Bands On Bands: No Nets on Arcade Fire and The Whitest Boy Alive

No Nets is a rock band from Brooklyn by way of the Bronx and Jersey, made up of a few grown-up-ish punk and emo kids – and a metalhead. After playing in bands together for over six years, Sal Mastrocola, John O’Neill, Walter Shock, and Dave Hauenstein moved into an apartment in Brooklyn in 2013 – and No Nets was born.
The band started by way of an electronic drum kit in their Brooklyn closet, and has grown over the last three years musically and personally. Their sophomore album Bright Light, released in late October, reflects that growth, exploring themes that bounce from topics like marriage, adulting, keeping your creative life while working that nine to five, and the painful reality that you might never be able to afford that fancy piece of New York real estate you always dreamed about.
The guys have grown up a bit since their days in that tiny Brooklyn apartment, but Bright Light is still bursting with youthful energy. It’s inspired by the fast, heavy bombast of the classic punk and mid-aughts emo bands they grew up with, but heavily shaped by the more refined ones they’ve come to appreciate later in life. It’s full of anthemic fist pumping sections, ambient interludes, and walls of guitar. Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Mastrocola and O’Neill to discuss some of their favorite records., Neon Bible by Arcade Fire and The Whitest Boy Alive’s Dreams. This is what they said.
What is your favorite album?
Sal (vocals / guitar): This is almost an impossible question to answer – I’ve had so many favorites over the course of my lifetime. So I’m going to go with the album that was my favorite and most influential on me during the writing of our latest record, Bright Light. That album is Neon Bible by Arcade Fire.
John (guitar): I agree with Sal; difficult to narrow it down – but I do have some album art tattooed on my body, so I’ll go with that! One of my favorite artists Geoff McFetridge did all of the album art for The Whitest Boy Alive, one of Erlend Øye’s various projects. Dreams is my favorite record of the two WBA albums. I have the series of doors on the cover tattooed on the inside of my left arm.
Do you remember when you received or purchased the album?

S: I believe it was sophomore year of college – 2007. I loved the first Arcade Fire LP, but I remember feeling like I had been falling out of love with indie music in the years prior, because none the stuff that was coming out at the time felt sincere or emotional enough. Then this album happened. I was absolutely blown away.
J: Also my sophomore year in 2007, consequently – Sal and I went to college together in Baltimore, Maryland, but I was studying abroad in the UK from ‘07 – ‘08. This is when I was treated to the sounds of The Whitest Boy Alive for the first time. It was the musical soundtrack to my year abroad. I then purchased the Dreams LP in 2012 – it’s pretty rare, I believe only 500 copies were pressed and they are all gone.
What is your favorite song on the album?

S: Probably “Intervention.”
J: They are all great; the combination of the minimal, in the pocket vibe; unadultered crisp guitars, and Erlend’s vocals beam such unique emotions. “Burning” though, was my first taste, and I’ll love it forever.
What is it about the song that resonates with you?
S: Every moment of this epic, inspirational, crucial anthem makes you feel like you’re on stage with the band, slamming out eighth notes on a floor tom. The whole record feels like an answer to the time it was released in, and this song is a microcosm of the entire album. A response to the Iraq War, to the fervent misguided nationalism and religiosity  that was gripping our country, to the slow creep of technology into every aspect of the human experience. In these 4 minutes and 19 seconds, you feel like you have a crystal clear purpose.
J: I will fully admit, I’m much more about the “music feel” of any song I listen to than the vocals. That is why I leave it to Sal’s genius on the lyrics front for No Nets. The combination of the rapid beat, and the other attributes I mentioned about WBA is just so pleasing to my soul; right in my musical wheelhouse – and likely even helped to define it.
Have you ever covered a song from the album?

S: No, but now I kind of want to. Stay tuned for that.
J: “Burning” – such a fun bass line to play!
What is it about the album that makes it stand out against the band’s other output?

S: It’s my favorite album by the band, but just by a hair. Funeral is also a masterpiece. I think what I love about this album is how downright grand it is. It’s just massive. It feels like a modern Born to Run on steroids.
J: Frankly, Dreams and WBA’s second album, Rules, capture the same general essence – they are both in my top 10 all time albums. Unfortunately, I don’t think another WBA album will be created, but I closely follow Erlend Øye’s projects – he really immerses himself in what he produces musically, but brings common themes (usually great rhythm and bass). Beyond whole-heartedly recommending the two WBA albums mentioned, his recent solo efforts are amazing – see “La Prima Estate” and “Garota” heavily influenced by time he spent in Italy.
Have you ever given a copy of this record to anyone? What were the circumstances?

S: I haven’t given it to anyone. But I recently bought a copy on vinyl while record shopping with my wife. In the warm nostalgia of memory, Neon Bible and Funeral were the soundtrack to us falling in love. There were many drunken afternoons in my Bronx apartment where we’d listen to these albums back to back. So they have a real magical quality to them.
J: I’ve recommended it to anyone I thought would appreciate it. Pretty sure all of my best friends have given this numerous listens based on my love for everything WBA!
Which of the records that you’ve performed on is your favorite?
S: It has got to be the latest No Nets record, Bright Light. It’s the second album released under the No Nets name, but it feels like the first time that we were able to achieve something that was uniquely us. Recording it was such a gratifying and collaborative process, full of experimentation and fun. I’m very proud of what we accomplished together.
J: Bright Light – hands down. It is the best music Sal (as the main writing source), myself and our other friends have created. So excited to show this to the world.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
S: It has changed several times throughout the process of the album, but currently it’s the opening track, Dark Matter. The song almost didn’t make the album. It was fully demoed and I had completely forgotten about it. Then the producer of the record, Greg Gibaldi, suggested that we should record it. We sped it up by about 20 BPM, added a wurlitzer and a few fuzz pedals, and the result was something truly special. Having it premiere on The Line of Best Fit was truly special. Go listen to it!.
J: All in all, it is one of the songs that isn’t out yet – “Lucky One”. Sal’s lyrics are touching for so many reasons, and we truly wrote this song as a band. My lead in the choruses feels like an accomplishment in itself for me personally, exuding exactly the emotion I was seeking. Also, one of my favorite moments in the whole album comes at 1:08 via harmonizing guitars. Sal and I don’t do this too often – but when we do, we usually get it right. Shimmery bread.
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