When you woke up this morning you might have noticed a lot of notifications on your phone talking about Nominee’s new EP “I Woke Up” which blew up the internet yesterday. One can only assume that this debut EP, which is produced by Joseph Milligan and mixed by Paul Leavitt, is an expansion of their demo that came out on Property of Zack last year.
It’s like that moment when you finish Diablo II and then Blizzard comes out with an expansion; so you wind up playing the game from the beginning all over again because you just loved it so much, why the heck not. “I Woke Up” by Nominee is an epic one, it’s full of surprises, twists and turns, captivating and inspiring story lines, not to mention the well-written instrumentation and well-crafted production. (Props to you Milligan and Leavitt, this is a good one to add to your portfolio)
You might recognize a couple of these members, Chris McLelland previously of I Call Fives and Andrew Echavarria previously of Thieves. “When I Call Fives decided to take our initial hiatus, I knew that I couldn’t throw in the towel musically” says McLelland. Now a few years wiser, in a new city, with a new band, Chris says “When our guitarist and long time friend, Nathan, asked me to make the move from Jersey to Austin to sing in this project, I didn’t think I had the chops lyrically or vocally, but I thought to myself, “finally.” I was ready to start fresh and make something that I could truly be proud of. (Not to say that I wasn’t proud of ICF, because I was.)”
What is truly captivating even more so than the music of “I Woke Up” is the story behind it. “”I Woke Up” deals with the last two years of my life, which I feel have been a true test of my character.” says Chris “The record tells a story and it’s not a happy one.” A mere week after his move from New Jersey to Austin, TX he woke up with blurred vision. His condition lasted for days before he finally went to an ER and was shockingly diagnosed with diabetes. “While I laid in bed, I started wondering if maybe I had made a mistake by moving.” he added, “I was without health insurance and no one would insure me because of my pre-existing condition.” It gets worse from there, “I turned to the person I loved most for support. Absolutely cold and apathetic to my situation, she made it clear that my problems were no longer hers and that she had other things that were deemed more important. I was in a new city, broke, sick and seemingly alone. I had never felt so desperate. This was my rock bottom.”
Chris’s story doesn’t end here, “Luckily, at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up. So, I began crawling out.” He reached out to his mother and father for guidance and found an endless amount of support from “the strangers” that he had moved to Austin to start a band with. “I changed my life style, gained control of my disease and saw that none of this was a sign to go home, but a test for the privilege to stay. I couldn’t help but write a record about the experience.”
Knowing the story behind this EP makes the music that much better because it’s a perfect fit for what Chris is describing above. Strength, hope, crawling out from rock bottom, and continuing to fight when there’s no fight left in you. The song I feel captures this the most is “Without You in Front of Me” which was featured as an exclusive on AbsolutePunk. To be honest, the whole EP captures these feelings REALLY well, but this song is just my favorite. It just gets me, the vocal chants, the production, the lyrics, the instruments, it’s just so GOOD! If they ever do Rocky re-make, this is the song that they will play when Balboa runs to the capital building. Only thing Nominee needs to do now is make a music video with really long blond hair wigs and leather chaps to this song and they’ll be ready to send it to the film score producers. Then, the track they’d play after Rocky kicks the ever-loving snot out of Apollo and is screaming “Adrian!” would be “Requiem” and they’d have their moment and the credits would roll to “Wreckage” which is the perfect closer to this album (and for any film *hint hint producers*). Honestly, they’re both great openers and closers, if I was Nominee picking a set-list, I’d have a hard time selecting which song to start and end with.
This album speaks to any one who has struggled or is currently struggling with adversity in their life and Nominee has made it clear that they want it that way. “Writing this EP, we wanted to make a true connection with listeners. Everyone has their own rock bottom and hopefully, finding mine and writing about it, will eventually help someone find the way out of theirs.” And “I Woke Up” doesn’t just speak to finding comfort in family or struggling with your own personal adversity but the pain you go through seeing your friends experience struggles. Chris adds that “the record touches on the power of addiction and how it can consume the life of someone who you care deeply about.”
“I Woke Up” is an amazing debut EP for any band and Nominee should be really proud of the hard work they put in to making it. To you who have not yet heard it, it’s streaming here below; listen to it, then follow the links to buy it and support this amazing punk band. Your ears deserve this music in them and this band deserves to get their music out to the world. To you who want to connect with this band because their story has touched you, you can find them on Facebook.
Buy the album here: nomineemusic.bandcamp.com
Buy their merch here: nominee.bigcartel.com