“A Stranger In The Alps,” the new CD from Nowhere Slow, reveals quite a few changes for the popular NEPA band. Lead vocalist and guitarist Rick Gillette says that though the album has a familiar tone to its predecessors, the group’s chemistry is better than ever, resulting in a better product. He’s also tried to widen his approach to songwriting, and says the band worked with different producers this time around.
The group’s finest CD to date.
“We click so well together,” says Gillette. “This line-up is definitely the best line-up we’ve ever had, which is why I’m really excited about getting this album out.”
Nowhere Slow, a very popular band in Scranton, was formed five years ago and its current line-up has been in place for nearly three. Members include Gillette on lead vocals and guitar, John Canjar on guitar and backing vocals, Will Clauss on bass and Jeff Hertzog on drums. All are natives of the Lackawanna County area.
“A Stranger In The Alps, the band’s third CD, is the follow-up to previous efforts “Look Up and Jam” and “Two Weeks.” It was recorded at the Windmill Agency recording studio in Mt. Cobb and was produced by Ian and Eric Ritter, known best for their work with their own band, Newpastlife. Tracks include “With You,” “Chameleon” and “World Outside.” Gillette says taking their time with the CD also resulted in a better album.
“Ian and Eric gave us a very unique environment, where we didn’t have to worry about time, but basically hung out, with friends, at the studio,” he says. “They also came up with a lot of the arrangements and helped us out, as far as making the songs more accessible. It’s a great place to work and a fun place to hang out. They’re just good at what they do.”
Gillette also tried some new approaches to his writing.
“I used to try and write about everything that went on in my life, and you kind of run out of things, because I guess my life’s not very intriguing,” he says with a chuckle. “So I try to look for anything … There’s a song called ‘This Old Man’ that was actually spurned on by a conversation with some drunk guy at a bar, that I couldn’t even understand what he was saying. It was just a two second conversation that kind of spawned into a song. It’s stuff like that. I’m trying to expand the way I write.”
Another tune, “Memory (Goodbye),” which the band has also donated to the upcoming “Concert For A Cause V” album, is also a special track for the band.
“It’s one of my favorite songs on the album,” says Gillette. “It was the first time John and I sat down and kind of had an idea together. I had a couple of riffs and he had a couple of riffs, and it was the first collaboration we had, so that was fun. That song kind of set the mood for the entire thing.”
Songwriting, says Gillette, is his best and sometimes only form of self-expression.
“I’m pretty introverted, if you ever talked to me,” he says. “I don’t get very personal about myself, but with songs, at least you can do it without opening yourself up as much, because you don’t have to feel so vulnerable.”
People are obviously listening, as the band’s songs have garnered more than 17,000 spins on its MySpace page. Gillette says Nowhere Slow is excited about the budding original music community of NEPA, which he says features plenty of camaraderie.
“I’m actually very much enjoying the scene now,” he says. “We’re friends with almost all of the bands around the area. Everyone seems to get along. I’ve heard horror stories, when I was younger and too young to be in bars, that there was a lot of competition and people didn’t like each other. But a bunch of my best friends are in other bands, and we hang out all the time. It’s a good scene, and original music is doing a lot better. It just seems that people are embracing it a lot more, which is very cool.”
Because Tink’s Entertainment Complex in Scranton and club owner John Heil helped develop the band, the band’s shows are mostly limited to Tink’s and nearby Heil’s. Still, the group – also know for its rootsy covers - has become one of NEPA’s most popular acts, for which they are most grateful.
By Alan K. Stout Weekender Editor