Nurses came out with their sophomore album, Dracula, earlier this year. Touring with Dominant Legs, the band’s live performance at Schubas on Oct. 22, 2011, was well-received. Aaron Chapman, lead vocalist, despite being sick with a sore throat, managed to perform magnificently. Pop ‘stache sat down with the three of them—Chapman (vocals, guitar, keyboard), John Bowers (backing vocals, keyboard), and James Mitchell (percussionist & visual artist)—before the set.
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Pop ‘stache: What kind of haircut did you guys have as kids?
Aaron Chapman: I had a bowl cut, and then I had a “Cesar” [laughs].
John Bowers: I did that too. But I had the “California Wave” first. Yeah, it was like sixth grade for me, the “California Wave.”
P ‘s: My barber once said my hair was too big for my head.
AC: That’s like saying, “my brain is too big for my head.”
JB: That’s what my doctor says.
P ‘s: So you guys are based out of Portland, but you actually got your start in Idaho.
AC: Me, my girlfriend and James grew up in California.
P ‘s: You guys were really young when you grew up, right?
AC: Yeah, way back in 1999. The year of our Lord [laughs]. Yeah, my girlfriend and I knew each other since the ninth grade, when we started playing music together. And then Floyd played through high school together. We met James briefly, and then he moved to Portland, independent of John and I moving Portland.
P ‘s: I can tell that you’re just not in the circle.
JB: James is actually our master. He’s master of us to you [laughs]. We are his puppets.
P ‘s: Do you see a trend in the bands you tour with, especially with the names—Tallest Man on Earth, etc.?
Both: Band names?
AC: I have never, ever thought of that.
JM: What’s the next one going to be? What’s the pattern; Bear Hands? Cop Crotch.
P ‘s: What kind of visual art do you do?
JM: Illustrations for the record. We do everything together. The record was just all of us.
JB: James a visual artist independent of our band, and [together] we designed all our…well, James just did the T-Shirts.
P ‘s: I read in interviews that some of the lyrics are nonsensical. What’s behind them?
JB: Oh, man.
AC: Well, I think there are shout-outs to potatoes [laughs].
JB: I mean, I don’t know if I have that much to comment on it. I’m sorry. Is there something specific that you want?
P ‘s: The interview stated that you made stuff up, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
JB: There are parts of it that are made up, definitely, but not all of it. There are parts that are spontaneous. It’s the same place that the music comes from if you’re feeling inspired or feeling something.
AC: I feel like you could almost say that about anything.
JB: It comes from the world that isn’t linear.
AC: To me, the idea with the lyrics in that record is trying to communicate something that isn’t necessarily via the lyrics. The feeling. It’s the vocals and the music together, I guess.
P ‘s: Do you ever nerd out?
JB: I space a lot.
JB: Basketball. Outer space.
AC: Yeah. Beads, pretty hard.
P ‘s: Styles? Like clothing?
JM: No, the inner style, the deep style.
P ‘s: T. Rex, Prince, and David Bowie ask you to go on tour. Who do you go with?
JB: Probably David Bowie. I’m on a huge David Bowie phase right now.
AC: I don’t know if I would want to hang out with Prince that much. But I would want to hang out with Bowie.
JM: I like T. Rex, but it’s kind of a different level of appreciation.
P ‘s: You guys are all married, engaged…
AC: With each other.
P ‘s: Do you guys ever get hit on?
JB: James probably does.
P ‘s: Do you have any pick up lines? What do you say?
JM: I say, “I think you’re really cute. Do you want to hang out?” [pauses] I think she had a boyfriend. I mean I don’t really have any pick-up lines.
AC: You could tell girls to bite their own butt.
P ‘s: They might like that, right?
JM: They might. If they bite their own butt, maybe they want to hang out.
P ‘s: What is your favorite instrument in the band?
AC: For me, it’s my guitar. I received my guitar from my dad, who got it in the ’60s. He made this like collage on it. The guitar’s kind of rare, and it also has that sentimental value for me.
JB: My favorite thing is a drum machine that John’s dad gave John. And it’s named after his dad. It’s called “The Dan.”
JM: “The Dan.” [laughs] “Dan the Drum Machine.”
P ‘s: What is it that you guys like about Chicago?
JB: We like our friends.
AC: We have a lot of friends here.
JM: I like the Gotham City aspect of Chicago. I like the Batman at least.
AC: I also like the pizza.
P ‘s: Are you from around here?
AC: I grew up in California. I lived around Bridgeport for a while. I used to live in Seattle with these guys, and then I moved out here.
P ‘s: What’s next?
JB: We’re going to Europe after this. We’re going to do a couple of collaborations, hopefully.
AC: No dates to announce right now. We’ll probably be back in Chicago in the spring.
Download songs from Dracula and explore the rest of Nurses’ discography, available on Dead Oceans.