Nick Hertzberg is the man behind many music-related projects. Not only has he participated in multiple bands but he also has been developing his own record label called Deplorable Sounds. The band he devotes the most time to now is called, Like-Minded. I had the opportunity to ask Nick some questions about Like-Minded, its members and other aspects of their lives.
MFL: I love the history behind Like-Minded. It sounds like all of you were connected in some way or another throughout the years before you started Like-Minded. How has this relationship between band mates shaped your music?
Nick Hertzberg (NH): While we all came from different musical backgrounds, our established relationships with each other helped build the foundation for the band in so many ways. This has allowed us to be open to new ideas regarding our music and gives us the opportunity to speak freely to each other about all of the other “logistical” stuff no one really likes talking about in bands. From album design ideas, to show bookings and everything else in-between, we feel it is easier to come to a consensus and be “real” with the people you have an extra closeness to.
MFL: What genre would you classify your music as? Or if you prefer, list a few bands you think you sound like.
NH: This is the question we always ::sigh:: to when we are asked it, but it is mostly our fault. By giving a listen to our first EP, you can tell our influences are all over the place and hence every song sounds a little bit different. People have told us we sound like Hop Along, Slingshot Dakota, Tigers Jaw and other modern female fronted bands, but we think those comparisons can be a little too “easy” to make sometimes. As a band, we feel we hear a blues/alternative influence in our sound, and play what many identify as “sad songs” because it’s what we like to write. We are working on concentrating our wide sonic pallet to be more deliberately paced and focused, yet to include new musical elements as well.
MFL: Tell me who each band member is and what they contribute to the sound of Like-Minded.
NH: Ryan Mortola is the drummer of Like-Minded, and thus the rhythmic driver and backbone of the songs. He is also the muscle. Cait Darcy is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the band and laces all of our tunes with her beautifully sad lyrics and melodies. She contributes heavily to the structure of the songs and talks to people when the boys are too scared to. Nick Hertzberg is the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and now keyboardist of the band. Nick typically writes most of the basic structures of the songs and does a great deal of the design and promotional work. He makes all of the “dad jokes” (jokes that only dads would find funny) at our shows.
MFL: You mentioned that Cait is finishing her teaching education (what will she be teaching?). What do the rest of the Like-Minded members do besides music (if anything!)?
NH: As of this December, Cait will be certified in K-6 and Middle School science and ELA. In her free time, she enjoys photography, cats and the outdoors. Ryan just moved into a new place with his girlfriend Katie and just got a promotion at his job in sales. When he isn’t practicing or playing music, he is listening to it or out seeing it at other shows. Nick works in dental marketing, which is just as fun as it sounds. He is trying to pursue a full-time position in a more creative outlet and enjoys writing, design and being absorbed in a hundred musical projects at once.
MFL: Are all of you from New Jersey originally or did your paths merge from elsewhere?
NH: We are all pretty much lifers…up to this point. Ryan bounced around a few towns in south Jersey growing up and spent some time in Boston too for a few years. Cait grew up in Manahawkin and lived in Egg Harbor Township before moving in with Nick in Forked River. Nick lived on Long Beach Island for 27 years, though even with Hurricane Sandy blowing through, never became a beach kid. All of the band is looking to relocate near and/or potentially far in the next year or so. Time will tell.
MFL: Tell me a bit about your label, Deplorable Sounds. How and when did it begin? How do you decide what bands to support? What extra duties come with running a label compared to being a musician yourself?
NH: I started Deplorable Sounds about 3 years ago to be a single place that I could host a slew of my solo and side projects I was working on at that point. Besides my main project at the time (These Branches), I had about 3 side bands with very different sounding albums that I knew really wouldn’t ever be performed live. I created the label to collect all of these efforts in one domain and not start 15 different Bandcamp or Facebook pages. I have been lucky enough to work with some close friends in a variety of these projects- but have not had the opportunity to release someone else’s music yet really, though I am always looking to collaborate with new artists. The label also started out as purely digital, but I have started to release more and more cassette tapes, as time and money allows. I have plans to continue that and maybe even release some limited Lathe Cuts in the coming years. I have been releasing my own music in some way, shape or form since I was 13 years old- so “branding it” just made sense. It takes a lot to promote and design for releases besides just recording and writing them, but I find it all equally as gratifying.
MFL: Where would you like to see Like-Minded in one year’s time?
NH: With Cait having finished college at that point, the possibilities will be (more or less) endless. We plan on having our new two-song single out in the next few months and shopping it to some record labels. We are also planning on doing maybe a small 5-7 day East Coast tour in the New Year too. Ultimately, and hopefully, by this time next year we will have released another EP or be in the midst of the recording of an LP (there are about 25 song demos sitting and waiting on our computer right now) with a label we love and then supporting it in any way that we can.
MFL: Can each band member list two or three bands/musicians who have influenced them musically?
Ryan: O’Brother, Aeges, Balance and Composure.
Cait: Johnny Cash, Ray LaMontagne, Hop Along, Fiona Apple.
Nick: Jonny Greenwood, Chris Walla, Efrim Menuck, Ian MacKaye (we share a birthday).
MFL: When Like-Minded plays live, what do you hope the audience to get out of your shows? What do you as a band hope to get out of your show?
NH: We only could hope to provoke or stir some sort of thought or emotion in an audience member when we perform live. We put a good amount of time into the crafting of our songs, so it is a huge payoff when someone comes up to quote a lyric back and ask about it, or asks about some guitar pedal nuance or drum fill. In a day when it is so easy to passively listen and be disengaged at shows, those interactions are still alive and priceless. For us, the shows are usually a catharsis. We typically can only play on the weekends so it is nice to release the tension of the week by putting all we have into a 25-minute set. Also, being able to talk to people afterward, network, exchange ideas- that is what we hope happens at every show.
MFL: Finally, tell us a little about your upcoming two-song single! How did your session in the home studio go this past weekend?
NH: With everyone’s schedules being so packed at the moment- we, unfortunately, have had less time than we anticipated to write a follow-up to our EP, which we released this past January. With the state of music being what it is today, we know you have to release music semi-frequently to stay on an audience’s radar- but we wouldn’t dream of sacrificing quality to just put new tunes out. With that said, we opted to release two songs we have been developing for the last few months that were pretty much wrapped up and we have been playing live instead of trying to finish another EP at the moment. We have always done our own recording, but this was the first time we have done it in a “mobile” setting. Nick brought his equipment to Ryan’s house to track drums since he and Cait’s apartment is a little too small for that. We will wrap guitars, vocals, and keyboards at the main home studio in the coming weeks. We will then mix, master and send the release out to a few labels we respect, see if it catches their ears or interests. Sonically, the songs are a bit more concentrated than the EP. You can see and hear them being on an album and running in the same lineage as some of our other songs, like “The Moon Won’t Set” and “Get Sick.” In one of the two songs we also have piano as the main component, which, with electronic samples and other new tools, are just a few of the elements we will be introducing more and more into our ever-expanding musical repertoire.