UTG PREMIERE: No Nets – “Sickness And Wilderness”

no nets

New York City’s No Nets creates music that is defined by progression. Brainchild Sal Mastrocola is the mastermind behind a sophisticated mixture of influences ranging from the most subtle indie rock to gut-wrenching and in-your-face punk, creating a middle ground found to have moments that are juxtaposed as both soothing and unsettling. No Nets is a creation that shows even the most potent of musical influences can creating something full of depth and transparency. No Nets’ debut record, Affable & Ready For Small Talk, is easily one of the best releases of the year.

Today, Under The Gun is ecstatic to debut the opening track from the record, “Sickness And Wilderness,” a rock ‘n’ roll number with eloquent drive. Click the “Read More” button to hear the brand new track and read an exclusive interview with Mastrocola talking about the band’s conception and how the lavishing new record was brought to life.

Hi, Sal. Thanks for the time today. Tell me more about this project, No Nets.

Thanks for having me! No Nets is rock music written and recorded by me, Sal Mastrocola. While live, I’m joined by John O’Neill, Walter Shock, and John Laslo. I’ve been a musician and a songwriter for about six years, but never took a stab at singing ’til about three years ago. I was in another band on the cusp of finishing up our debut LP, but for a variety of reasons things didn’t end up working out.

At the same time I met the girl who I’ll be marrying later this year. I was incredibly smitten and I thought “Hey, sometimes people write songs about this sort of thing, perhaps I could do that…” I wrote the song “Shimmy Shimmy,” and No Nets was born.

Your brand new record, Affable and Ready for Small Talk, is out later this month. In your own words, what is to be expected–both sonically and artistically?

Sonically it’s a record that covers themes like the doldrums of the modern 9-to-5er, the vapid, disposable culture attitudes of the modern music scene, and good old fashioned complaining, but almost always layers everything over a bed of catchy, high-energy, poppy rock music. On the whole I think it’s a fun summer record that I hope you’ll enjoy listening to with the windows down.

We are premiering the opening number, “Sickness and Wilderness,” today. Tell us about this song.

This was the first song I finished for the record. It’s a quick burst of energy that we love to open our live sets with. I wrote this song on the day that the world was supposed to end, December 21, 2012. Lyrically it’s about letting debilitating fear in the face of the unknown take control of your life. I was going through a not-so-great period, and to make things worse I was complicit in standing idly by and watching it get worse.

I think everyone has times like this — where your own bullshit is so overwhelming that you’d rather just osmotically sink into the couch and smoke yourself to sleep. But then you realize that sulking around doesn’t change much, but being proactive does. I’d like to think that writing this song and starting the process of this record was the first step I needed to make positive change happen.

It’s tough for an independent artist to put their music on wax. What made you decide to press this record on vinyl?

It’s been a dream of mine to press something on vinyl for a long time. Our guitarist, John O’Neill, also shared the dream of having a record that he contributed to on wax. So we did our research and made it happen. Twelve weeks later the record showed up on the doorstep of John’s apartment, and holding the vinyl in my hand was a completely surreal experience. We did a limited edition first pressing of 150 copies on white vinyl, it looks pretty badass if you ask me. Couldn’t have done it without you, John–THANK YOU!

We’re doing a record release show 5/17 at the Studio at Webster Hall, and the vinyl will be available for purchase there, or you can grab a copy here. It will also be available digitally on May 20.

A lot of different influences cleverly float to the surface on this record. Where do you pull your strongest influence from?

I grew up listening to primarily punk music, but was a terrible musician when I was younger. By the time I became half decent at playing and songwriting I had discovered lots of different types of music that I leaned on and borrowed from.

I wouldn’t call No Nets “punk,” but I think it gives me the opportunity to really inject the influences of my teenage years into my songwriting, which is really fun. I wanted to write songs that captured some of that energy that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I was 18 (and still does). Bands like Against Me!, The Clash, The Thermals, and Saves the Day all played a part in shaping my sound. I think No Nets also pulls heavily from ’90s indie rock, Saddle Creek bands, lots of Portland and Seattle artists, and certain classic British pop acts.

You say New York City, as a “character” comes up a lot on the record. How is this conveyed in the music?

Being a musician in New York City is quite challenging for a variety of reasons. You need a pretty steady job to survive here, and that doesn’t leave much time for your passion. After twenty-six years of living in this perpetual motion machine I still sometimes feel like I’m only a few steps ahead of getting crushed under the weight of it all.

The record tells stories of the city pushing people away, gentrification displacing neighborhood staples of my youth, and soul-crushing daily commutes at rush hour to the drab valleys of midtown. But it also romanticizes the city’s incredible energy, the bravery and beautiful naivety of the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed masses who transplant here, and the exceptional resiliency of its rodent population. At the end of the day I love it here.

What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?

Now that the long process of writing and recording our debut full-length is over, we’ll be playing lots of shows in New York, and heading out on a short East Coast tour later on in the summer. I’m always writing songs, so I don’t think it will be too long until there’s more new music to be heard. This is an exciting year for us, so we’re just going to play it by ear and see where it takes us.


Support No Nets by pre-ordering Affable and Ready For Small Talk today.
Check out Sal’s other project, a feminist dialogue podcast called BeaverTalk, brought to you by Feminist Wednesday.

Written and conducted by Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt)

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