New Bedford-based instrumental specialists Nature/Nurture strike back with a new release and an added guitarist, bolstering their complex yet concise angular jams while continuing the N/N tradition of composing monster math rock by-the-numbers — literally. EP002 follows last year’s debut EP001 (free download at MySpace.com/NatureNurtureBand), which had a limited hard copy release via Mark MacDougall’s 75orLess Records.
“We went with 75orLess again because Mark and his guys are so supportive and just great to work with, plus they are a smaller label so we can press a reasonable amounts of CDs at a low overhead,” guitarist Michael Brunetto told me earlier this week. Bassist Jesse Marsh elaborated: “I had played in bands while living in Wisconsin, where we did the ‘real’ CD pressing thing with glass-mastering and all that, but you have to order 1000 copies to make it worth your while, and I imagine there are probably 800 of them still boxed up in a basement somewhere.”
MacDougall recalled the first time he caught Nature/Nurture onstage: “[It was] a really powerful set of instrumentals focused on dynamics and flow rather than overdoing it with non-stop timing changes.” When he heard the EP streaming online, he was hooked. “We had been discussing releasing this second EP for a couple of months now,” MacDougall said, “but Michael is a perfectionist and this time around I knew to just sit back and wait until he was completely happy with it.”
As for the added firepower in new guitarist Chris Haskell (who played with Brunetto a few years back in Rooftop Suicide Club), EP002 isn’t necessarily louder than its predecessor (see beastly openingtrack “001”), but the overall musicianship has skyrocketed this time around.
Ironically, Brunetto recalls Haskell as “not really into math rock nor instrumental bands for the most part,” and Haskell had his doubts early on.
“The first thought that popped into my head when I heard Nature/Nurture onstage was, ‘This band does not need a second guitarist,’ ” Haskell told me. “These guys were doing things I had never seen in an instrumental band, creating shorter, more intricate songs with an incredible amount of restraint. Highly technical without being excessive, and an almost ‘pop’ feel, in that the songs went somewhere fast and never lost their cohesiveness.
“Honestly, I was certain I’d fail miserably while playing with these guys, but it’s turned out to be one of the best musical experiences of my life.”
Drummer/co-founder Henri Chandanais says the band is benefiting on all fronts from Haskell’s presence: “It’s not just the live sound that is bolstered by the second guitar, but our overall songwriting process has been augmented and polished up as well.”
Similar to their typical live set, EP002 clocks in just over 30 minutes, with Haskell and Brunetto providing nimble chords that keep pace with N/N co-founders/rhythm section Marsh and Chandanais, who lock in on “010” and “012” (Chandanais slays on this one), while that almost “pop” melody shines through on the bassline groove of “011.” For the uninitiated, the song titles should not imply a musical lack of personality.
“The song titles started as demos Henri and Jesse cut to give out to potential guitar players,” Brunetto recalled prior to signing on in early 2008. “Demos were numbered ‘1, 2, idea 3,’ and so on. That’s how we’d refer to them during our initial practices together, and it just stuck.”