Hattiesburg band talks album, influences
Nossiens, a group composed entirely of music students from USM, recently released its first full-length album. I asked original band member Nicholaus Panella to discuss the band, its inception and its plans for the future.
Tell me more about Nossiens. How and when did you form?
About four years ago, I was in Lab Band II with a drummer named Quinn Mackey. We kind of struck up a conversation, and the topic of being in a band together came up. At the time, he was in a band called “Dillon with the Devil,” which was sort of an indie jam band style group. We started jamming with my little brother Tony and formed an indie rock trio called “Dinner Guests.”
As time passed, we started writing more difficult music to play, and I began to feel like I couldn’t adequately sing and play guitar. So we asked Hal Kolodney to come jam with us. The style of music, however, began to change drastically. With Hal, we were essentially a different band. We frequently talked about changing the band name.
How did you come up with the current name?
It was a tribute to one of our favorite composers Erik Satie who wrote a series of pieces called the “Gnossiennes.” He’s kind of a precursor to modern surrealism, which is exactly where we sit stylistically. Satie was also kind of an outsider in the world of French impressionism because of his staunch belief in his own musical values.
What are your backgrounds? Tell us about the music itself.
Professionally speaking, we’re all gigging musicians. Quinn and Tony are both from the EI department and have a good deal of recording engineering experience. Hal and I are both jazz guitar majors at USM and have played with various artists that have come through the area.
We all come from different musical backgrounds, but we have a common interest in some of the more progressive ‘90s rock. Bands like Radiohead, Unwound, Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Chavez and Preoccupations have all sort of become regular staples in our musical diet. So we tend to sound a little like those bands.
Tell me more about your latest album.
The album has been in the works for about two years now. We didn’t mean for it to take so long, but we hit so many snags along the way, we were worried it might never happen. A lot of the lyrics are sort of ethereal takes on actual places and people we’ve met in this town. If you ever drive around hattiesburg or take part in its culture, you can’t really escape the fact that it’s a strange place. We tried to capture those feelings as best we could: strange houses that have contradicting visual styles, chronic gamblers at the casinos, the afterlife being a steamboat on the Mississippi River. Stuff like that is cool to me thematically.
What can we look forward to hearing from Nossiens in the future?
We’re already demoing the next album, and hopefully we’ll have a new one out soon. The set we’re playing now is super fun, and I can’t wait to get it all worked into an album. Other than that, keep your eyes and ears out for other projects we’re involved in: Tony’s group Dream/Window, Him Horrison [for whom Mackey plays drums]. Tony is also mixing “Empty Handed Painters’” first album and recording a single for the Renders soon. I’m recording an EP with another band called Floridamen this year. Hal is playing jazz every Saturday night at [The Thirsty Hippo] and working on a jazz trio. I’m playing my steady jazz gig on Sunday mornings at T-Bones. We’ve got a million projects going on at once. Hopefully we can keep up with all of them.