Jeffrey Silverstein and Justin Wilcox are Nassau. Both men are Brooklyn-based musical transplants. They took the time for their first official interview, to talk about how their debut EP, Hoss came together and what’s in store for Nassau in the near future.
Ian Bremner: Hoss was sent to me by a friend and it’s been in heavy rotation since. It seemed to come out of obscurity and has the feel of something that can really travel and get around on a grassroots level; People sharing it with their friends. What’s the backstory on how it came to life?
Jeffrey Silverstein: I’m originally from New Jersey and went to school in Baltimore and we have a really close mutual friend who was working with Justin’s (Wilcox) fiancé up here in New York. I’ve been here pushing 4 years and Justin, who’s originally from Tennessee, is just over the 2 year mark. We both had parts of songs, riffs and hooks and things that we had been kind of sitting on that never really formed. At first, we took a stab at making them full band versions of things, but it just wasn’t really panning out. We both came from bands that were much bigger. I played in a band called Secret Mountains, a 6 piece. Justin’s band was a 5 piece, so we both have had larger projects with larger personalities. For the two of us, just bouncing ideas back and forth and working in Justin’s apartment studio here in Brooklyn, it’s just been very easy and that’s how all the songs came together.
IB: So it was recorded all at the apartment?
Justin Wilcox: Yeah, my old bandmates used to run a small studio in Tennessee and I was able to salvage a few parts. Obviously, I had to downsize when moving to New York, but I have a spare bedroom that I was able to turn into a small studio. I also do some soundtrack work and stuff like that out of there but yeah, the EP was all done in that little small room.
IB: That’s one of the things I noticed, not the huge production or anything, but that the overall sound quality and clarity is really good.
JW: We were just talking about that. I had JUST got pro-tools and that was our very first project. It was very much a learning process. We would get together and just be like, “yeah that sounds good, just keep doing that” it was very off the cuff and fast.
JS: We were both just interested in completing something. We weren’t so focused on having things be perfect. Just keep things honest.
IB: When did you come to realize, “we want to release this as an EP?” You ended up on Fire Talk Records. Did you shop it around or did they come to you?
JS: Eventually, we realized those 4 songs together were a cohesive bunch that we felt good about and were excited about and wanted to share. We sent it around to a few smaller labels, specifically the tape labels because we wanted some sort of physical format, but we weren’t really banking on anyone putting up the money to press it to vinyl or anything. That’s a crazy business there. Fire Talk Records is run by a guy named Trevor Peterson who also is in Brooklyn and I’ve known him for a long time now. Trevor plays in a band originally from Denver but they all live here now, called Woodsman, who are phenomenal. His own band was kind of the start of Fire Talk Records. Eventually, we sent our EP over to Trevor. He was excited about the music and he’s just been amazing. We’re really lucky its been so easy… really lucky.
IB: Tapes are making a comeback.
JS: Yeah I finally have a car again… with a tape player, so I think were going to go listen to it on the tape deck after this. Our own music, its weird, but we haven’t heard it.
IB: As far as shows, I saw you played at Baby’s All Right with Mutual Benefit, but how does the sound translate to a live setting?
JS: The very first show we did, we didn’t really have any of the backing tracks, sounds, the ambient stuff that happens. It was a little bare. We pretty quickly realized we needed to amp that up. Especially with Baby’s All Right, on a proper sound system with some of the synths and drum stuff or samples you hear, it comes through and it allows us to just focus on the guitar playing, which has been awesome.
IB: You mentioned Woodsman, but you’re also playing with Woods at Ottobar in Baltimore coming up. They are an incredible band. How did that come about?
JS: When I was in Baltimore, we played at that venue the Ottobar a bunch and I still have a lot of good friends there. We’ve become friends with the guys in Woods too. They’re a phenomenal band who also has come from home recording projects to full on rock n roll band, which has been cool to watch happen.
IB: Is that what you foresee happening? Filling it out or do you like the bedroom recordings style?
JW: We’re both open to anything, really. Right now, its just so easy for us to get together and we collaborate so well. We talk about bringing someone in and it’s like, “it’ll be fun….,” but if it happens, that’s cool, if not, were happy doing what were doing.
IB: Any tour plans or are you guys just gonna see what happens?
JS: We’re just trying to be smart with the shows we are playing. Not to just play the same kind of show over and over, or with the same bands. Were doing a little 3-show thing in August around the Baltimore show. Philly, Baltimore, Manhattan and other than that, it’s a little tough. I’m a teacher and in grad school so that makes things a little hard. We both have a lot going on, I think eventually it could happen but were taking it as it rolls.
JW: If it makes sense we’ll do it, but neither of us feel like jumping in a van and losing a bunch of money.. we’ve both done that [laughs].
Listen to Hoss via Spotify or youtube