The “experimentation and wild aggression” of Nots

It’s no secret that PHILTHY is a major fan of the sounds of Tennessee.  However, while we’re generally most focused on Nashville-based acts, our favorite Tennessee artist at the...

It’s no secret that PHILTHY is a major fan of the sounds of Tennessee.  However, while we’re generally most focused on Nashville-based acts, our favorite Tennessee artist at the moment is Nots, based out of Memphis.  The four-piece is comprised of Natalie Hoffmann (guitar), Charlotte Watson (drums), Madison Farmer (bass), and Alexandra Eastburn (synthesizer).  The four wonderfully badass ladies embrace a beautifully and abrasively chaotic aesthetic that is just as post-punk as it is Lollapalooza 1992 at its toughest and most confrontational.  Nots are set to release their debut LP, We Are Nots, on November 11th and they’re about to hit the road, with a date at our very own Bourbon & Branch on November 25th.  I recently got a chance to chat with Natalie Hoffmann about their career thus far and what we can expect of them… both later this month and in 2015.

Izzy Cihak: So Nots have been making music for about three years now.  What have been the highlights of the early part of the band’s career?

Natalie Hoffmann: I’d say one highlight for me from early Nots was recording the first two singles with Keith Cooper. It was fun to record with him, and I think he really captured the energy of that lineup.

Izzy: Have you gotten any characterizations of your sound from either critics or just friends or fans that you think are especially on point? I’ve been describing your sound as the most raucous kind of post-punk, seamlessly coupled with the heaviest kinds of not-quite-Riot Grrrls.  Like, I could totally see you playing with either The Slits or L7 on their earliest tours.

Natalie: A lotta friends and critics are drawing parallels to us with early DIY punk. And if by that they mean we don’t really know what we’re doing and we are just going for it and having fun experimenting and seeing what happens, then they are spot on. I can’t argue with your characterization at all though! I’d love to take Nots back in time and make that Slits/L7/Nots tour a reality.

Izzy: You’re about to release your debut LP.  What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, whether related to music or not?

Natalie: For me, I’ve gotta say that both the stress and total excitement we were feeling about making the album was a huge influence on how it turned out. I was waking up every day trying not to freak out, playing guitar and working on lyrics for as many hours as I could before going to work at night, and then usually meeting up with all or part of Nots to practice after work. We went through a lineup change right before we were scheduled to record, too, our drummer quit, and Charlotte moved from bass to drums. That switch had a huge influence on the intensity of the songs as well. The addition of Allie on synth and Madison on bass right before we recorded also totally brought a level of experimentation and wild aggression toward the album. We practiced so, so much together before we recorded, since it was a new lineup, and I think you can definitely feel this sort of combined intensity and really stubborn determination that was stewing when we recorded the album.

Izzy: Do you have a favorite song off of the record, whether one you’re most proud of, or one that’s just most fun to play live?

Natalie: We have a song on the album called “White Noise” and it’s probably my favorite to play live. It’s always different. We never know how to end it, and it can be anywhere from 3-7 minutes long. So it’s a fun jam to throw into a live set. It’s one that really feels like we have to rely on listening each other’s parts to figure out what directions the song is going to go in.

Izzy: And you’re about to kick off a handful of tour dates.  What can be expected of Nots live?  I’m excited for your gig here in Philthy (or Philly, to outsiders), which is at a super intimate venue.

Natalie: We’re really looking forward to the Philthy Philly show too! Stoked to play in a space that is more intimate. I think the biggest thing that can be known about live Nots is that we love to get outta town, go on tour, and drive ourselves crazy playing shows every night to new crowds. So whatever comes out of that slow cooker of us losing a little bit more of our minds every day from spending hours in the van together before we get there is what y’all will get from us on stage. It’s mostly really bad jokes. And ridiculous voices. And terrible smells. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Izzy: Are there any cities or regions you’re especially excited to get the chance to play, or just get the chance to see?*

Natalie: I’m always excited to get to visit NYC, but I’ve never been to Cleveland, and the show we have booked there is gonna rule. Really all of it is gonna be fun, I always look forward to getting out of town for a while and seeing new sights.

Izzy: Since we’re nearing the end of 2014, I’ve been asking bands if they’ve had any favorite musical experiences of the year.  Have there been any records to drop or performances you got to see that you thought were especially cool?

Natalie: I got lucky and happened to catch the Life Stinks set at Gonerfest this year, and it was incredible. Buck Biloxi and the Fucks/Giorgio Murderer are always up to something wild and that new Giorgio 7″, “Primitive World,” has been one of my favorites this year.

Izzy: And, finally, how are you hoping and planning to spend 2015?

Natalie: We’re gonna tour as much as we can, think we’re finally gonna make it to the west coast! Maybe even to Canada! We’re really looking forward to it. 2015. It’s gonna be the Year of Nots.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.