Locals: Nihilitia

By Columbus Alive
From the February 28, 2013 edition

Since her childhood days in Troy chatting up strangers to her mother’s horror, Sara Hussain has never been shy about expressing herself. It’s just been a matter of finding the right vehicle for her inspiration — be it a career in PR, the vivacious hairdo that graced Alive’s cover last year, or Nihilitia, the “stonerglam” band she’s finally bringing back to Columbus.

Hussain picked up the bass at age 15. She did stints with Athens rockers Jet Lucas and Dayton death metal combo In the Black Hearts of Men, but not until she finished law school in Washington, D.C., and moved to a house on Capitol Hill did she start her own band. On Craigslist, she found drummer Brad Sheppard, who recruited Chris Thomas to play guitar.

The lineup clicked instantly on a social and musical level, fast friends playing lumbering music at “turkey neck tempo.” For Hussain, it was a long time coming.

“I kept getting into progressively heavier and heavier music,” Hussain said. “I started off with pop music, which is really evident in my songwriting now. I got from a point where I traveled from, like, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany all the way to High on Fire all the sudden.”

Nihilitia played regularly in D.C., sharing stages with heavyweights like The Sword and Hussain’s old Ohio University pals Skeletonwitch. They recorded Nihilist Militia with producer Joel Hamilton (Tom Waits, Blakroc, Unsane) and planned to tour widely in 2009 when cold feet interfered.

Flummoxed, Hussain returned to Ohio, married her longtime boyfriend and started a new chapter. Nihilitia went into hibernation.

Last year, the band woke up. Struggling to start a new group, Hussain petitioned Sheppard and Thomas to rekindle the rock long-distance.

“We all had a chance to realize this was something we wanted,” Thomas said. “Everything seemed to come back, like, zipper-style in 2012. It really was an awakening.”

After two shows in D.C. last year, Nihilitia opens for rising titans Royal Thunder and Ancient VVisdom Friday at Kobo. Hussain is stoked to show off the band she’s boasted about in Columbus for years, and simply to make music with them again.

“They’re my brothers,” Hussain said. “I hate them, but they’re the best.”