— by Conor Bezane
The guys in Nightmare of You are all veterans of New York's punk scene — but their sound, style and personalities aren't even in the same galaxy as punk rock.
In fact, with their endless appetite for sushi and cappuccino and their penchant for romantic lyrics, the band is anything but hardcore, even though the members have been in plenty of hardcore bands. But luckily, their punk-rock goofiness is still intact.
"I'm trying to keep my girlish figure," drummer Sammy Siegler said, lamenting the one-too-many pints of carb-heavy beer consumed during the band's recent whirlwind tour of England — a country to which the band owes much of its artistic inspiration.
"Yeah, I love Morrissey," singer Brandon Reilly admitted. "I've heard every single band under the sun that we sound like. I don't get tired of the comparisons."
New Yorkers though they may be, Nightmare of You's sound is, in fact, pure Britpop — and their self-titled debut is a throwback to the bittersweet sound of Manchester, England, during the 1980s. It's convincing enough to win over the natives: "A good portion of [the shows on the U.K. tour] were sold out, and we don't even have an album out over there," Reilly said.
The Nightmare began not long after the breakup of Reilly's old band, Long Island, New York emo heroes the Movielife.
"I wasn't the songwriter in the Movielife," Reilly said. "This is the first band I've been in where I've been writing the songs. I guess I always wanted to do it."
Nightmare of You were formed in January 2003 by Reilly, Siegler and Joe McCaffrey, a high school buddy of Reilly's, on guitar. They were later joined by Ryan Heil on bass.
"I was already friends with Joe, and we were recording songs on a laptop," he says. "I already knew Sammy from [him] filling in for my old band, so I called him up on speed dial."
Before joining Nightmare, Siegler was drumming with post-Quicksand outfit Rival Schools. Previously, he was a member of NYC hardcore bands CIV, Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today. Yet he feels that going from hardcore to Britpop is a natural progression.
"You start off young, and it's your natural instinct to start playing heavy music," he said. "Then you listen to different records, get better at your instrument and evolve as a musician."
And since 2003, Nightmare of You have indeed evolved: They've recorded an album, toured with My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional and launched their own label — Bevonshire — which they named after the dicey California hotel they lived in for two months while making their album.
"It was really just a place for junkies and prostitutes," Reilly explained, and said the irony of a seedy hotel with such a distinguished name inspired them to take the name for their label. In an unusual deal, Nightmare hooked up with East West Records, which offered them the opportunity to launch Bevonshire. They might release music from other bands in the future, but for now the priority is their band's debut album.
"We wanted to get into the studio and make a record," Reilly said. "We didn't want to showcase and demo and do those stupid cliché things that a lot of bands do. [East West] were like, 'We love you guys, let's do it.' "
The album is indeed Britpop in flavor, with lyrics that shift from ecstasy ("Ode to Serotonin") to gloom ("I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard," the album's first single and video), but it also breaks formation on the acoustic, country-tinged "Marry Me" and the dance-pop of "My Name Is Trouble."
"There was no conscious effort to have a certain kind of vibe on the record," Reilly explained. "It's just, you know, 'I'm happy sometimes, I'm depressed sometimes, and I'm angry.' "
Next on the band's agenda: decadent world tours. "I don't want to overshoot," Reilly said, "but we're only going to play on clubs on streets that have sushi and cappuccino on the same street."
For the moment, however, Nightmare will have to be happy with their current stint opening for International Noise Conspiracy's North American jaunt — but they finish on the 20th with a gig in their hometown.
"We want to be in Manhattan all the time," Reilly said. "Civilization at all times." And sushi around every corner.
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