Nico Yaryan wants to earn the right to jam out. His debut album, “What a Tease,” offers a new perspective on the complexities of long-distance romance. But the drummer-turned-songwriter leaves plenty of room for interpretation. We got together with Nico in New York to talk about writing, jamming, and the difficulty of putting a new take on the classic ‘love song’ formula.
CONVICTS: Hey Nico. What have you guys been up to for the last couple of months?
NICO: I recorded the album earlier this year in Los Angeles, with Kevin Augunas at Partisan Records. Since then we’ve been getting the band together, getting ready to tour, playing as many shows as possible, and putting out the singles until February when the album comes out.
CONVICTS: How long have you guys been together as a group?
NICO: I actually wrote a record, played it myself, and finished it earlier this year. We all started playing together recently.
CONVICTS: Can you tell us about your creative process?
NICO: I’ve always got a bunch of songs that are half-written. Usually, I’ll just write it alone and figure all the parts out individually. But now I’ve got all these amazing players. Like Ky, my drummer, will play something and I’ll be like, “Holy shit, that’s exactly — that’s better than what I would have thought to do.” It’s a cool process. I’m always writing. I can’t stop.
I’d love to see people connect to the music, whatever that means.
CONVICTS: How would you describe the difference between playing alone and playing with a group?
NICO: It was weird at first, and now it’s getting better.
CONVICTS: Is it a different experience recording a song, versus playing it live?
NICO: I’m already sick of the record. It’s a live thing now, not just this dead thing that I can’t alter anymore. We can add to it. The songs are better now than they are on the record.
CONVICTS: Do you write songs on the guitar or on the piano?
NICO: It depends. Both. I usually write on the guitar, but I get different kinds of ideas if I’m playing the piano. Different sounds, different chord inversions. Same with acoustic and electric guitar. You get different ideas, it brings out different stuff. You wanna rock a little more.
I like that people can have their own ideas about it, but I have my own story too. I can tell you a fucking story for each song.
CONVICTS: What do you hope to achieve musically?
NICO: I’d like to have a nice core group of people who are stoked on what we’re doing, who appreciate us jamming on stage. Touring and recording as much as possible and just having fun. I’d love to see people connect to the music, whatever that means.
CONVICTS: What’s the name of the album?
NICO: It’s called “What a Tease.”
CONVICTS: What are the main themes of the album?
NICO: All of the songs are about love and the difficulty of love. I wanted to write a regular love record, but I think it ended up being a lot sadder. And more complicated. It’s never easy to just write, “I love you, I love you.” That’s not interesting.
CONVICTS: You said you’re writing all the time — do the lyrics on this album reflect your personal experiences?
NICO: “What a Tease” is a song about my long distance relationship when my girlfriend was coming to visit from Amsterdam — it’d be great when she visited but it would be bitter sweet cause she’d have to leave in two weeks or a month or whatever. So it was a tease to have her be there.
CONVICTS: Do you think the song tells that story?
NICO: You can interpret it in a lot of different ways. I like that people can have their own ideas about it, but I have my own story too. I can tell you a fucking story for each song.
CONVICTS: What are you going to do now? Pick up a drug habit?
NICO: I’m working on that.