Singer and guitarist Evan Bakker, bassist Stuart Babcock and drummer Jake Besen make up Nebula, a space-rock band whose spirit animal Bakker described as “what would happen if an albatross and a phoenix had babies." North by Northwestern sat down with Nebula, the DM Battle of the Bands winner.
How’d you guys get started?
Bakker: Besen and I started casually improvising in October. By the end of the quarter we realized we had five solid songs. It was almost like we were trying to make them catchy as possible so we could memorize them easily. It wasn’t until January that we brought on Stuart.
Stuart: Was it this quarter? I don’t even remember.
Bakker: After that it was exponential growth in terms of the song quality. We’ve already put the bowtie on top of the songs. I think they’re all ready to be made public.
What are your influences?
Babock: I listen all over the place. I am classically trained and I grew up on classic rock. I listen to jazz bassists like John Entwistle and John Paul Jones. I try to make bass lines as interesting as possible, not stay on the tonic.
Besen: I’m all over the place, too. I’d say I grew up on a lot of punk bands, like Blink-182, Sum 41. The beginning of [our song] "West Word" is very boom-influenced, I guess. I guess, I don’t know, the drumming I try to emulate is kind of the drummer from Explosions in the Sky, or at least that’s what I aim to be like. Kind of a big, easy sound.
Bakker: Both my parents played in rock bands for 20 years, so I was raised on violin and guitar. I saw two visions of what music can be; I was looking at rules-driven music, like classical where you’re given a set staff, but then I picked up a guitar and realized I could bend the strings. When I was a kid I’d go to shows my parents had. My first show ever was while my mom was pregnant with me, playing bass on stage. So I’ve been pretty much immersed in bass my entire life.
Besen: Uh, we have a practice?
Babcock: I just try to stay loose.
Besen: I wear my uh, lucky underwear.
Bakker: I had a show in Madison with my band from high school, and I was really, really drunk. And halfway through the show I looked down at my guitar and there was blood all over the pick guard from my thumb, and I decided to keep it on there. For me it’s almost like a tribal element to the music. My way of keeping – reminding myself, you know, that music is my number one passion.
Bakker: Dillo Day 2013.
Besen: It’s every band’s dream to suddenly blow up and get famous and whatnot. So, get as close to that as possible, I guess. See what happens, take it a day at a time.
What was the first show you went to?
Babcock: Gigantour, a big metal festival that Dave Mustaine from Megadeth put on. I was like 14. Yeah it was awesome.
Bakker: I was 6 or 7, and I wanted to see Chumbawamba. I remember they were terrible. They had like 16 people in their band.
Besen: My first real concert was Green Day and Jimmy Eat World in 2005.