Nothington – ‘ It’s been a long strange trip, it was all worth it’

Words: Miljan Milekić

For the past eleven years, Nothington were a special treat for punk rock fans. Never mainstream, but consistently good, the San Francisco four-piece delivered four amazing records as well as the number of EP’s and 7-inches. Their emotional, yet aggressive sound quickly became a trademark they kept along the way. Now, the band announced an indefinite hiatus after 2018. We caught up with Chris Matulich to talk about the past. present and the future.

So, you’re back from your European tour. How was it, and did you finally manage to get some quality sleep at home?
Chris: Yes, it’s always good to be back home. Luke and I spent a few days in Amsterdam after our tour, where we did a lot more of not sleeping. Had too much fun, boated through the canals, ate lots of great food, and drank more beer than we did the entire tour. (laughs)

On this tour, you played some places for the first time and some places where you haven’t been for years. How does it feel to discover a new place after so many years on the road?
Chris: I don’t know if we actually played anywhere new, but we definitely played some places we hadn’t been in a very long time. Serbia and Hungary were the two places we haven’t been in the longest time, seven or eight years, I think. It was really great to see these places again, and the people we met were very happy to have us back, and that always feels good, like it was worthwhile.

This year, once again, you’re joining the huge lineup of The Fest. How does it feel to be part of such an event, and do you have any venues or festivals that are close to your hearts?
Chris: The Fest is definitely close to our hearts. It’s where we first got our start on a more national level. Being a part of Fest year after year has certainly been an honor. Other fests that have been great to us would include Brakrock in Belgium which we are playing again this year, Moster Bash which is no longer happening in Germany, and of course Groezrock!

A year after the release, ‘In The End’ is not that new anymore, but it’s still fresh and going strong. Are you happy with the reactions to the new songs, on this tour, but also in general?
Chris: I feel like ‘In The End’ is one of the best records I have ever written. But I love all of the Nothington records. It’s funny you ask about the reactions to songs because I feel like the way people consume music is changing really quickly. On this record, we promoted a few singles pretty heavily, and people get excited when we play them, but when we play other songs off the album, people don’t seem to know them. It doesn’t matter what we play off of our older records, people know them and know the words.

Maybe as we get older, and we are all five years older after the long gap between albums, we don’t have as much time to listen to albums and we only have a few songs on playlists on our phones. Or maybe people just didn’t connect to the other songs as well… I’m not really sure. But regardless of either scenario, I’m extremely proud of this album.

First time I’ve heard your band I was flabbergasted that you’re from San Francisco, and not from Chicago or Minneapolis. Where do you think your influences are the most rooted?
Chris: Mine are mostly rooted in the Bay Area scene of the early 1990s around San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. There was a big scene here that’s not that different than what you heard from Chicago and Minneapolis later on. Jay, on the other hand, grew up in the South and was much more influenced by bands like Hot Water Music and Quicksand. I think the two schools of music we come from are part of what makes our band unique.

Signing for Red Scare seemed like the most logical thing in the world, and you stick to the label ever since. How would you describe working with them, and how much did they influence your career? Chris: Red Scare and Nothington have had a relationship for a very long time on a personal level, and it was definitely a natural progression for us after BYO Records started shutting down operating as a record label. It’s been great, if we were going to make another record, I’d be happy to do it on Red Scare again.

Record after record, it seems like you just can’t put a foot wrong. What keeps you so pumped up for the new music?
Chris: I love music and I write songs all the time. I write when I’m happy, I write when I’m sad, I write when I’m bored, I write when I’m inspired. For me personally, writing so much and so often is what has enabled me to bring my best foot forward on Nothington records. For every good song on a Nothington record that I wrote, there are four that weren’t as good and no one will ever hear. Jay, on the other hand, is different – he doesn’t write songs very often. But when he does, he puts a lot into it and all of his songs are good in my opinion.

It’s been five years since your previous record and ‘In The End.’ Was such a break an intentional decision? Do you think it was necessary for your writing?
Chris: Yes, I do. We toured very hard for about two years after our album, ‘Borrowed Time’ came out. After that, I needed a break. I needed a break to get my personal life back together, and I needed time to concentrate on writing another record I could be 100% proud of. It took a long time, but it was worth it in my opinion.

So, what’s the deal with you and all those birds?
Chris: We just like birds and think they are cool. There’s not a lot more to it than that… Or is there? It’s been a running theme in our imagery on two albums, a 7” record, and lots of tour merch. Birds often represent freedom to people or something beautiful. A lot of our imagery depicts birds that are compromised, possibly dead. The death of something beautiful is something that seems to suit our music as a theme because a lot of what we write about has to do with loss and heavy emotions.

‘In The End’ came out last February, exactly a decade after your debut ‘All In.’ Looking back, and comparing two records, are you happy with the accomplishments and progress you made as a band?
Chris: Yes, I’m very happy with how far we’ve come. When we first started this band, we didn’t put a whole lot of thought into the songs we were writing. We just let them come out and left them as they were. We didn’t demo them, re-write them, re-structure them, add guitar parts, etc. I think all of our albums show a progression, and they are each special to me in their own way. They document who we were as a band and songwriters at the time, and that’s a cool thing to look back on after ten years.

I wanted to keep this one for the end. You announced an indefinite hiatus after 2018, stating different musical, artistic, and career-related aspirations as the main reason. How hard is it to close one eleven-year-old chapter, and go into something new? Is it too soon to ask for your future plans?
Chris: It is actually very difficult to close the book on an eleven-year-long journey. For me, it is necessary though because my commitment to this band has led me to pass up other opportunities in life – musically, artistically, and career-wise. Running a band like Nothington, that’s popular enough to have opportunities and tours coming left and right but not big enough to have management, is a lot of work for one person like me to keep up.

I spend hours and hours every week doing stuff for Nothington, not even counting band practice. It’s time for me to give some time to other things before I get too old. (laughs) Luke and I will be playing shows and writing music with my new band, Sciatic Nerve, and hopefully visiting Europe in 2019. Jay will also be continuing to write music and perform as a solo artist, so don’t think for a second that we are done creating. We will continue to put music and energy out into the world. It’s been a long strange trip, it was all worth it.

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