupts – like the crowd doesn’t like it and it affects how they are when we play, they’re just not as into it. When you have bills like this where someone’s into every band, or both bands then everyone goes a little bit more crazy, and you can tell.
In the US, Jacoby was coming out during ‘Don’t Stop’ ‘cause he’s on the recorded version of that song, and when the crowd saw him come out while we were playing, it was like an eruption I’ve never felt before on stage. The crowd just like started humping themselves, it was really wild. It was cool to see what one man, what one band can pull out of people that randomly, so it definitely helps to have similar interests when building a bill.
You’re touring with Ghost next in autumn, that’ll be pretty different!
I’m really excited, I have no idea what that tour is going to be like though, cause they are very different. I don’t know much about them but they’re just a very different act, right? Like kinda theatrical. I’m hoping their fans are cool, I don’t know what their fans are expecting from the night. I’ve heard openers on a Tool show will have pennies thrown at them or quarters thrown at them, like coins. I can imagine a Ghost tour maybe being similar, y’know like people are just there for such a specific reason that they may not give a shit about the openers but makes it all the more exciting for me though ‘cause it’s different, it’s not a normal rock ‘n’ roll tour, it’s an interesting art rock, art metal thing, so we’ll see. They are the biggest young metal band I would say, ‘cause they just haven’t been around that long whereas typically for playing in front of that many people it’s with Shinedown or Breaking Benjamin or a band I listened to when I was a kid. This will be interested, I’m excited.
Is it strange touring with bands that you listened to when you were younger?
It’s cool, it’s like, “I learned your songs when I was learning bass” and now I have their numbers in my phone, it’s interesting, it’s wild. It’s the same thing with Papa Roach, right when I was getting into music they were on MTV, it’s kinda crazy. It’s cool though, it’s an honour.
Do you think you’ll change your stage show to fit into their theatrics?
Nah. If we have any slow songs, we might cut them out but that’d be about it. There’s really not too much we can do as far as the show to change anything. It’s kinda funny, we were pushing ‘Just Say When’, it’s our acoustic song on the record, and we were pushing it while we were on tour with Five Finger Death Punch. We had to play it every night, we had a short set, we played 35 minutes and five of those minutes was this acoustic song and it was just the most horrible thing ever. Hopefully we won’t have to do anything like that. That was an adjustment we had to make in the absolute wrong direction, the last thing you do on a metal show is play your heartbreak jam. We’ll play the heavier side of us for sure.
You used to describe your influences back in 2013 as neuroscience, philosophy, film-making, psychiatry and the band Thrice. Have your influences changed since then?
No, not really. We’re all still into the same things we always have been. We just like to pull lyrical inspiration and pull all sorts of inspiration from everywhere. You don’t have to be inspired just by music, there are a lot of noises and songs and rhythms in nature even, like if you’re jogging you can make a song out of the sound of your footsteps versus the sound of your breathing. I think it’s a neat attribute of the band, being able to get inspired by the smallest things.
What will be the next steps for Nothing More?
We’re always trying to push harder as far as we’re trying to make our music heavier and still have it make sense. Heavy in all directions; heavier meaning what you’d think of as heavier but heavier also meaning deeper and more philosophical and more ambient depending on what direction a song goes. We’re always trying to get to the next level of that depth. I have a feeling this next record is going to be a lot heavier though, I can just tell by some of the stuff we’ve been writing, where everyone’s head’s at. I think there’s going to be some very heavy songs, I’m excited though! We haven’t written together in a couple of years and it’s always such a fun experience. We treat it like a normal work day – we show up at 9am and leave at 6pm, you show up and you don’t have anything and by the end of the day there’s usually a recording of some sort. It’s exciting, it’s creation! This didn’t exist in the world eight hours ago and now there’s this cool idea, and sometimes when the songs come together really quick, like ‘Still In Love’, I think we wrote the majority of it in a day, it was just neat cause literally that song; I drove back to my apartment from our rehearsal room with that song on my phone. It’s like, “Woah, this is cool!”.
What was your favourite song to write from that album?
‘Still In Love‘ was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed writing ‘The Great Divorce‘, I think that was my favourite to write actually. It was really heavy. Some songs you know you have to be incredibly tasteful with lyrics like ‘Go To War‘, we knew that every one of those lines had to be the most relatable tasteful lyrics ‘cause it’s a single, we just knew it was going to be a single and we knew we had to hit the nail on the head. But when you have a song like ‘The Great Divorce‘ you’re just allowed to be way more poetic ‘cause it’s heavy and you know that it’s going to miss a lot of people but its purpose isn’t to be a single, it’s just to be the coolest song however you want to write it. That what was fun, you can throw wild musical ideas in it, you can throw wild lyrical ideas in it.
What’s your favourite song to perform live?
I think ‘Don’t Stop‘, it’s fun, it’s a fun jam. I don’t really play with a pick, ever, before this last record and then on this last record I’m playing with a pick a lot. Usually I just play with my fingers, the pick feels very metal so it makes me feel like a metal musician, ‘cause I’m not one so it’s fun for me.
A lot of people compare you to Linkin Park, how does it feel to be compared to them?
Oh it’s cool, like them or hate them,they kinda changed the world and there’s nothing like them. I’m not a big Linkin Park fan and when I was young I was kind of a hater on certain things, on certain popular ideas but then I thought about it and nobody sounds like them. The reason they are as big as they are is that they are unique thing that deserves its place in the world. If people think that way about our music then that makes me really happy.
Your fan base grew really fast when This Is The Time Came Out, how do you handle that?
I don’t know, you just do. I was in this band for 10 years before that song came out and it was such a slow grind, literally like one fan at a time, playing every weekend in different cities, super poor, very broke, no help to do anything, no money. To have things flip and all of a sudden people are paying attention to you and we have a label, and management and all these things helping us out, it was incredible. To work so hard and then have it work out, it was gratifying, it made sense of the past, it was cool. It wasn’t a big ego moment, it wasn’t like, “Oh we’re the fucking best”, “We’re fucking legends” or anything like that, it was more just like, “Yes! This is real, the dream is real and everything we worked towards is real and we weren’t delusional or wrong”. It gave us reason to keep pushing and keep working, and that’s been the greatest thing, to cross that chasm and flip over to the other side and still be interested in it, and running as fast as you can. It’s an incredible experience and not a lot of people get to actually do what they love for a living, even in music – you look at bands and sometimes half the band hate what they do. This is the most unique job that everybody on the planet thinks that they want so I just cherish it every day, so if I’m not having a good time or something is going wrong in my life I really try to stabilise and focus on fixing it so I can reactivate, ‘cause this is cool. I get to hang out with awesome people every day and change a part of the world, if you will, or that’s what seems to happen.
Any crazy fan experiences?
There are always tons of crazy fan experiences as far as them just being out of control and insane. Nothing’s like absolutely crazy. One time we’re at a real big festival and these kids broke into our dressing room and it was awesome though, ‘cause they had the balls to break into backstage which is usually pretty hard to do and then find our dressing room, knock on the door and they’re like, “Hey, we broke into the backstage and just wanted to say we’re huge fans.” So we invited them in and had drinks with them.
People are interesting though, we really get to see the better side of people ‘cause people are constantly giving us gifts, they are drawing pictures of us, making us cakes, it’s interesting. It makes me think of what I would do for the bands that I love, and yeah I’d probably do stuff like that, I’d want to make them something or do something to make them feel special and make them want to keep doing what they are doing cause their music is valuable to me.
Jonny got in a fight once with a guy, Jonny was kinda crowd surfing where he was singing and leaning into the crowd and this guy was being really obnoxious, and I think the guy hit Jonny. Jonny just dropped the mic and he tried his hardest to get in the crowd to kick this guy’s ass but the crowd wouldn’t let him, he was like stuck on their hands. That was the last song of the night and immediately after he went in the crowd looking for this guy to rumble. You run into people like that who are juggernauts and drunk, but we have yet to have a band fight though. I’d really like that, I think it’d be cool y’know like see a guy picking on Mark at the bar and I get to jump over a pool table with a chair and smash it on someone’s head and then an eruption of fighting. That’s my dream, but I know it’ll never happen and it’ll never happen like that, that’s for sure.
You should incorporate that into your next music video
I think we should! We tried to do that with ‘Go To War‘ but it didn’t work out like that so I think the idea is still there.
How cool is it being on the Game of Thrones playlist?
It’s cool, I think the biggest thing we’ve had so far in that world is Planet of the Apes. We didn’t even make it onto the soundtrack, we were just on one of their commercials but it’s always neat. We’re on a bunch of hockey commercials too in Canada and to hear your song and you see all these hockey highlights, it’s like “Wow, that’s cool”.
Is there a question you’ve ever wanted to be asked in an interview?
I can’t think of anything but I’ll say this – I recently got into Motocross, so if there’s any fans out there with dirt bikes that want to take me out riding when I’m in your city then give me a call!
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