Unleashing the Nightbeast
Dayton’s clown prince of hip-hop dishes on the joys of Chinese buffet, Kubiak from ‘Parker Lewis’ and being too large for the mosh pit
by Jason Webber
It’s all but a confirmed scientific fact: It is impossible to be sad or depressed when you’re anywhere near the Nightbeast (aka Nick Testa). The wooly and bespectacled, ever-smiling Beast has firmly established himself as perhaps the definitive goofball rapper of Southern Ohio, thanks to his good-natured rhymes about Inuit sex, polar bears, being fat and hairy in the summertime and Lisa Frank (yes, THAT Lisa Frank; the one who designed your 7th grade school portfolio). A year after releasing his well-received sophomore album You’re Welcome on iTunes, Nightbeast has undergone a transformation worthy of the B-grade horror films he loves so much. Before it used to be just him and an iPod and/or a sampler onstage. Now? He’s got a full band behind him laying down the jams for his trademarked Mad magazine-style raps.
Ghettoblaster caught up with the Beast to find out what he’s been up to…and whether it’s possible to write a love song with dick and fart jokes for your wife.
You released an album last year and it got a really good underground response. “Living Large” is destined to become a summertime classic. What have you been up to during the last year?
Well, since that record came out I went through a period of not wanting to make music anymore to doing more with Nightbeast than I’ve ever done ever. Somebody suggested ‘Hey, you should play with a drummer and full band’ and I did it once or twice and met some guys who were in a hip-hop group called God Bless Asher Jones and I started playing with them. It was the two of them behind me plus a drummer and a bass player and that morphed into now a full six-piece band. Two guitars, bass, drums, backup singer. So a lot has happened. Our shows have gotten better. We’re playing out of town more. I used to do by myself and it was kind of fun. Now there’re seven people onstage and everyone takes their shirt off.
Why did you go through a phase where you didn’t want to make music anymore?
I was just burned out. There’s only so much I can do by myself. Only so many people want to see me walking back and forth on a stage. At least with a band there’s other things to look at. I can say words really fast or I can move around onstage. Those are my options. So now I can focus on saying words really fast while everyone else moves around for me.
I understand you were a member of the first incarnation of Hawthorne Heights.
I was, yes. I played bass in A Day In A Life (as they were called back then) when I was 18 or 19. I was friends with those kids and in the “punk” scene—make sure you put “punk” in quotations—in the scene in Dayton, then they decided to go one direction and I decided to go in the other. We’re still very good friends. I’ve toured with them when it was just me. They’re awesome guys, we just differ in our musical styles. They like harder stuff, I like soft, poppier stuff.
What made you pursue hip-hop over punk?
Well, I started rapping because I can’t sing. It’s a little bit easier for me than singing is. The harder music, I stopped getting into when I started getting a bit too big and too old for getting into the mosh pit. And I don’t really have anything angry to say to anybody.
Your brand of hip-hop is straight up comedy. Do you ever rap about serious topics?
Some of my newer songs have a more serious tone to them but I’ll probably never write anything truly serious. I feel like I’d be faking it. I’ve tried to write songs about my wife, who I love dearly, but I just can’t amount because I write goofball songs and I don’t think it’s appropriate to write dick and fart joke songs about my wife.
Your first album (Inside Jokes for Outside Folks) is out-of-print. Will that ever be rereleased at some point?
No, that’s pretty much gone. We’re probably going to rerecord at least one song from that album, “The Inuit Song,” which I still love and still gets a sensational crowd response. But the other ones I don’t care for anymore. They’re kind of forced.
So when can we expect a new Nightbeast album?
We don’t really have anything in the works, but I’d say probably by next summer. It all depends. We are in the process of recording some new singles. I have about seven new songs finished with the full band. They’re not recorded yet, but we play three or four of them live.
What kind of things makes the Nightbeast happy?
Chinese buffet. Movies. CDs. Music. Anything in pop culture from the ‘70s to the last five years. I thrive off that stuff. I love knowing how tall Leslie Nielsen was. I love goofball stuff that people shouldn’t know. I love Kubiak from “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.” That’s the kind of stuff I enjoy. I also enjoy hanging out with my wife, and not just because she’s sitting next to me now. I love relaxing. And I love being onstage.
(Learn more about “the beast” here: http://www.thenightbeast.com/.)