Chicago Garages Spawn NE-HI's Jangling Grit

Feel the energy of NE-HI in the way they talk about their music

NE-HI are one of those bands that just exude energy. You can feel it in their recordings, in their live performances and in the way they talk about their music.

Formed in Chicago in 2013, the band has already developed a raucous jangling grit that owes a lot to the heady punk of the Clash and Television. Their sound derives an equal amount from Chicago's DIY and garage scene, which spawned the likes of Twin Peaks and Post Animal. 

"Those guys are all friends of ours, and we’ve all known each other since playing basements. That scene was pretty infectious ... A lot of the spaces have been kind of shut down, so it’s definitely not as widespread and frequent and it’s moved into venues and backroom bar situations. I think it’s still there for sure, but when the shows leave the basement there’s less room for being totally crazy," vocalist and guitarist Jason Balla told me over the phone last month. 

Although NE-HI released a full-length album in February of this year, earlier this month they released a 7" as well. The double-single features "Rattled and Strange" and "Long Time," and an accompanying music video that's all kinds of nostalgic.

"We were all on tour a few months ago and we watched 'The Color of Money' -- a Martin Scorsese movie featuring Tom Cruise as a pool shark. It’s a really beautifully shot film," Balla said.

"That’s one of our tour hobbies: Anytime we find a bar with a pool table we go in. What better excuse to make a music video? We got to ham it up with a lot of nostalgia," he added.

With the music industry in its current state of disrepair, it's easy to find jaded and disgruntled bands, but NE-HI seem to genuinely enjoy what they're doing. And that's important when a band gives off a sense of complacency and boredom with their music.

"In a live setting it’s kind of hard to get too bored playing [our songs] because they’re so fun to play. I can start tweaking little parts or singing things a little differently. I’m not tired of the songs, because I can try different things," Balla said. 

NE-HI bring an energetic night to Soda Bar on Thursday, Nov. 16. Get tickets here.

Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford poet-neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. Whoops. He now fronts the Lulls, plays lead guitar in LA band Velvet and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Instagram and Twitter (@RArosenborg), add him on Facebook or contact him directly.

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