I met with Jon Lietdke and Kirk Guthrie, a portion of the horn section of the eclectic punk/ska/hardcore/whateveryouwannacallit band, the Nefidovs, over a pint of beer at the Dominion House.
A week prior, the band had just had released their second full length album to a packed crowd at Windsor’s FM Lounge, killing it with the likes of Shared Arms, James OL and the Villains, and the Rowley Estate.
Clearly excited about the reception of the show, and their new album, Better Wake Up, we spoke on their unconventional sound, the evolution of their music, and their acceptance into an internship with the University of Windsor’s CEL program.
How long have you guys been a band and how did it come about?
JL: In 2009, I was approached by our guitar player at the time. We had met each other through University and he was jamming with a few guys at the time and knew that I played the trumpet. It turned into something more than just jamming one time. It eventually evolved into the first incarnation of the Nefidovs. We had a different bass player and drummer at the time and we played a bunch of covers and had a few folky songs. That existed for a year and a half until we had to replace the bass and the drums. At this point, the sax player and Kirk joined the band.
How does your song writing process go?
JL: Typically, what will happen is that our guitar player will come up with a first riff, or the bass player or drummer will lay something down. In the odd case, it will be us saying that we have a horn line that we like. We will come together as a band. No one ever comes and says ‘Here’s the song, it has to be this way and here’s all of the parts.’ It evolves out of much beer and thought.
KG: It generally starts with the rhythm section, they will get a jam down and we will just try and make something up for it.
JL: Doug and Adam write a lot of our lyrics. One time our sax player had a song that he completely wrote; he came up with the riffs, and did the drums on a desk. It’s now the title track on our CD.
How was the CD release party?
KG: It was awesome, we had a great turnout and all of the bands were excellent.
JL: We had Shared Arms, James OL and the Villains, and the Rowley Estate. It was punk, a bit of folk/heavy rock, and whatever the hell it is we are. I haven’t been to a show like that in a very long time. It was overwhelming to say the least. Windsor has such an incredible pool of talent and such a variety of places that are willing to have you play. I am taken aback by how incredible Windsor has been.
What is unique about the Nefidovs sound?
KG: At this point, I’d say that it is the horns that make us stand out for the most part. Also, more of our edgy harder punk rock sound and the fact that we throw breakdowns into a song. Doug has some pretty hard riffs and the speed that Adam drums at can be ridiculous.
JL: We’re not restricted by any confines of a genre. What we do is just unique to us. In one of our songs we have a pretty sexy salsa breakdown, and things go into a three/four time and it gets a latin feel to it.. In one of our newer songs we just go from hard punk right into swing. If we were on a label, or had a specific set genre, we couldn’t do those things. Everyone comes from such a different background. We don’t consider ourselves one genre and we are able to experiment and have a lot of fun.
How was your music evolved since you first started?
JL: We started out more folk oriented. We have this fast punk thing going on, where in the past it was more soulful, and a jam band. As we evolved, we started playing more originals and less covers. As we progressed and solidified with the six members that we have today, harder stuff was written.
People think because there is a horn in it, it makes you a set, certain thing. Everyone always perceives reggae or ska, but we have this sound that is the Nefidovs.
Can you tell us a bit about the CEL internship?
JL: Centre for Enterprise and Law at the University hooks up people with ideas for businesses with start-up cash and business mentorship. You go in and make your pitch and are critiqued. I sent an email out to them asking if we could apply, selling ourselves as a business, as we have put tens of thousands of dollars into this over the years. There is no reason that a band shouldn’t be classified as a business. Fortunately, they saw our case and decided to take us on as interns for the 2013 winter semester.
John Harvey is our mentor. He has 35 years of experience in the media industry and in financial planning. He is starting us with a business plan that suits what we want to do specifically.
How have Lookout, and the video been received so far?
JL: Lookout has been very well received. We have been really happy about the numbers. The video was filmed by Chris Warner. He did all of the editing and recording.. We were fortunate enough that he had come out to a few of our shows and when we were recording the album and got a lot of footage from that. Unfortunately we had to sit on it for ten months, because it took us a while to slave away to make this thing. We paid for every dollar of the album by ourselves, which took us about a year to raise the funds. We had to pay for the mastering of it, and the printing, and the advertising. But, it has been incredibly well received.
Best band that you have played with so far?
JL: Electric Six was cool to play with.
KG: Playing with the brains was awesome. They put on a great show.
JL: It’s a hard question to answer. When we go out of town and we play shows, if we’re lucky enough to find a place to crash that’s not a van in a Walmart parking lot we consider ourselves lucky…honestly when we play shows with people out of town, we usually end up making a good personal connection with them, and rather than saying who the best band from out of town that we have played with, any band that is willing to hang out with us and drink a few beers afterwards and potentially find us a house to sleep in, that’s what is hands down the best part about playing with other bands.
If you could pick a band to go on tour with next, who would you pick?
JL: Streetlight Manifesto.
KG: My personal favourite couple of punk bands would be Dillinger Four, or Lawrence Arms. If we could ever tour with either of those guys, that would be a dream come true.
What do you guys have in the works?
JL: We have four new tracks that we have already written. We are working our way towards another full album. We plan on doing a split with another band from out of town.
We are going to have a tour for Better Wake Up, sometime this summer. It will be a full Ontario tour, the 401 corridor. We might even hit the 403.
We have teased the idea of going out east, getting all of the way out to the coast. Another cool thing is that Metalworks recording studio, based in Toronto/Mississauga, just featured us in a promotional video. For the first minute and a half of their promo video, it’s our track Read, Write, Regurgitate. We are really honoured to be a part of that. They are the premier recording studio, so that was a huge honour.
Can you tell us a bit about the album cover artwork?
JL: All of our artwork is done in house. We are incredibly fortunate to have our bassist, Rich Jennings, do the design for us. He went to St. Clair College for art and graphic design. As such, he makes everything that is branded Nefidovs. He is our entire image.
KG: A lot of people ask us if the dudes on the cover of our CD are in fact, us. They are not though. Rich just kind of made them up and I don’t want to speak for Rich and his artistic whatever the fuck you call it, his inspiration, but the death character at the top is basically the leader of Western society, holding all of the riches, Basically all of the other workers down below are all of the same people playing the different roles of society that have to be played in order for the man to make as much money as he does.
JL: A lot of our tracks represent how we all grew up in what is an industrial or post-industrial town, representing workers and workers’ rights, and unions. We are all Windsorite’s, we all grew up here, Windsor runs through our blood, and as such, we write about Windsor issues. What those issues are really permeates across the board and seeps into education at times; it taps into the workforce, and into politics. We have a lot of frustrations with what we see going on around us. We do not hold our tongues.
Featured image by: Joey Acott