Locals: Nick D’ & the Believers takes a slow and steady path to the top

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From the January 23, 2014 edition

In the studio, at least, the three musicians in Nick D’ & the Believers are perfectionists, content to spend hours toying with a single track until it’s just so.

“You try a million things and see what hits you in the gut,” said singer/keyboardist Nick D’Andrea, 28, in an early January interview. “We want there to be that moment in the studio with every song where we all jump up and down and love where it’s going.”

This explains, in part, why new material has trickled out so slowly since the band formed in December 2012. At the moment, the group has only the three-track Throwing Stones EP to its name, though the musicians recently completed work on a follow-up EP they hope to release sometime in April (a single-song teaser of the punchy “Bang Bang” will be available to attendees when the band visits Kobo on Saturday, Jan. 25).

The trio, which includes D’Andrea, drummer Joseph Barker and guitarist Kerry Henderson, tends to approach recording the way a carver approaches a block of wood, methodically chipping away all the extraneous matter until only those essential elements remain.

“We put every idea we can think of on the song, and once all that stuff is on there we see what’s actually working and strip it back from there,” said D’Andrea, who points to bands like the Black Keys and Spoon as steady influences. “The first three songs came out quickly, but now we’re taking more time. Every time we think a song is done we’ll think, ‘No, we can write a better chorus!’"

D’Andrea and Barker first met through their significant others, connecting on a shared interest in music and their experiences studying abroad (each spent a semester in a Spanish-speaking country). But while Barker grew up in a musical family — both his parents are theater professors and performance was a large part of his childhood — D’Andrea’s musical education was limited to singing along to “Rapper’s Delight” whenever his father spun the classic Sugar Hill Gang track on the family turntable.

As such, the Believers’ music is continuing to evolve as the players become more familiar, exposing one another to new sounds and ideas. So while early songs might have been more straightforward, recent tracks have taken increasingly surrealistic turns.

“When you’re a teenager in high school it’s all about angst-y love songs, and we’re not that interested in stuff like that anymore,” said Barker, 29. “Which I guess means we’re never going to get the angst-y teen demographic.”

Photo by Jodi Miller